Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ann Poelking Klonowski To Be Ordained As A Roman Catholic Woman Priest On Sept. 7, 2013

Independence woman          

says her ordination

as Catholic priest will

be valid despite ban

and automatic


CLEVELAND, Ohio -- As a woman who also happens to be the married mother of two grown children, Ann Poelking Klonowski will violate at least two church laws on Sept. 7 when she is, in some eyes, ordained as a Roman Catholic priest.

The Vatican, in fact, has decreed that "attempted sacred ordination of a woman" is a "grave crime" accompanied by automatic excommunication.

The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland said in a statement that "the ordination of a woman is not authentically Catholic." In February, the Catholic Diocese of Toledo said Klonowski would lose her standing in the church by participating in the "invalid and illicit attempted ordination" there that made her a deacon.
Klonowski also stands outside Roman Catholic practice since the 12th century by being married, though non-Latin Catholic rites ordain married men -- and though the church permits Protestant clergy who become priests to remain married.

But Klonowksi of Independence does not consider herself separate from the church or part of "some protest movement. I've been called. I'm here to serve the people of God," she said.

"We consider ourselves faithful Catholics. I'm as Catholic as anybody."

Her ordination has the sacramental validity of what is called apostolic succession, she said, because it will be performed by Bishop Joan Houk of the sponsoring Roman Catholic Womenpriests.

The group has been holding its own ordinations since 2002, when it says that seven women in Europe were ordained by three male bishops in good standing whom the group has pledged not to identify. Among the women was the Rev. Dagmar Celeste, former first lady of Ohio and the first American ordained by Roman Catholic Womenpriests.

They believe acceptance by the Vatican will come in time, though Pope John Paul II said the church does not have the authority to recognize women as priests, arguing that Jesus chose only men to be his apostles.

Klonowski, who has a graduate degree in theology from John Carroll University, spent more than 20 years teaching in Catholic high schools and colleges and another 15 years working for the Cleveland diocese. She said following the Gospel and conscience is more important than following canon law. 

"The hierarchy do not have a monopoly on the church. The hierarchy do not have a monopoly on the Holy Spirit," she said.

"Jesus didn't ordain any men, either," she added, citing the Bible in support. "It is not there."

Her ordination, at 2 p.m. Sept. 7, will be hosted by the Brecksville United Church of Christ.

"Other Christian communities are very welcoming" of women clergy, Klonowski said. But she would not change congregations, even though "some of my best friends are Protestant," she quipped, adding that the Womenpriests movement is intended to be reformative, not divisive.

Seventy percent of U.S. Catholics said the church should let women become priests, a New York Times/CBS News poll found earlier this year.

Joan Chittister Writes About What Sartain Did Not Say In His Homily About Mary

Hierarchy's Mary
is vastly different
from ours
Joan Chittister  |  Aug. 30, 2013 From Where I Stand
One of the major scientific discoveries of the 20th century revolves around the role played by communication in stressful situations -- the notion that a person's communication style can soften or harden conflict depending on how it is used; the idea that simply the amount of information supplied in crucial situations affect the tone, the efficacy and the outcome of negotiations. As a result of those findings, whole corporations have changed their processes of decision-making and dissemination of information.
So with that in mind, people waited for information about the progress of the Vatican visitation of the LCWR from this year's gathering in Orlando, Fla. Given the fact that none was forthcoming, people drew their own conclusions.
I, on the other hand, went for the one piece of data the assembly managed to produce on the subject, the homily Sartain gave to the membership [1]. And a clear piece of communication it was.
In this homily, Mary is "quiet," "docile," submits herself over and has no "desire or a need to figure things out ... or resolve them to her own personal satisfaction." There was, we're told here, no "no" or "mine" in her. The Mary of this homily is a passive receptacle of what she understands to be the Word of God.
Well, maybe. But it might be good to think about all that a bit in the light of the other things we also know about Mary.
The purpose of this column is not to parse what the bishop said about Mary on the Feast of the Assumption. I prefer instead to look at what he did not say about her because, it seems to me, what he left out of that homily says much about what is expected of women in the Catholic church.
For instance, Mary answers the angel's declaration to her by questioning it. An angel! Someone of much higher rank, it would seem, than even apostolic delegates, and only then with a "Be-it-done-unto-me" response to a situation to which, apparently, "no" was a viable answer. Otherwise, why bother to have the conversation?
Even more important, perhaps, is the awareness that despite the seriousness -- even the danger -- of her situation, Mary did not go to any man -- to the high priests of the temple, the local rabbi, her father or even Joseph -- for directions about what to do next. She went to another woman for the wisdom she needed and followed that instead. No visitations here.
In another instance, at the wedding feast at Cana, Mary gives her own set of apostolic orders to no less than Jesus himself as well as to the wait staff, as in, "Go and do what he tells you."
Mary herself questioned the propriety of what Jesus was doing in the temple with the elders and later is part of a crowd of family and friends who are even concerned that Jesus may be, as the Irish would say, "losing the run of himself."
And finally, if anyone wants to know just how influential and important a figure Mary was to the development of the early church, the very idea of her being part of the gathering of apostles on Pentecost when each of them is anointed into discipleship by the Holy Spirit ought to be enough to dispel the notion that what we have here is a woman without a strong sense of self.
No, the Mary not mentioned in this homily on the Assumption was a woman not intimidated into the Incarnation, not beholden to male answers, not shy about giving directions about what should be done, not without a high sense of personal responsibility, and not one bit in doubt about her place in the hierarchy of the church.
Those, I think, are precisely the qualities we see in women in our own time that make for what some parts of the church are now calling "radical feminism."
From where I stand, that is a sad misuse of language and an even sadder case of spiritual blindness.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sister Vivian Ivantic, 100 Years Old And Has Wanted To Be A Priest

Sister celebrates 100th birthday, 80 years in monastery -
When Sister Vivian Ivantic was a little girl, she knew she had a calling. She came home from first grade and announced to her mother that when she grew up, she wanted to become a priest or a nun.
And it was then, more than 90 years ago, that she discovered women cannot become priests in the Roman Catholic Church.
Ivantic became a sister instead and remained optimistic that priesthood would one day be an option for Catholic women to pursue.
On Sunday, after a Mass at St. Scholastica Monastery in West Rogers Park marking her 80th anniversary in the religious community, Ivantic made it clear that she hasn't given up on the idea, even as she turns 100 on Wednesday.
With a mischievous grin on her face and a fist in the air, she called on the Catholic Church to allow female ordination, a yearning that likely won't be fulfilled for her but an opportunity she hopes will at least be available to younger women.
"We need women in church offices. It won't come in my lifetime, but it will come," she said.
Much has changed in Ivantic's family, the church and American society since she joined the Benedictine community eight decades ago. Women today have more choices than becoming a mother, nurse or housekeeper, she said. She plays her beloved card games on a computer now. Much of her family has scattered from northern Illinois to Florida, Oregon and New Jersey. And she no longer wears the iconic habit of a cloistered nun or sister.
Dressed in a pale teal pantsuit Sunday with her silver hair swept to the side, she said she hopes to see more shifts, like women occupying positions of power in the church.
Last year the Vatican reprimanded a major network of nuns in the U.S. for espousing "radical feminist themes," including female ordination, for its more liberal ideas on the ministry of gays and for its silence, seen as a failure to enforce the Vatican's views, on sexuality and abortion rights. The Leadership Conference of Women Religious was chastised for stepping "out of line" by the male leadership in a report concluding a three-year investigation.
Though Pope Francis has not ruled out the possibility of women in leadership, he did close the door last month to the ordination of female priests, reviving a statement Pope John Paul II made in 1994 that intended to end the discussion. Even promoting female ordination can come with a price, as shown by the expulsion last November of Roy Bourgeois, a longtime priest with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers who refused to end his campaign for ordaining women.
But that doesn't stop Ivantic. It's an injustice, she said, and she has no problem speaking up.
"I think the American church is outstanding, but I'm waiting for women's ordination," she said. "We have been deprived of the celebration of the Mass because we don't have enough ordained priests. We have done so much as teachers, nurses, social workers, but we need to open church offices to women."
An advocacy group called the Women's Ordination Conference supports Ivantic's hopes for female priests, said the group's executive director, Erin Saiz Hanna.
"People, especially in America, are used to seeing women advance in the workplace, in politics, so people are ready to see women break through the stained-glass ceiling," Hanna said. "The hierarchy could learn a lot from just listening to its people."
As the daughter of pious immigrant parents from Slovenia, Ivantic took her vows at age 20. She worked as an elementary and high school teacher, teaching Latin for many years in schools around the country. Later on she became a school librarian at St. Scholastica Academy, a former all-girls Catholic high school run by the sisters.
Ivantic eventually became the community's archivist, and she meticulously reviews old documents and memorabilia that record changes in the church's history, some of which she witnessed. Each day she leaves her walker at the bottom of the stairs, climbing two flights to the archives where between prayer sessions and Mass she works accompanied by her cat, Thecla, named for an early saint who followed the Apostle Paul. According to legend, the virgin Thecla was chained to a lioness and sentenced to be eaten by wild beasts after she fought off the forceful advances of nobleman. The female lion apparently saved Thecla by fighting off the other beasts.
Her great-niece Elizabeth McGhee, 32, said Ivantic gives her a different tour of the monastery each time she visits, using her latest research topic to showcase a different part.
While Ivantic hasn't seen female ordination in her lifetime, McGhee said she expects to see it happen before she reaches her great-aunt's age.
Ivantic is the family's matriarch, McGhee said. In addition to keeping her 50 nieces and nephews and their children tightly knit by playing Scrabble, fishing, tending to the sick and enjoying an occasional beer — just one — she also encourages her family to ask questions about their faith, about the church's history and their lives.
Her niece Karen Ivantic, 56, said many in the family, herself included, often consider leaving the church because it does not allow women to be equals.
"I could easily walk away but I think … what holds me in is our family tradition and my love of (Sister Vivian)," she said. "She committed her life to this, she's not walking away. She's fighting, but she's not walking away.
"So what that says to me is, 'Don't abandon everything but don't stop fighting for the change.

Lessons To Be Learned Fifty Years After The Historic March On Washington

What Bayard Rustin's

role in the March on

Washington teaches us

about the church

Jamie Manson  |  Aug. 28, 2013

Fifty years after the historic March on Washington, many are surprised to learn that when the event made the lead story of Life magazine, it wasn't the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the cover.
Although King's speech ultimately left the most indelible mark on America's memory of the event, it was a photo of the march's two organizers, A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, that was chosen as the photographic icon of the historic event.
Those who are aware of the community of leaders, organizers and minor prophets who galvanized and supported the civil rights movement know that Randolph and Rustin were two of King's most trusted advisers.
Rustin, in particular, was instrumental in elevating King's role in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and is largely credited with introducing him to the strategies of nonviolent resistance.
When Rustin first met a 25-year-old King in the early days of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, King kept guns inside of his house and armed guards on the outside. It was Rustin who gently persuaded him to disassociate himself from guns and encouraged him to embrace nonviolent tactics.
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When Randolph first envisioned the idea for a "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom," Rustin's history in the movement, exceptional skill and deftness as an organizer made him the ideal candidate to coordinate the massive endeavor. (Before his roles in King's ascent and the March on Washington, Rustin, who began fighting for civil rights in the 1940s, was a developer of the first Freedom Ride.)
Historian John D'Emilio writes that the eight weeks leading up to the march "were the busiest in Rustin's life. He had to build an organization out of nothing. He had to assemble a staff and shape them into a team able to perform under intense pressure. He had to craft a coalition that would hang together despite organizational competition, personal animosities and often antagonistic politics. He had to maneuver through the mine field of an opposition that ranged from liberals who were counseling moderation to segregationists out to sabotage the event."
"And he had to do all of this," D'Emilio explains, "while staying enough out of the public eye so that the liabilities he carried would not undermine his work."
What "liabilities" did Rustin carry? He was a gay man.
In 1953, Rustin was arrested on a morals charge after getting caught in a sexual encounter with a man in the backseat of a car. Rustin's sexuality was considered an open secret during the height of the civil rights struggle. He never denied his orientation, and, sadly, his openness would overshadow much of his career in the movement. Although he was an eloquent speaker and profoundly influential in shaping many campaigns for justice and equality, Rustin was typically relegated to behind-the-scenes work.
At times, Rustin even faced bigotry within his own circle. The PBS documentary "Out of the Past" recounts a story from 1960, when King and Rustin were planning a demonstration at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.
Fearing that the demonstrations would undermine his own power, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., an African-American congressman from Harlem, N.Y., insisted they cancel the protest. If they refused, Powell threatened to claim Rustin and King were having an affair.
Of course, there was no affair, but King surrendered to Powell's demands, and Rustin was forced to resign and remove himself from the movement he helped shape.
Civil rights leaders later brought Rustin back into the fold to help organize the march in 1963, but fearing his sexuality would discredit the event, they appointed Randolph as the director, and Randolph appointed Rustin deputy organizer.
A month before the march, news of Rustin's sexuality resurfaced. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover reported Rustin's morals charge to segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond. Taking to the Senate floor, Thurmond declared Rustin a "Communist, draft-dodger, and homosexual." (Decades earlier, Rustin, a Quaker and conscientious objector, refused to serve in World War II and had briefly joined the Communist party.)
This time, civil rights leaders closed ranks around Rustin, and Thurmond's attacks had little impact. Recalling the incident years later, activist Eleanor Holmes Norton said, "I'm sure there were some homophobes in the movement, but you knew how to behave when Strom Thurmond attacked."
Bennett Singer, the producer and director of the 2003 documentary "Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin," explained recently in an interview that "allies of the March on Washington were fearful that the march couldn't take place without violence and bloodshed." Always devoted to the principles of nonviolence he learned in the 1940s, Rustin was determined to keep the march nonviolent. And he did.
Fifty years later, we know that the march was one of the most crucial events of the last century, if not all of American history. And Rustin did find some vindication in that Life magazine cover. But because of the stigma of homosexuality that endured for much of the 20th century, most Americans will never know Rustin's name or what he managed to accomplish.
Thanks to President Barack Obama, however, Rustin will find a new level of visibility later this year: The White House has announced that Rustin will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in gratitude for his extraordinary contributions to the civil rights movement.
Today in our country, it is difficult to imagine a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender activist being forced into a closet for the good of any cause. But Rustin's story still resonates deeply inside many of our religious institutions.
Our churches are home to many LGBT people who make outstanding contributions to the life of the church as lay ministers, teachers, hospital workers, women religious and priests. Many are forced to be silent, however, because some in the church believe their sexual identities discredit or taint their work.
Anyone who believes that prejudice in our church is passing away is either unaware of or in denial about the hundreds of exceptional LGBT Catholics who, every year, are fired from jobs, uninvited from speaking in churches, or denied participation in church ministry because of their honesty about their sexual orientations or gender identities.
Rustin's life reminds us that, not too long ago, most of our culture believed a person's sexual identity could somehow taint or discredit the knowledge, talent and gifts he or she brings to a community. His story invites us to recognize and challenge the ways in which this toxic and often subconscious belief is still playing out in our churches, communities and families.
[Jamie L. Manson is NCR books editor. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her NCR columns have won numerous awards, most recently second prize for Commentary of the Year from Religion Newswriters (RNA). Her email address is

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fr. Roy Bourgeois's Article in Washington Post

Does the Catholic Church

really respect women, 

or the men who support 


By Roy Bourgeois, Published: August 26 at 10:35 am

After serving as Roman Catholic priest for 40 years, nine months ago I was expelled from the priesthood and my Maryknoll community because of my public support for the ordination of women. While being expelled from my religious community that I loved was incredibly painful, that pain doesn’t compare to the hurt endured by women and LGBT Catholics who have been marginalized by our church for centuries.
In a wide-ranging interview with press while returning to Rome following World Youth Day in Rio, Pope Francis covered a variety of topics that have real import to the life of the church, and the lives of individuals. In the two most-reported comments, the pope talked about the need not to marginalize gay people while maintaining the ban on same-sex relationships, and said that the issue of ordaining women to the priesthood is closed, stirring reactions to his comments among people across the globe. He added that the felt the church needed to examine the role of women, and perhaps open more ministries to them.
While many bishops are doing their best to say the pope was merely reiterating current church teaching and that his words should be seen in that light, the extraordinary global response to this press conference demonstrates that most people know there is much more going on. In a world increasingly marked by division—between rich and poor, among people of different faiths or sects, among races and ethnicities, between war-torn countries and those who supply weapons—the pope, as head of the earth’s largest Christian denomination, can be the symbol of the unity and justice yearned for by so many. He comes to the papacy from ministering in urban South America, rather than from an office in the Vatican bureaucracy. He has the potential to be a truly transformative figure.
It seems clear to me that the pope is still coming to terms with the power of his office, and how he wants to use it. He seems a bit conflicted between his pastoral sensibilities and the doctrinal tradition he has been handed. And he has yet to fully grasp the connections among the many kinds of alienation experienced within our church.

I wonder if Pope Francis has thought through the inconsistencies in his comments on women and gay people. Can you imagine if the take-away quote had been: “If a woman is of good will and called by the Lord to serve, who are we as men to judge and interfere with that call?”  Or if the pope had acknowledged that we lack a truly deep theology of sexuality and relationships? Talk about letting in fresh air by speaking truth!
As a priest I learned that when there is an injustice, silence is complicity. I saw the exclusion of women from the priesthood as a grave injustice and, in good conscience, I could not remain silent. The punishment for raising the question of equality was severe – I was thrown out of the community that I love.
Perhaps the biggest change demonstrated by the pope’s comments is the sense of liberation among Catholics to freely discuss the many issues facing the church. The fear that led so many to keep their doubts about current policy to themselves under the previous two popes seems to have been lifted. However, Pope Francis’s pastoral tone should not be mistaken for pastoral action. We need mechanisms and forums for the official church to hear the voices of the laity, especially women & LGBT Catholics. The people of the church are talking but we need the hierarchy to listen to groups like the Women’s Ordination Conference, DignityUSA, and the majority of Catholics who support a church based on justice. We cannot allow for the inconsistencies of justice in Pope Francis’s comments to stand without speaking out.
I am filled with hope because I know most Catholics have a personal experience that has convinced them that God’s love is not constrained by a person’s gender, sexual orientation, relationship status, or any other factor we humans may define. Nor is the call to ministry and the ability to serve God’s people. We need all Catholics– laity, priests and leadership –to engage in discerning what living this conviction would mean for our church. Only then we will experience the deeper theology called for by our pope, as well as an end to marginalization among too many of our church’s members.
Until true justice is achieved, we can continue to take action, speak out, and pray. On Monday, National Women’s Equality Day, Catholics can stand in solidarity with Catholic women and women of many faiths who are denied equal participation in their tradition by fasting and joining the interfaith event: Equal in Faith. Those in Washington, D.C. are encouraged to attend the prayer service at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church at 6:30 pm. I will fast in solidarity with those calling for inclusion and hope you join me.
Roy Bourgeois is a former Roman Catholic priest and author of “My Journey From Silence to Solidarity.”

Response to this Article:

The Holy Spirit cannot be contained. This picture speaks a thousand words about the grassroots response to the hierarchy's attempts to contain Sophia's wisdom.

Monday, August 26, 2013

New Book: Why The Catholic Church Must Change By Margaret Nutting Ralph

Rev. Donna Rougeux
Product Details

Words about a New Book
By Donna Rougeux

Dr. Margaret Ralph, PHD, of Lexington Kentucky is an author of thirteen books on scripture and has written a new book called Why the Catholic Church Must Change: A Necessary Conversation. Dr. Ralph has lectured and taught about scripture for forty years. I have been a student in her class and heard her speak many times. She profoundly impacted my life and helped me move from my childhood understanding of scripture to a more mature understanding of scripture. My experience with her as a teacher inspired me to be a seminary student.

Dr. Ralph’s newest book moves to a different subject but is grounded in her vast knowledge of scripture as she addresses important topics that are affecting the Roman Catholic Church today. Her book openly discusses vital controversial topics that the traditional Church avoids and wants to ignore like the ordination of women and homosexuality.  This book is a must read and is a great choice for book clubs/discussion groups. I am part of one such group and feel liberated to have the opportunity to discuss the issues that are found in the book with people in the Catholic communities in my hometown. 

Kate Kelly posted in Equal in Faith: Women Fast for Gender Justice

For those who cannot join us in person, we will be live streaming the event starting 6:30pm EST at the following channel The event will also be recorded & posted at :)
Ordain Women Events
Ordain Women is an action group seeking priesthood ordination in the LDS Church.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 26th Pray and Fast for Gender Justice

Join the Event on Monday August 26 called Equal In Faith:Women Fast For Gender JusticePeople Nationwide are invited to pray and fast for Gender Justice. 

Women's Ordination Movement Takes Interfaith Approach

Jamie Manson  |  Aug. 23, 2013

Women's ordination movement takes interfaith approach

"You're not alone" isn't a message members of most prophetic movements are accustomed to hearing. But in the struggle over the ordination of women, a new interfaith collaboration seems to be emerging.
On Monday, women and men from multiple faith traditions will gather in Washington, D.C., and Salt Lake City for a day of prayer called "Equal in Faith: Women Fast for Gender Justice."
After a day of fasting, participants will gather at St. Stephen and the Incarnation in Washington and at the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple for an interfaith service of prayer for the equal treatment of women in all faith communities.
"While women have access to spiritual authority in a growing number of religions, far too many women are still being denied equal participation and leadership in their faith traditions," said Erin Saiz Hanna, executive director of the Women's Ordination Conference, the largest and oldest organization advocating for the ordination of women in the Catholic church. The conference is one of the principal sponsors of the event.
Those who can't be in either city Monday are still invited to participate through the event's Facebook page.
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"Our supporters can be in solidarity wherever they are," Hanna said in an interview earlier this week. "They can pray with us and, if they are able, fast." Messages of encouragement and hope can also be added to the Facebook page.
The use of Facebook in this action is especially appropriate since the interfaith collaboration was initially born out of social media.
Late last year, Women's Ordination Conference staffers and friends produced and posted to YouTube a humorous music video called "Ordain a Lady" that advocated for the full inclusion of women in the Catholic church. Not surprisingly, the video elicited strong reactions from both supporters and detractors of the women's ordination movement.  
To Hanna's surprise, though, the video also generated a number of blog responses from Mormon women who have been fighting for full inclusion into the priesthood of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"I think this video was so striking to us because few Mormon feminists, let alone Mormon women, publicly articulate their desire for priesthood," Caroline Klein wrote in a blog post for Feminism and Religion.
In March, members of the newly developed organization Ordain Women launched a website to give a public voice to Mormons who believe in full inclusion of women in their church. The website features profiles of LDS church members and their statements of support for women's ordination.
Ordain Women held its first public meeting in April in Salt Lake City, running it concurrently with the priesthood session of the LDS General Conference.
Around that time, several of the leaders of Ordain Women also reached out to the Women's Ordination Conference and scheduled a lunch meeting with Hanna.
Hanna said she was struck by the strong sense of solidarity that exists between Roman Catholic and Mormon women. "As sisters in the struggle, we understand one another's pain and longing for justice," Hanna said.
 "They were looking at WOC as one of their models," she said. "It was a real shot in the arm."
Their shared passion led them to quickly plan an event to coincide with National Women's Equality Day, which has been held annually on Aug. 26 since 1971.
With short notice, they were able to widen their collaboration to include members of the Jewish group called Women of the Wall, an organization whose "central mission is to achieve the social and legal recognition of our right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall," according to their website.
Leaders from Ordain Women Now, a group that advocates for dialogue on the ordination of women in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, will also participate in the prayer service.
Given that planning began only recently, organizers expect this year's day of prayer will be of a smaller scale. "The goal is to build momentum for a larger action next year," Hanna said. That includes increasing the number of faith traditions represented in the event.
When participants gather in Washington for prayer at St. Stephen and the Incarnation to pray for the transformation of religious communities that exclude the leadership of women, they will be praying in a sanctuary that is a living memorial to women's advances within the institutional church.
In November 1974, St. Stephen's became the first Episcopal church where a woman publicly celebrated the Eucharist. The celebrant, the Rev. Alison Cheek, was one of 11 women who had been "irregularly" ordained five months earlier in Philadelphia.
Nearly 40 years later, true gender equality still cannot find its way through the doors of so many churches, synagogues, mosques and temples. Discrimination that would never be tolerated in society somehow continues to find acceptance in religious institutions.
It's a reality that frustrates women and men across many faiths, but through this new initiative, those who support women's equality are finding new energy and momentum in their solidarity -- and, hopefully, feeling a little less alone in the struggle.
[Jamie L. Manson is NCR books editor. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her NCR columns have won numerous awards, most recently second prize for Commentary of the Year from Religion Newswriters (RNA). Her email address is]