Friday, July 18, 2014

Female Catholic Priest Celebrates Mass at St. Francis CW House

ARCWP Retreat - July 18, 2014 - Liturgical Celebration

ARCWP Diaconate Ordination of Nori Kieran-Meredith on July 16, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio


Women Priests Challenge Cincinnati Archdiocese for Punishing Impoverished Women for Praying with Woman Priest

 From: The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Release Date: July 18, 2014

Contact: Janice Sevre-Duszynska, D.Min. (media) 859-684-4247,

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) will present a check for $1,000 to Lydia’s House in Cincinnati to replace the $1,000 that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati withdrew because an ARCWP priest, Dr. Debra Myers, will lead a prayer service at this house and present the check on Sunday, July 20 at 5:00pm at Lydia's House.

Rev. Dr. Meyers was the first woman priest ordained in Cincinnati in 2013. She presides at local inclusive Catholic faith communities.

Lydia’s House is dedicated to helping homeless women and their children. The funds were earmarked for a new washer and dryer to help the homeless women and children.

“Women’s ordination is not only about women priests. It is also about lifting up abused and exploited women, locally and globally, as equal to men,” said Bridget Mary Meehan, bishop of ARCWP.

The ARCWP community is on retreat in Cincinnati, July 18 – 20, and will celebrate the ordination of six women.

For more information about our ministries, visit our website:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Catholic women become priest and deacon By Annie Quigley

Two Roman Catholic women were ordained Sunday, one as a priest and one as a deacon. - ANNIE QUIGLEY
  • Two Roman Catholic women were ordained Sunday, one as a priest and one as a deacon. 
  • Annie Quigley

Standing among thousands of Roman Catholics outside the Vatican, a woman dons a traditional priest’s stole. She receives communion in the sacred city while awaiting the election of a new Pope. Noting the guards surrounding the crowd, she is aware of the risk in her presence. Suddenly, seven fateful words halt her celebration.

“Why are you dressed like a priest?”

Janice Sevre-Duszynska was prepared for the question. “Because I am one," she replied. "Would you like a blessing?”

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) is a branch of the international movement advocating for and performing the ordination of women in the Catholic Church.

In just over a decade, the ARWCP has ordained 200 women in 10 countries, the vast majority in the United States. These women do not accept their excommunication, instead promoting a mission of equality and solidarity within the Catholic Church.

“We’re not leaving the church, we’re leading the church,” Sevre-Duszynska, an active ARCWP member, said.

Two women were ordained this Sunday at Indianapolis’ St. John United Church of Christ. Mary Weber became a priest; Annie Watson became a deacon. Both were ordained by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan. To an outsider, the ceremony would seem typical, an average day in the church. But to a Catholic, the opposite is true.

In 2007, under the authority of the Pope, a penalty was issued decreeing the automatic excommunication of anyone involved in a woman’s ordination.

In Catholic doctrine, the law of the Church, “Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination.” Historically and traditionally, only a man can become a priest, deacon, or other ministerial position. The price of disobeying this law is excommunication, or denying communion to the defiant and effectively distancing them from the church.

Those participating in the ordination of women have been excommunicated from the Catholic Church, and forbidden to receive communion. - ANNIE QUIGLEY
  • Those participating in the ordination of women have been excommunicated from the Catholic Church, and forbidden to receive communion. 
  • Annie Quigley

As I entered the church to meet with Sevre-Duszynska before the ordination ceremony, I saw dozens of posters and fliers, all inscribed with the same Bible passage:

“There is neither male nor female. In Christ Jesus you are one.”– Galatians 3:28.

“God is beyond gender,” Sevre-Duszynska said. “To exclude women is to exclude an aspect of God.”

The mission of the ARCWP is deeply rooted in the struggle for equality. The group maintains that the reason women are still not allowed to enter the priesthood is due to sexism, not doctrine. Only a few decades ago, women were not even allowed to act as alter servers.

Though the Church has grown considerably since then, it has not faltered on its stance on women’s ordination. In the Church’s eyes, the image of God is always male. This is evident not only in the male priests, but also in the countless artwork depicting a male God.

“We need more feminine images of God,” said Sevre-Duszynska.

The link between the Women Priests movement and feminist movements around the world is strong and undeniable. The ARCWP seeks justice for women in society. They maintain that the male-domination of Catholicism has a deep-rooted effect in Catholic women, making them feel spiritually inferior to men.

The ARCWP believes that equality can start with the church. They believe that sexism is a sin, and that people need to see women as an image of God. Women are consistently oppressed, victimized, and objectified, and need to be empowered in a “church of equals”.

The idea of a “church of equals” binds the ARCWP. Going further than ordaining women, priests of the organization generally serve inclusive communities. They seek to transform Catholicism to maintain tradition and embrace all people as equals. People from other faiths, divorcees, members of the LGBT community, and countless other groups often denied privileges are welcome to receive communion.

Male and female priests alike attended the ordination ceremony, pledging their support to the movement. - ANNIE QUIGLEY
  • Male and female priests alike attended the ordination ceremony, pledging their support to the movement. 
  • Annie Quigley

The priests of the ARCWP break from traditional Catholicism in multiple aspects of the mass. Aside from receiving Eucharist without going through the sacrament of First Communion, the new movement invites anyone to bless the Eucharist and each other as well as sign up to read homilies and gospels, all things traditionally done by priests.

“The spirit is in everyone,” explained Sevre-Duszynska.

Nevertheless, not everyone agrees with Sevre-Duszynska or the mission of the ARCWP. The movement has caused massive controversy to erupt within the church, resulting in excommunications for countless involved.

The controversy is not only caused by the women’s ordinations. Even after ordination, certain aspects defy traditional Catholicism. Many of the women priests are married with children, something traditionally forbidden. All services are held in non-Catholic churches, as though they are prohibited in Catholic churches, other faiths have provided their support.

As Sunday’s ordination ceremony began, Reverend Watson, interim pastor of St. John United Church of Christ and husband of Annie Watson, welcomed visitors to the church.

“Be careful,” said Watson. “This movement is contagious.”

It is possible that Watson was referring to the ever-growing number of Roman Catholic women priests and supporters. It is also possible that he was referring to his wife, who only decided to become a deacon after discovering that her husband’s church would be hosting a woman’s ordination. After she found out, her investment in the movement grew.

The ceremony included a full Catholic mass as well as the ordinations of both Watson and Mary Weber, a former Sister of Providence. Both women have proven valued members of the Catholic community, giving their lives to service. Testimonials from friends and family members asserted their merit, after which a phrase was repeated.

“Do you know if she is worthy?”

“Those who know have been asked.”

Janice Sevre-Duszynska, left, at podium, spoke at the ceremony, which was performed by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, center. - ANNIE QUIGLEY
  • Janice Sevre-Duszynska, left, at podium, spoke at the ceremony, which was performed by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, center. 
  • Annie Quigley

During the homily and parts of the ceremony, speakers reflected on the history of women in the church. They praised St. Joan of Arc and St. Mother Theodore Guerin, two women who changed the world and were instrumental in the fight for women’s equality. Talk followed of old paintings suggesting an ancient history of women’s ordination, and of St. Joan’s Alliance in 1911, the first advocates for woman’s ordination.

“We are proud to walk in their footsteps today,” proclaimed Bishop Meehan.

From holding banners outside walls of the Vatican to sending priests across the world spreading their mission of peace and justice, the ARCWP is taking leaps toward equality and diminishing sexism in the Church. Those involved have taken great risks for their beliefs and faced dire consequences, but show no signs of slowing.

“You know what they say, excommunication is the path to canonization,” laughed Sevre-Duszynska, noting her belief that each person has a calling, and the women priests are doing what they believe to be their mission in life.

As part of the ordination ceremony, Mary Weber, left, and Annie Watson, right, laid prostrate in front of the alter. - ANNIE QUIGLEY
  • As part of the ordination ceremony, Mary Weber, left, and Annie Watson, right, laid prostrate in front of the alter. 
  • Annie Quigley

Catholics are taught that conscience is sacred, that they should be guided by their knowledge of right and wrong. The ARCWP urges people and brother priests to follow their consciences, believing that the discrimination of women as priests is wrong.

The United States has been proven to offer an overwhelming support for the Women Priests movement. Currently, the Catholic Church is in dire need of priests, and according to the ARCWP, they don’t have to look far. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Homily: "Called to Be the Compassion of God" by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan/ ARCWP Ordains Two Women in Indianapolis on July 13, 2014

Today we rejoice that the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests will ordain 2 women in Indianapolis, Indiana:

Mary Weber, a former Sister of Providence, is a wife, mother and grandmother. She became a Providence Associate recently after spending a year in formation studying feminist theology as well as providence spirituality. Prior to retiring she worked as a licensed social worker, an accredited hospital administrator and a Pastoral Associate. Mary is a volunteer chaplain at a nursing home where she has ministered for 10 years. She plans to establish a house church and assist at an inclusive community already established in Indianapolis.

Annie Watson, a former Sister of Mercy, is also a wife, mother and grandmother. She was a Special Education Teacher and advocate for Special Needs children and adults in Kentucky.   She has served as a religious educator, youth minister and pastoral care minister.  Annie is currently working on a theological certificate program in preparation for ministry as a deacon.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus reveals that God is a God of compassion who calls us to be the compassion of God. The Beatitudes are a call to action to serve the excluded and oppressed and to transform unjust structures that cause poverty, abuse and inequality in our world.  Jesus led a paradigm shift away from a religion that focuses on rules and rituals to one that emphasizes living compassion and doing justice. Jesus led by example, crossing boundaries and creating a community of empowerment that included lepers, tax collectors, women, children and the walking wounded of his times. He embraced all especially the poor, the hungry the grieving, the oppressed, while promising abundance, liberation, comfort, and peace  in God’s tender love. So, too , we are called to be the face of our compassionate God today. This is a great challenge in a world in which global inequality is the norm for millions of people especially women and children.

In a recent essay in NCR's Global Sisters Report, St. Joseph Sr. Elizabeth Johnson observes that there is no country in the world in which women  are equals, but the following statistics are indeed cause for a wake up call:

“Women, who form half of the world's population, work three-fourths of the world's working hours; receive one-tenth of the world's salary; own one percent of the world's land; form two-thirds of illiterate adults; and together with their dependent children form three-fourths of the world's starving people."

Yale trained theologian, Jamie L. Manson believes: "Women's ordination isn't simply about making women priests. It's about helping church leaders recognize that if they were to include women in their leadership as their equals, they could truly be a powerful force for economic and social justice for women and children throughout our world.”

In his new book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, former President Jimmy Carter links sexism to a misinterpretation of religious beliefs : "The most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls, largely caused by a false interpretation of carefully selected religious texts and a growing tolerance of violence and warfare."

 Consistent with the Gospel, this is the reason that the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests’ vision is justice: for the poor, the marginalized, for women outside and in the church, especially women priests. We support all who work to promote human rights for the oppressed in our world and we take public stances on social justice issues


The hierarchy must stop using religion to discriminate against women. “Injustice anywhere”, as Martin Luther King pointed out is “a threat to justice everywhere." In exploring the relationship between the primacy of personal conscience and fidelity to the institutional church, Benedictine Joan Chittister warns of the danger of becoming "institutional robots."

Two recent incidents illustrate oppressive tactics by the institutional church to intimidate the followers of Christ who are living prophetic obedience to the Spirit today.
In the first incident, the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph fired Colleen Simon who distributed food to the homeless after learning that she is a same sex marriage.

 In the second example, Lillian Lewis of Three Oaks, Michigan who  was ordained a Roman Catholic Woman Priest on June 1st was told by Kalamazoo Bishop Paul Bradley that she and all who attended  the litugy would face excommunication from the Catholic Church.

Two courageous saints Mother Theodore Guerin, and Hildegard of Bingen practiced prophetic obedience by following their consciences. They lived the Beatitudes, stood up to bullying by their bishops, and endured severe punishments including excommunication and interdiction. We are proud to walk in their footsteps today. 
Mother Theodore Guerin, was born in France and came to the Indiana in 1840 to found an American version of the Sisters of Providence. She believed in the equality of women and in one sense could be described as a “radical feminist.” She would not submit to the bishop when he wanted to take over the control of her order.  On one occasion, the bishop locked her in the rectory closet until her sisters set her free. She once said “Woman in this country is only one fourth of the family. I hope that through the influence of religion and education, she will become at least one half--- the better half.”
Amen, St. Theodore Guerin, your struggle for equality for women continues today in all the justice movements of our times!

St. Hildegard of Bingen was born in 1098 in Germany and became a Benedictine abbess.  A prophetic visionary, poet, musician, and reformer, she embarked on four preaching tours challenging the corruption and abuses of the Pope and hierarchy. The following exhortation, entitled “Flame of Anger, expresses her “holy outrage “toward the local archbishop who had placed her community under interdict because she disobeyed his order to exhume the body of a man who had been excommunicated and buried in the monastery cemetery.

“You ask why I disobey you, my bishop;

I answer in a spirit of prayer,

As I hope you did too in addressing me.

I, the Abbess, disobey, and all my sisters choose to disobey,

Because in such obedience is only darkness.

In our disobedience is light for our spirits,

So has God shown us.

I am not just disobedient,

I am outraged.

A thunderstorm of outrage shakes my soul.

In God’s truth I say to you:

‘You are wrong and we are right.’

We are obeying Christ,

We are following Christ,

We choose not to insult Christ,

As obeying you would force us to do.

Because of what you call our disobedience,

You have forbidden us to sing our psalms.

You have deprived us of the Food of Life.

You have cut off the streams of life, the sacramental graces.

God told me to tell you this also:

Beware of closing the mouths of those who sing God’s praises.

‘Who dares to de-string the harp of heaven?’ …:

(Excerpts from Letter to the Bishop written by Hildegarde of Bingen aged 80)

 St. Hildegard, what a mentor, you are in the ministry of irritation!

Like St. Hildegard of Bingen, Deacon Phoebe, apostle Junia and the women leaders in the early Christian community, our women priest-led communities are birthing a new church of loving partnership and spiritual unity that is rising from within the heart of the community of faith. We are experiencing the healing of the divine feminine and the sacred masculine drawing us into a deeper oneness in the God-Presence everywhere among us and beyond us. As ministers of hospitality, we invite all to receive sacraments at the Banquet Table of infinite love. As we grow in evolutionary consciousness we are called to be cosmic co-creators, spiritual mystics and prophetic activists with mountain-moving faith. The words of Jesus echo in our hearts as we live Gospel equality now:”Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, they will have their fill and blessed are those who are persecuted because of their struggle for justice, the kindom of heaven is theirs.”

In 2002, seven women, who were ordained on the Danube River, started a “holy shakeup” a spiritual renewal initiative within the Roman Catholic Church. Our first women bishops were ordained by a male bishop in apostolic succession. Therefore, we have valid orders

Now there are close to 200 in the international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement serving inclusive Catholic communities in 35 states in the United States, as well as in Canada, Europe, South Africa and Latin America.

As you are ordained today, Mary and Annie, may you be the compassion of God as you live the Beatitudes. May you foster vibrant, mystical and justice seeking communities of faith. May you reflect the feminine face of God healing, loving, and serving, the people of God. May you be the power of love, embracing all, in the cosmic dance of creation.

Additional links:

Women priests say no to global economic inequality and no to gender inequality.