Saturday, January 24, 2015

"Woman Becomes Priest, Faces Excommunication" "I'm a part of a group who are willful disturbers."

ORLANDO, Fla. — "One week ago, 80-year-old Rita Lucey was ordained as a priest — and excommunicated by the Catholic Church.

Lucey joins a growing movement of women who, while operating outside the Roman Catholic Church, contend they are not leaving the church but leading it into an era of gender equality.
"We are the Rosa Parks of the Catholic Church. We are leading the church into a new era of equal justice for women," said Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, who will ordain Lucey as a member of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests...

"Rita has been a courageous witness for justice in the church for years. She has stood up for equality and justice for women in the world and justice for women in the church," Meehan said...The idea of becoming a priest in a church that forbids female clergy came in the form of a ring with a dove she found in an old hat box that belonged to her relatives. To her, the dove was a spiritual sign that led her to the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and the realization that her calling was to become a priest late in life.
"I asked myself, 'What are you doing this for at this age?'" she said. "I know why I'm doing this — because the spirit is calling me. Women can be priests. We are called to the priesthood."
But there is also a part of her that revels in rebellion and the idea that, at 80, she might be part of something that changes the Catholic church as woman in the past have altered American society.

"Sometimes I feel like a suffragette. How excited they must have been when they finally got the vote," she said. "I like that I'm a part of a group who are willful disturbers."

ABC Television Coverage of Rita Lucey Ordination in Orlando

"Two 'Rebels' Ordained" posted in Iglesia Descalza

Iglesia Descalza

Posted: 22 Jan 2015 11:00 AM PST
On January 3rd, Georgia Walker (photo below) became the first woman Catholic priest to be ordained in 2015 and the first in the conservative Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese. During a ceremony presided by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, the 67 year-old convert to Catholicism who had originally thought of joining the Sisters of St. Joseph but left during the discernment process, joined the ranks of several hundred women worldwide who no longer want to wait for the institutional Roman Catholic church to grant them full equality.

According to ARCWP, Rev. Walker has held a variety of positions in the health care industry and has a degree in sociology. She taught sociology for many years at three universities in Kansas and at the federal prison in Leavenworth. She is now the co-founder and executive director of Journey To New Life, an agency that specializes in serving former convicts who suffer from addictions, mental illness and chronic health conditions. Over the last twenty years she has also done accounting for numerous parishes, schools and social agencies. She currently serves on the Board of Peace Works-Kansas City, often engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience and she volunteers with local Catholic Worker houses. She has been convicted of trespassing at the Bannister Federal Complex in south Kansas City and at Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster, Mo. Now Rev. Walker wants to work in prison ministry.

Four days after her ordination, Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn issued a formal decree stating that Georgia Walker had been excommunicated latae sententiae. Perhaps the speed of the order reflects the fact that there isn't much love lost between Rev. Walker and Bishop Finn. They had previously tangled over the firing of a food pantry employee in the diocese for her marriage to her lesbian partner. Rev. Walker spearheaded a petition campaign that gathered more than 30,000 signatures calling on the diocese to reinstate Colleen Simon. Along with the petition, Walker delivered a personal message to Bishop Finn: "...The Roman Catholic parishioners in the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph yearn to have a bishop-shepherd who leads with compassion, understanding, dialogue and peace. We pray for one who hears the voice of conscience and follows gospel values of Jesus of Nazareth, who was welcoming, inclusive, collaborative, forgiving and loving. We are weary of actions that reflect inflexible church rules despite the devastating consequences in the lives of sincere human beings striving to respond to God's call to ministry...Please pray about that as you ponder why the parishioners of this Diocese are leaving the church in droves!...Respectfully, I ask that you resign from your position so that we can participate in a more loving and inclusive Roman Catholic Church!" Simon has since filed a lawsuit against the diocese for "fraudulent inducement" arguing that her relationship was known when she was hired.

Given the history, Rev. Walker's response to the excommunication decree should come as no surprise either. "What the official church does to me is not relevant," Rev. Walker said. "They can't take away my baptism, they can't take away my calling to the priesthood. All they can do is deny me their sacraments. But now, I am a priest and I can provide those sacraments. Not just to myself but to others."

Two weeks later, more ordinations. On January 17th in a ceremony in Orlando, Florida, Bishop Meehan ordained one woman, 80 year-old Rita Lucey of Orlando, to the priesthood, and Jim Marsh of Albany, NY and St. Petersburg, FL, Kathryn Shea of Sarasota, FL and Mary Catherine White of Gorham, NH to the ARCWP diaconate (photo above).

Rev. Lucey has a bachelor's degree from Barry University, Miami, and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University. As a military wife, she volunteered with the Red Cross in military psychiatric hospitals stateside and overseas. During that time she was also a catechist and then for many years a director of religious education. Later she volunteered with Hospice of the Comforter for 25 years until the facility was sold in 2013. Like Rev. Walker, Lucey has also been involved in civil disobedience. She trespassed at Fort Benning, Georgia during the SOA Watch protest to close the U.S. Army School of the Americas, for which she spent six months in federal prison in 1998. She is an active member of Pax Christi, is a board member of the local chapter of Amnesty International, and past president of the local chapter of the United Nations Association. She has been dubbed by the media the "Rebel Granny" because she has four children and nine grandchildren.

Rev. Lucey told the Orlando Sentinel that she doesn't accept the institutional Church's arguments against women's ordination. "I see that as a man-made thing rather than a revealed truth. It's a patriarchal interpretation of the Scriptures that definitely has sexual bias." Nor is she afraid of excommunication, saying that she remains Catholic through her baptism, confirmation and faith. "Jesus was a good Jew who didn't leave his Judaism any more than I have left my Catholicism in my heart and soul," Lucey reasons. "I asked myself, 'What are you doing this for at this age?'? I know why I'm doing this -- because the spirit is calling me. Women can be priests. We are called to the priesthood." 

"Exploring God's Boundless Love", a beautiful video featuring scenes from nature, soothing music, and prayerful reflections by Bridget Mary Meehan

Relax, be still, encounter divine forgiveness, healing and empowerment.
Listen to positive , loving affirmations that reflect one's inner wisdom
 that communicate the message: "with God all things are possible."

Bridget Mary Meehan narrates this inspiringTelly award winning Godtalk video
 with powerful prayer meditations on God's love beyond all imagination. 
This Godtalk video originally aired on FPA, a cable television station in Fairfax, VA. 

This video meditation features beautiful nature scenes, stunning icons and images that reflect feminine and masculine images of the Holy and gentle music featuring relaxing melodies and soothing chants and mantras.

Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP is a bishop serving the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and author of 20 books on prayer, meditation and spirituality including Living Gospel Equality Now, The Healing Power of Prayer, Affirmations from the Heart of God, A Promise of Presence, Praying with Women of the Bible, Praying with Visionary Women, Praying with a Passionate Heart, Exploring the Feminine Face of God, Delighting in the Feminine Divine, Heart Talks with Mother God. Visit BridgetMarys Blogspot and the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests website: and
 You can find books on prayer and spirituality by Bridget Mary Meehan on -

Friday, January 23, 2015

Empowering Gender Equality in Developing Countries

Clergy Means the "Separated Ones" by John Chuchman

The word "clergy" means the separated ones. And how did we become so
separate? In part, by reading books for ten years and going off to academic
seminaries, which usually had little to do with the natural world beneath
our feet and around us and above us. Then we also do our rituals inside
buildings, which may be beautiful, but are human constructs separating us
from the consolations and the discomforts of nature for the most part. We
clergy may assume that we are ahead of the "lay people" because of our book
education, but we're finding again and again that this isn't necessarily
true. Often those taught by the hard knocks of reality seem to know more
about what really matters.

Update on Church of England Bishop

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Two Women Priests Homilies for Sunday: 1/25/2015

“What’s Up, God?” Genesis 1:1-5, Mark 1:4-11 (The Message) January 11, 2015 Annie Watson, ARCWP

What’s up, God?
In the past, when people tried to imagine what God is doing, they looked at the only thing that was visible to them: nature. The most dramatic displays of nature’s power caught their attention, including thunderstorms.
“God thunders across the waters,” said the writer of Psalm 29. Nothing could grab the attention of pre-scientific-minded people more than the roar of nature’s thunder. So it must be God up to something.
But on a typical day, when the sun is shining and all is calm, where is God to be found? What is God doing? What is God up to?
“We don’t hear anything,” they would say as they looked up to the sky, which is where they assumed God lived. And when one looks up to the sky for something that is alive what does one often observe?
Birds. Birds flying solo, birds flying in formation, birds chirping, birds nesting on branches. And yes, the ancient observers of the sky, folks who spent most of their time outdoors, were all too often the recipients of an occasional bird dropping. That’s just life.
Because the birds were the only observable living things in the sky, it was not too difficult to connect the hovering activity of birds to the question, “What is God up to?” We can see this question answered at the very beginning of the biblical story:
“First this: God created the Heavens (that is, the sky) and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.”
As the writer says, everything is dark, so God creates light: “God spoke: ‘Light!’ And light appeared. God saw that light was good and separated light from darkness. God named the light Day, he named the dark Night. It was evening, it was morning—Day One.”
Did it really happen this way? No, and yet it’s not hard to imagine how the writer of Genesis 1 came to this conclusion. This is poetry. Beautiful, inspired, heart-felt poetry. It’s the mind of ancient writers at work, trying to make sense of the world, trying to answer the question, “What’s up, God?”
When people ask me what I think God is up to, I usually respond, “Read Genesis 1.” That’s a good place to start. If God has a job description, it probably begins like this: 1) create order out of chaos; 2) Bring good out of evil; and 3) separate light from darkness.
That’s what God is up to, whether the sun is shining or the storms are brewing. God is hovering over us, and if we are spiritually sensitive we might “feel” an occasional “drop” of God’s order, goodness, and light.
You never know when and where God might hover about like a bird. In Mark’s Gospel we are given the first recorded account of Jesus’ baptism. Because it’s Mark’s Gospel we don’t get a lot of details. Mark doesn’t add a lot of color commentary to the story; he just gives the bare essentials. Even here, at a relatively small river in an obscure outpost of the Roman Empire, God is up to something.
Mark writes, “At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: ‘You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.’”
Once again, it’s not hard to see the writer’s imagination at work here. If the Messiah of God is being baptized, then God must be up to something, and when God is up to something, look up. And when we look up, what do we see? Hovering birds. In this case, a dove.
What happens immediately after Jesus’ baptism, according to the Gospel accounts, is just as interesting. Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the same Spirit that was there at his baptism. Was the Spirit still “looking like a dove”? Why not? If so, what a great image! Jesus is following the flight of a dove out into the wilderness.
When Jesus arrives in the wilderness for a lengthy period of fasting and soul searching he encounters temptation, personified in the story as Satan. Satan is an ancient mythological being who seems to spend his time trying to get good people, like Job and now Jesus, to fail (or fall) in their humanity.
Like Job, Jesus successfully overcomes all the temptations thrown his way. The temptations apparently targeted his weak spot, his “dark side,” if that phrase can be applied to Jesus without sounding blasphemous. Jesus was tempted to use his power as the Messiah for personal gain, but he overcame them.
Just as at the beginning of creation, Jesus’ chaos was ordered and his light was separated from darkness. That’s God’s job description, and that’s what God is doing with us.
So here we are, comfortably nesting in this beautiful worship space. A place of order in the midst of the world’s chaos, goodness in the midst of the world’s evil, light in the midst of the world’s darkness. And we don’t even have to worry about bird droppings in here!
Still, don’t you think God is up to something, hovering over us like a bird, even if we can’t see what it is?
Because God is always up to something, and we can’t always see what it is, certainty is not a virtue. There is very little room for certainty in our spiritual journeys. Confidence, maybe, but not certainty. Certainty is not an exact science, much less an exact religion. Certainty needs to be replaced with curiosity and compassion--
--Curiosity, because we should always be looking up, metaphorically speaking, to see what God is up to. Compassion, because although we don’t always know what God is up to, we know what we should be up to.

So, what’s up, God? That’s a good question, but maybe the better question is, “What’s up, us

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ten Reasons Why Pope Francis Should Listen to Women Priests, Mothers, Grandmothers, and Great Grandmothers/, Pope: Catholics don’t need to breed" like rabbits” by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Pope Francis, you need women deacons, priests and bishops who are mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers! They have had first hand experience living as responsible parents in our world today. 
  1. Catholics should follow their consciences
  2. Catholic parents are the experts on this topic, in decisions about artificial birth control in responsible parenting. not a male, celibate hierarchy.
  3. Artificial birth control is not intrinsically evil. The church allows artificial implants of medical devices such as pace makers, what is the difference?
  4. The people of God, the ‘sensus fidelium,” have affirmed artificial birth control as the most effective means in achieving responsible parenthood.
  5. Artificial birth control is an effective method to prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions. The rhythm method has an average failure rate of 13-20%.
  6. Two-thirds of the world’s poor are women and their children. In some countries artificial birth control, including the Philippines, is illegal due in large part to the hierarchy’s religious and political influence.
  7. In Africa, there have been public burnings of boxes of condoms under the direct influence of local bishops. Condoms save lives in the AIDS epidemic. Let’s ask ourselves what would Jesus say and do in this situation today?
  8. Women are free moral agents in making decisions to give birth to children. This is another example of the male hierarchy’s domination patterns of power and control over women that denies women’s own moral agency.
  9. If men could get pregnant, birth control would be a sacrament.
  10. Birth Control is a economic issue. Children cost money! Impoverished people cannot afford to feed, clothe and educate their children. This is the reason millions of children are sold into prostitution and suffer violence and abuse in many places.
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Excellent Article by Jamie Manson on Pope Francis' Visit to Philippines and encounter with young girl who makes the case for a change in church teaching on birth control to alleviate the sufferings of the poor who cannot afford food for large families

A Message to Pope Francis: "birth control is an Economic Issue"

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Women have much to give as leaders in Catholic Church BY CAROL STANTON GUEST COLUMNIST for Orlando Sentinel

"Rita Lucey is smiling. She defies her 80 years in photographer Red Huber’s wonderful picture accompanying the article about her ordination to priesthood (“She’ll become priest, get excommunicated,” Friday).

This is a woman who has given many of her eight decades to action, even imprisonment, for social justice and to care for the sick. This is a wife of 60 years, a mother and grandmother who, under ordinary circumstances, would be celebrated in Catholic officialdom as a model of what Pope Francis is encouraging priests and people to be.
This is a woman whose ordination to priesthood through the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests will automatically incur excommunication from a church that does not recognize the association as one of its own, even though many of its own are part of it. A church whose leaders continue to bar women from ordination, the participation in governance that comes along with it and the fullest use of their gifts as servant leaders.
Excommunication has a long history in the Catholic Church. Often used as a political weapon, it could place entire communities under a pall of eucharistic deprivation sometimes lasting years. Excommunication in 2015 has not lost that whiff of weaponry, and Lucey joins a whole raft of politicians and other way-wards who, by the law of the church, either incur it automatically or are pronounced “out of communion” by a local bishop. Its punitive cousins are the increasing threats of job loss for church employees who are judged to stray.
Yet, here is Lucey, well beyond the age of acceptance into any of the Roman Catholic Church’s Seminary or Diaconate preparation programs but, from all indications, a woman faithful, over a lifetime, to her church’s call to discipleship. Somewhere along the way, in her spiritual journey, she found this current path and is following it, despite the official consequences.
And she is not alone. A couple of hundred women from around the world have been following this same path. Without ecclesial space in their church of origin, they find other spaces for gathering and leading communities of worship and service to the marginalized.
Are the Rita Luceys seeking ordination because they are frustrated, disgruntled, angry and alienated and want to poke the eye of a clerical and mostly male church bureaucracy?
Maybe. Women keep Catholic parishes and dioceses going on a daily basis, bringing extraordinary pastoral and leadership skills. Many pastors will admit that should the women in their church go on strike, parish life would come to a grinding halt. It is difficult for women to minister and yet remain invisible and mostly unacknowledged. This is cause for some just anger. However, perhaps there is another and ironically more traditional reason some catholic women are seeking ordination where they can find it.
Catholic faithful, both men and women, are beginning to recognize the dissonance of not having women able to serve sacramentally — not only prepare for baptism but baptize; not only accompany the dying but bury them; not only teach the Gospel but proclaim and preach it.
A Pew Research Center survey in February 2014 shows that 68 percent of the U.S. Catholics polled are in favor of ordaining women as priests, and that 42 percent expect the church to change its position by 2050. Church leaders are not known to be swayed by popularity or polls. At the same time, the church has always taught that there is a sense of the faithful operating in the reception of church teaching, a resonating that speaks to the wisdom and timeliness of a teaching.
In 2015, a serious survey such as Pew’s could be revealing where that sense of the faithful is heading. It may be worth some attention.
Is it possible that despite being excommunicated from the center of the present church, Lucey, at 80, may be the face of the church to come? What is certain is that change rarely comes from the center."

Carol Stanton has worked as a teacher and director of programs, communications and marketing/development in the Catholic Church in Boston, Maryland, Central Florida and the Republic of Ireland. She was also a TV news reporter/anchor for WFTV and WESH in Orlando.

Roman Catholic Women Priests Are Appointing Themselves The Role The Vatican Never Gave Them

Rita Lucey has waited 80 long years to become a priest. There was just one tiny hurdle in the way: her gender. Barred by Roman Catholic dogma from joining the priesthood, Lucey did it her own way — and found a sisterhood instead. On Saturday, Jan. 18, Lucey was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in a ceremony that is not only unrecognized by the Vatican, but also one that makes Lucey susceptible to excommunication. 
Ordained, then excommunicated in almost the same breath? That’s the normal plight of Roman Catholic women priests in the United States. “If that happens, that’s how it will be,” Lucey told Central Florida’s News 13. “But because I am called by the Holy Spirit to be a priest, I am here.” 
The great-grandmother is hardly alone in her unconventional spiritual journey. Lucey was ordained by a female bishop in a ceremony overseen by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a growing women-led movement that is powering alongside the Catholic Church despite being ignored by the cardinals in Rome. According to the ARCWP, there are more than 124 ordained women priests and 10 women bishops worldwide. 
All of those participating in the women-centric organization have been excommunicated by the Catholic Church. However, the ARCWP insists that the organization is in “apostolic succession” with the Vatican, because the first female bishop was ordained by a male bishop. “Therefore, our bishops validly ordain deacons, priests and bishops,” the ARCWP claims in its statement of apostolic succession.

But no matter what the Vatican thinks, feels or threatens, the women priests and bishops still feel they are in communion with the Catholic Church. “We do not accept [excommunication] and affirm that we are loyal members of the church,” the ARCWP writes on its website. “We continue to serve our beloved church in a renewed priestly ministry.”
Lucey, who’s not only a woman but (gasp!) married, admitted to NBC News that her act of religious defiance on Saturday was as much a political move as it was a spiritual awakening. “It’s such an injustice within the Catholic Church that women are not treated equally,” Lucey told NBC News. 
Although a number of Protestant faiths, including the Episcopal Church, ordain women as priests and bishops, the men who rule the Catholic Church continue to staunchly oppose women’s ordination on the basis of canon law. There are several defenses the male hierarchy and conservative Catholics have used to defend the exclusion of women from the priesthood, including the fact that since women cannot be fathers in the biological sense, they cannot lead in the spiritual sense. Pope John Paul II has also routinely fallen back on defined gender roles within the church, reiterating throughout his papacy that Jesus picked only men as his apostles, therefore making the hierarchy “masculine.”
However, in an age where women have fought for equal rights inside and outside of the Catholic Church, the flimsy defenses seem to be falling on deaf — and defiant — ears. “The Vatican cannot continue to discriminate against women and blame God for it,” Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan told NBC News.
Women’s ordination — or even just a woman’s role — in the Catholic Church is contentious on both sides of the pew. Newly demoted Cardinal Raymond Burke recently sparked some controversy when he blamed altar girls — yes, those 10-year-olds who help the priest during Mass — for taking away opportunities from boys, because the girls were just too damn good on the altar of the Lord:
The introduction of girl servers also led many boys to abandon altar service. Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural. The girls were also very good at altar service. So many boys drifted away over time. I want to emphasize that the practice of having exclusively boys as altar servers has nothing to do with inequality of women in the Church. 
While Burke’s interview, which also criticized radical feminism for purportedly tainting the Catholic Church, was lampooned by Catholic feminists over the last week, his baseless accusations are nothing to laugh about. These views are held by many men within the Catholic Church, and even the ostensibly liberal Pope Francis has repeatedly put a cork in the women’s ordination discussion. 
For Rita Lucey, it took 80 years to become a Roman Catholic woman priest. For her to be recognized by the Catholic Church, it may take another 80 years — or even longer.
Images: screenshot/NBC News, Getty Images, Women’s Ordination Conference/Facebook

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests(ARCWP) Videos and Stills of Historic Ordination of Priest, Rita Lucey, and Deacons Jim Marsh, Kathryn Shea, Mary Catherine White

Blessing of Deacons
Deacons Receive the Gospel
Presentation of Deacons to Community
Blessing of Ordinands by Community
Bishop Bridget Mary Blesses Ordinands With Community 
Newly Ordained Priest Rita Lucey Offers Communion
Deacons: "Let Our Service Begin" 

Seth Winners

Jim Marsh and Elena Gracia
Kathryn Shea and Stephen Winners

Mary Catherine White and Terry Urekew

All videos and photos above may be linked and or downloaded and used by the public. Please credit that they are from ARCWP/
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests/Bridget Mary Meehan's blog