Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Bishop Mary Eileen Collingwood ARCWP and Dr. Shanon Sterringer ARCWP Respond to Letter from Rev. Nelson J. Perez D.D., Bishop of Cleveland

Bishop Mary Eileen Collingwood ARCWP ordains Dr. Shanon Sterringer ARCWP a deacon in Cleveland on July 10, 2019, Kathleen Ryan ARCWP, Circle leader on right

Most Rev. Nelson J. Perez, D.D.
Bishop of Cleveland
1404 East Ninth Street, Sixth Floor
Cleveland, Ohio 44114-1722

Dear Bishop Perez,

It has recently come to my attention that our newly ordained deacon and soon-to-be-priest,
Dr. Shanon Sterringer, has been the subject of a recent letter from you.  I am disappointed in your disparaging remarks concerning her ordination in the Roman Catholic tradition.

I find it necessary to correct your misstatements and slandering comments with regard to the Roman Catholic Women Priest Movement, and the women and men who have been ordained in prophetic obedience to the Spirit.  Our prophetic calling sets us apart from the current structures of our time—similar to the prophets of old.  With all the scandals caused by the Roman Catholic Church and its male clerical structure, I dare say that our faithful witness to Jesus’ life and mission is hardly something that should demand your concern.

Our ordinations are valid.*  Our first bishops were ordained by a male bishop in apostolic succession with Rome.  Therefore, our priests and deacons are validly ordained by our bishops. We recognize that the current Roman Catholic Church considers these ordinations illicit, as they do not follow the norms in present Canon Law composed by men.  As we all know, any man-made law can be changed for the common good of God’s People.  It would behoove the Church to include enlightened women in the formation of these laws if it is interested in guidelines that are inclusive and effective. 

Contrary to your statements, and carrying the validity of our ordinations, ordained members of our movement celebrate the sacraments and liturgy in the Catholic tradition.

Our presence in the Diocese of Cleveland, while public via the locations of our services, is not a protesting presence.  We are Spirit-filled, living prophetic witnesses to Jesus’ life and ministry.  We embrace an inclusive Table where all are welcome.  We serve member-led communities where all are equal and where all have a voice.  People who find themselves disenfranchised with the traditional Church find our faith communities through which they can grow and pray in the loving arms of an all-inclusive God.
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My prayer continues that you open your heart and mind to the promptings of the Spirit who is living and moving, if not in the institutional Church, in the hearts of those who will listen and follow.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

+ Mary Eileen Collingwood
Bishop serving the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Presider, Community of St. Bridget
23 Public Square
Brecksville, OH  44141

*See Commentary for Canon Law 1013: If a bishop were consecrated without the required mandate, the ordination would be valid but unlawful.

See Dr. Shanon Sterringer's Response on her blog:

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