My name is Alice. I am a thirty-three-year-old American. I have been Catholic all of my life. I guess you can say the Catholic Church got me at a very early age: I was baptized on my birthday by a nurse. I was only two pounds and twelve ounces; I wasnt expected to survive the whole ordeal. (I was born eleven weeks early.) Youve heard of cradle Catholic; well, I am an incubator Catholic.
I remember when I was in high school, I started thinking that I would like to be a priest. At that time, we had a priest at my parish, St. Stephen Catholic Community, who was very involved with the teens. I would say that he was influential in getting me to realize how important ministry is. He bent over backwards to teach us teens that we needed to stay away from drug and alcohol abuse.
Back then, I was hopeful that Pope John Paul II would ordain women. I remember being a junior high student in parochial school and watching on television his acceptance of the Papacy. The way he answered the question of womens ordination was answered in such a way that I thought it was a possibility under his leadership. Boy, was I wrong!
By the time I was a junior in high school, I knew that Pope John Paul II wasnt going to be opening any windows and letting in any more fresh air. However, I was attending a non-denominational Protestant school, and it was causing me to delve into my own faith more.
Since I was asking questions, reading theology, and staying out of trouble, some- times my friends would ask me if I was considering becoming a religious sister. By the time I was in college, my mother was telling me that nothing would make her prouder. However, I knew that I couldnt give my life to a Church that didnt think I was good enough for the priesthood. I even had thoughts of leaving the Church for a liberal Protestant denomination.
My disgust with the Church made it hard for me to get into the spirit of the Mass. Finally, one day my mother reminded me (sternly) that I had an obligation to God, regardless of any issue that I had with the Catholic Church. She also reminded me that I had a responsibility to set a good example for my much younger sibling. Being a deep thinker, I digested what Mom had to say and basically that was the kick in the pants that I needed to open my eyes and recommit myself to my Catholicism.
Slowly, I started getting involved again in my parish. I learned that St. Stephen Catholic Community means a lot to me; after all, I have been a member there since 1980. I have found that God uses St. Stephen Catholic Community as a means to bring people into my life to enrich it.
Even though I cant be ordained (female and gasp married), I do consider myself involved in ministry, and I am trying to give back to a community that has given me so much. Currently, I am the education chair on the parish council at St. Stephen. I am also a certified teacher and certified catechist.
Teaching is definitely a ministry no matter what school or religious education program someone is affiliated with. I have taught in the parochial school system of my diocese as well as for a Jewish school. In my opinion, teaching is a ministry because it allows one to truly touch the life of another.
In my opinion, womens ordination is crucial because the lack of women priests is a slap in the face to women, who, by the way, are usually very dedicated to others. By not ordaining women, we are sending the nonverbal message, to the youth of our Church, that females are not quite made in the image and likeness of God. (Of course, we know that this nonverbal message is contrary to the book of Genesis.) Furthermore, as an adult female, I know that it would do my heart and soul good to hear a female read the gospel, preach a homily, preside over the Eucharist, and hear a Reconciliation. Why? Well, the reason is I would feel more connected to the Creator. I would feel as though my physical make-up as a female really is holy, and not tainted or unworthy like some of the early saints thought.
My vision of ministry is service. I think ministers need to be humble, down-to-earth men and women who respect and really listen to others. I think ministers need to be professional in their dealings with people, kind, nonjudgmental, and genuine. Furthermore, a minister who has truly been called by God has, in my opinion, a smile that reflects what is in his or her soul a sincere love for others. My vision of the future ministry of the Church is a priesthood ordained as well as non-ordained that embraces both genders, and all cultures, in a spirit of mutual respect.
Personally, I still struggle with my Catholicism because of the current ban on womens ordination. I have times when I am saddened by it and times when I am angry about it. I still go through periods in which I think about leaving the Church and periods when I realize that this is, not only my religion, but also my culture. I have to admit Catholicism and the Catholic way of life are deeply ingrained into my being.
I am proud to be a member of Call-to-Action and FutureChurch. I support these organizations through my financial donations and prayers. I read their publications and find comfort in knowing that there are other Catholics out there who are thinking along the same lines as I am.
I believe that this push for women priests is definitely of God. I believe that the Holy Spirit is alive and well in 2000. We are waking up to the realization that all people regardless of gender or race are made in Gods image and likeness. We are beginning to understand that to deny someone the opportunity to do something constructive with his or her life because of gender or race is morally wrong.
I think that we are beginning to understand better that, through the Blessed Mother, Jesus really did elevate the position of women in a culture of domineering men. Marys free will was respected; her ability to make up her own mind about the course of her own life was honored. She shared a unique and special closeness with Jesus, for even Jesus was born to serve others in a variety of ways.
Ordination just for men?? You are kidding, right?! I can honestly say that I, a female, had the call, but unfortunately, the hierarchy wouldnt let me answer. How do I know that I had the call? Well, it is a nagging at your heart; a strong desire to help others sacramentally; a willingness to sacrifice, as required by the vows; and a tug to follow in the footsteps of the Greatest Teacher who walked this earth.
Alice -- June 2000
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