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Mary Frankland called to be a priest

Mary Frankland

Called to the Priesthood?

My earliest memories of going to Mass are firmly set in pre-Vatican II days. To this day I can remember the priest thundering from the pulpit that his congregation were all sinners, bound for hell. Somewhat frightening to the four or five year old child I was at the time.

I also thought why those horrible boys who called me names at school were able to be altar servers and I was not. That said, I loved going to Mass, although not being versed in Latin at the time or since it was incomprehensible to me. The reason I loved going was that my mum told me we were going to God's house where I would meet Jesus. I couldn't equate the angry God who seemed to come across in the priest's sermons with the loving God who welcomed everyone, rich and poor, to his house. Being convent educated (Sisters of Mercy between the ages of 5 and 11, Sisters of Notre Dame to the age of 18) I wanted to be a nun on and off, but somehow it didn't feel quite right. Time marched on - I had reached my early thirties and was still unmarried. I went to Benediction one night and was complimented on my singing by one of my ex teachers who asked, "By the way, when are you joining the order?" That brought me up short. Did I want to be a nun? It still didn't feel quite right, but I prayed about it and asked God to decide for me. If I hadn't met someone I could love within the year then I would become a nun. That was 1990 and two months after that turning-point Benediction, I met my future husband Tim and we married in 1992. Two years after our marriage, I was taken seriously ill and was not expected to live. However, during what I can only describe as a near death experience, I felt such warmth and happiness that it is not possible to put into words. Then I heard a voice in my head saying, "Your time hasn't come yet. You must go back." I remember I had been feeling sad at leaving Tim, my family and friends, but the pull toward God, even though it meant my death was very strong. As I came round in the hospital ward, I felt happy that I wasn't going to die, yet God's love was so beautiful that I felt regret that my time hadn't come.

Since that time, I have felt a sense of mission but to be truthful, I didn't know what it was, so I prayed about it and asked God to show me which way he wanted me to go. When I recovered from my illness, I became a Eucharistic Minister for my Parish in Knaresborough. Some time later, our Priest was ill, so I was asked to lead a Eucharistic service. It was whilst I was reading the Gospel that it hit me. This was the calling that I was meant to follow. After the service, I stayed for a while when everyone had gone and asked God "is this really what you want me to do?" Before I knew what happened, I was prone on the floor before the Blessed Sacrament, and to this day, I don't remember how I moved from my seat in the front pew of the church to my prone position before the tabernacle. The same feeling of certainty I had felt in the hospital came over me now. As I knew I wasn't to die just then, so I knew God wanted me to be a priest.

I like to help people if I can. I work in Social Services in York, although as an adminstrator rather than a Social Worker. I am active in my Parish, as a Eucharistic Minister among other things, including being a member of our Healing Prayer group. But several times at work, people have said to me "Why aren't you a priest?" I can only answer "My church doesn't ordain women."

At present, I am being considered for a place on the Industrial Chaplaincy team in York as a Roman Catholic lay chaplain. I have recently completed an MA in Theology and hope to undertake a Doctorate in the near future, writing on the subject of Mary as priest, as Our Lady was venerated in the early Church. It would be wonderful if, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, that this devotion was revived and that women to could serve their Lord on his altar. I believe that women have so much to offer the Church. I believe I am correct in saying that there are more female than male Eucharistic Ministers in my Parish, and yet most of the time we are restricted to cleaning the house and church, doing the typing and making the tea!

We need a holistic church where everyone shares in the decision making. I also believe that women could discuss their anxieties about sex, relationships, family life etc with another woman more easily than with a celibate man. Men and women together need to work to realise the vision that we all may be truly one in Jesus.

September 2001

Overview Signs of a Vocation A woman's journey Steps to take Answering critics Writing your story
Six options for Catholic women who feel called to the priesthood?

Called to the Priesthood?

My earliest memories of going to Mass are firmly set in pre-Vatican II days. To this day I can remember the priest thundering from the pulpit that his congregation were all sinners, bound for hell. Somewhat frightening to the four or five year old child I was at the time.

I also thought why those horrible boys who called me names at school were able to be altar servers and I was not. That said, I loved going to Mass, although not being versed in Latin at the time or since it was incomprehensible to me. The reason I loved going was that my mum told me we were going to God's house where I would meet Jesus. I couldn't equate the angry God who seemed to come across in the priest's sermons with the loving God who welcomed everyone, rich and poor, to his house. Being convent educated (Sisters of Mercy between the ages of 5 and 11, Sisters of Notre Dame to the age of 18) I wanted to be a nun on and off, but somehow it didn't feel quite right. Time marched on - I had reached my early thirties and was still unmarried. I went to Benediction one night and was complimented on my singing by one of my ex teachers who asked, "By the way, when are you joining the order?" That brought me up short. Did I want to be a nun? It still didn't feel quite right, but I prayed about it and asked God to decide for me. If I hadn't met someone I could love within the year then I would become a nun. That was 1990 and two months after that turning-point Benediction, I met my future husband Tim and we married in 1992. Two years after our marriage, I was taken seriously ill and was not expected to live. However, during what I can only describe as a near death experience, I felt such warmth and happiness that it is not possible to put into words. Then I heard a voice in my head saying, "Your time hasn't come yet. You must go back." I remember I had been feeling sad at leaving Tim, my family and friends, but the pull toward God, even though it meant my death was very strong. As I came round in the hospital ward, I felt happy that I wasn't going to die, yet God's love was so beautiful that I felt regret that my time hadn't come.

Since that time, I have felt a sense of mission but to be truthful, I didn't know what it was, so I prayed about it and asked God to show me which way he wanted me to go. When I recovered from my illness, I became a Eucharistic Minister for my Parish in Knaresborough. Some time later, our Priest was ill, so I was asked to lead a Eucharistic service. It was whilst I was reading the Gospel that it hit me. This was the calling that I was meant to follow. After the service, I stayed for a while when everyone had gone and asked God "is this really what you want me to do?" Before I knew what happened, I was prone on the floor before the Blessed Sacrament, and to this day, I don't remember how I moved from my seat in the front pew of the church to my prone position before the tabernacle. The same feeling of certainty I had felt in the hospital came over me now. As I knew I wasn't to die just then, so I knew God wanted me to be a priest.

I like to help people if I can. I work in Social Services in York, although as an adminstrator rather than a Social Worker. I am active in my Parish, as a Eucharistic Minister among other things, including being a member of our Healing Prayer group. But several times at work, people have said to me "Why aren't you a priest?" I can only answer "My church doesn't ordain women."

At present, I am being considered for a place on the Industrial Chaplaincy team in York as a Roman Catholic lay chaplain. I have recently completed an MA in Theology and hope to undertake a Doctorate in the near future, writing on the subject of Mary as priest, as Our Lady was venerated in the early Church. It would be wonderful if, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, that this devotion was revived and that women to could serve their Lord on his altar. I believe that women have so much to offer the Church. I believe I am correct in saying that there are more female than male Eucharistic Ministers in my Parish, and yet most of the time we are restricted to cleaning the house and church, doing the typing and making the tea!

We need a holistic church where everyone shares in the decision making. I also believe that women could discuss their anxieties about sex, relationships, family life etc with another woman more easily than with a celibate man. Men and women together need to work to realise the vision that we all may be truly one in Jesus.

September 2001

Overview Signs of a Vocation A woman's journey Steps to take Answering critics Writing your story
Six options for Catholic women who feel called to the priesthood?

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