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Sr. Michèle Jeunet

Sr. Michèle Jeunet

I am a French woman, born in Paris in 1950. Since my parents were not believers, I was neither baptised nor brought up in a faith. My conversion came through a Christian friend, and I was baptised at the age of 18.

As soon as I believed and knew God’s love for me, I experienced the desire to become a priest. At that time, this vocation meant a life consecrated to speaking about God and being able to give the life of God to people through the sacraments. There was a time when I hesitated in my choice between the Roman Catholic Church and a Church from the Protestant reform movement. This hesitation arose precisely because of the issue of ministry, knowing that it would be possible for me in the reformed Churches. Nonetheless, I chose the Catholic Church, in the hope that the situation would change, and also because I felt that in her I would find the fullness of Christian faith.

While waiting for things to move on, I had to find a way of starting to answer the call I felt: as a lay person, I studied for a theology degree at the Institut Catholique in Paris. At the age of 30, I joined a religious Congregation whose mission is close to that of the priesthood, and this gave me the opportunity to serve Christ and the Church through a ministry of spiritual direction, retreat-giving, preparation for sacraments and catechesis. At the age of 30, I joined a religious Congregation whose mission is close to that of the priesthood, and this gave me the opportunity to serve Christ and the Church through a ministry of spiritual direction, retreat-giving, preparation for sacraments and catechesis. For the last nine years, I have been a University chaplain. In this post, I have had pastoral care for a people, small in number, but very real.

I am very grateful for the existence of my Congregation, which since the 19th century has given women the opportunity to put their God-given gifts at the service of the Church; and has allowed me for the past twenty years to live out to a certain extent the call I still hear. I am convinced that God is calling women to the ordained ministries, but that at the present time the male hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is closed to the voice of the Holy Spirit. It may seem like a pretentious thing to say, but we do know that this is not the first time that such obstacles to the Spirit have been encountered: A church of fishermen, that has trouble in being transformed by the new message of the Gospel.

I strongly believe that the ordination of women would be a potent force for renewal, it would enrich the ministry with a female way of living. Differences between men and women are found not in living different functions (the Roman position) but in different ways of living out the same functions. I will give just one example. Only a short time ago, the idea of a woman leading a retreat or preaching a homily would have been inconceivable. Nowadays it is possible (though sadly still rare enough!) After I have preached or given a homily, people often say to me: "It’s a very different way of speaking to that of a man." And it’s not a complaint!

The refusal to ordain women is a terrible waste for the Church, a serious loss of energy.

Sr. Michèle Jeunet

michele.jeunet@caramail.com

translated by Joanna Waller

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?


Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

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