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My Story

 

[The following is a reply sent in response to an anonymous email.]

 

Thank you so much for sharing this. Many of us are struggling and "hanging on by thread" when it comes to being Catholic because of all the issues described in your email. Lately, I had been feeling so out of integrity by still being in the pews. It was starting to become clear to me that for me to be true to myself and my dignity, I have to start raising my voice about the injustices in a bigger way, if I am sticking around. And then the Jennifer Sleeman call hit the news and it struck a cord with so many of us (40 women came to the planning meeting last Sunday!). This event on Sept. 26 is going to be incredible. It will be heartbreaking.... because we will be speaking the truth about the injustices. But it will also be empowering and hope-filled because we are joining our voices with other women (and men) in a very public way. With the momentum that has been created in just this last week, I have a feeling this will be bigger than any of us imagined. The event itself will honor the gifts of women and women leadership. My hope is that the experience will be refreshing and nurturing to the spirits of those gathered in addition to being a call for change.

 

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My Story

 

[The following is an email received in response to the event announcement.]

 

Thank you so much for sending this. You may have noticed our absence from St. Andrew's this summer. I have personally struggled with the church for years because my personal views on issues such as birth control, gay rights, ordination of married men and women, etc. The pedophilia cases that have been headline news for years now and the churches handling of the issue have horrified me. When the Archbishop sent out a letter critical of the Oregonian (On Easter Sunday no less) and urging catholics to cancel their subscriptions I thought I had finally had it. And then there was the Vatican statement equating the criminal, sick behavior of priests who prey on the powerless with the ordination of women I went numb. I am not sure I can recover, but I will consider coming to your event. It is the first positive message I have heard in a while, although I feel you will be preaching to the choir and the powers that be will continue to be oblivious to our voices.

 

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My Story

 

I actually had a very good experience as a Religious – Vatican II was widely discussed; we implemented many changes (and it wasn’t so much on our radar to want to be priests – that role was so clerical) and we wanted more to be in the trenches really making social justice a priority in the work we did.  My heroes were Daniel Berrigan and Dorothy Day – I always felt that they acted out their beliefs and those beliefs were formed by their experience of the Gospel which they learned by their participation in the Catholic Church’s proclamation of the truth of Jesus.

 

I left the order, not out of disappointment but because I had come to realize that you could still be a “good” person even if you weren’t a nun and I felt called to live in a family. Why I entered in 1959 was related to wanting to be “good”– it was the course for Catholic girls at that time.  And I followed my passion – justice for workers through the union – and it always felt like both fulfilling my calling for the Church as well as Society.

 

But as I have met women who feel called to be priests, in the best sense of that mission, I have come to experience their pain at not being allowed to follow that calling.  I also experience that as a violation of their human rights.  It is the equivalent of approving of slavery – which the church once did also.  So it is absurd to have the authorities – hierarchy of the Catholic Church – tell people that they cannot even discuss or be a proponent for women’s ordination while it is a matter of conscience for many. And even more insulting and degrading to have the Hierarchy pronounce that it is the equivalent of “pedophilia” as far a offenses to the Church.  I am particularly pained by what has happened with Roy Bourgeois – founder of the School of The Americas Watch.  Here is a man who has the courage to follow his conscience – first with the wrong in the military training of the personnel in South America and then the obvious with a personal friend’s struggle to follow her call to minister as a priest.  The Vatican acted and excommunicated him – even though he was not the one who “ordained” the women – only participated in the ceremony – and then the Maryknoll cut off their funding for the School of the Americas – that result is again wrong and hurts a cause they once supported and now don’t????

 

Mostly I am disappointed that Vatican II has been “rolled back”.  The “Spirit” that Pope John XXIII trusted and was so evident was a wondrous experience and to recapture that is my most ambitious hope.  I think that we do that by finding ways to live our lives with the beliefs in what is right out front.  The Sept. 26th event is a way to do that.

 

It is my hope that a greater good, reformation in the Catholic Church, will occur from this painful time.  The old is just more and more irrelevant and a new, authenticity and “right order” needs to emerge that is true to who Jesus is.

 

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