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Some thought on Bishop Spongs new book "Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy”

Emil Kutarna | August 19, 2016

Spong says that Jesus is not God.
 Does this mean that Christianity collapses like a house of cards? After almost two thousand years is it possible to be so mistaken about redemption?

For me personally does it mean the loss of my priesthood? That is huge. That hurts!  Does it mean that Jesus never did come down from heaven into my hands when I, Emil, carefully pronounced the holy words of consecration?  How proud my Polish mom and dad were to see their son up on the altar.

What about all the baptisms I performed? Were they a nice ceremony, but it never washed away Original Sin? What about all the confessions I heard and absolutions I gave? Perhaps they were psychologically healing, but was that it? Did God forgive their sins or not?

It pains me deeply to think that a large part of my life being a priest may have been a huge mistake. My only comforting thought is that it was an honest mistake. I was happy in my ignorance.

On the other hand, it also brought me much satisfaction to be able to be with people at important times in their lives. I was at their side to share their joys and sorrows. There were the happy marriages, and the tearful funerals, especially poignant at the burial of little children.

But where do I go from here?  To be honest if Jesus is not the God of my youth, then I have a new  appreciation of the man Jesus.  As God, I am not surprised at what Jesus did and said. Of course he could do miracles, multiply bread, walk on water, cure a blind man.  But if he is only human like you and me, then he must be a genius.  For me then, what he said is more wondrous than any miracle!

For Jesus to contradict the powerful religious leaders of his nation, must have taken a lot of Jewish chutzpa. As God that shouldn’t surprise anyone. But as a human to do what he did which cost him his life, that’s a matter for admiration, not adoration.

Concerning “Atonement Theology” Richard Rohr, OFM,  quotes Duns Scotus (d.1308):  “Jesus did not come to change the mind of  God about humanity, Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God.” And I say that makes more sense to me than the idea of Jesus dying to placate a stern God.

Bishop Spong says about Jesus:  I think that his humanity became so full and so complete that the meaning of God could find expression in him.  I think all human beings have that capacity.” This sure sounds like what the Franciscans and Eastern rites teach calling it “Divinization”.

So where can I go from here?  I don’t want to “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” So I will try to adapt by trying to give new meanings to old practices.

I’ll still ‘go to Mass’ but the magic for me in the breaking of the bread and sharing of the cup in memory of Jesus will nudge me a little closer to loving my neighbor. And according to Jesus, this is how I show my love for Abba, my loving parent.

Emil Kutarna, Regina

Vancouver inclusive community sponsor meaningful events

RCWP Canada Editor | July 29, 2016

Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community Society members Jan, Vincent, and Victoria along with friends of OLGT Kevin and Peter, pictured below enjoyed the speakers and talented entertainers at the Aging With Pride event yesterday afternoon. 

On July 22nd, many who attended the liturgy and potluck for the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene expressed appreciation for the event.  A special thanks was expresed to Laura Tompkins whose painting of Saint Mary Magdalene was the key visual for the liturgical space.

An outdoor prayer and meditation event called Sacred Earth: Sacred Trust" action took place on June 12th.

This growing community is based in east Vancouver.  Their vision statement states that they are a community that is Christ-centred, egalitarian, inclusive, and compassionate.  Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community Society holds Sunday masses at 3 pm on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month at The Listening Post – 382 Main St Vancouver BC (off East Hastings St.). They welcome anyone to join them.

Reverend Dr. Victoria Marie, an ordained priest of Roman Catholic Women Priests Canada is the leader of OLGT.  According to Society members her life experiences have made her adept at detecting the silent suffering of others. She realized that many of her brothers and sisters here in Vancouver felt abandoned by the Church and were hungering for a spiritual home. She had been denying the call to the priesthood because of fear of not being good enough and fear of being cast aside by the Church. But after some soul searching, discernment and lots of discussion with friends, she was ready to answer the call, which she did on July 29, 2012, her fourth anniversary of ordination being today.

For more information see:  https://www.facebook.com/OurLadyOfGuadalupeTonantzin/

Actualizing vision of recovering true vocation

vikki marie | June 24, 2016

From the evening of June 16th to the afternoon of June 19th, I had the opportunity to participate in the EcoFaith Recovery Weekend Institute at Newburg, OR. Our learning cohort included five interns, young people between the ages of 18 – 30 and three of us older folks between 53 and 71.

The EcoFaith Recovery Team invited us to share and participate in actualizing their vision of recovering our true vocation, restoring our sanity, reconciling right-relationships, rediscovering courage and reclaiming our prophetic imagination.

Imagine, with all of this great learning going on, I had the added bonus to meet a young woman, Sarah Holst of Duluth, MN, who is seriously discerning applying for the program of preparation to become a Roman Catholic Woman Priest. She plans to apply once she has met the educational requirement. It is so heartening for me to see a woman, not yet 30, joining our movement.

[vikki marie, a priest of RCWP Canada who lives in Vancouver, BC is from Brooklyn, NY.  Email: sistersea@gmail.com

New Brunswick Catholic women's group protests Cathedral renovation
Group says Saint John diocese needs to repair relationship with women first

Rachel Cave | April 21, 2016
Some Catholics are calling on the Saint John diocese to modernize its relationship with women, before spending millions to restore the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

"Fixing up the bricks and mortar while ignoring half your people, that is short-sighted," says historian Elizabeth McGahan, a proponent of letting women into the priesthood.

On Tuesday night of Holy Week, McGahan stood in silent protest, along with a dozen members of the New Brunswick Catholic Network for Women's Equality.

Read More

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, Jerualem,
you who kill the prophets
and stone those who are sent to you!
How often have I longed
to gather your children
as a hen gathers her chicks
under her wings,
and you refused!
So be it!
Your house will be left to you
I promise,
you shall not see me anymore,
until you say:
on him
who comes
in the name of the Lord".
And Jesus wept!
Ecclesia, Mater Ecclesia,
You, Mother Church,
You who kill the voices of today's prophets
by excommunication!
You who turn stone deaf
to the voice of women whom God sends
for ordination!
Jesus longs to gather the faithfull
gently, lovingly,
as a hen gathers her chicks
under her wings.
But you refuse!
You say "Better a faithful few
rather than the many".
That Jesus reached out
for the one that went astray.
Instead of a heart
you have a Canon Law,
rigid and heartless.
So be it!
Oh, Mater Ecclesia,
whom I once loved,
and gave my life to serve you!
has come over you?
Can't you see
that the churches have
become desolate,
empty and sold to be turned into
I do not see Jesus in you
Like lost little chicks
we skitter here and there
with aching hearts,
to hear the healing words from you:
"Blessings on evewryone
who comes
in the name of the Lord".
But you are silent to us!
And, with Jesus,
we weep!

Emil Kutarna, poet, Reginas, SK
Email: emil@kutarna.net

Regina intentional eucharistic community prepare for Sacred Triduum

Jane Kryzanowski | March 21, 2016
Participants are actively preparing for the Sacred Triduum liturgies -- Holy Thursday  ​(7:00 p.m.), Good Friday ​(3:00 pm.)​, and Holy Saturday Vigil ​ (7:00 p.m.)​ .  This planning is helpful in making arrangements for the celebrations and encourages involvement.
Liturgies of the Church are used with some variations to meet the needs of our house church community.  The Triduum is one Celebration of the Paschal Mystery, each day focusing on a separate aspect of the Mystery:  Thursday the meaning of discipleship, Friday the cost of discipleship, and Saturday the transformation of discipleship.
Washing the feet of everyone takes place on Thursday.  This humble gesture reminds us that what goes on below the table is as important as what happens on the table.  As Robert Morneau says, "Jesus gives [his disciples] a simple, clear example of what discipleship is all about: service.  Washing one another's feet, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked. Here is the core of the Eucharist, our great miracle of love . . . God's table is large, as large as all creation.  All are invited, all are to have access to the necessity of food and miracle of love.  Both are essential to the fullness of life.  Without food, the body languishes an​d dies; without love, our souls wither and are filled with despair.  The leftovers in our lives?  What are they and who will get them?  So many people can live off our leavings if we would only share.  This is hardly sufficient.  Disciples of Christ give abundantly in imitation of the Master who gave his very self. " (Ashes to Easter)
Friday's liturgy focuses on Jesus' solidarity with the poor and marginalized, even to the point of death.  In the Suffering Jesus, God stands with all humanity and all creation.  Jesus does for us what we can not do for ourselves: frees humanity from weakness and sin.  Jesus does not counter violence against him with retaliation, but with his personal integrity, the truth of his message, and the power of mercy and forgiveness.  This, too, is the call of faithful discipleship even if standing for justice and peace exacts the price of one's life.  We contemplate the meaning of ultimate surrender of the human spirit to the Divine and rest in the liminal time of tomb watching.
Saturday we resume and conclude our waiting for the revelation of transformation.  God is forever faithful.  God's love has no end.  God's love transforms us.  This is the ancient promise from and for all time revealed to us in Jesus, the Risen Christ, ​the Cosmic Christ,​ in whom all things are held in oneness and in whom we live and move and have our being.  Christ is our light, our peace, our hope, our joy.  We celebrate with rich symbols of light, word, water and meal. 

A reception concludes our celebration.

Jane Kryzanowski, RCWP Canada, Regina, SK.
Email: photina61@gmail.com

RCWP Canada Ordination in Toronto

Editor | February 28, 2016

Editor, RCWP Canada | February 29, 2016
Patricia Cook, a former high school teacher who studied theology with Roberta Fuller, co-pastor with Cathy O'Connor of Church of the Beatitudes, Toronto, was ordained to the diaconate on January 31, 2015. A devout Anglican woman, Pat had been considering ordination in that tradition until she attended Roberta's ordination to the priesthood with Roman Catholic Women Priests Canada and seemed to appreciate the inclusiveness and simplicity of RCWP Canada and Church of the Beatitudes.

This led Pat to apply to the Program of Preparation and discernment process, and ultimately to requesting ordination with RCWP Canada. She was ordained deacon and will serve in that capacity at Church of the Beatitudes.
Pat was ordained in the presence of 40 people, members of the Chruch of the Beatitudes and several CNWE friends who support the cause of RCWP Canada. Pat is considered a talented homilist and a compassionate spirit. She has rich ministry experience, having done considerable work as a hospital chaplain.
Pat earned her Master of Divinity degree at the University of Toronto where she attended Trinity College and shared some classes at St. Michael's Roman Catholic College.

Church of the Beatitudes in Toronto is housed in Roncesvalles United Church, thanks to the inclusive, ecumenical generosity of the Reverend Anne Hines and her welcoming congregation. This month, RUC celebrated its 125th anniversary, while Church of Beatitudes, now in its second year of gradual growth, celebrated its first ordination with that of Pat Cook to the diaconate with RCWP Canada.

With contributions from several members of RCWP Canada

Sacrament of the Sick

Linda Spear | February 11, 2016

One of the things our tradition has going for it is our sacramental system, not just the sacraments but sacramentals, things that we can see and touch and smell, as in the case of incense and oil.

I gave a friend the sacrament of the sick last fall just before she was going in for cancer surgery. Despite her age and frailty, she made such a remarkable recovery that the doctors and nurses remarked on it.

I think we need to be forward in our offering of the sacraments. I was talking with another priest who felt a reticence in offering the sacrament of the sick to another cancer sufferer. I remarked that health professionals have noticed that after receiving the sacrament, patients, even if they don't recover, are calmer and more peaceful. Surely a bonus in any illness.

Linda Spear, RCWP  Canada, Sutton, PQ
Email: lspear@granby.net

A Lenten Reflection

Jane Kryzanowski | February 10, 2016

For the past few weeks in the lectionary readings, we have been encouraged to consider our call as disciples of Jesus.  If you have not yet seen the RCWP Canada webpage this week, I encourage you to look at it and read the article, "What if we Imagined God as a Woman?"  It is a powerful re-visioning of our call to change and be agents of change in our world.

The article is also a fitting introduction to Lent, our season of change, which begins this week.  What if we imagined God as a woman loving us into greater goodness and wholeness?  Would our beauty, truth and goodness radiate more strongly, our light shine brighter?  Do we need to be other than who we are, or just better at who we are?  Our mothers usually see our potential long before we see it in ourselves.  What if we sat with our Mother God and allowed her to embrace us and affirm in us our God-instilled goodness?  

Reflecting on my times of greatest spiritual growth, I recognize them to be the times when wise mentors gave me affirmation of my goodness rather than critique my short comings, more compassion in my struggles than chastisement for my failings, This Lent I plan to sit in the lap of Mother God and spend more time getting in touch with my God-instilled goodness. I will allow God, who holds me in Her divine heart, to hug me more, to cheer me on, and to love me into greater wholeness. 

Blessings to each of you in this season of change and growth, which looks forward to celebrate our feast of transformation into deeper images of the Risen Christ.

Jane Kryzanowski, RCWP Canada, Regina, SK
Email: photina61@gmail.com

Genevieve Kilburn-Smith awarded Blyth Cambridge scholarship to study theology and religion

Special to RCWP Canada web site | January 28, 2016

Her daughter was feeling "quite over the moon" when Monica Kilburn-Smith, RCWP Canada priest, announced with pride and joy that her daughter, Genevieve, is one of two winners (across Canada) of the Blyth Cambridge scholarship.

"We found out two weeks ago that they had accepted her into Cambridge, and then last week that she had won the scholarship
 -- which meant she could actually go!" Kilburn-Smith said.  Genevieve will be taking theology and religious studies at Pembroke College, one of 31 colleges at the well-known university in the United Kingdom.

After Genevieve was shortlisted as a candidate last fall, both mother and daughter travelled to Toronto in November, 2015, where Genevieve had intensive interviews and exams both for entrance to the university and for the scholarship.

Blyth scholarship recipients are selected based on their outstanding academic achievement, superior intellectual ability, and community involvement, in addition to financial need
.  It is also believed that Genevieve's entry in the John Locke Institute's 2015 essay contest in the History category answering the question:  "What is the most underrated event in history?" was noticed by the scholarship committee.  She chose the Gregorian reform's imposition of mandatory priestly celibacy and its far-reaching effects on women, the church, the world, and gender relations. After being shortlisted, she was invited to Oxford to present her paper at the awards ceremony.  It was a very exciting honour and she won "Very High Commendation."

The prize winning essay was published on the RCWP Canada web site, the Corpus Canada Journal online, and also in the printed U.S. Corpus Reports.  Genevieve Kilburn-Smith now has the distinction of being on the same table of contents page as Joan Chittister!

The Blyth Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Scholarships are among the most valuable awards available in Canada for students wishing to pursue an undergraduate degree. Tenable at any University of Cambridge undergraduate college, the scholarships provide full funding for tuition fees, maintenance, and travel between Canada and Cambridge for three years. The approximate value of each scholarship is $250,000 over three years.  The scholarships are jointly funded by Blyth Scholars and the Cambridge Commonwealth, European, and International Trust.

The University of Cambridge is one of the leading academic institutions in the world.  Affiliates of the University have won more Nobel Prizes than any other institution in the world.  The Cambridge Commonwealth Trust was founded in 1982 by the University to support international students from Commonwealth countries, and was subsequently merged with the Cambridge Overseas Trusts to create the Cambridge Commonwealth, European, and International Trust.

Links to related articles:

Essay on mandatory priestly celibacy and its devastating effects on women in the church

Calgary Sun article on scholarship announcement

Blyth Cambridge scholarship announcement

Cleansing ritual will not eliminate fear in those who cling to power

Jacklynne Guimond | November 17, 2015

Most recently it has been brought to my attention that an action initiated by my husband and me this past September has caused confusion and concern for many.

A newly ordained Roman Catholic Woman Priest friend from Regina had come to visit and, when we invited her to celebrate liturgy with us, she happily accepted.  Knowing fully well that, while Roman Catholic Women Priests refuse to leave the church, the official church refuses to acknowledge them as validly ordained.  (Kind of like dual citizenship.  Canada recognizes it, USA does not, yet, I am what I am.)

In light of that, I proceeded to search for a neutral place that would not put any of the local churches in an awkward  position.  Rainycrest chapel came to mind.  Fr. Wayne McIntosh had already left his chaplaincy post and no one had yet replaced him so I spoke to a staff member about it, asking if we might use the chapel on a Tuesday evening if it wasn’t being used.  She checked, found it was available and had no problem.  She understood that it was for a ‘private’ celebration with  our invited friends, not a Rainycrest service.

Because we are common faces at Rainycrest, some of the residents questioned what was happening, and some asked if they could participate. Since Eucharist is not our table but that of the Lord, no one can be excluded or denied. A few residents joined us for the liturgy and  even visited with us afterwards.  I wish to clarify that we brought our own bread, wine, utensils, and used only one music stand from the chapel closet, which we returned to its proper place.

Two months later I am told that we had no authority to be there.  Some people are so upset that even a “cleansing  of the chapel” has been suggested.

When a clergy-person is visiting a diocese other than his/her own, it is a customary courtesy to ‘ask permission’ to function in that diocese.  For example: If an Anglican priest from another diocese comes to town to officiate at even a family member’s funeral, he or she must clear that with the local Anglican authority.  Likewise with Roman Catholic clergy, the same courtesy or ‘permission’ is expected.  (Perhaps the same holds true for other denominations, I really cannot speak to that).

Did I know this?  Of course, I did.  I knew we would not be welcome to use St. Mary’s church, because our celebration would be considered ‘invalid by Church standards’.  I also knew that because there are no local Roman Catholic Women priests here, there was no need to ‘get permission’ from anyone, other than Rainycrest.

So, for those who think it is necessary, have a cleansing ritual, but know it will take far more than that to eliminate the fear in those who cling to power.

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, we will have peace.”

Jacklynne Guimond, Fort Frances, ON, quillonig@gmail.com

Review of Vatican Waltz

-- a novel by Roland Merullo (New York: Crown Publishers, 2013)

Shannon Hengen, Sudbury | October 24, 2015

The description on this novel’s cover would seem to make it an essential read for any Roman Catholic woman who has ever thought of ordination to the priesthood.  The main character, Cynthia Clare Piantedosi, a quiet young woman studying nursing while living at home with and caring for her widowed father in a Boston suburb, develops a uniquely rich spiritual life.  Entering an almost trancelike state, she feels divine love intensely.  And at the centre of those feelings is what she perceives to be a call to the priesthood.  Merullo’s descriptions of those feelings are among the novel’s strengths.

Members of RCWP and others interested in the ordination of Catholic women priests will want to know that RCWP is actually mentioned in the novel, though not by name. Says one of the sympathetic priests she consults with, “There is a group of women who’ve been ordained or who consider themselves ordained.  I respect them, but they haven’t been acknowledged by the Vatican” (pp. 69-70).   He adds that “Maybe in a hundred years, or three hundred years, we’ll see married priests or female Roman Catholic priests.  Maybe” (p. 69). 

Not written in a poetic style—more journalistic, in fact—Vatican Waltz describes Cynthia’s meetings with Catholic clergy as she discerns her vocation, some meetings discreetly encouraging and others forcefully discouraging.  But the sense that she is somehow chosen and favoured by God seems to be recognized by all she meets.  In her hospital work as a student nurse, she unobtrusively heals patients with a laying on of her hands.

The trances and healings would set Cynthia apart in a way that would make her impossible to relate to, except that she also engages in compelling discussions and disagreements with clergy about the Church’s current and future state that seem convincingly, provocatively real.  In many ways she seems a typical thinking, questioning Catholic woman, and her talks with clergy compel the reader.  She naturally experiences a range of emotions from encouragement to despair; rarely, though, does she experience fear, and in that way she remains distant from the reader.

To lend suspense and intrigue to the novel, Merullo introduces a band of ultra-conservative Catholics, the Lamb of God group, who seriously threaten her and other progressive Catholics throughout.  When Cynthia travels to Rome to bring her petition to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and beyond, she is physically menaced by them but, with the support of her conviction, she carries on.

Italian by heritage, Cynthia falls in love with Rome, and her visits to its many beautiful churches provide lovely lyrical passages.  She also meets cousins who, however, hate the Church, connecting it with Fascist ideology and tactics.  Thematically, the novel rests between extremes of radical change, ordination of women on one hand and harsh repression of any change on the other. Unfortunately, the theme takes a baffling turn at novel’s end.

In a way preparing readers for the ending, the central character undergoes a revelation in one Italian church, Santa Maria in Trastevere, where she ponders a mosaic of Jesus and Mary, the son’s arm around his mother.  Intuiting that this church might be her true destination in Rome, rather than her meetings with cardinals, she muses: “That, I thought, that was my Jesus.  Not the tortured man hanging from nails on a cross . . . but an ordinary-looking, loving man . . . giving his mother an embrace that seemed to say, there is no distinction here, she and I are made of the same stuff” (p. 187).

Jesus accepted women as equals, this intuition declares.  The Church does not. In order for the Jesus of this intuition to return to the centre of the Catholic Church, a shift in current practice must be much greater than the ordination of women.  It must destroy the hierarchy as it is and replace it with what one Cardinal calls, simply, “the interior world” (p. 271) where we are “warm, . . . kind . . ., your heart is open to the full love of Christ without reservation” (p. 268).  In the current Church, he states baldly, when members act in such Christlike ways, “you must always invite hatred” (p. 268). Christ came “to break . . . things apart,” he continues, and “now in our Church we have a time like that also” (p. 269).

Such exciting and promising words from a Cardinal lead to the novel’s final scenes in which, in a clandestine meeting, he prays with Cynthia and requests her blessing.  What follows in the novel’s last pages is—to say the least—confusing, if not preposterous.  The Church may indeed require a Second Coming in order to reform, but readers might understandably hope for less dramatic means.  That the central character is brought to a “larger” (p. 271) purpose than ordination raises serious questions about the novelist’s view of women’s role in the Church.  Despite the novel’s last pages, and the nagging sense of distance that we sometimes feel from the main character, it could be worth the attention of those Catholic women who are discerning ordination.  Simply: beware of the conclusion!

Shannon Hengen, Sudbury

Two Ordinations

"Two Ordinations" is by Poet Emil Kutarna, Regina, emil@kutarna.net, and is printed here with permission.

Calgary student wins award for essay on mandatory priestly celibacy and its devastating effects on women in the church

Editor | September 30, 2015

Genevieve (Genny) Kilburn-Smith is part of the next generation in the church.  She is looking back into history with clear eyes, and questioning what's truly relevant for today.

Genny, 17 year old daughter of Monica Kilburn-Smith, RCWP Canada West and pastor of St. Brigid of Kildare Catholic Faith Community, has been an altar server since she was 10 and helps put out the regular St. Brigid's online newsletter.  She was confirmed by Bishop Patricia Fresen in 2009.

Genny's entry in the John Locke Institute's 2015 essay contest was in the History category and answered the question:  "What is the most underrated event in history?"  She chose the Gregorian reform's imposition of mandatory priestly celibacy and its far-reaching effects on women, the church, the world, and gender relations. After being shortlisted, she was invited to Oxford to present her paper at the awards ceremony.  It was a very exciting honour and she won "Very High Commendation."

St. Brigid's in Calgary is proud of Genny and invited her to read her essay at the homily time at the September mass.  They also helped raise funds to send her to England.  On Genny's return, the community hosted an afternoon with Genny to discuss her trip and her paper.

Read the essay on mandatory celibacy here. 

Permission to publish given by the author, Genevieve Kilburn-Smith, Calgary.   

Sutton, Quebec scene of ecumentical blessing of the animanls

Editor | October 5, 2015

Blessing of the animals took place recently at Grace Anglican Church Hall, Sutton, QC.  An ecumenical celebration involved Rev. Malcolm Cogswell of the United Church, Rev. Dr. Linda Maloney of the Episcopal Church, Vermont, Rev. Jean Rousseau, Roman Catholic deacon, Abercorn, QC, Rev. Judy Ball, Anglican deacon, Mansonville, QC and Rev. Linda Spear, RCWP Canada.  Twenty people shared hymns, prayers and reading in English and French. It was reported that the dogs behaved and a wonderful time was had by all.

A reflection on my ordination as a Roman Catholic Woman Priest

Jane Kryzanowski | August 19, 2015

On July 11, 2015 over 100 people gathered in Sunset United Church, Regina, SK to witness my ordination as a Roman Catholic Woman Priest.  Bishop Marie Evans Bouclin, Sudbury, ON presided.  In addition, the Spirit of Presence was very evident in many, many ways, from the wishes of people who could not be present to the use of heritage items from my ancestors in faith and gifts made especially for this occasion.

Emotions were strong throughout, though less overwhelming than when I was ordained a deacon 10 months earlier.  At that time there was a strong feeling of stepping over a threshold into a new reality.  This time I felt more self-assured, knowing I am responding whole-heatedly to the call of God and, though I may not know for certain where the path I walk will lead, I do know whose steps I follow:  Jesus, the Christ; and that will take me to where I must go.

The liturgy began with the song You Have Anointed Me and included a beautiful liturgical dance in which the stole, symbol of the office of priest, and the Sacred Chrism with which I was to be anointed, were brought into the assembly.  My soul soared!  “The oil of gladness . . . the mantle of joy . . .”  These are the gifts of God for the people of God being entrusted to me in a special way at this time.  I pray that my ministry will bring joy and peace to those I serve.  There is so much joy here today.

I was presented for ordination by Ruth Wasylenko, RCWP, from Edmonton.  My local sponsors gave testimony to my preparation, suitability, and readiness for ordination.  Bishop Marie then announced that I was chosen as priest.  My earlier questioning, “Who am I?” and, “Why me?” had dissolved with God's reassuring, “You have not chosen me, I have chosen you.”  So, as my name was called, I responded from the depths of my soul, “Ad Sum – Here I am, I am ready.”   Though prophets are not accepted in their own lands, I know it is not my word that burns within, but that of our loving, all-embracing God who desires justice and compassion, joy and peace for all peoples and all creation.

The selected Sacred Scriptures were proclaimed and opened for us by Bishop Marie.  Her homily appears at http://rcwpcanada.x10.mx/content/
OrdinationJaneKryzanowski.html.  Wisdom, prophetic obedience, and servant leadership are the gifts of the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement to the church today.   Simply stated, abiding Wisdom that becomes rich with age, will guide me (us) if I am (we are) attentive and listen to the Spirit (Wisdom 9: 1-4, 9-11).  Prophetic obedience, will lead to a rich harvest of justice promised in Philippians (1:1-2,8-11).  Like the disciples in Luke (10:1-9), we are sent in a companionship of empowerment to proclaim the good news.  We are urged to leave our personal trappings behind, trust in God, and simply be with those to whom we are sent, those on the margins of church and society, reassuring them that they are part of God's loving, inclusive kin-dom. 

The Ordination Rite enveloped me as a loving mother embracing her child.  The hymn, Spirit of God Transform Us by Gregory Norbert, felt like Ruach Elohim, the breath of God, infusing my soul as we sang, “Deep in the womb of our heart, reveal your presence, O God.” 

Representatives of the Regina community circles together with the Bishop asked me the questions of the sacred promises we make as a priest:  Are you ready to be ordained for priestly ministry by the power of the gifts of the Holy Spirit?  Are you ready to support and serve the people of God with compassion?  Are you ready to celebrate the mysteries of Christ faithfully?  Are you ready to teach the word of God with integrity? Are you ready to consecrate your life to God for the Spirit's saving work, and to unite yourself with Christ who lived and taught us justice in the beatitudes and his works of mercy? 
To each question, I replied, “I am,” concluding “with the help of God.”  I was humbly reminded that this is the work of God in this community, not of my own doing.  Empowerment comes through the Spirit at work in community and in my own life.  I must forever remember God is the potter; I am only the clay in God's hands.  The community was then asked if they accepted me as Christ's minister and would support me with their prayers; and the community gave a resounding YES! 

We continued with the Litany of the Saints.  I stood before the altar and cross with open hands extended, to express my openness to hear and readiness to respond to the voice of God, the stirrings of the Spirit and the cry of the poor, in obedience to Christ and the Gospel.  The community stood in solidarity with me; and the Spirit of Presence echoed the names of each of the holy men and women, martyrs and mystics, friends of God and prophets, as they came to stand by me, surrounding me with strength and courage.  Tears welling in my eyes, I prayed for the community as they prayed for me.

I was overwhelmed by the power of the Sacred Spirit in the heart of the ordination rite, the laying on of hands and prayer of consecration.  The silent laying on of hands, first be Bishop Marie and then by each person present, felt full of blessing; I returned blessings to each one.  Some hands were firm, others gentle – barely touching; some hands were large, others small (for the children I had to bend down to their level to receive their touch); some people laid both hands upon me, others one; sometimes there were couple hand laid upon me, two. . . or four. I was simply overwhelmed!

During the prayer of consecration all were invited to extend their hands with the bishop, invoking the fullness of the gifts of the Spirit upon me.  One of the priests present pointed out to me that Bishop Marie ordained me at precisely 3 o'clock.  Also, he noted that it was the feast of St. Benedict, church reformer in his day, renowned preacher and liturgist.  Not to mention, Benedict had a twin sister, St. Scholastica, who was a great influence on him.  (Benedictine Sisters were my elementary school teachers.)

My husband vested me in chasuble and stole, the garments of a priest.  The chasuble I chose to wear was made for him over 45 years ago.  The stole was a gift for the occasion. My husband's full participation in the liturgy expressed a fulfilment of our life-dream of equality in marriage and ministry.  The instrumental music, My Heart is Moved by Carolyn McDade, which accompanied the vesting, reverently expressed my attitude of solidarity with those on the margins and those who seek justice and compassion for all creation.

I was presented to the assembly as the newest priest of the church to much applause, even the waving of pom-poms by the children!

During the Liturgy of Eucharist, my heart skipped a beat as my three daughters approached the altar, arm in arm, to offer the bread and wine contained in earthen vessels they had commissioned for me from a local potter as an ordination gift from their families.  They have been big supporters of me throughout my journey of the past few years, encouraging me with words I used on them from time to time, “You can do anything you desire (as long as it's good).  Don't let being a woman stop you!”  The smiles on their radiant faces spoke volumes of affirmation and blessing.

The Eucharistic prayer was shared by the priests at the altar, and all joined in to say the words of consecration.  This is the thanksgiving prayer of all the people; we make our prayer together through, with, and in Christ.

Holding out the Body and Blood of Christ with the invitation that all are welcome to the feast sent shivers down my spine.  Even though I have participated in inclusive celebrations many times before, this initial offering by me, as priest, was special.  The community sang the inclusive message, For Everyone Born a Place at the Table.   And we mean it in practice.

At the conclusion of the celebration, my heart overflowed with gratitude as I said a few words to the assembly.  They are really the ones who are at the heart of this day.  Ordination is for the people, not the priest.  Our call is to be servant-leaders in a discipleship of equals.  Working together we will make our way, one step at a time, bringing Christ to the marketplace, being Christ on the margins.

The joy of the day was beautifully expressed in the closing liturgical dance of the Taize Magnificat.  Bishop Marie and I followed with happy feet, rejoicing as we went out from the assembly to begin our service among the people of God.

Our celebration continued for the rest of the day and into the next at a reception for all at the church, and then smaller gatherings of family and friends as we basked in the wonder of the movement of the Spirit in the Regina community.  Where will it lead?  That is yet to be revealed as I strive to be faithful to the promises I made to God and the community, and give my all at this time in my life.  This is my one-way ticket, my final raison d'être.

Jane Kryzanowski, RCWP Canada

Remarks at Ordination to Priesthood

Jane Kryzanowski | July 11, 2015

My heart is overflowing with gratitude for this day:  First to our God of Abundant Blessings for bringing me and us to this day of truth and justice in the church.  We recognize the truth that God can and does call women as well as men to priestly ministry among God's people, and we act according to that truth despite church laws to the contrary.  Thank you, each and every one, for being here – some coming from great distances across our country to participate in the movement of the Spirit for justice and equality.  And thanks, also, to those who were unable to be physically present but are here in thought and prayer.  The Spirit of Presence knows no bounds.

I would be remiss not to make a few personal acknowledgements with thanks:

  • To Bishop Marie for presiding at this wonderful liturgy and to my sister priest, Ruthie, who is a great inspiration to me.
  • To Danielle, our MC.
  • To my soul sister, the primary coordinator of all involved in this day.  It could not have happened with the grace and efficiency we experienced without their commitment and efforts.
  • To the Regina circles: The Sophia Sisters, The Celebration Circle, Journey, and The Spirit Seekers, who are the worker bees today taking care of all our physical needs.
  • To the musicians, singers and dancers, for the inspiring music and dance:  They so beautifully called the mystical presence of our ancestors in faith to witness this liturgy and bless us; and the dancers, who captured my soul in their most reverent and prayerful creative movements.
  • To the married Roman Catholic priests, and priests and ministers from other denominations, and their spouses, whose presence affirms the inclusive call of God to priesthood and the oneness of the People of God.
  • To my family:  my husband, with whom I now partner equally in ministry and marriage—the fulfilment of our life-together dream.  Symbolically, the chasuble I am wearing was made for him over 45 years ago.  Our children, who, over the past few years, have played back to me words I used to encouraged them, “You can do anything you desire (as long as it's good).  Don't let being a woman stop you!  Their spouses, and our grandchildren, whose blessing today is a pledge for the future of our church.

The inevitable question is, “Now what?”  I have been asked, “What are you going to do?”  “How does this work?”  “Will you have a parish?” 

Today, I have committed to being a servant-leader in an inclusive discipleship of equals.  This is our model as Roman Catholic Women Priests.  I am here for you and to be with you on the spiritual journey.  My question is, “What are your desires and needs for sacramental worship and pastoral ministry?”  You, especially the local community, are partners in how my ministry will develop.

To begin, on July 22nd, Feast of Mary of Magdala, Apostle to the Apostles, those who are able are invited to our home to celebrate Eucharist and to talk about possibilities.

For now, I may not know for certain where the path I walk will lead, but I do know whose steps I follow:  Jesus, the Christ; and that will take me to where I must go.  Welcome to the journey with me.

Jane Kryzanowski, priest, RCWP Canada

Praying for those not of this fold

Marie Bouclin | May 13, 2015

Spiritual writer, Ron Rolheiser's recent article has an ecumenical theme: “Praying for those not of this fold: an open letter to Catholic bishops”. I’m not sure he was including me as a bishop in his open letter, but I’m taking it to heart. I will adjust my liturgies accordingly and invite those of us who preside at Eucharist to do the same.

He writes, in part, that we should add the following to our Eucharistic Prayer: “Remember, Lord, your entire church, spread throughout the world, and bring her to the fullness of charity, together . . . with all who help lead other Christian churches, and all the clergy.”

From our very beginnings as a movement for reform within the church, RCWP Canada priests have striven to be more ecumenical, to build church unity from below. We have been blessed with solidarity and indispensable support from sister churches. Immediately come to mind the United and Anglican communities who have opened their sanctuaries to us for our ordinations, and the local ministerial associations who have received us women priests, in many localities, as equals in ordained ministry.

We, of course, from our beginnings, have had an “open table”. All people who attend our celebrations are invited to receive communion. Ron Rolheiser doesn’t spell that out in his column, but what else can he possibly mean when he writes, “I believe hospitality asks of us (dare I say, demands of us) a greater ecumenical sensitivity than we (mainstream Roman Catholic clergy) have been offering at present. Wouldn’t everyone benefit if we did this? Wouldn’t other Christians, we ourselves as a community of love and hospitality, and the whole Body of Christ… be enriched?”  

It’s heartening to know that we are being prophetic in our inclusiveness and faithful to the Spirit of Jesus.

Read Ron Rolheiser's full article

Port Coquitlam student organizes local walk to end mental health stigma

Diane Strandberg | May 4, 2015

Sometimes when you are passionate about something you have to take a stand.

Or in this case walk.

That's what Citadel middle school student Renee Boldut is doing Thursday, May 7 and she wants the community to join her.

The event, called a Walk for Awareness, is taking place during Mental Health Week and the goal is to end the stigma around mental illness, said Boldut, who is in Grade 8 at the Port Coquitlam school.

Read More

Advances made by women in the Catholic Church in the past 40 years 

Marie Bouclin | March 16, 2015

I was invited to express my thoughts on International Women's Day at the Club Richelieu Féminin of Sudbury, March 4, 2015. My hostess asked me specifically if any advances had been made by women in the Catholic Church these past 40 years.


Thank you for inviting me to celebrate with you the United Nations' fortieth International Women’s Day. Because I am among friends, and many of you know my story, I am honoured to share with you some of the milestones of the past forty years from my perspective as an ordained Canadian Catholic woman.

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Vancouver's Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community
Celebrates KAIROS Sunday

Janette McIntosh photo

Editor | March 16, 2015

"Thanks to the wonderful and dedicated leadership of Rev. Dr. Victoria Marie, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community in Vancouver," stated Janette McIntosh, KAIROS representative, "we were able to celebrate a Kairos Sunday together at the Listening Post near the corner of Main and Hastings."

KAIROS is a Canadian ecumenical justice initiative that unites eleven churches and religious organizations in faithful action for ecological justice and human rights.

Attached are Dr. Marie's homily and liturgy depicting Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community's origin and its connection to KAIROS.


The latest Newsletter issued by Saint Brigid of Kildare Catholic Faith Community, Calgary, is now available online.  The Newsletter contains an abundance of local, national and international news relevant to women and men on issues of fatih.

A sanctuary of their own:  A Toronto congregation is providing space for two female priests to do what Catholics won’t allow: lead worship

Luc Rinaldi | March 2015

On first glance, the afternoon’s Catholic mass looks unremarkable. White stoles, chalice, the Book of the Gospels — they’re all there. But then, hidden in the routine refrains and familiar prayers of the mid-November service, hints of rebellion emerge. “Dear brothers” becomes “dear sisters,” a description of the Last Supper includes women and, most astonishingly, the three celebrants of the mass are female.

Perched behind an altar and flanked by a congregation of no more than 40, Bishop Marie Bouclin of Sudbury, Ont., asks Rev. Roberta Fuller and Rev. Catherine O’Connor to renew their priestly vows (they were ordained in 2011 and 2013, respectively) as she officially installs their small, months-old community, the Church of the Beatitudes. The renewal of vows — in fact, being ordained in the first place — is in clear defiance of the Roman Catholic Church, which only ordains men. It’s no wonder they’re not holding the service in a Catholic church.

Read More

God's Daughters: Knocking on Vatican's Door

There is a renewed interest for the role of women in the Catholic Church.  God's Daughters presents an intimate portrait of two ordained Roman Catholic women priests.  They are part of an international movement of validly ordained women who seek to serve all people, but especially those who feel marginalized by the insitution.

I just watched the video and find it realistic and convincing.

Watch trailer or purchase here:  http://godsdaughters.vhx.tv

Jane Kryzanowski, Deacon, RCWP Canada


Reports about or by members of RCWP Canada

Images of empowerment and agency would be helpful

They have no right - these men of the Vatican - to appropriate a stance of justice for women when they have been perpetrators of grave injustices against women for centuries -- and continue to be. It is an insult.

To use the sculpture by Man Ray, with his inclinations toward bondage, and claim it as some kind of 'statement' about women's rights is absurd and also insulting. Even if they had explained their 'thinking' on the use of this image from the beginning, it would not make a difference. For men to use the art of a man known to eroticize and objectify women via reductionistic forms is hardly helpful to women. To see yet another image of a naked, bound woman, especially without head and limbs, is hardly helpful. Out of all the images of women that exist in the world, this is what they choose?

Images of empowerment and agency would be helpful. We already know we're oppressed and 'tied up' - is this news to these men? As others have said, we do not need the 'protection' and 'sympathy' of our oppressors - we need space, we need to be heard, we need justice, we need the oppression to stop.

And then they add more insult to injury by not listening to women's protest to the use of this image. They have no right to pretend to be on our side when they are not. Their choice of image, and then their defense of it as a defense of women, is facile and specious.

Actually working for justice for women is obviously out of the question.  Alas, the Vatican's response makes me more angry than I was before I read their narrative about this image and their profession of solidarity with women. It's a joke.

Monica Kilburn-Smith,
, RCWP Canada, Calgary

Prayer for Divine Guidance
Offered by the reform-minded Muslims of Project Ijtihad
to RCWP movement - June 2007

In his Letter from Mecca, Malcolm X said: “On this pilgrimage, what I have seen and experienced has forced me to rearrange much of my thought patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.”

We, the reform-minded Muslims of Project Ijtihad, believe that faith is a journey.  If it becomes a destination, it becomes dogma.  With Irshad Manji’s participation in your historic ordination service of May 27, 2007, we are grateful to be included in your journey to justice – a journey taken in the best spirit of Jesus Christ, who is among Islam’s noble prophets.  With this prayer, we pay tribute to your courage:

Dear Creator, whom we encounter in every trial and triumph, it is you who has given us the power of conscience, the blessing of intellect and the command to seek truth. These gifts are the makings of ijtihad, Islam’s tradition of critical thinking.  It is a tradition to be shared by all faiths, for the inspired combination of a questing mind, hungry spirit and personal agency belongs to all humanity.

Yet some of us have more opportunity – and thus more responsibility - to exercise ijtihad.  We in North America and Europe enjoy the freedoms to discuss, debate and reform so much that has been set before us.  Remind us never to squander our potential through the petty tribalism that has calcified every belief in your expansive name.

May we remain open to your revelations, whatever the language they arrive in. May we grow ever more receptive to challenging ourselves as well as those who appoint themselves our authorities. Above all, may we seek you in the way of Rabiya, the woman often called Islam’s first female saint.  She advised us to love you not for fear of hell nor desire for heaven, but for the sake of your beauty alone.

The Qur’an tells us that God “gives wisdom to whom He will; and he that receives the gift of wisdom is rich indeed.” She who receives your gift is even richer, for she sends a revolutionary message that your embrace is large.  We have faith that it is.  Let us demonstrate our faith today and forever. Ameen.

Submitted to this web site by Danielle Whissell, Sudbury, ON

See interactive article in McClung's Magazine Winter 2015 Issue featuring Catherine O'Connor, Canadian Roman Catholic Woman Priest -- Click here.

For details of this Calgary event, click here.

Courtesy Saint Brigid of Kildare Catholic Community, Calgary -- http://saintbrigids.org/

For details of this Oakville event, click here.

Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent -- Gaudete

Bishop Marie Bouclin | December 10, 2014

Only Easter, with its multiplied Alleluias, is more festive in the Church year than “Gaudete” Sunday, (from the Latin meaning, “rejoice') the third Sunday in Advent. And in this year B, we have both the Entrance Antiphon and Second Reading from the beautiful text from Paul's letter to the Phillipians, “Rejoice in the Lord, again I say to you, rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. Our God is ever near.” What is Paul, arguably the most influential preacher of the early Jesus movement, trying to teach us? Here is a hint: he uses the word 'joy” 18 times in his letters. Another 21 times, he uses the verb “Rejoice”. So, Paul, whose writings predate even the gospels, repeats and insists that joy is the normal “state of soul” of those who follow Jesus.

According to scholars, Paul was writing from prison. He’d been away from the community of Phillipi, probably his favourite, for 5 years, and he is missing his friends there. Clearly, he has had his share of challenges, persecution, and suffering. So it's safe to assume that joy means something very different, for him and for us, from having a permanent smile plastered on our face or forcing a laugh as we grit our teeth. It is much deeper than good humour or glee.

In many ways it defies definition. How, for instance could Sister Miriam Therese Winter write, “Joy is like the rain” at the darkest time of her life? How could Beethoven compose his Ode to Joy and his entire Ninth Symphony when he was totally deaf? How can we experience joy as we struggle with illness, rejection, depression, alienation, grief, loss, aging, and all the many difficulties that confront us? What exactly is that fruit of the Holy Spirit that John the Baptist refers to in today's gospel reading?

The joy of the Holy Spirit does not obliterate the emotional impact of pain in our lives, it does not negate the right to the tears that accompany grief, loss, or frustration, and it does not stifle anger and indignation in the face of evil, suffering and injustice.

Paul tells us that the Spirit's gift of deep, abiding joy – that “peace which surpasses all understanding” is the certainty that through the most difficult circumstances in our lives, God is always near. God suffers with us just as God was present to Paul in his imprisonments and persecutions, just as God was present with Jesus through his suffering and death.

And just as God vindicated Jesus by raising him to life, the Spirit of God can bring forth new life in us. Miriam Therese gave up her dream of becoming a missionary doctor; she found her calling – and true joy - in teaching and in writing music. Beethoven “heard” his music in his mind and could “see” it in the rapture of those who listened to it.

In our own lives, reminders of happier times can bring us back to God's joy after a major loss. Joy, inner peace, and hope do come when we earnestly ask for them in prayer, which in turn help us to “not worry about anything but in everything simply make our request known to God”. Small acts of kindness and seemingly insignificant creative actions can change unjust systems and situations, filling our hearts with hope in times of despair. Joy is laced with profound hope.

God comes to us through the helping love of others. Think of the times when sharing something has brought you pleasure – be it as simple as a recipe, a small gift, or the gift of attentive listening. Think of the joy of “being there” for people who needed us. Think of the gratitude you felt when you were on the receiving end of those gifts. Joy is also an all-pervasive sense of gratitude.

This is the gist of John's message in the gospel. When people ask him, “What should we do?” He basically tells them to change their lives, to find joy in giving, in sharing, and in doing the right thing, in doing justice.

Joy IS the normal state of soul of those who follow Jesus. It is the bedrock of our lives, the place in our hearts where we find God even when we seem drowning in turmoil, wracked with doubt, paralysed by pain and fear. It does surpass our understanding. It does move us to “Sing aloud, as we heard in the prophet Zephaniah, to rejoice and exult with all our heart”. This is the gift that John the Baptist promises to those he called to “change their ways'”, to make straight the tortuous highways that are our lives. Jesus will come and fill us once again with “the Holy Spirit and with fire” - the fire of love and the gift of joy.

Homily on the Ocassion of the Installation of Priests at Church of the Beatitudes, Toronto

Bishop Marie Bouclin | November 16, 2014

Today I'd like to focus on the Gospel with you, not because the first two readings aren't important - the first one in fact is probably a very good description, once adapted, to the women we are installing today. While they do not have husbands to sing their praises, they do have our entire RCWP community.

My comments on today's gospel are largely borrowed from my colleague Bev Bingle, pastor of Holy Spirit Catholic Community in Toledo, Ohio. She writes:

"Today's gospel is usually referred to as the "Parable of the Talents." We've all heard countless sermons warning us about burying our God-given talents under a bushel. Over the centuries it has spurred many people to use their gifts for good.

But there are a couple of problems with looking at the parable this way. One is mistaking the "master" in the parable for God. Is this God, who harvests where he doesn't plant and gathers where he doesn't scatter, who calls servants wicked and lazy and throws people out into the dark?

Lots of the parables begin with "The kin-dom of God is like.." This one doesn't. That's because it's not about God. It's about a man going on a journey. Jesus is talking about human beings.

And Jesus is not talking about talents as we define the word: not skills, abilities, gifts, aptitudes, expertise, proficiency - however you name it. He's talking about money. A talent was a lot of money in Jesus' time, equal to somewhere between $300,000 and a million today. The Mishnah, which contains the written record of the rules of the oral tradition that would have been in place during Jesus' life, forbids the drawing of interest and dividends from investments. In 1st century Judea, earning double interest on money would have been sinful, so this parable shows us a man who rewards great sinfulness on the part of the servants. He's not practicing Jubilee justice when he concentrates wealth in the hands of the few. That makes the third servant the hero in the parable: he knows the master is evil and refuses to take part in it; he engages in a courageous act of civil disobedience.

The parable says that the third servant acts "out of fear" - but it's not fear of the wicked master, or he would have lent the money out at interest. His fear is the fear of doing wrong. When he gets thrown into the darkness where's there's wailing and grinding of teeth, that's the place where, in other parts of scripture, we find God listening to the cries of the poor and oppressed.

It's significant that the scholars of the Jesus Seminar voted this parable one that most probably comes from Jesus. Theologian Ched Myers says the parable would have been heard by Jesus' listeners as a story about doing right in the face of a cruel and wicked leader.

We can all relate to that. We get torn apart when someone tells us to do something wrong.”

Or when we've been punished for doing the right thing ... which brings us to what we are doing here today. As you know, we Roman Catholic Women Priests have been sent into exile from the church we love for being ordained. We have obeyed God rather than men.

We have chosen to obey the second of only two commandments Jesus left us. The first, of course, is the Great Commandment, to love our God with our whole heart and soul and mind, and our neighbour as ourselves. The second is to remember him, Jesus, by breaking bread together to keep alive the subversive memory of Jesus.

We ordain women to serve the People of God in communities like this one. We accept the call to ordination because we love our church and want to make it better, but also because we know that the Eucharist is the "source, centre, and summit of the life of the Roman Catholic Church". We answer the call to priesthood, not so much, technically, that we need an ordained person to celebrate the Eucharist (that would be a talk for another day!) but because we Catholics need to gather together around a sacred table with someone who can help break open the Word of God, and so gather us into community— communion, and remind us that, in breaking bread together, we accept to let our lives be transformed. We recommit at every Eucharist to follow Jesus. We remember Jesus, not in a passive way, but in an active renewal of our commitment to serve God in others, especially those most in need.

We recommit to discipleship, which comes at a cost: the cost of following the Way of Jesus. He listened and learned and prayed, and then he spoke truth to power and died rather than walk away from doing the right thing.

That's our call, too. All of us.

Today, as I ask Roberta and Catherine to renew their priestly vows, I am also asking you to support them as your pastors, as people committed to serve you through their prayer and sacramental service.

Homily for a celebration of the diaconate

I would like to begin by thanking each of you for being here for this celebration.  Frankly, I am overwhelmed by your spirit of joy and enthusiasm.  This is a day our God has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad!

The scripture you just heard (Micah 6:6-8) and the opening song (The Summons by John L. Bell) were part of my ordination liturgy in Sudbury on Sept. 11.  I chose to share them with you to connect that day and our celebration today, and to share something of my call to ordination in the context this sacred text.

As you may already know, Jewish law, Torah, contained more than 600 precepts, far too many rules for ordinary folks to remember.  So, from time to time, various prophets
would remind the people what the essence of Torah was.  Thus we have the Ten Commandants, for example, or this passage from Micah with three mandates.  Jesus boiled it down to two:  Love God and love your neighbour as yourself.  (By the way, did you know that Cannon Law has more than 1700 precepts?  Try to remember all of them!)

Micah reminds us that God desires the people of Israel to worship in spirit and in truth. This is the same wisdom Jesus shared with the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob.  (The Gospel reading at my ordination.)  It isn't about this place or that: the temple in Jerusalem for the Jews, or Mt. Gerizim for the Samaritans.  Nor is it this form or that: prime beef, quantities of fine oil or even sacrificing one's child.  The question is, are we persons of integrity and justice?  Are we compassionate lovers?  Are we faithful companions with the God who made us?

This summons is what drives my journey to ordination.  Ever since Vatican Council II church renewal and reform have been of interest to me.  The inclusion of women in pastoral ministry was wonderful progress and I spent many of my working years in hospital or parish ministry.  Throughout those years, I contributed what I could working with priests as collaboratively as possible, but there was always a dead end beyond which we could not go. There was a lot of frustration though because women could not be ordained for sacramental ministry.

After retirement 10 years ago, attending Call to Action Conferences became part of our travels and an important event that connected me with other seekers of a deeper, more authentic way of Gospel living.  It was at a CTA conference that I first met a Catholic woman priest.  Mary Rammerman shared her story of ministry at Corpus Christi Parish in Rochester, NY and where that had taken her. (She was ordained by an Old Catholic Bishop.) Some of the women who were ordained by a Roman Catholic Bishop in 2002 on the Danube River came and told their stories.  This was wonderful! The Spirit was a movin'. Hope for the future of the church did exist!

It was a changed model of ministry that these women brought.  It is not patriarchal, hierarchical or clerical.  It emphasizes servant leadership in a discipleship of equals.  It uses inclusive language and a variety of names to address God – Sophia, Most Holy One, Source of All Being, Our Mother as well as Our Father.  There is emphasis on the abundant love of God, not our unworthiness or sinfulness.  We are all embraced as beloved daughters and sons of God. All are welcome to participate fully in the Eucharistic feast where we remember who Jesus is and what he did for humanity and all creation.
This model of ministry appealed to me. I never thought though, for a moment, that ordination was for me.  The women who would serve as priests in this way would be those who could reap the benefit of what my generation had sown.  They had my full support, but my time had passed.  Or so I felt.  I was retired after all, and had done my duty.

I was enjoying my retirement. Yet, there was something missing – a hole in my soul, if you will, a yearning – a sense of purpose which was not being fulfilled.  At this time, a bit of wisdom given me was, “Jane, know you are God's beloved.  All God's desires for you are good.  Desire what God desires.”  From where I was at that time, I could only beg to “desire to desire what God desires.”  At some point this passage from Micah echoed in my soul.  “What God delights in is this: to stand for justice, to love with compassion, and to walk humbly with God.”  Wherever that journey would take me was where I needed to go. 

Two summers ago, at the request of some of the women here, Marie Bouclin, the newly selected bishop of Roman Catholic Women Priests Canada stopped in Regina on her way to Vancouver to ordain a woman as priest.  After her presentation I talked with her because her story touched me deeply, there were many similarities that we shared.  As we concluded our conversation she placed one of her hands gently on my shoulder and whispered in my ear, “Are you the one I will be back here to ordain.”  I was dumb struck.  It was if a bolt of lightening had struck me.  Never in a million years would it be me. It was more likely I would win the 649.

Yet, here I am.  After a time of reflection I started the Program of Preparation for Ordination as a Roman Catholic Woman Priest to discern if this is where I am being led.  The deep inner journeying that accompanies the academic preparation has brought me to know and claim the call of God to give witness – in my latter years – to the reality that God calls women as well as men to be priest. 

Being ordained a deacon is a major step for me into the eternal reality only God knows.  It is a commitment to live from the Spirit within, to be a woman of prayer, to support those who are needy and marginalized (especially by the Church), to shape my life after the model of Jesus in loving service.   It is my way of answering The Summons: “Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?” 

I believe that what Sophia, Sacred Wisdom, alive and among us, is doing in our day is calling to women, laying hands on them, and saying to them, “Rise up. You no longer have to be weighed down by the institutional and societal sins of patriarchy and sexism.”  “Stand in your truth as beloved daughter and proclaim the inclusive love of God for all people and creation.”  The Good new of Jesus, when he healed the women bent over in Luke 13:10-13, is being fulfilled.

I answer this call and give my last full measure of energy to it. I give it for us gathered here, but also that future generations of girls and women will be able to know and claim the authenticity of their call to serve God as priests.  When they hear, “Let your light shine for all the world to see,” they can put it on a lamp stand and not have it hidden under a bushel basket.
The Good News of today's message from Micah is for each one of us.  We are all called to live in close company with our God and, from that grounding, to love compassionately and to act with justice.  How does it echo in your soul?

In a few minutes we will affirm each other in our respective calls to service using the ancient ritual of anointing.  Know that you are God's beloved, God delights in each of you, and together we spread that love throughout the world.

Victoria Marie, Vancouver, Ministry Report,

RCWP Canada AGM, September 2014

Click here to read more in pdf format

Marie Bouclin, Sudbury, Ministry
 Report,  RCWP Canada AGM, September 2014

There are two house-church communities for which I serve as Eucharist leader.  Levain, meets once a month, except in July. We have a regular attendance of 8-10 with 14 women on our membership list. Besides praying together, most of us are involved with the Cercle missionnaire de la Vallée, an organization that collects goods and does fund-raising to send to Haiti. The other group, Sourdough, is smaller and has been meeting for almost two years in my home on the third Sunday of the month. It is made up of Catholic women seeking a safe place to discuss faith issues and celebrate with more inclusive language. There were two other house-churches made up of Francophone women who no longer meet. Their numbers had dwindled and interest waned, so they decided to let it go.
This year I've also blessed two marriages and officiated at two funerals. I also attend, whenever I can, the Sudbury Ministerial Association prayer lunch once a month to keep in touch with activities in the wider, local Christian community.

Linda Spear, Sutton, Ministry Report,  RCWP Canada AGM, September 2014

1.    Eucharist every Wednesday 11 AM at Grace Anglican Church

2.     Coordinate monthly Ecumenical Committee meetings once a month -- send out agenda and show up.

3. Publicize Ecumenical events such as Family Celebration.

4. Organize Blessing of the Animals -- annual

5. Participate in the following events:

    a) Remembrance Day Ceremony
    b) Dec. 6 Memorial
    c) Christmas Singalong
    d) Foyer Christmas service
    e) Week of Prayer for Church Unity
    f) Pancake Supper
    g) Ash Wednesday Mass and Anglican Eucharist (I provide the Ashes)
    h) Palm Sunday Anglican Church
    i) Holy Thursday Eucharist Anglican Church
    j) Ecumenical Walk with the Cross -- Good Friday
    k) Easter Sunrise Celebration -- I coordinate it.
    l) Family Celebration

6.     I also participate in a weekly meditation group -- Christian Meditation inspired by Dom John Main.

7.     About every six weeks to two months, I preach at the Anglican Church in order to give Tim Smart a     break on the odd Sunday.

8.     A few times a year I preside at Morning Prayer on a Sunday when Tim Smart is away. The next     Sunday should be Sept. 14.

Monica Kilburn-Smith, Calgary, Ministry Report, RCWP Canada AGM, September 2014

Our Calgary community, St. Brigid of Kildare Catholic Faith Community, which has been in existence for over six years now, moved into a new space last year and we have been concentrating on becoming a stronger, more integrated community with a greater presence in Calgary.

We have a website and send out newsletters twice a month. Our mailing list is 225 people at the moment. We have about 40 - 50 people at our monthly Mass, and also hold one discussion/education evening per month.
My daughter Genevieve (16 years old), continues to be my altar server at Mass, and also helps with the newsletters.  Ruth Wasylenko came from Edmonton to lead our August Mass -- we have concelebrated in the past, and I was grateful she could come again.

Our main thrust this year has been to become a Religious Society, which was achieved in August. We now have an organizing team called the Hearthkeepers, and we have great hope for our future. A key initiative at this point in time is to become more visible as a welcoming community for the gay and lesbian community. To that end, some of our members are participating in the Calgary Gay Pride Parade at the end of August.

Currently, there is one person in Calgary discerning about priesthood. I've had other 'nibbles' but nothing has come to fruition -- yet!  I would dearly love for another person to emerge here with a vocation, as a community of this size could benefit from another priest, I think.

I feel that at St. Brigid's we are heading into a new 'era' -- our next stage of growth, which is very gratifying. It has been a winding road to this point, but there is a feeling of consolidation now, a firm foundation on which to build our future.

Kim Sylvester, Gatineau, Ministry Report,  RCWP CANADA AGM, September 2014

Since May-June this year, I am not involved with a Eucharistic community, nor am I holding meetings on a regular basis.  During the last year, I have searched for an activity, a service, etc., where I could interact with residents of Gatineau, but apart from some irregular contact with a friend, I have not found any interest on the part of people, generally, to have spiritual/ celebratory/community relationships.  The prevalent attitude in Quebec toward religion, church, etc., is definitely negative.

A search for a meditation group proved more fruitful; although it is mostly beneficial for personal spirituality, it does not discount the fact that meeting with a group of like-minded women can be a wholesome way to get to know people who live in this area!

I hope to become involved soon with a soup kitchen and centre for poor and homeless people, having made contact with one of the directors just last week (August 24th). 

Ministry in the Province of Quebec is a great challenge to us women priests: most people think and believe that we are no different than the male RC priests.  Many are afraid that contact with us will bring them psychological harm and suffering; they have no interest whatsoever to learn more, to find out what our work and attitudes are.

Homily on the Ocassion of the RCWP Canada Retreat -- September 2014

Bishop Marie Bouclin

Readings: Wisdom 7: 25-28; Psalm 19; First Corinthians 13: 4-13; Luke 13, 10-13)
The texts chosen for this celebration are meant to recapitulate some of the thoughts we have pondered with Lyn (Fisher, our retreat leader) over the week-end. And so we begin by placing ourselves squarely in the light of the Holy Spirit, God's Wisdom. We remember that, of ourselves, we can do precious little to fulfill our vision and mission. But if we pray for wisdom and open ourselves to Divine Goodness, we allow Her to pass into our very souls and “make us friends of God and prophets.” 

Our first call as associates, deacons or priests within RCWP is to be prophetic and obedient to the Spirit. As Sandra Schneider so aptly put it in her little book, Prophets in Their Own Country, prophetic obedience is a “commitment to continuous discernment (…) of what God is doing and asking in the current situation, which is sometimes not only different from but opposed to what is 'on the books' of the official church.” Prophetic obedience means reaching out “to the alienated, the excluded, the oppressed, not only in society but in the church itself.” We know that prophets are most often not recognized in their own country, and that it is Jerusalem that kills the prophets... We know there is a hefty price to pay for obeying God and not the men who run our church.  

Still, we proclaim, “Your words, O God, are spirit and life.” And we have come together this week-end to listen to a different voice help us hear the words of God, and hopefully come away not only with greater faith, hope and compassion, but a renewed commitment to prophetic service.

Our second reading was chosen simply to echo what Lyn spoke of earlier this morning. True compassion means living inside someone else, letting go of envy but being joyful in the success of others, listening to others in their otherness and correcting gently with truth. Love is a choice to be the person Christ wants us to be. I'm sure you all took notes as one thought or another struck you. You may want to share those with all of us, especially with those who are not here today.

Today's Gospel, however, is my focus, and I have been meditating this particular passage for several weeks now. We come to Jesus, especially when we celebrate Eucharist, in our individual or communal “bent-ness”. We all have long-standing “spirits” - wounds, vulnerabilities, and needs for healing. Only Jesus can straighten us up, or if you like, straighten us out.

It is Jesus who calls us forward because, as Lyn pointed out in our first meditation Friday evening, Jesus has faith in us. As we are, with our gifts and also our limitations.

Jesus is the One who calls us to to ministry, to service. Through the Holy Spirit who has passed into our souls, Jesus calls us to serve in ways best suited to our God-given gifts, talents, education and particular passion. We are set free from the constraints an institution may have wanted to impose on us. (If you read the very next verses in Luke's gospel, you will see that the religious authorities were critical of Jesus for “having healed on the Sabbath”.) As people who have been called, we have to get past the criticism and rejection of our current church leaders. This is an important lesson for us because we too have been called to leadership within our communities. And while we recognize that priests, especially, are called to exercise leadership, we need to remember that it is in a context of a 'discipleship of equals'. This means, as is spelled out in Unit 3 of our Preparation Program that we resist the temptation of clericalism.

The best antidote to clericalism is becoming a better listener. That means resisting the temptation of criticizing and correcting because “we know and they don't”. We will be the healers that people need if we first listen to them, trying to discern what 'spirit' is keeping them unable to stand up straight – physically, mentally or morally. We will be the leaders our communities need if we teach by example; if we listen with compassion; if we treat everyone as better than ourselves, acknowledge their gifts, call them forth for the growth and development of our communities (however small!) and praise them for their achievements. Clericalism is making our priesthood about ourselves and our gifts. Ministry is about making others the focus of our service. As Patricia often reminded us when we were discernment, “We are not ordained for ourselves.”  

Jesus healed the woman and then laid hands on her. Christ has laid hands on us – at our Baptism, at our Confirmation and for some of us, at Ordination. When Christ called us and laid hands on us, we stood up straight, we said, “Here I am, I am ready.” And, as I imagine the woman of this story did, we looked both boldly and gratefully straight into the eyes of Jesus. What did she see looking into the face of Christ? Each one of us, every day, in our prayer and contemplation, seeks to look into the face of Christ. Because this is where we find the compassion we are called to show others.  

At that very moment she stood up straight, she began praising God. We are called in a special way to make prayer, prayer of adoration, of confession, of thanksgiving and of petition, the core of our lives. As community leaders, we are called to gather people to pray, to worship and praise God. We worship in moments of silence, but also, and perhaps more often as we sing. This isn't easy, especially when our communities are very small, but we can still encourage people to lend their voice, however timid and small, to giving glory to our God. And we need to praise folks for their effort. 

I am reminded of what Diarmuid O'Murchu wrote about praising people. “Every time I praise and compliment another person I enhance the potential of their field of creativity. We all know from experience the power of positive strokes. We are less vigilant on the impact of negative energy. (…) The energy of my criticism actually reinforces the destructive potential of the (an) organization; inadvertently I'm giving energy to the very thing I am criticizing, and therefore I am enhancing a destructive rather than a fruitful outcome. (…) Spare the energy I would have invested in my criticism and, instead, invest it in dreaming up alternatives to negative ways of thinking.”
As we strive to move forward as catalyst for change within a church whose authorities have sent us into exile, let's set aside a spirit of criticism, especially among ourselves. Let's lead by example, encouraging one another in our varied giftedness, supporting those who feel more isolated, praising all the efforts each one of us makes to fulfill our mission. Our common hope is to bring Christ to the next generations, those who have given up on a church they largely consider redundant and irrelevant. Mindful of the wisdom we have acquired as “elders”, let's listen to what our younger people need and hope for. So many of them have not yet encountered Divine Mystery nor the compelling person of Jesus Christ. At the very least, let's show them the joyful face of those who have “seen the Lord” and are happy to be journeying hand in hand with him. Let's offer to those who have been hurt, excluded or even abused by an insensitive and legalistic church a new, more Christ-centered model of priesthood.

Gender Justice

Ray Canton

A Native North American proverb states that one must not criticize another unless he or she has walked in that person’s moccasins.  As in all folk wisdom, this proverb conveys a basic truth about life:  the knowledge that comes from lived experience is different from knowledge that comes from any other source.  We all know this truth instinctually.  How often as parents we tell out children to just wait till when they have their own children and then they will know the reason why we restricted or disciplined or treated them in such a way. And as parents, we prepare our children for when they will move into their own lived experience of being parents and dealing with their own children.

When teaching I often pointed out this distinction between the knowledge of lived experience and other sources of knowledge with a food experience that my wife Carol and I eagerly repeat whenever we return to our home town of New Orleans, Louisiana.  Our favorite restaurant in New Orleans is Commander’s Palace, an award winning five star restaurant.  It is in a stately old building in a section of New Orleans known as the Garden District.  Emeril Legasse, one of the great chefs of New Orleans, was once head chef at Commander’s Palace.  Carol and I have been going to Commanders since we were in university at Loyola.  One of our favorite dishes at Commander’s is Oysters Bienville, oysters in the half shell baked on rock salt with an out-of-this world creamy crab meat topping.  I tell my students all the ingredients that go into this dish, how it is prepared, how it is cooked and how it is served.  I tell them that they can know everything there is to know about that dish but they will never have the same knowledge of it that I have because I have actually taken a fork, stuck it into the succulent oyster with the platonic crab sauce and lifted it to my mouth and tasted the melodious blend of flavors.  It is one of those I-died-and-went-to-heaven experiences of this life.

Being male and writing about the lived experience of women in the world and in the church is like knowing all about Oysters Bienville but never tasting it.  I know about it but then I really don’t know about it. I just don’t have the lived experience of being a woman.  I certainly have other knowledge of a woman’s experience by being a husband and a father, but that is secondary knowledge, often called “notional” knowledge, not the knowledge of lived experience.

The emotional engagement of that secondary knowledge increases with proximity.  Being married, having a life partner, and having children that are brought into that relationship are as close as we get to sharing life with another human being.  We are close, rubbing shoulders with each other on a daily basis, sharing experiences, sharing dreams, being as close to oneness that individuals achieve in this life.  However, the family across the street is not as close even though I may know them, and the families in another city, province and country become more and more remote although we share our humanness with all of them, yet our concern and care seems to diminish as the distance increases.

But once we get beyond the familiar we tend to lose our connection with our common humanity, our common needs, our common dreams, our joys and sorrows.  We can even become callous to the suffering of others when it is half way around the world and does not affect us directly.

Attempts have been made by some to actually have the same lived experience when that was biologically impossible.  The Black experience in the United States is unique.  During the height of the white consciousness of the Black experience, especially during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, a white journalist, John Howard Griffin, lived six weeks as a black man.  With the help of a dermatologist, Griffin changed his skin color so that he could pass as a black man.  He then rode Greyhound buses throughout the southern states and occasionally hitchhiked as a black man in a very racially segregated south.  He published his experience as a nonfiction book “Black Like Me” in 1961.  That book angered many racists but opened the eyes of many whites who were somewhat aware of the treatment of Blacks in the South.

A major Hollywood movie in 1982, “Tootsie,” portrays the experiences of a man living as a woman.  The actor, Dustin Hoffman, was interviewed after the release of the movie and confessed he had no idea how women were frequently treated in a condescending manner and often dismissed in professional circles.

Women have been minimized, exploited, subordinated, abused and dismissed throughout history in the world and in the church and this is easily traced and has been aptly documented by poets, historians, and especially by women theologians.

The scope of this paper, however, is to present, as a male, those close to me and who have enlightened me as how, as women, they have been minimized, exploited, subordinated, abused and dismissed in their experience.  To approach the lived experience of being a woman as a male, I have interviewed both my wife and my daughter and listened to their experiences.  I begin with the experiences of Carol, my wife and then move on to the experiences of Lisette, my daughter.

When we were in St. Clair Shores, a suburb of Detroit, Carol enrolled in a scripture course, the gospel of Mark, being taught by an Episcopal priest.  At the first class, the teacher told the students to sign up as a layperson, a deacon, or as a priest.  The course requirements were different for each of those categories.  At the General Synod that year the Episcopal church had just voted on the ordination of women to the priesthood and it passed.  Carol asked the teacher what were the requirements to sign up as a priest and the teacher responded that if you had an undergraduate degree then sign up as priest.  Carol was stunned.  She could take a course toward ordination.  Without hesitation Carol signed up as priest. This meant a paper and some extra readings.  The next day, at the parish where we were employed full time, our only source of income, Carol joyously told the pastor that she signed up for a scripture course and she is taking it toward ordination as a priest.  The priest looked sternly at her and said “I hope you are kidding because if you are not you better look for another job.”  She did not expect that response.

When we moved to Montreal from Detroit, we first worshipped at the Roman Catholic cathedral.  Her call to the priesthood was growing more intense and knowing priesthood in the Catholic church was an impossibility at that time, she started to investigate the Anglican church which already had ordained some women.  We began worshiping at the Anglican cathedral in downtown Montreal.  We got to know the Dean of the cathedral and started to participate in various activities.  Eventually Carol was playing piano for Evensong and substituting for the cathedral organist when he was out of town.  Finally, she decided to see the Dean and tell him our story and inquire about the Anglican priesthood.  The Dean set up an appointment for Carol to see the Bishop.  The Bishop listened to Carol’s story and her interest in becoming an Anglican priest.  At the end or the meeting the Bishop told Carol that he was only ordaining one woman a year, and a couple of women were already studying for the priesthood in the diocese.  However, the Bishop said, if she wished, she could take theology and scripture courses at the seminary and continue worshiping at the cathedral.  Carol figured that the Bishop’s time-line of ordaining one woman a year, with a few women ahead of her, and if she was accepted, she may be ordained in five or six years.  She came away discouraged not understanding why several men were ordained each year, but only one woman.  Nevertheless, Carol started taking theology courses at Loyola in Montreal and eventually she was ordained as the fourth woman in the Diocese of Montreal.

When Carol was ready for placement as an assistant priest at a parish she was sent by the Bishop to interview at three parishes.  At two of the parishes she was told that they were not hiring women priests.  Why?  Simply because they were women, no other reason.

Being a woman priest came up several times in the course of Carol’s journey in the priesthood, either openly or covertly.  Being accepted or not accepted based solely on one’s gender is seldom if ever experienced by men, but frequently by women.  This happened with Carol and also with my daughter, Lisette.

Recently I conducted a telephone interview with Lisette about here experiences of being rejected as a woman.  Here are the questions and Lisette’s response in bold.

1. When do you first recall noticing that males and females were treated differently?

In the 4th grade.  If you were accepted by the boys you were not accepted by the girls and the reverse.  I could play all the sports with the boys and the girls hated me, and when I was with the girls the boys hated me.  I always was a rule breaker.  I was getting all the high marks but the students wanted me to be in the norm.

2. When you chose your academic specialty were you aware that it was or was not thought of as a “woman’s profession.”?

Choral conducting was a man’s field.  I was young and hadn’t encountered any of the prejudice, but I’d do it again.  I am making it easier for others, even those of my own generation.  Women are still paid less.  Still discriminated against.  I could have gotten more salary at York University if I were a man.

3. Research on prejudice suggests that humans are hardwired to think with the aid of categories and, all too often, with resort to social stereotypes.  Did any teacher or counselor try to dissuade you from choosing your profession because you are a woman?

No, not in university.  I felt it in society.  I should be home with the children.

4. Did you notice any prejudice because you are a woman when you were training academically for your chosen profession?

Yes, I did, especially because I am very headstrong and outspoken.  I didn’t start out like that but I became like that.  I express emotions in a musical way.  Coming from a woman this is seen as brash, brassy, bitchy.  A lot of male colleagues cross the line.  At York, I was ranting and raving about the music at a rehearsal to get the students to feel the emotion in the music and a student wrote me a letter asking me to smile more and people will like me more.

5. Women routinely encounter prejudice in their access to the labor market.  Has this affected you?

Absolutely.  Why do you think I started the OBC (Ottawa Bach Choir).  I was more qualified than anyone in Ottawa, but I wasn’t given any opportunity.  It was not just in the academic world but everywhere.

6. Did you encounter problems in your wages?

Yes.  At Carleton I was paid like a ‘leper.’  The man who came after me was paid triple what I was paid.  I built the choir and even paid out of my pocket.

7. Did you notice the ‘glass ceiling’ in the workplace?

I have two workplaces: a professional workplace and an academic workplace.  In academia, not so much.  Professionally, yes.  When I came off conducting the Brahms Requiem, a woman came up to me and said, “Wow, you are such a task master.”  A ‘taskmaster’ usually prepares a choir for another conductor.  She would never have said that to a man.  She would have said to a man: “You’re a brilliant conductor; you got so much out of the choir.”

8. After your divorce, were you treated differently in the workplace as a single mother than when you were married?

Absolutely.  I was judged especially in the church.  The woman priest at the Anglican parish said that women should be home with their children and directed that to me.  It was the women who were trying to diminish me.  Women in their 50s and 60s are threatened.

9. When you auditioned for positions as a choir director did you notice any animosity arising from prejudice from either the search committee or choir members?

For sure.  When I auditioned for the position of choir director for  St. Matthew’s Anglican Church I was asked if the boys’ choir was going to sound like girls if I conducted them.  I was 24 and had a Masters Degree in Conducting from Eastman.  I had the highest qualifications of all the applicants.  And when I auditioned for a choral position 10 years ago I was not given a fair audition.  Only the males interviewing were given a chance to conduct the choir.

10. Once you were hired, did you find prejudice as you carried out your duties as choir conductor?  With whom?

I found prejudice with board members.  They put me in my place, the place of a subservient woman.  One board member took me on a walk when the OBC was on tour in Stuttgart and told me how horrible I was.  In retrospect, I wonder why I didn’t throw him into the oncoming cars on the busy street.  One choir member said I was abusive.  Other men have yelled at me in rehearsal.  Women do it in quieter ways they tell me.  I conduct aggressively and have my moments.  A male choir director I know throws chairs, breaks pencils.  This is totally accepted from a man.

11. Did you receive professional prejudice from directors of other choirs?

Oh yes!  They would not include me in “the club.”  All the men who conducted choirs for an amalgamated performance at the National Arts Centre got together and discussed the music and the performance but I wasn’t included in any of the conversations, not in any of the planning.

12. At York or at any of the churches you worked at did you feel that you were treated differently by your colleagues?  By the choir members?  By the secretary and support staff?

Secretaries at York were jealous because I established a huge program and they did not want to do the work.  At a church where I worked, when I got my Doctorate, at the Sunday service, instead of congratulating me, they had a mock ‘ceremony’ where they gave everyone a ‘doctorate.’  My ‘doctorate’ was for running the fastest between the piano and the organ.  Their ‘ceremony’ was a slap in the face.

Obviously the treatment toward women in our society is less than admirable.  But Lisette did end the interview by saying that things are much better now than when she first started.  Things are getting better but slowly.

Truly, an injustice exists.  In many ways we are inhumane to each other.  Slowly, however, each injustice is knocked down and replaced with fair play, equality, acceptance and love.  Becoming aware of the injustices that we perpetrate and perpetuate will open that way to the world Christ foresaw when he spoke about the “kingdom.”  Eventually, we will become the kin-dom where all belong, all are treated with respect and all are given the opportunity to become all that they can become.  On that day we will rejoice just like Isaiah 65 foretold:

 19   I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.

20   No more shall there be in it
an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.

21   They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22   They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

23   They shall not labor in vain,
or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord—
and their descendants as well.

24   Before they call I will answer,
while they are yet speaking I will hear.

25   The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain.

Excerpt from a talk by the Reverend Doctor Victoria Marie given to the Women and Wisdom group at the Vancouver Inter-Spiritual Centre on the 22nd of January 2014.

Roman Catholic Women Priests cannot be ordained unless they are called by a community. The initial community that called me were members of the Vancouver Catholic Worker, some gay members of local Catholic parishes and a few members, who remain parishioners of traditional Catholic parishes. The community has grown to include members who attend Baptist, Anglican and Catholic churches as well as some who were not affiliated with any church previously.

Prior to my ordination, the community agreed that our “parish” would take the name Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin; it allowed us to honour our Catholicism and the Indigenous spiritual heritage of this continent. Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared on Tepeyac Hill. It was the place of worship dedicated to Tonantzin, the Great Mother of the Aztecs. The community’s acknowledgement of Indigenous people goes beyond our name. Each liturgy and meeting begins with an acknowledgement that we respect and are grateful to be able to have our services on the unceded land of the Coast Salish Nations.

We meet every second Sunday for Mass and social time together. Our services are held at the Listening Post on Main Street at Hastings Street in the Downtown Eastside. We follow the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. Our special annual liturgical celebrations include: the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Feast Days of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi, and the Feast of St. Mary of Magdala.

Our community consists of a small but diverse group of 25 people, ranging in age from students in their 20s to retirees in their 70s. We are a socially and ecologically conscious community but small in numbers. Hence, we collaborate on these issues with other Downtown Eastside churches. We are members of the Metro Vancouver Alliance to work on local issues and members of Kairos to work on national and global issues. We believe that our faith calls us to work to bring about the Beloved Community where all are related (human and non-human).

Report of the  Church of the Beatitudes,  Toronto,  to the AGM September  2014

Cathy O'Connor and Roberta Fuller

This community was founded on June 1, 2014. It is located at Emmanuel Howard-Park United Church, on the corner of Wright and Roncesvalles in the Parkdale area of West Toronto. We are grateful for the generosity of this liberal Protestant community – most especially the Rev. Ann Hines, who has supported our cause at the cost of some criticism, and ensured a warm and constant welcome into the midst of EHP.

Mass is held on the first and third Sundays of the month at 2:00 in the afternoon. This is, perhaps, an unusual time/day for a Catholic service, but if that is what the Spirit provides, then that is what we shall put to good use!

On Sunday, July 20, 2014, the Toronto Star ran a feature article in their Insight section on Rev. Cathy O’Connor and Rev. Roberta Fuller, RCWP, preaching, and presiding, entitled, “Two Ordained Women Priests Challenging Rome”. Despite the somewhat inflammatory headline, the article was empathetic and generated both positive and negative responses. All publicity is good publicity, and it has certainly put
Church of the Beatitudes on the map!

Several people have offered to help, and thanks be to God, we have an inspired music ministry, so talented that they are rewriting lyrics to well-known hymns to avoid copyright violations.

Church of the Beatitudes has a web presence in the form of a web page and a Facebook page. Their addresses are as follows:  

Web: http://oconnorc5.wix.com/rcwp-toronto (originally published 29 June 2014)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RCWPToronto (originally published 12 May 2014)

These pages are kept up to date with basic information (dates of Masses, etc.).

As you can imagine, we are providing this ministry on a wing and a prayer, with little financial support as yet. But the main thing is that we are doing this with the Grace of God. We are learning as we go, are enjoying the love generated by those gathered together in our new community, and are thankful for this opportunity to offer a renewed priestly ministry and spiritual home by serving the people of God.

RCWP-Canada Ordains New Deacon

In the company of family and friends and the Levain House Church Community, Jane Kryzanowski of Regina, SK was ordained deacon in the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement on September 11, 2014 by Bishop Marie Bouclin at Windy Lake, Levack, ON.  Jane shares this account of the ordination:

The whole ordination liturgy was very moving not only for me; many who participated expressed how profound it was for them.  From the entrance procession with the song, "Will You Come and Follow Me," through the joyous recessional "Magnificat," my heart was bursting with fullness and my eyes streamed with tears of joy – the birthing waters of new life.  I tried to focus on each moment and each movement of the liturgy in order to cherish the importance of this leap of faith on my journey into God.

The community that gathered for this occasion included the Levain House Church community of Sudbury who formed the choir and provided a pot luck supper after the ceremony, members of RCWP Canada, one of our daughters and her family, a couple from Michigan (a winter Texans like us), an ex-pat Regina woman who lives in Sudbury but is still an ardent Riders fan, and numerous people who were present in spirit – friends and supporters from across Canada and the USA.

As I entered the prayer room carrying the Christ candle, all the steps I have taken throughout my faith life came to this moment of accepting the invitation to follow Jesus on a path that leads, I know not where, but confident that it is the Way; the Way for me at this time on my journey of moving beyond saying I believe in justice for women in the church, and doing something about it.  

The chosen scriptures were God's word of call and response in faith:
Micah 6:6-8 (We are to do what is right, love justice and walk humbly with our God), from Hebrews 11 (the chronology of our ancestors who opened their hearts to God and responded to the call of the Divine), and John 4 (the encounter of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well; she became the first feminine theology student and the first evangelist).  

Prior to the ordination rite, I was questioned by Bishop Marie about my readiness to be ordained for ministry in the Church.  To each question I replied, “I am ready.”
Am I ready to serve with selfless dedication?  
Am I ready to guard the treasure of our faith and proclaim the Gospel in word and deed?  
Am I ready to live from the Spirit within, be a woman of prayer, and pray with and for all God's people?  
Am I ready to support the poor and sick, the homeless, and those in need?  
Am I ready to shape my life according to the example of Christ whose body and blood are entrusted to me to share?  

Then I stood before the altar with hands extended as a gesture of wonder and awe before God, of openness, surrender, and readiness to follow Christ wherever he leads.  The Litany of the Saints was sung invoking the “great cloud of witnesses” who model the leap of faith I was making.  As the role of saints was chanted their presence and witness to Christ Jesus affirmed me in my resolve to answer the call of God.

The ordination rite consists in the Laying on of Hands and the Prayer of Consecration.  Along with the Bishop and priests present, everyone else was invited to come forward and lay hands on my head.  Feeling the touch of different hands embrace and bless me was very powerful. The community also participated in the prayer of consecration extending their hands to invoke the fullness of the gift of the Sacred Spirit upon me.

My daughter vested me with the stole I made which expresses my inner journey of evolutionary consciousness of God's call to me to be a priest.  Bishop Marie gave me the book of Gospels, with the admonition: “Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you preach.”  This is the role of the deacon: to be committed to being the presence of the Word in our world and proclaim the Gospel which is at the heart of everyone's freedom to live in the fullness of God's life and love. The ordination rite concluded with a greeting of peace by the Bishop and priests.  I was then presented to the community with joyous applause.

The Eucharist continued as I set the table as a deacon for the first time.  It was my privilege to announce, “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith,” and invite everyone in the Spirit of Joy that fills this day, “let us offer a sign of peace to those near you.”  A friend assisted me with giving communion to all, serving the assembly first and we being the last to receive.  Although I have been a communion minister many times in the past, giving communion to everyone this time was especially poignant as I looked tenderly into the face of each person, seeing in them what I offered – the Body of Christ.  

How is what I am called to be as a deacon any different than any other disciple of Christ?  It is in the radical call to stand for justice for women in the Roman Catholic Church when the institution insists that only men can be ordained.  Women are regarded as invalid material for ordination, incapable of being ordained.  God, however, does not see us this way.  Jesus stood with women and raised them up to full dignity as daughters of God. I truly believe that the women’s ordination movement is a force of Sophia Wisdom which is blowing across the earth to bring to God's people the fullness of life promised to humanity through mutual respect, love and compassion for all people.  

After the liturgy we gathered for photos.  The pot-luck supper prepared by the Levain community was hearty and delicious!  I really enjoyed visiting with everyone over a glass of wine and the wonderful food, especially the tourtière!

The celebration may be over, but the service has just begun.  Pray with me that I may be a faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

She, with the Alabaster Jar
 by Victoria Marie, 29 November 2011

In Matthew and John and Mark

the 12 scold her about purse strings.

In Luke, the Pharisee remarks

she's a sinner, a cursed thing.


To all Jesus responds, she understands

what is to come and responds in a loving way.

You act as outwardly as propriety demands.

Your inward thoughts are cause for dismay.


Down through the ages, she'll be recalled,

though they try to smear and defame her.

What she has done will be remembered by all,

though they try to diminish and un-name her


What does it mean for women today?

We remained at the foot of the cross

Jesus chose women by whom to be anointed

For these things, they want to make us pay

They want to show us who is the boss

But it was the Magdalene, Jesus first appointed.


Just like Mary Magdalene, we have been sent

To spread the Word regardless of official consent

With the fire of love in our hearts to give, unsparing,

Bring love to the world by serving and caring,

at home, at work, in ceremony, in preaching,

Spread love and good news.  That's Jesus teaching.

Homily for the Priestly Ordination of Catherine O’Connor

November 16, 2013

by Bishop Marie Bouclin


Jeremiah 1:4-9 (Jeremiah’s call);

Response Psalm 22;

I Corinthians 12: 4-11(the Spirit’s charisms for the church);

Luke 10:1-6 (the sending of the 72)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The readings we have just heard are about call. God who calls us, the Spirit of God who empowers us with gifts for service, and Jesus us who sends us in God’s name as labourers to bring in a plentiful harvest.

I’m sure the word of God came to Cathy saying, “... I appointed you a prophet”. Those were daunting words for Jeremiah and so he feels inadequate and afraid. But like Jeremiah, Cathy must have also heard the reassuring words, “Be not afraid ... I am with you.”    

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