What a week this has been for women priests. Thirty-five women from around the country gathered in Chicago for an RCWP-USA national retreat. Then we came home to find that Fr. Roy Bourgeois is at the point of being ousted from the Maryknoll order and from his priesthood for supporting us. (He’s already been excommunicated for it, and this next step has been looming for a while). Roy has been such a strong and prophetic voice for justice, founding the SOA-watch and keeping us aware of what our country is doing in Central and South America. He’s an exemplary priest! How can such a thing be?
We who lived through the crisis at Corpus Christi in 1998 know this --- when you stand with the people who have been excluded, you end up excluded, yourself. Thank you, Roy, for standing with us, your sister priests.
When I was in Chicago I heard this story from Alta Jacko, a priest from the mid-West region. We were talking about Howard Thurman, the great African-American prophet and mystic who was a big influence on Martin Luther King, Jr. Once Rev. Thurman was traveling in the South with his family during the time of the Jim Crow laws there. His two little girls had never encountered legalized discrimination like that before, and didn’t understand why they weren’t allowed to play on a certain playground. He explained it to them this way: “It takes the whole police force, the mayor, the national guard and the entire legislature of this state to keep you from playing on this playground. That’s how powerful you are!!”
Something powerful is happening in the church right now, so powerful that the powers-that-be are trying to keep people from even speaking of it! And as is so typical of the way God works in the world, it is a small, fragile, hidden power --- like mustard seeds. Like yeast. Like dandelions. The powers that be can’t keep it down, no matter how hard they try. Look at the people God has used in history to change the world. Stuttering Moses. Little David, the shepherd boy. An unwed teenage mother. And here we are, a bunch of middle-aged women with our little communities meeting in living rooms and other people’s churches, or in an old bank like Mary Magdalene church or the dining room of a soup kitchen, like us at St Romero’s. A bunch of women all saying YES to God and following where the Spirit leads. And God is going to use us to turn the church upside down, just like in 1998 when the Spirit blew into Corpus Christi – and look what came of that. LIFE. I am so grateful for all these yes-giving, life-giving women. What a great adventure we get to be part of!
If you would like to speak up on behalf of Fr Roy, you could write a letter to Fr. Ed Dougherty, the Superior General of Maryknoll, and ask him not to expel Fr. Roy Bourgeois for advocating for women priests. Here is the address:
Fr. Edward Dougherty
PO Box 303
Maryknoll, NY 10545-0303
If you write to him, Fr Roy’s attorney is requesting copies of letters sent to Maryknoll:
Bill Quigley, Attorney for Fr. Roy Bourgeois,
7214 St. Charles Avenue, Campus Box 902,
New Orleans, LA 70118
Another way to support Fr Roy is to sign an on-line petition from the Women’s Ordination Conference: http://www.womensordination.org/component/option,com_chronocontact/chronoformname,form/
And finally, here is an article from the National Catholic Reporter if you’d like to know more: http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/bourgeois-facing-expulsion-maryknoll
On Thursday some friends from the Presbytery of Genesee Valley will be joining us as we travel west of the city for our Migrant Mass. You are welcome to join us, too! We leave at 7 pm from the St Joe’s parking lot.
On Sunday, August 21, we will welcome newly-ordained Rev. Patti LaRosa, who will preach and preside at the 11 am Mass at St Romero’s. Come celebrate Patti! Yay!
I hope you are enjoying these beautiful summer days. As I write by the open window I can hear the crickets chirping all over my neighborhood. What a peaceful and happy sound that is!
Blessings and love to all,
"The culture of bullying within the Catholic Church cannot be tolerated any longer," said, Erin Hanna, Executive Director of the Women's Ordination Conference. "It is contrary to the gospel itself to bully and dismiss faithful priests who dare to break the silence in support of women's rightful role in the Church." --- WOC statement in support of Fr Roy
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Church in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620