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We believe that we are to be attentive to the voice of the Spirit and to be activists for truth and for justice.
It’s all about our image of God
Then there is the image that Jesus proposed of a God that is like a Father, a “dad”. (Not to be sexist, I think Jesus used this image because it was the simplest fit for his audience). This kind of God is a loving God, a forgiving God, a God who knows we are often weak. Does this kind of God give a fig as to who proclaims that bountiful love, whether it is a man or a woman? Who will this kind of God punish if we made women deacons?
If we don’t make women deacons, and priests, bishops, cardinals, whatever, to me that is a sign that we don’t trust God, we’re afraid of God, we don’t believe God loves us unconditionally. That is going backwards to the God of Moses, ignoring the God of Jesus. I would go further to say, that it is ignoring pure and simple good judgment.
Pope Francis, why can’t you have faith in the image Jesus gave us? The fundamentalists will go ballistic, you can be sure. But is that any reason to tremble in fear of them? Get a grip and do it!
Why stop at deacons? The same reasoning holds for any office in the Church, so move those rusty hinges of the Vatican doors. Let’s get this stupid argument over with.
[Emil Kutarna, Regina, SK is frequent contributor to The Review.]
In Ordinary Time we experience the extraordinariness of the presence of the Spirit
In my experience once Pentecost is over and we revert to Ordinary Time, people slip back into old patterns. The wind and flame of the Spirit aren't allowed to continue to propel us and drive us out with courage and conviction and be the prophetic voice of change with the assurance of the abiding Divine Presence in all we say and do.
Once we celebrated Eucharist with a small group including children. I asked the children (and parents) to name some gifts they have and how they use them to help others. They knew what they are good at but often take this for granted. It was a way of raising awareness that these are the gifts of the Spirit alive in them.
When we think of it, how ordinary and yet extra-ordinary is the presence of the Spirit in our lives. Yes, the Spirit of God is a wild thing!
[Jane Kryzanowski, Regina, SK is bishop for RCWP Canada]
First anniversary of ordination of RCWP Canada bishop and close association of two faith communities
Bill Way, Special to The Review | July 1, 2019
July 21, 2019 marks the first anniversary of an historic ordination of a new Canadian Bishop, Jane Kryzanowski.
RCWP Canada photoThis ordination was ground breaking for our church. Bishop Jane Kryzanowski is the first Canadian Bishop from our organization to be ordained on Canadian soil. As you may have guessed, this was not an ordination for the United Church of Canada, nor for the Anglican Church. Bishop Jane is now the bishop for the Roman Catholic Women Priests of Canada (RCWP Canada).
The location for this special event was significant. St David’s United Church and other United Churches have warmly welcomed these special liturgies for RCWP Canada in United Churches across Canada.
In 2015, Jane Kryzanowski was ordained to the priesthood at Sunset United Church in Regina. Jane now ministers to Mary of Magdala Inclusive Catholic Community in Regina. In 2017, Ruth Roth was ordained to the priesthood at St. David’s United Church in Calgary and now serves St. Brigid’s Catholic Faith Community. St. David’s United Church has also been the church where members of St. Brigid’s have held their funerals. St. David’s and its people have worked with the Roman Catholic Women Priest community from its very beginning, even before it was officially organized.
Calgary was chosen by RCWP Canada as the location for the bishop ordination event because of the convenience for travellers from all over North America. Jane’s home is in Regina, but it is easier to fly directly to Calgary than to reach Regina. Another reason to choose Calgary was the humble community of St. Brigid’s. We think of ourselves as humble because there are fewer than 50 people who celebrate our monthly liturgy, but we have been gathering for 13 years and we have two women priests who serve our community. In the context of the current RCWP Canada organization, we are one of the strongest communities in the country. And so it was that St. Brigid’s was picked as the host for the ordination.
As a church musician, I was aware that we would be singing in a much larger sanctuary than our normal Sunday Mass. We gathered some choir volunteers from St Brigid’s and supplemented from old friends from other Roman Catholic Church choirs. Jane Kryzanowski had thoughtfully picked all the music for the ordination with no prior knowledge of the skillset in our choir. About half of the songs were new to us, although they were relatively easy to learn. We had two guitars and an electric keyboard that I connected to a brand new amplifier (I figured if we needed to be heard in a large United Church sanctuary, that a new Fender amp was needed.)
RCWP Canada photoThe first rehearsal was pretty rough as we worked on the basics: starting together, feeling the beat and blending our unison voices. By mid-July we were as ready as we could be. In the end, the Spirit moved among us and we sounded as powerful as the wind and as gentle as a hug. It always amazes me how a choir delivers such powerful music when they bundle up their nervous energy and just pray out loud in unison.
Beyond the music, I knew that on that Saturday afternoon we were in a holy place. The laying on of hands by all of us on Jane’s head spread the love around, while we reflected on the significance of the moment. It wasn’t a regal ceremony to crown a new authority. Rather it demonstrated that we were welcoming Jane as our servant leader in the full humanity of Jesus’ washing the feet of his disciples.
When the Spirit moves, there is no doubt. In that United Church sanctuary, on a warm Calgary Saturday afternoon, we had a bath in humility, prayer and love.
This ordination brought together bishops from RCWP regions in the United States, women priests from across Canada and “retired” male clergy from several Christian denominations.
The ordination on Saturday was preceded by a retreat held at the University of Calgary on Thursday and a public discussion on Friday night.
Quoting directly from the “Colleagues List II” edited by Wayne A. Holst: (July 29, 2018):
"The evening before the episcopal ordination I attended a presentation at the U of C in which three North American bishops – Nancy Meyer, Jane Via and Marie Bouclin – were interviewed and responded to the following three concerns:
1. Why I’m still Roman Catholic?
2. My migration from exile to living the Gospel;
3. What keeps me going?
"I sensed a profound desire to remain true to the essence of the Gospel, and a commitment to inclusivity and community in all of the responses. I also sensed these women were in it for the long haul, and were working on “tent-making” activities, in the spirit of St. Paul, to support their ministries.
RCWP Canada photo
"While the Roman Catholic Church is clearly hierarchical in structure, the model for their ministries was an early church form that was circular and 'bottom-up' in nature.
"The comments were intelligent, thoughtful, and grounded in much prayer and spiritual discipline.
"Their preaching and teaching styles were not confrontational but inclusive and inviting in nature. All of the speakers had bad experiences in their past, but they were committed to respond with peaceful and resolute conviction in the spirit of Christ.
"I was also impressed with their commitment to sound, contemporary ecumenical theology and spirituality.
"A total of 267 woman-priests now serve in many nations, world-wide.
"The following day, July 21st, was an historic occasion for the Canadian Catholic Church in general, and St. David’s United Calgary in particular.
"For the first time in Canadian Catholic Church history, a woman was ordained as bishop on Canadian soil. St. David’s had the privilege and opportunity to serve as host facility for the event since, obviously, no Roman Catholic parish in this country would be allowed to do so.
"I sensed the ordination of Jane Kryzanowski as RCWP Canada bishop to be a foretaste of the feast to come in which there would be no 'winners' or 'losers', but when the whole church would be renewed in Christ.
"In the words of one of the speakers – 'out of the ashes of older traditions, a new spirit was breaking forth.'
"As a Protestant attendee, I can attest that the atmosphere of the gathering, while truly unostentatious, could indeed serve as a model for many of our own important services. Indeed, I knew that the Holy Spirit was breaking forth."
Over all, there was a spirit of courage and hope, not a feeling of being abused by power or fear. In this time of social unrest on matters of gender, I found this experience to be particularly encouraging. These women had experienced abuse and marginalization, but they were not allowing this to define them. Here, I believe, is a good advice for everyone.
The final words of Bishop Jane on this special day, for her and all of us, was this: “Don’t let others define you. Instead, listen to the divine voice within you.”
I quoted from Wayne Holst’s publication because I sensed the same Holy Spirit at this event. I was thankful that these gifted, well-educated and spirit-filled women were brought to Calgary last July to celebrate this young and well-rooted movement.
Wayne very succinctly expressed my own experience from the altar, in the choir that sang and prayed at Bishop Jane Kryzanowski’s ordination. I know that I will not forget that afternoon, in a beautiful United Church, celebrating the spiritual and musical recognition of everyone’s service in our community.
So what is my connection? Why do I care about the United Church of Canada and RCWP Canada? I was blessed to marry a woman whose dad was a dynamic United Church minister. Giving up my life-long Catholic friends in our “youth” choir was not an option, just as giving up her active connection in the United Church didn’t make sense to either of us. Now I sing in St. David’s sanctuary choir twice a month, and play guitar and sing at St. Brigid’s once a month. Both communities challenge me, and both communities welcome me. I am thankful for the love and spirituality of both communities.
[Bill Way, Calgary, AB is a member of St. Brigid’s Catholic Faith Community and St. David’s United Church]
To view one or all videos of the ordination and public presentation, click here: RCWP Canada YouTube Channel
President urges members to witness to the
truth and speak of the need for change in the Church
Cathy Genge, Special to The Review, July 1, 2019
On May 2 and 3, 2019, The Diocese of Victoria, BC held its annual Catholic Women's League convention. Our Diocesan theme this year is “Solid Rock, Living Waters” and our BC/Yukon Provincial Theme is “Witnessing to the Truth”.
We Parish Presidents were asked to speak about what those themes mean to us. This was the reflection I presented to about 80 members of the CWL. While they were initially very shocked, I received hearty applause when I finished. After I sat down, a number of women commended my courage to speak on this topic and throughout the rest of the convention, many more asked for more information. A few of them said, tellingly, that they were ‘afraid to’ stand and give me a standing ovation.
Witnessing to the Truth – Solid Rock, Living Waters
It’s easy to identify the Solid Rock with the Church and equally as our faith in Jesus’ message, but they are very separate. On the one hand, the message Jesus brought is truly bedrock, immutable, reliable and unchanging. The Rock of the Church, however, has been corroded by centuries of male dominance and power mongering that has brought us to a time of crisis; a time where change is an absolute necessity for survival.
But how to change a centuries old institution? As the Living Water of an ocean can polish the stones on the shore and the trickle of a waterfall can wear down a mountain; so we have to clean the corrosion on the rock of our Church with our voices. We are the means by which the stagnant pond of complacency can be tuned into a cleansing torrent.
Women need a voice and a vote in the church, plain and simple. We represent over half the church’s faithful and arguably are the driving force behind our families’ attendance therein. Despite those numbers, however, only 3 women have just this year been ‘invited’ to attend a Synod where Church policy is discussed and decided. They didn’t get a vote, but were ‘allowed’ to speak, for the first time. Neither are women hired by the Vatican. Even laymen qualify for this representation, but we are excluded strictly on the basis of sex. In other words, one doesn’t have to be a priest to speak or work or vote at the Vatican, just a man.
Make no mistake, sexism hurts! Church doctrine teaches that women are less worthy of receiving God’s call to service. This ultimately endorses the consideration of women as lesser beings – commodities and possessions. In our mission statement, we talk about opposing discrimination but yet, we accept it as a foundation of our Church. As CWL, we have a louder voice in Parliament than we do at the Vatican.
There are many international groups addressing this need for change, including the Women’s Ordination Conference and Roman Catholic Women Priests but there is a group that is capitalizing on the momentum of the #MeToo movement called “Voices of Faith” that is really gaining some ground. They have a presence in social media called #Overcoming Silence, which seeks to address the medieval policies of the Church.
Their “Goal by 2030 is to have 30% of the leadership positions in the Church opened to and filled by women.” They have presented “a petition urging bishops, cardinals, the Synod of Bishops leadership, and the Pope to make a path for women religious superiors to work and vote as equals to their brothers in Christ at meetings of the Synod of Bishops.
Transparent and just workplace policies will bring more women with their diverse life experiences to meaningful positions of leadership, but also increase the overall effectivity, transparency and accountability of the Roman Curia for the benefit of all of us in the Catholic Church.
Rather than meekly accepting the control of the men running our Church, I believe we need to add our voices to the many nuns, priests and lay people who recognise that the Church’s outdated policies of subservience and hierarchy have led to the abuse of power which will continue to victimize, our children, nuns and seminarians. We must witness to this truth and speak of the need for change in the Church and address its fundamental lack of balance or else accept that we are as complicit in the crimes of the abusers as their superiors who chose the Church’s reputation over its victims. I have and will continue to address this in my Parish, and I would like to encourage my sisters in the League to join Voices of Faith on social media.
We were raised in a Church that told us to cover our heads and be silent. Overcoming that training is difficult but if we are to help our church survive, we must make some waves – or at least stir up a ripple or two.
[Cathy Genge, Saanich Peninsula Parish CWL President]
To save the Church, Catholics must detach themselves from the clerical hierarchy — and take the faith back into their own hands.
Steven Lanoux, Special to The Review | July 1, 2019
Some of you may have already read James Carroll's article regarding abolishing the priesthood. As a former Paulist priest who resigned decades ago when he was faced with the corrupting influence of corruption in the priesthood (convoluted redundancy, but you get it), he has credibility.
More than that, he has truth.
We have to think seriously about his point that as long as we are in the pews and our dollars are in the collection plate, we endorse the status quo. For Deli and me who are in the midst of helping our Port Aransas parish rebuild after Hurricane Harvey, this is an agonizing reality. So many depend on her blog for updates on the repair progress and to stay in touch with the parish during the months when they are distant. There are many who are still lining up for financial and professional assistance from our Knights of Columbus Council. But helping these people also helps the clerical organization regain strength to exert its authority over those who deserve better. The Church (big "C") needs tough love, yet that will hurt those in need at our local level.
The article is a superb elucidation of where the responsibility for today's problems lie (back to Emperor Constantine) and how we can re-establish the church in the image of the first Christians. Not take control of the existing Church and overthrow it but have the laity take ownership of themselves and their own gatherings and let the hard-core, right-wing clerical organizations isolate themselves and become LESS relevant than now. Not reform from within or starve the beast into submission but simply remove real Catholics and Catholicism into a new, non-clerical church (small "c").
I believe this is the kind of inspiration around which CTA could wrap itself, and Carroll could be the facilitator of such a new Catholicism.
Even as Deli and I are so conflicted about how to best serve God and our fellow parishioners, I offer Carroll standing applause.
[Steven Lanoux, Brownsville, TX is a frequent contributor to The Review.]
Editor's note: Read James Carroll's 21-page article in The Atlantic by clicking here.
Trees, a Gift for All or Entitlement for Some?
Victoria Marie, Special to The Review, July 1, 2019
And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals.”
I imagine that a new Jerusalem, where God will dwell, will most definitely have tree-lined streets. I also imagine that God’s design for the present Jerusalem—for Earth’s cities in general—is that all should benefit from the Divine gift of trees.
The second reading for the 5th Sunday of Easter brought to mind something that has been on my mind for some time. Trees and their lack in many inner cities. I watch a lot of British TV and I noticed that in film scenes of streets with low-income and row housing there are no trees. The same is true in cities on this side of the Atlantic. In 2015, a research study on Urban Tree Canopy examined the distribution of urban trees in Baltimore, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh, Sacramento, and Washington, D.C. The researchers concluded that, “Money may not grow on trees, but this study suggests that in a way, trees grow on money. Our findings show that high-income neighborhoods in our selected cities are more likely than low-income neighborhoods to have high [number of trees].”
What does all this talk of trees have to do with the readings for the 5th Sunday of Easter? Well, it has to do with what Jesus says in the gospel of the day. “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Gospel love demands that we work to bring justice where there is injustice, including environmental injustice. Trees or the lack thereof are one symptom of a larger problem. Environmental injustice and environmental racism, where one group of people are exploited to benefit another, are still prevalent in the US and worldwide.
In the US, it is estimated that a higher percentage of hazardous waste dumps are located in or near lower-income or minority communities. In Canada, as of May 2018, there were still 174 drinking water advisories in over 100 First Nations communities, some of which date as far back as 1995, like Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. The issue of environmental justice can also be considered from a more broad, international perspective. For example, many of the global impacts of climate change are felt acutely in regions with historically lower carbon emissions.”
The new and last commandment of Jesus, stated in today’s gospel, calls us to do all we can to heal the Earth and in the process heal each other and our living environment. Water, air, soil, plants and animals all have innate value given at the time of creation by God, who “saw that it was good.” Yet, in addition to their innate right to health, they share their health with us. For example, trees contribute to their environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. The Collaborative on Health and the Environment states, “The just and fair treatment of all people, communities, and the environment is essential in creating a more sustainable and healthy world where children can grow and flourish to their full genetic potential.” That means social, economic, and environmental justice are necessities for water, air, soil, plants and animals, including humans, to reach and maintain healthy and to live into their full potential.
Clean air and water are the right of the elements themselves but also the right of creatures that depend on them. Trees and green spaces are necessary for urban wildlife and the environmental, spiritual, mental and emotional health of urban dwellers regardless of where they fall on the income scale or their so-called race.
When someone we love is sick, we do everything we can to help them get better. Today’s gospel calls us to give more than lip-service to our love for one another. It calls us to work to restore health to our environments: urban, rural, national and international. How can we answer that call? There are examples we can learn from.
When I was little there were no trees on our block. Then when I was around 9 or 10, the South Brooklyn Savings Bank paid for several saplings to be planted on our street. Sixty years later, the South Brooklyn Savings Bank is no more but the trees still stand as healthy and beautiful neighbours of the 200 block of Atlantic Avenue. Another example is Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist who began a movement to reforest her country by encouraging women to plant trees in their local environments. Her movement spread to other African countries, and contributed to the planting of over thirty million trees.
But how can we answer the call? Could we join or be part of a local group that tries to persuade businesses in our neighbourhood to develop or enhance their community consciousness? Could we persuade a local business or group of local businesses to donate a tree or two or more to a treeless street like the South Brooklyn Savings Bank did all those years ago? We won’t know unless we try. So, let’s demonstrate our love for the Earth and each other by joining with like-minded groups to eliminate environmental injustice. Although, we may not get to see it, let’s work towards making our inner-cities closer to John’s vision of a new Jerusalem. Alleluia!
[Rev. Dr. Victoria Marie is is co-founder of the Vancouver Catholic Worker, on unceded Coast Salish Territory. She is a priest, spiritual director, and pastor of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Roman Catholic Women Church Community and author of Transforming Addiction: The role of spirituality in learning recovery from addiction (Scholars Press, 2014). Victoria Marie is also a member of RCWP Canada.
This homily originally appeared in Wild Lectionary, a weekly blog on ecological justice themes in scripture, curated by Laurel Dykstra, gathering priest of Salal + Cedar, Coast Salish Territory. This homily is published here in its entirety with the kind permission ot the author.]
“My level of consciousness and patriarchal, religious, rational thought chains had prevented me from awaking to new possibilities.”
Pearl Gregor I, the Woman, Planted the Tree: a Journey through Dreams to the Feminine
A book review by Leanne Stam, Special to The Review, July 1, 2019
I, the Woman, Planted the Tree: a Journey through Dreams to the Feminine is a necessary voice in the dialogue of Western Culture’s patriarchy in institutions, organized religion and even family dynamics and expectations. In a writing voice that blends a colloquial, personal tone with profound, sharp wisdom and a wealth of quotes from sages, Gregor captures the essence of her journey toward self-actualization through dream work. A quote by Lao Tzu nicely sums up her memoir: “New beginnings may come from painful endings. The total transformation of a belief system is like changing something like water to steam.”
She does not dismiss truths in traditions within which she was raised, but boldly reassesses truths that are man-made. In her preface, she writes to her daughter, “Perhaps in your 40s, you too will have the inner strength to push your way out of the patriarchy and remember the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine, the hieros gamos or sacred marriage.” I just spent two hours pouring over my dog-eared pages of I, the Woman, planted … writing down quotes that I want to reread, return to later, tweet out, or simply sit with. The reader beautifully loses touch with the ground of logic while reading about Gregor’s dreams and symbolic exploration, but is tethered by the tremendous collection of theological, psychological and professional research throughout.
Gregor provides information on the ancient symbol of wholeness: a labyrinth. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has no tricks or left-brain decisions; it is one path that leads you in to the centre and out again. The choice is simply whether you want to enter or not. I was thankful I accepted the invitation to enter the labyrinth of Gregor’s dream work. By working through it, I found myself exiting, refreshed and ready to breathe life back into my own “dried up and desiccated symbolic life.”
As I journey past tall constructs in my life and stumble into new terrain of understanding, I feel courage. Like Pearl Gregor, “I don’t pretend to understand; however, I reserve the right to search.” This life work will resonate with anyone ready to explore what lies beneath the influences of patriarchal structures and any one ready to free the feminine from our culture’s restraints.
Jean Marchant ordained bishop for RCWP-USA
Editor, Special to The Review | July 1, 2019
On June 15th, ordaining bishops at the episcopal ordination of Jean Marchant, a new bishop for RCWP-USA Eastern Region, included Jane Kryzanowski, bishop for RCWP Canada.
See page 2 for more details.
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