Monday, May 03, 2010

Roman Catholic Womenpriests ordains 2 priests, 3 deacons at Spiritus Christi

Chava Redonnet was ordained a priest in Rochester on Saturday in what she considers to be an act of ecclesiastical disobedience.

Although the Roman Catholic Church prohibits the ordination of women as priests, deacons and bishops, Redonnet considers herself to be Catholic and hopes to move the church in a more inclusive direction.

About 350 people attended the ordination at Spiritus Christi Church in Rochester.

Bishop Andrea Johnson of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests, an international group established in 2002, conducted the ordinations of Redonnet and Theresa Novak Chabot of Manchester, N.H.

Three women were also ordained as deacons during Saturday’s service: Patricia LaRosa of Rochester, Caryl Conroy Johnson of Philadelphia and Ann Penick of La Plata, Md.

The risks are significant. But the call is clear,” said Johnson.

She went on to say: “God’s work is the work of justice and peace for all.”

A sense of joy filled the sanctuary, with song and those attending joining in the enthusiastic response to the ordinations.

Doug Mandelaro, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, declined to comment on Saturday’s ordinations, other than to say that “this event is not connected in any way” to the diocese.

Noting that church law and teachings prohibit the ordination of women, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that ordinations of women are invalid.

You don’t wake up and say, ‘I’m going to be a priest today,’” Walsh said.

But in an interview, Redonnet, 52, of Rochester, said that she has the training to be a Catholic priest.

The only thing that is different is that we are women. And that’s not justice,” said Redonnet, who was previously ordained a deacon.

Redonnet has a master’s degree in divinity from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School and is the chaplain at St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality in Rochester.

She has done work as a chaplain at Strong Memorial Hospital and St. John’s Home. She is also a peacemaker with the Presbytery of Genesee Valley.

Links to Redonnet’s past at the ordination included a performance by A Moving Experience, a group from the ARC of Monroe County, where Redonnet once worked.

Redonnet is a founding member of the Spiritus Christi Church, which was established in 1999 in a split with the Rochester Diocese. She wrote a book, Standing in the Light, an account of the upheaval at Corpus Christi Church that led to the founding of Spiritus Christi.

Womenpriests’ website says that “women are no longer asking for permission to be priests” and rejects the penalty of excommunication for ordination of women.

About 65 women in the United States have been ordained by Womenpriests.

Redonnet, who likens her ordination to a religious version of civil disobedience, said that change for justice never comes from the top but rather from the grass-roots.

Two other Rochester women have previously been ordained priests: The Rev. Mary Ramerman in 2001 and the Rev. Denise Donato in 2003.

SIC: ROC

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