Women Long to Share Their Gifts
Catholics around the world will soon celebrate the Feast of St. Mary of Magdala, Apostle to the Apostles, disciple of Jesus, and first person to encounter the risen Christ and to be commissioned by him to preach the good news (John 20:1-18, Matthew 28:9-10).
It took the Church too many years to truly recover the crucial role of Mary of Magdala as Apostle to the Apostles, and to elevate her to have her own Feast Day. On this day, and in light of our Church correcting an injustice, we also celebrate:
- Jesus’ inclusion of women in his discipleship at a time when observant Jewish men did not speak to women outside their kinship circle in public, let alone travel with them in public in a mixed-gender entourage. Jesus saw God’s reign of justice as transcendent: a mission for all people.
- God’s choice to entrust the proclamation of the Resurrection to a woman. Mary of Magdala was the first to preach the Good News – at a time in Jewish law when a woman’s testimony was not considered valid.
Jesus (and later St. Paul) included women leaders in his closest discipleship, breaking customs but still aware of the limits of safety placed on women at the time. Women stayed at the cross; they stayed when the men left for Galilee; and they taught in Jesus’ name. Because of them, we are so much closer to our God.
Today, our Church teaches that men and women are equal, but offers no path or structure for women to exercise this equality in any way. Women, like Mary of Magdala, are ready to preach the word, lead communities, and walk with you as disciples in Christ.
Equality cannot just be given lip service through documents or discussed among close friends. Equality requires prophetic action, deep reflection on one’s own privileges, and most importantly, a fundamental recognition of God in all people.
God works through all people in ways beyond our capacity to understand. God is calling women to lead at the altar and live their vocation of priesthood, in service to the Christian community and the world. Just as you experienced a call to become a priest, so do women. So many women hold their vocation in great pain, as they wait for Church fathers to open their hearts to a God that does not discriminate. Women long to share their gifts and celebrate the ways God calls them forth, and finally answer the gospel invitation: “Tell us, Mary, what you saw on the way.”
Please join the majority of Catholics who are craving both the priestly leadership of women and a Church that models equality in the world. The People of God have waited centuries for the Church to right this wrong and return to its roots of radical inclusion. There is nothing in Scripture that forbids it, and indeed, fidelity to God in a changing world requires that our Church reflect our deepened understanding of the fundamental equality of men and women.
The “question” of women’s ordination cannot be suppressed. A question that concerns the discipleship of more than half of the Catholics in the world cries out for attention because any attempts to limit or prohibit God cannot be sustained. Jesus’ own treatment of women models the equality we demand, and we refuse to accept prejudice as God’s plan.
As you continue your own ministry, we ask that you consider Mary of Magdala and the women who follow in her path today. Women long to share their gifts – just as you do – with the world. “Go and tell them” you hear their call.
Your sisters in Christ,
Women’s Ordination Worldwide
Catholic Women Are Called
We know that Catholic women are called by God and by their communities: called to priesthood, to equality, and to full participation in the life of the Church.
We also know that too often, their call remains untold, dismissed, or rejected by the institutional Church.
That's why Women's Ordination Worldwide and Women's Ordination Conference are launching Catholic Women Called - a new video storytelling series of women called to renewed priesthood. Whether ordained, on the path to ordination, or living with the tension within the institutional Church, women long to share the truth of their vocation with the world.
Vocations Sunday April 22, 2018
Vocation Sunday Vigils in Armagh, Ireland; Baltimore, US; Brussels, Belgium; Bristol, UK; London, UK
Steering Committee Meeting 2017: Vienna, Austria
In Memoriam of Barbara Blaine:
The WOW community is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Barbara Blaine, founder of SNAP. A pioneer and prophet in advocating for justice for survivors of abuse in our Church, her courage will continue to inspire us. Barbara spoke at our 2015 conference in Philadelphia, where she shared her vocation to the priesthood and her story toward a life of social justice work. She will be greatly missed.
The video of the "Survivor Justice" panel at the WOW 2015, "Gender, Gospel, and Global Justice" panel is now free online for a limited time. The conversations features Barbara Blaine, Dr. Shannen Dee Williams, Virginia Saldanha, and Mari Steed, moderated by Sheila Peiffer, Board President of the Women's Ordination Conference. *Warning: themes of sexual violence, rape, and abuse are discussed throughout this video.*
Longing for the Sun of Justice
Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW) celebrates the feast of St. Mary Magdalene (22 July) with the launch of Dr. Annette Esser’s beautiful original painting, "Longing for the Sun of Justice." The painting symbolizes women’s calling to priesthood, not granted by men in the church, but through Christ.
The painting shows two dissimilar hands varied in shape and color, joining together to resemble a chalice, illuminated by a blazoned sun in the place of a host along a horizon. You may also notice a small cross in the middle of the sun. Made whole and Holy by one another, the hands are united in the Sun, in Christ.
WOW reaffirms our call for the institutional Church to rid itself of the sin of sexism and model unconditional equality by opening up all ministries to Catholic women who have the talent and vocation to serve their communities as St. Mary Magdalene did.
On the Feast of the "Apostle to the Apostles," we are reminded that Mary Magdalene followed Jesus' call to go and tell the Good News of the Resurrection, inspiring women for centuries to answer God's call to preach, minister, and live the Gospel message of equality.
Artist: © Annette Esser, Oil and Gold on Canvas, 40x50cm (2017)
To purchase a signed print on canvas in the original size (40 x 50 cm) for 120 Euro, shipping included contact the WOW Leadership Circle.
World Day of Prayer for Vocations: "Vocations Sunday" - May 7th, 2017
May 7, 2017 marks the 54th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations -- a day when the global Church prays for the ministers of the Church and for “young men and women to hear and respond generously to the Lord's call to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life, societies of apostolic life or secular institutes.” While seemingly inclusive, this language neglects to footnote those ministries where women are rejected, silenced and punished for following their call to ordination.
We urge the Roman Catholic Church to open the discussion on women’s ordination and reflect on its own participation in the oppression of women by denying women's equality in Christ. To bring our Church closer to the gospel values that Jesus modeled for us, we need all the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be fully integrated into every aspect and ministry of the Church.
Photos below of women's ordination advocates taking action on Vocations Sunday, around the world: Rochester, New York; Rome, Italy; Des Moines, Iowa; London, England; Dublin, Ireland; Lisieux, France; Dublin, Ireland; London, England.