St Thérèse of Lisieux, Patron Saint of Women’s Ordination: Embolden Church Leaders
1 October 2016
On the feast day of Doctor of the Church, St Thérèse of Lisieux, Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) celebrates the priestly vocations of women throughout the ages and calls on Church leaders to dialogue fearlessly with women called to serve and lead as priests.
At a young age, St Thérèse testified in her diary: “I feel in me the vocation of PRIEST; with what love I would carry you in my hands when, at my words you would descend from Heaven” (Story of a Soul 8 Sept 1896). In 1910, her sister Celine described how Thérèse had the courage to give expression to her vocation by having her hair tonsured (this shaving of the crown of the head was part of the ritual of ordination).
In her memory we reflect on the great loss and scandal of the institutional Church which has turned away too many of God’s servants because of their gender. St Thérèse of Lisieux died at the age when she would have gone forward to the priesthood if she had been a man. It is well documented that she preferred death to enduring an unfulfilled vocation. She believed God had let her become sick so she would not be disappointed.
The people of God have welcomed the ecclesial and sacramental gifts of women and benefit from their ministries, on the margins. We pray for Church leaders to open their doors to dialogue with women with priestly vocations and support them as their equals. We know that God does not discriminate. It is long overdue that the Roman Catholic Church free itself from the sin of sexism and practice radical inclusion, as Jesus did.