Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Cali, Colombia and Three Other Women Ordained Roman Catholic Women Priests and Deacons on Jan 18,2014
Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Cali, Colombia came a long way to be ordained a Roman Catholic Woman Priest with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests on Saturday January 18 in Sarasota, Florida. And although Maureen McGill came from nearby St Pete, Florida to be ordained a priest she too came a long way as did Rita Lucey of Orlando and Mary Bergan Blanchard of Albuquerque, New Mexico who were ordained deacons. It was a long journey because each had been preparing for this moment all of their lives. Marina Teresa,46 explains that she has been called from her baptism into priestly service. The others are in agreement.
Along with Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea of Envigado Antioqua, Colombia I am the Program Coordinator for Hispano Parlantes. We were delighted to present Marina Teresa for Priestly ordination. Her ministry in Cali, near the river Cauco, serves 173 families mostly of Afro-Colombian descent, representing over 700 people. The heads of this community wrote a letter of recommendation saying that she was ministering to and leading them and they would happily support her as their priest. She also stands with them in their very real struggles to keep their riverfront land as there are interests who hope to take the lands and develop tourism there.
ARCWP Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan presided. Our co-pastor Judy Beaumont assisted her with the altar book. St Andrew UCC Church on Beneva Road in Sarasota was nearly filled to capacity. The children of our Good Shepherd Church in Fort Myers led the procession with drumming, dancing with liturgical dancer Sheila Carey, and carrying the Book and candles and, later, the gifts. Keeron Jones was the drummer, Keeondra Terrell carried the Gospel Book, Natasha and Jolinda Terrell carried the candles and Jakeriya Maybin and Keion Lewis joined in the liturgical dancing with a tambourine and bells. Our Efe Jane Cudjoe, a Junior at Brown University read the first reading in English and Theresa Rodriguez read it in Spanish. Our Henry (Hank) Tessandori led the Psalm in English while we sang Alabare as the response. Elizabeth Lucey read the Epistle in English and Roman Rodriguez read in Spanish. Deacon Mary Weber read the Gospel, the Magnificat, and Olga Lucia Alvarez proclaimed it in Spanish. Bridget Mary’s spirited homily is below. I was pleased to be the MC for this Ordination that was conducted in Spanish and English. Univision TV will air an hour long special on Marina Teresa and Olga Lucia Alvarez and possibly our other priest in Bogota, Colombia, Martha Aida Soto Bernal on February 9,2014. Caracol TV in Colombia also covered this as did NBC and ABC News. The beautiful pictures below are courtesy of Wanda Russell, ARCWP Priest.
This was a deeply moving Ordination where the Spirit of God was clearly present. The pictures and story below are wonderful but they cannot begin to convey the special meaning or beauty of this day to all concerned.
Today justice is rising up for women in the Catholic Church in Colombia and in the United States.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
4 Roman Catholic Women Ordained Female Priests and Deacons in Sarasota by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
On Jan. 18, 2014, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests ordained four women in Sarasota, Florida: Maureen McGill from St. Petersburg, Fl., Marina Teresa Sanches Mejia from Cali Colombia, Rita Lucey from Orlando, Florida and Mary Bergan Blanchard from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Approximately 140 enthusiastic supporters including Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida and a large group of children, teens and adults from Good Shepherd Inclusive Community from Ft. Myers, Florida attended. Sheila Carey led the youth and clergy in a processional and recessional joyous liturgical dance. Linda Lee Miska Michael Rigdon and Jack Duffy were our music ministers and cantors. Pastor Phil Garrison welcomed everyone in the name of St. Andrew United Church of Christ. He prayed that like the cloak of St. Brigit of Kildare, our women priests movement would spread throughout the world and embrace all. Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan presided at the 2 hour ordination which was in English and Spanish. The entire community raised hands in blessing and laid hands on each ordinand in a joyous affirmation of the newly ordained women deacons and priests. Several people said that they saw such love and affirmation on the faces of the people as they laid hands on the newly ordained women that they felt that the church had already changed! Yes, we are a “holy shakeup” of God’s justice and love for our church and beyond that welcomes all to the Banquet Table of the Eucharist. NBC, ABC, Univision, Columbian TV and NPR covered this historic event of the ordination of the first Afro-Colombian woman Marina Teresa Sanches Mejia.
Bridget Mary Meehan, www.arcwp.org, www.marymotherofjesus.org