African American Woman Ordained a Catholic Priest in Rochester, New York
Rev. Myra Brown , a daughter of migrant workers found the Roman Catholic Church at 16 when she and her musical family were invited to join the choir at St Bridget’s Roman Catholic Church, a black Catholic church in Albion, New York. Her sense of call to the priesthood came in young adulthood but unfolded as she joined and then ministered at Spiritus Christi in Rochester, New York. Her full ministry extended beyond her local church to doing workshops for Call To Action, the progressive Roman Catholic group, nation- wide on issues of racism and inclusion. Some of us met her when she gave a wonderful workshop in Fort Myers in 2015.
The first two African American women ordained priests in Roman Catholic Women Priests-USA were Alta Jacko of Chicago (now deceased) and Donnieau Snyder of California.
Local woman ordained as priest, becomes a part of history
Rev. Myra Brown has been a part of the Spiritus Christi Church for the past 25 years. She was part of an original group that broke away from a traditional Catholic church and formed the independent Catholic church in 1998 in order to be inclusive of all.
A life full of service and devotion to the church, Rev. Brown said she got the call to serve at the age of eight. It wasn’t until she was 24, though, she thought of becoming a member of the parish staff.
“I heard the Lord say to me, when I was praying, ‘I called you to preach and teach my word’,” she said.
But being a woman, an African American and a Catholic, Rev. Brown never imagined the call would lead her to this moment.
“I didn’t understand why God would say that to me, but I trusted, and decided to walk with God. Whatever door God would open, I would walk through and meet God on the other side.”
Her church family, though, did understand. They were proud to stand in support of a woman they say has changed many lives in the community.
“She has just been an inspiration to us, given she has gone through so much herself and has come to this calling,” said Dawn Novak.
“She works to break walls down, to represent all of the people who are not being properly represented,” Kirsten Allen Reader said.
Rev. Brown said it was starting to sink in just how historic this day is; and not only for her.
“It’s important to send the right message to other African American girls and women, to follow their call, to let their voices me heard, to step into their place in the world, in society, in the church, wherever God is calling them.”
Rev. Brown will celebrate her first official mass Sunday morning. First at 7:30 a.m. at the Spiritus Christi Church and at 9:30 a.m. at the Hochstein Music School.
And from Bridgetmarys blog:
I met Myra several years ago at Call to Action. She gave the homily at the Sunday liturgy and I was a lector. She probably doesn’t remember me, but I had my guide dog, my German shepherd, Maggie, with me. I am so happy and excited to read this news!