Ordination of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest in Boston on 1/23/21 and Reflections On the Sunday of The Word of God 1/24/21
Yesterday, January 23,2021, at 2PM marked the Priestly Ordination of Deacon Jane Audrey-Neuhauser by RCWP Bishop Jean Marie Marchant, MDiv, DMin of The Spirit of Life-A Catholic Community of Justice and Joy in Weston, Mass in the greater Boston area. While only a few RCWP clergy and close family members were in physical attendance, most of the large Eastern Region RCWP members and other RCWP members and community members participated via ZOOM. Rev. Jane Audrey Neuhauser was called to priesthood many years before the RCWP Movement developed in 2002. She served faithfully in Boston area churches in many capacities and elsewhere. She looks forward to developing her own worship communities. She also resides in the Orlando area of Florida for several months a year. As a Deacon she participated with our Good Shepherd Community with myself and Rev. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia here in Fort Myers, Florida in 2019. She is filled with joy at her Ordination and humbly and eaagerly looks forward to serving all of God’s people, especially those at the margins, as a Roman Catholic Woman Priest. Our loving prayers and deepest Congratulations to Rev. Jane Audrey-Neuhauser, the newest Priest in the world-wide RCWP Movement, numbering nearly 300 Ordained women with some men.
Reflections on Today’s Readings and the Homily by Pope Francis
How fitting it is that the Scriptures of this Sunday, January, 24th 2021, ( Mark 1: 14-20). also called the Sunday of the Word of God, center on the call of Simon(Peter) and Andrew, James and John from their jobs as fishermen to follow him. This is seen as the call of the first disciples and also as the call of all followers as disciples. It is seen as both a call to vocations and to the vocation of all the baptized to serve an inclusive loving God and one another, to imitate Christ. We remember that Simon was married and later Jesus will heal Simon’s mother-in-law, ill with fever, and she will get up and serve him (Mark 1:29-39).Clearly from the beginning both men and women received and responded to the call, and the healing, of Jesus. The writer of the Gospel of Mark, the earliest Gospel, also records that as Jesus died on the cross “Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there” (Mark 15: 40-41). ( The Gospel of John has Mary, his mother and Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene near the cross (John 19: 25-26). . Then the same women who were watching him die, brought spices to anoint his body in the grave. They were told that he was no longer there! (Mark 16: 1-8). Later (Mark 16: 9-11) it is recorded that Mary of Magdala was the first person Jesus appeared to and she went and told the other disciples immediately, but they did not believe her. For wonderful commentary on this and the book of Mark the reader might see “On Your Mark: Reading Mark in the Shadow of the Cross” by Megan McKenna,Orbis, 2006). Luke 24: 9-11 also reports this. Matthew (28:1-10) also records Jesus encountering Mary of Magdala and the women to their great fear and joy, and telling them to “Go and Tell” his brothers , thereby making Mary Magdalene the first Apostle to the Apostles. Then ( Matthew 28:16-20). Jesus gives the disciples the Great Commission to ” go and make disciples of all nations….”
And so Jane Audrey Neuhauser and almost three hundred other women have responded to the call of Christ to serve as Priests and make disciples of ALL nations, despite the man-made doctrines in Canon Law saying that women can not be priests. if Jesus can call all people, then all can become priests. Roman Catholic Women Priests are ordained contra legem but validly in a line of succession provided by the first male RC Bishop(s) in good standing who ordained our first priests and bishops. (Their identity will be revealed upon their deaths as they are still in good standing).
In the Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica today Archbishop Rino Fisichella President of the Pontifical Council on the Promotion of Evangelization presided and read Pope Francis’ written homily as Pope Francis suffered with Sciatica and could not preside.(Let us join in prayer for Pope Francis with this painful condition). At the end of the Mass the Archbishop presented copies of the Bible to a large group of recipients who would be Lectors that included women, men and children in preparation for Confirmation. Particularly moving was his giving a Bible in Braille to a woman Lector who is blind. To read the Word, to share all Holy Scripture, and specifically Jesus’ words, is now open to all Lay ministers in the church including women. Yet the human powers-that-be still withhold the Priesthood from women despite how Jesus and the Gospel writers (Canonical and non-Canonical- see the Gospel of Mary, for example) included them clearly as Jesus’ disciples and Apostles. THANK YOU women, and Jane Audrey-Neuhauser for answering the call despite “official rejection” with the love of Jesus the Christ guiding you.
Pope Francis in his brilliant and beautiful homily said that the first meaning of what Jesus said at the start of the Gospel of Mark is “The time is NOW, the reign of God is near, God is Near”, is that a new day has come. We must turn around our lives (repent) and get them following God’s loving lead in service to all especially the outcast of our times. Jesus has ushered in a new time, a time of God’s Way as exemplified in the life , death and resurrection of Jesus. To enable us to follow, to do this GOD IS NEAR. To see all of this Homily see: https://www.popefrancishomilies.com. When the Archbishop read Pope Francis’ Homily the translation given by a Religious Sister included words that spoke directly to me. “God is with us” not far away somewhere, very near to guide and to console us especially when we feel alone. The word “con-sole” was defined con-solo- with the alone. I reflected on how we as women priests are often alone in our obedience to the Call since the “Church” Magisterium reject us. So often our people, those who call us and those we serve are with us, but this is in a surround of rejection that creates an alone-ness unless we stay NEAR to our loving Jesus, to our God, to our CALL.
In addition we are all living in a time of greater alone-ness due to the restrictions of Covid 19. For our Good Shepherd Community in Fort Myers, Pastor Marina and I do still minister to and with various members and do outreach to lost and struggling folks, but we do this almost one by one or one by a few as we can not meet as a church together. Many have told me they sorely miss our gathering. Even Jane’s Ordination was not able to be held in a packed church although the Zoom feature made a large attendance possible. And in our own personal lives there are so many who are now literally alone from one end of the week to the other. There is something about in-person encounters that exemplify the nearness of God in the Gospel, and this is often through the nearness of others. And so now, more than ever we must embrace the loving God Who is Near as we continue to take the challenge to Come follow Me and “Go and tell”.
Our prayers are for all who seek to follow the God Who Is Near, and to feel this loving presence, no matter what. And then to reach out to someone else who is feeling all alone and share the Presence of God.
Love and blessings,
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Rev. Dr. Judith Lee,
Part of The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida in January 2020, Pre-Covid