By Chava Redonnet
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
Web editor's note: Chava Redonnet is a member of the Corpus/Spiritus Christi Community in Rochester, NY and is preparing for ordination as a woman priest. She has served as a Parish Community Forum Facilitator, Lector and Eucharistic Minister. A mother of three, she works as a laboratory technician at the University of Rochester while attending Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, where she expects to graduate in May 2008. She is also part of the Rochester Catholic Worker community and the author of two books -- Standing in the Light: A Parishioner's Story (Writers Club Press, 2002) and Don't Forget to Breathe Glory: Essays for the Spiritus Community (iUniverse, 2004).
We have heard in recent months about the shortage of priests. However, there are women, like myself, called to the priesthood; there are men called to the priesthood but not to celibacy. It's like having barns full of grain in a time of famine. The wealth of vocations is there; we need only to open the doors.
Pope Benedict XVI's U.S. visit came at a crucial moment for me, personally. I have completed my coursework for the master of divinity degree at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School and will soon graduate. I'm an applicant for ordination with Roman Catholic WomenPriests, an organization that has ordained nearly 100 women worldwide in ceremonies not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. No pastorate waits, however, for any of us.
I've been reluctant to speak out much about women's ordination. It has seemed to me that answering my call means doing the work I'm called to, which is about creating community and building bridges between people, especially between those of us who are comfortable and those who are on the margins in this world — homeless people, developmentally disabled people and people in El Salvador — and doing the work of ministry out on those margins.
But when you're trying to bring some healing, you get to a place where you have to ask why things are the way they are, and you become aware of structural injustice that makes it hard for people to get out of the situations they are in.
And in the midst of working my various part-time jobs, mostly in ministry, it occurred to me that I'm in a situation of injustice myself, that a person shouldn't need to work five jobs — and the reason is sexism.
My seminary colleagues are becoming pastors in their various denominations, while as a Catholic woman, I expect to continue piecing together my ministry — and for my sister priests, for male priests not called to celibacy, the situation remains bleak as well. So here's the message for Pope Benedict and all the Roman Catholic hierarchy: We're willing, able and prepared to serve, to use our gifts, our faith and knowledge to build up the people of God and work to heal the world. Employ us. Ordain us. Put us to work.