Archive: Reflections

Letter to The New Catholic Times

by Marie Bakay, Rosalie Karpinka and Pat Teed, April 2010

There is general outrage over the sexual abuse crimes committed by the clergy and the cover-up of these crimes by the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy. The Vatican needs to collectively acknowledge and take responsibility for these crimes – the buck stops there! The culprits should be dealt with in the civil courts and the laity should not have to pay the victim’s compensation, rather church property should be sold to cover these costs. To date, the church has only admitted what it can no longer deny. For the church to survive and have any credibility at all there must be full disclosure and documentations of all sexual abuse crimes.

The church needs to set its own house in order. Thank goodness for the airing of the Church’s linen in the press, otherwise the abuses would continue. John Paul II prayed for another “springtime in the church” – is this our springtime? This is the chance to have a 21st century reformation with input from everyone in the church.

The social justice initiatives are generally carried out by women and yet they are powerless in the leadership structure. This needs to be addressed.

Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman discusses the Judaic Tradition

Last Wednesday at Fire and Grace contemplative group we had the honour and pleasure of Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman of the Temple B’nai Tikvah in Calgary lead in worship and talk to us about the Judaic tradition. I have also been reading The Sacred Art of Loving Kindness by Rabbi Rami Shapiro who will be coming to Calgary in November. What I have found interesting is that they have a commandment that says they MUST do acts of kindness to the poor. Although I must say that the idea that I MUST rankles me a bit,but I think that any kind action towards others who are struggling must contribute to what we think of when we talk about the Kingdom of God. The other thing I noticed is how the Judaic tradtion (as noticed from these two sources anyway) treats each person as someone created in the image of God and therefore sacred. One tradition which I thought rather attractive is that each of us has an angel who walks before us calling out “Behold the Image and Likeness of God” They go on to say that we must honour our own angel and hear everyone else’s angel as well. As we are able to do that we will “naturally engage life with grace, humour and loving kindness”.

October 27, 2009. Veronica

The Vocation Chalice and Gender Social Justice

At end of Mass at a local Roman Catholic church, a young family was called up to receive the Vocation Chalice as they had made a commitment to pray for religious vocations for the week. As the Dad, Mom with their baby girl in her arms and two little boys — about 4 and 6 — approached the altar, a light–hearted comment was made by the priest about the potential for these two young boys to become priests one day. I waited for an inclusive remark to be made about their daughter — none came forth…

Have we lost the intention of why our parish began this initiative?

Was it not to encourage prayer for all to listen to God’s call to a life of faithful service — whether that be to the male celibate clergy, the male exclusive deaconate, the chaste life as a religious sister — or to the contrasting “lesser” vocations as single or married individuals who chose to serve God by living fully who God created them to be as well?

Perhaps God has been hearing the church’s prayer and by the minimal results has been trying to reveal to us that it is time to open our eyes, ears and minds to new possibilities — and start again to live out Christ’s examples of gender equality. Our scriptures and more recent historical evidence are clear that women played a significant, if not equal role in the early church servant leadership.

Our world, our culture, and particularly our church are being called to embrace the unconditional love of God — and the condition of being female is included in this expression of love. It begins with an awareness of the “little things”, like the failure to even acknowledge this little girl baby and the incredible potential that she also has to serve God in ways we can only imagine right now.

Another example occurred a few years ago at a Sunday evening Mass — it was a First Communion weekend, where all the children who are celebrating this, do so at the Mass they usually attend with their families. There was only one little girl at that Mass and Father directed a story to her during his homily. It was about a little boy going on a journey and he was seeking wisdom from his grandfather.

Could not the story have been told to this impressionable young girl as a story about a little girl and her grandmother? Did that mean at all the other Masses, the same story was related in only the male version? Could it not have been told as a little boy and girl seeking guidance from a wise grandmother and grandfather?

How trivial you might find these arguments — but if we do not become aware of the log in our own eye, we cannot remove the splinter of another’s…

A year ago, I received a newsletter from the all–girls–Catholic high school that I attended in Winnipeg. On the front cover were four alumni who were being honoured by the alumni association — 3 of the 4 “Catholic” women had the prefix “Rev” as part of their names under their pictures. What an eye-opener! Our church lost three intelligent, gifted, spiritually blessed women to other denominations because …because why exactly? I have no answers that make sense… what other choice did they have to live out fully who God created them to be?

Lois Perron, August 2009.

A Long Walk to Freedom

Monica Kilburn-Smith, July 29, 2009.

Our St. Brigid of Kildare Catholic Faith Community played host to Bishop Patricia Fresen June 15-19, 2009, and, as the saying goes, “a wonderful time was had by all.”

With many community members volunteering time and effort, we were able to host two open houses, a public lecture by Patricia and a mass featuring the confirmation, (by Patricia) of two girls from our community — Lauren Hunter and Genevieve Kilburn-Smith. Both girls were thrilled by the experience and very aware of the significance of the event.

Another Canadian Roman Catholic Womanpriest, Michele Birch-Conery from Vancouver Island, was also in Calgary for most of the events and participated in the confirmation mass — she and I were the concelebrants with Patricia.

Throughout the week, there were smiles all around, a sense of accomplishment as well as hope, and a feeling of celebration.

These events took place approximately one-year since my ordination to the priesthood and our beginnings as a faith community. It was a lovely way to celebrate our first “birthday” as a worshipping community.

We were so grateful for Patricia’s time with us and for her grace-filled words, stories and presence. We delighted in this opportunity to acknowledge together how far we have come in just one year.

Thank you so much to everyone for your help, support, hard work and participation.

BIOGRAPHY: Patricia Fresen was born and raised in South Africa and was a Dominican nun there for 45 years. She was ordained a priest in 2003, through the Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP) movement, and two years later was ordained a Bishop. She has a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian in Rome and taught in the seminary in South Africa. Bishop Fresen currently resides in Germany.