Spiritual Reflections

Prayer for Peace and Healing in Our World

Wilderness God: whose Son was a displaced person in Bethlehem,
a refugee in Egypt, and had nowhere to lay his head in Galilee.
Bless all who have nowhere to lay their head today, who find themselves strangers on earth,
pilgrims to they know not where, facing rejection, closed doors, suspicion and fear.
Give them companions in their distress, hope in their wandering,
and safe lodging at their journey’s end.
And make us a people of grace, wisdom and hospitality,
who know that our true identity is to be lost,
until we find our eternal home in you.
Through Jesus the Christ. Amen.

(Maryknoll)

Ordination Homily

Ordination of First American Womanbishop

Sibyl Dana Reynolds

Carmel, California 

The following excerpts are from the readings and homily from the
Ordination of the first American Roman Catholic Womanbishop,
Sibyl Dana Reynolds who was ordained in Stuttgart, Germany on April 9, 2008.
LITURGY OF THE WORD
1st READING: Jeremiah 1:4-8

Now the word of YHWH came to me and said:
Before I formed you in the womb, I chose you.
Before you were born, I dedicated you.
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
I said, But Sovereign YHWH!
I don’t know how to speak! I am too young!
But YHWH said,
Do not say, I am too young.
Now, go wherever I send you.
And say whatever I command you.
Do not fear anyone,
For I am with you to protect you.
It is YHWH who speaks.

GOSPEL: John 15: 9-17

As my Abba has loved me, so have I loved you.
Live on in my love.
And you will live on in my love if you keep my
commandments, just as I live on in Abba God’s
love and have kept God’s commandments.

I tell you all this that my joy may be yours,
and your joy may be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I
have loved you.
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s
life for one’s friends.

Reflection by Bishop Patricia Fresen*

The readings about the call of Jeremiah and the Gospel from John both speak of being called, being chosen. Each of us is called and chosen, and for each of us, the call unfolds as our lives progress and we are often amazed – and sometimes dismayed – as we see what we are called to.

We nearly always resist the call, at least in the beginning, as Jeremiah did by saying that he was too young for the task of being a prophet to the nations. For us, as Roman Catholic womenpriests, the problem is hardly that we are too young (!) but rather that we are women, and both we ourselves and most others in the church have been conditioned to think that, as women, we cannot respond to God’s call to priestly ministry.

We are called to the prophetic ministry of ordained women living a renewed model of priesthood, one of servant-leadership rather than one focused on hierarchy and power, and one of inclusiveness rather than exclusion.

Let us also remember, as we listen to the words of Jesus, that love is more important than anything else; a kind of love that is ready to “lay down one’s life” for one’s friends.

And truly, in joining Roman Catholic Womenpriests and being ordained, that is what we find ourselves called to do, day after day: “laying down” our lives for our friends, for our sisters and brothers in our RCWP communities and for those to whom we serve in the greater body of a renewed Roman Catholic church.

* Patricia Fresen was born on 7 December 1940 in East London, South Africa. She currently resides in Stuttgart, Germany.

Patricia Fresen, has lived what people who know her would call a “heroic life.”  Not only is she recognized for her prophetic role on behalf of women’s ordination in the Catholic Church, but also because as a young Dominican sister and school principal, she took a stand against the apartheid, which led to her arrest and imprisonment in her native homeland of South Africa.

Following the completion of her Doctorate in Theology, Patricia taught at the St. John Vianney Seminary and the Catholic University of St. Augustine – both in South Africa.  During those years, a hunger quietly grew in her to serve the Roman Catholic Church as an ordained priest.  Believing that she would not witness the ordination of women in her lifetime, she determined to further women’s rights in the church, including ordination.  As often happens to persons who surrender to God, Patricia was surprised by the Spirit.

In 2002 Patricia read about seven women who were ordained on the Danube River; and shortly thereafter, in 2003, she attended the European Women’s Synod gathering in Barcelona, Spain, where she met Gisela Forster and Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger who ordained her a priest.

Aa result of this ordination, Patricia was forced to leave her Dominican Order in South Africa, of which she had been a member for 45 years.

After settling in Germany she began to direct the international RCWP preparation program through which she has trained many women seeking ordination to the priesthood, especially those who are from the USA.  On 2 January 2005,  Patricia was ordained a bishop by the presiding male Bishop X; and as bishop, she has been a major influence in the growth of RCWP.  Since 2005 she has presided at many diaconate and priestly ordinations as well as at the ordinations of seven womenbishops.

Today, Patricia, who is a much beloved presenter, keynote speaker, and retreat facilitator continues to develop the movement for women’s ordination and to inspire and encourage the womenpriests and the communities they serve.  She is a faithful servant of the Church who is following the principles set forth by Vatican II, as she embraces the Gospel teachings of inclusivity and a life of generous service.