Reasonably Catholic: Keeping the Faith

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An ordinary ordination: Roman Catholic women priests are “nothing new”

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laying on of hands Rev. Gabriella Velardi Ward, pastor of St. Praxedis Church in New York City, where ordinand Alexandra Venturini Dyer is a parishioner, lays hands on her at an ordination Mass at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village.

vesselsBishop Andrea Johnsonlaying on hands1 prostratevesting2communionrecessionalalex and friendsmaryrose

Top row: familiar accoutrements; Bishop Andrea M. Johnson preaches the homily (fuller version than in episode and her complete interview afterward:Bishop Andrea homily ; Bishop Andrea interview; the bishops’ laying on of hands (members of the congregation will follow suit); prostrating as a sign of self-giving (note that the bishop sits off to the side; the priests’ vow is to God, not the bishop); vesting with chasuble and stole.

Bottom row: communion; the recessional; Alexandra with friends Dail Moses Taylor and Tracy Lynn Krauss; newly ordained Rev. Maryrose Petrizzo

The readings, selected by Alexandra and Maryrose: First reading — Isaiah 42: 1-9; responsorial psalm — the non-canonical Ode 8 of Solomon; Second reading — Romans 12: 9-18; Gospel –Matthew 28: 16-20

Alexandra’s prayer:

“Creator God, Creator Spirit, Creator beyond all imagining, we give You thanks for the gift of reflective awareness that allows us to recognize Your presence in our universe. Everything we have, everything we see, everything we do, everyone we love and everyone who loves us, reveals Your sustaining presence. We thank You that Your presence brings energy to life and all that exists.”

From her bio, printed in the program: She is the CFAO of Comunilife, Inc., a service organization addressing the health and housing needs of underserved communities in NYC, of which she is a native. A product of Catholic elementary and high schools, she earned a BA in philosophy and religion from Barnard College and attended Union Theological Seminary for her M.Div. and then Columbia School of Business for her MBA with a certificate in not-for-profit management. She is working toward a certificate in spiritual direction from General Theological Seminary. She lives in a committed relationship with her partner Nelson Padilla in Queens, NY, with their three cats and a menagerie of birds, raccoons and other creatures who are welcome in her yard.

Maryrose’s prayer:

“Conscious that we live and move and have our being in You, we give thanks for those throughout history who have affirmed Your loving presence and challenged Your people to give witness. They have witnessed to Your presence in lives characterized by love, mercy, compassion, generosity and forgiveness. We thank You for Jesus, who loved so greatly, taught so clearly, and proclaimed so outrageously. He set people free from images, ideas, and religious practices that bound them in fear and a false sense of separation from You. Through Jesus, we learn how our loving is a share in Your life. In Jesus, we see Your Spirit challenging us to make Your presence on earth more visible.”

Her bio: She lives in Wilmington, Delaware, and has 25-plus years in Catholic parish ministry, including as formation director for secular Franciscans. She is a certified spiritual director and Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant. She was born in the Bronx and grew up in New Jersey, where she attended the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown. She has been associated with the Roman Catholic Women Priests-led parish of St. Mary Magdalen in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, and is a founding member of the New Jerusalem Community in Wilmington, which she will now serve as its spiritual leader. She works in the pharmaceutical and medical device industry. She also has a part-time business officiating at all types of ceremonies, especially same-sex civil unions.

Judson through arch

Judson Memorial Church, seen through the Washington Square Park arch.

From its website :

Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village defines itself as “a church in the Christian tradition” and “a sanctuary for progressive activism and artistic expression.” While affiliated with the American Baptist Churches and United Church of Christ, the congregation draws its 200 members from a variety of religious traditions.

Judson Church occupies a 117-year-old historic building on Washington Square South. Besides Sunday worship and Sunday School, its current programs include work with the New Sanctuary Movement for immigrant rights and a “community ministers” program that trains future clergy on how to involve congregations in social-change activities. Judson also continues its long history of hosting post-modern arts, peace action, women’s reproductive rights, and gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender events.

Senior Minister the Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper describes the church as “a gathering place for people who seek spiritual nurture to build public capacity for social change.”

Judson has a long tradition of being open to all, regardless of faith. When individuals officially join Judson, they affiliate with both our parent denominations – United Church of Christ and American Baptist Churches.

Open and Affirming

Who are You?…We are Judson Memorial Church: Spiritual. Open. Artistic. Expressive. Affirming. Come in.

Judson Memorial Church serves as a sanctuary for progressive activism, artistic expression, and spiritual nurture. We welcome persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities (including cisgender, transgender, and genderqueer) to participate fully in the life and ministry of the church. We support each and every quest to construct one’s own identity, affirming any and all who identify as lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning, polysexual, asexual, pansexual, omnisexual, and straight.

Questions about what it means to be an “Open and Affirming” (ONA) United Church of Christ (UCC) congregation? Visit to find out more.

Or a “Welcoming and Affirming” (AWAB–Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptist Churches) baptist congregation? Visit to find out more.

You can join one of the Alliance Communities if you have a particular interest in issues related to (ie) Peace and Justice; Racial Justice and Multiculturalism; LGBTQ; Justice in Palestine & Israel; Justice for the Homeless.
The United Church of Christ Connection:

“God is still speaking” UCC people say…

We have experienced God’s presence…

as the community gathers to celebrate life and faith
in the effort to build a truly democratic country
in advocacy for the poor and oppressed
in joining hands with people in every race and place
in support of public access to the media
in search of justice for minorities, immigrants, and those oppressed
because of race, gender, sexual origin, or handicaps.

Judson is part of a religious denomination which has built upon the heritage which began with the Pilgrims in 1620. Valuing freedom and conscience the Congregationalists (one of the founding families) called their worship places
meeting houses: doors opening inward for worship and outward to the
public square to act on behalf of social justice and community.

Three generations ago two denominations formed the United Church of Christ vowing to be a united and uniting force. In addition to the Pilgrims and Puritans of Massachusetts Bay some of their ancestors were German Reformed people who helped settle Pennsylvania and Evangelical Synod people whose Midwest roots began in Missouri. These bodies — Congregational Christians, Evangelical and Reformed– in 1957 joined seeking deeper unity of the Christian family and a unity of the earth’s peoples

Key Passions of the United Church of Christ, Judson’s Partner:
•The local church is autonomous, accountable, competent
•The face of the church is forward and to the world in which people suffer, dream, and hope
•We are a covenant people
•A radical welcome is who we are and what we are about
•“God is Still Speaking” through the Bible, the community, the events in people’s lives, presence of the Holy Spirit
•The unity of all God’s people is our calling

For info about St. Praxedis Roman Catholic community:

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May I ask?



Letting you know that in the next episode of “Reasonably Catholic: Keeping the Faith,” on May 20, we’ll bring you to the  ordination in New York City of two women who are part of the underground but burgeoning Roman Catholic Women Priests movement. You won’t want to miss it!

And since we’re talking, may I ask: Where are you going to find programming like this, a religious discussion that goes beyond the official church press releases and takes you to where the church is actually heading, however slowly, haltingly, and, yes, sometimes, in the fashion of certain saints, disobediently?

So far this year, “RC:KF” has taken up: clericalism, that notion that clergy dwell on a higher plane than us; Catholic social teaching on taxes; how faith informs the Oscar-winning movies; what it’s like to be a gay seminarian in Rome; a US Congressman’s view of the wealth gap; and more. We even aired an April Fool’s Day Catholic Joke Show! (Warning: that one’s not for pious ears!)

Why not show your support for WESU-FM, the station which not only said yes when I broached the idea of a progressive-minded Catholic radio show, but airs it during drive time?!

Go to, click on donate, and give whatever you can to this amazing community-supported, shoestring-run radio station which, for 75 years now, has been making it its mission to air views and music heard nowhere else.

On top of the lovely thank-you gift you’ll get from the station, if you email me that you’ve supported “Reasonably Catholic,” I’ll send you a book donated and autographed by feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether, the subject of the most recent “RC:KF” episode. Don’t delay, because when the books run out, you’ll have to make do with some inspirational CDs from my own collection, and I have really weird taste! 

Thanks so much in advance for helping!


PS There are so many ways to access “Reasonably Catholic” now:

* when it’s broadcast live over the air at Wesleyan University’s WESU, 88.1 FM, or rebroadcast a few days later on UConn’s WHUS, 91.7 FM;
* as it streams live at and;
* at your convenience by visiting WESU’s online archive at;
* by going to
* by searching the Pacifica network’s AudioPort at



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“I object to the hierarchy making the church look stupid” — 30 years after “Sexism and God-Talk,” Rosemary Radford Ruether shows no sign of mellowing

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Rosemary RRRosemary at Udupi BhavanFeminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether, author of nearly 50 books advancing progressive ideas, is shown here in Middletown, CT, where she spoke at a Wesleyan University eco-feminism conference.

In two interviews with Reasonably Catholic: Keeping the Faith, she displays the same fierce intellect that gave birth to nearly 50 books on progressive themes touching the church, the global economy, and the environment, among other subjects.

She saves her harshest criticism for Catholic bishops who “have made a much stupider church.” The good news, she says, is that the bishops “don’t own this. We are the church.”

Why hasn’t she joined a different Christian denomination? “They’re boring….The issues that the progressive Catholic church is trying to deal with have global consequences — and I want to be part of that.”

She belongs to a community of like-minded Catholics in California, where she writes and teaches. She does not believe Jesus literally rose from the dead (that “makes no sense”); but we honor his memory, she says, by resisting oppression as he did.

As for her view of Pope Francis, he is a “nice guy” and good for the church’s public image, but says we shouldn’t expect any change in church teachings, only a shift in emphasis.

Sexism and God TalkRRR autobiographyOne of her early groundbreaking works, left, and her most recent book, an autobiography



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