Community Discussion Series on Womenpriests as Presiders

In the past year Dignity/Washington has embarked on an education and discernment process to determine whether it would welcome women priests to preside at its Sunday Masses. The Board formed a Women Presiders Task Force, chaired by former Dignity/Washington president Allen Rose, whose duties included inviting speakers to present varied viewpoints on the issue at a series of community-wide discussions.

Rev. Ann Penick delivering her homily for the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, June 28, 2014 at the Dignity Center in Washington DC

Rev. Ann Penick delivering her homily for the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, June 28, 2014 at the Dignity Center in Washington DC

The following is a digest of the community presentations to date.
 

1. General Introduction Meeting

Approximately 70 people attended this first Community Discussion held for an hour in October 2013 after Sunday Mass. The community sat in a circle and everyone spoke for a few minutes to share their views on the subject of Dignity/Washington using women priests as presiders.

2. Joe Hennessey: Models of Catholicism

After Mass on Sunday, November 10, 2013, Joe Hennessey, priest-presider at Dignity/Washington, and president of the Board of Dignity/Northern Virginia, presented his reflections on models of the Church drawn from society and church history, including the hierarchical, the charismatic and the mission/ministry models. He traced the historical challenges to dominant models of the Church and how several legitimate models of the Church can coexist.

He asked questions like: how do individual members of D/W, and the community as a whole, describe what the Church is? how does D/W understand and fulfill its role and purpose? what does it mean for D/W to be asking questions about its own liturgical and sacramental practices? He proposed that the model(s) of Church that eventually predominate(s) at D/W will influence its understanding of its own sacramental role and how best to mediate the presence of Christ.

Finally, he maintained that D/W is a community, a family, a people united in faith and love and that any decision on the issue of women presiders, whether for or against, does not translate to “people who think that way are out to harm the community.” Citing Saint Paul, he reminded attendees that we owe no one anything but the debt of loving each other and working for the good of the community in honesty, respect and love.

3. Panel with Members of Dignity/Washington

On January 12, 2014 Dignity/Washington held a presentation by a panel comprised of several of its members on what D/W means to them. They were asked to speak briefly on why they come to D/W, what they find there and why they remain committed participants.

One panelist stated that he could never participate in a church where he could not be who he is and that D/W was for him a place of comfort and security to be sent forth.

Another panelist related that he had come to D/W out of curiosity in 1976 and his involvement over the years had helped him understand himself and integrate aspects of his life.

Dignity/Washington member panelists listen to panelist Martin Witchger at the January 12, 2014 Community Discussion.

Dignity/Washington member panelists listen to panelist Martin Witchger at the January 12, 2014 Community Discussion.

Still another panelist, a university student, disclosed that, as she found D/W and became involved, she was happy to discover that she could keep her Catholic faith while being a lesbian.

A fourth panelist expressed gratitude for having an intentional, intimate community where he can integrate and celebrate his identity as both gay and Catholic. He spoke of the power of Mass for him and feeling part of the larger Catholic community; he believed that D/W provided a witness and healing to those hurt by their Catholic parishes.

Lastly, another panelist stated that he too had found Dignity helpful in his integration of being Catholic and gay and that, as part of the D/W Young Adult group, D/W felt more like home than other churches. He stated that it was his purpose to make the D/W community better.

4. Reflections on the Priesthood

At an after-Mass Community Discussion held in February 2014 five of Dignity/Washington’s current presiders (Fathers Steve, Alexei, Joe, Paul in person and Bob by proxy) discussed their call to the priesthood, priesthood in general, and their views about the legitimacy of having women priests act as presiders for D/W. A full range of opinions regarding of the validity of women’s ordination were expressed. This gathering completed the first part of the discernment process that gave members the opportunity to describe what kind of community D/W is to them.

 

5. Mary Hunt: Feminist Theology

Noted theologian Mary Hunt and founder of Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) was the featured speaker at the Dignity/Washington community conversation held on March 16 to study and reflect upon the importance of the Eucharist in the life of the chapter. Another objective of the event was to discern whether D/W will allow Roman Catholic ordained women to preside at its liturgies. Dr. Hunt presented various responses from women of faith to the Washington, DC pivotal address of Sr. Theresa Kane, then president of the Leadership Conference of Religious Women, before Pope John Paul II in 1979, responses that continue to spark renewal and creative engagement today. The Q & A period sharpened the focus on several key considerations, including “do we need a presider to have a Eucharist?” and “how do we foster the emergence of a more horizontal form of leadership in the Church where there is a discipleship of equals that fully includes women?”

Gay Catholics

Tom Bower, Dignity/Washington Vice-President, introduces Dr. Mary Hunt at the latest community conversation on the importance of the Eucharist and women presiders.

 

 

6. Jaimie Manson: Women In Ministry

Dignity/Washington welcomed, Catholic lay minister, Jaimie Manson, to lead a Community Discussion on April 6 after Dignity/Washington’s Sunday Mass. She spoke of her pastoral experiences while serving two Manhattan churches and the homeless population of NYC. She focused on women in ministry, presenting examples from her own upbringing as a young woman who wanted one day to be a Catholic priest. She noted that despite receiving the same training and education as a man she still could not be ordained. While frustrated in her vocation she stated that she remained loyal to the Church as the people of God. Jaimie holds a Master’s of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, is a writer for the weekly column Grace on the Margins for the National Catholic Reporter, and has led retreats and workshops nationally.

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7. Tim MacGeorge: The Vatican’s View on Women’s Ordination

Following its Sunday Mass on May 18th, another in a series of community conversations for education and discernment regarding women presiders at Mass was led by Tim MacGeorge, former Dignity/Washington presider and homilist, who expressed surprise that he had been invited from Florida where he now lives to share his thoughts on the subject. He presented the Vatican’s current position on women priests, based in large part on Pope John Paul II 1994 Apostolic Letter on the Ordination of Priests and the pertinent canons from the 1983 Code of Canon law. The subsequent often impassioned discussion centered on several considerations including the ramifications that having women preside at its Masses would have on Dignity/Washington’s relationship with the Archdiocesan hierarchy. The question was raised whether or not the D/W community wanted to continue to be recognizably Catholic with its Masses, and would it be so if it had women presiding at Mass.

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8. Rev. Ann Penick: Liturgy and Presentation on WomenPriests

As part of the discernment process whether to credential women as presiders at Dignity/Washington, its Women Presiders Task Force invited Rev. Ann Penick, a Roman Catholic Womanpriest, as a guest to preside at a liturgy held on the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Saturday, June 28.

Basing her remarks on the feast’s Gospel of the Holy Family’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem when Jesus was 12 and how Mary and Joseph anxiously searched for him when they were separated, Rev. Ann highlighted Mary’s recollection of the angel Gabriel’s words to her twelve years earlier that Jesus was destined to be the Savior and Christ; it was the memory that got her through this and many other painful events in her life. She exhorted all to have that same kind of trust and hope in the promises of God.

During the Mass where Rev. Ann Penick presided

During the Liturgy where Rev. Ann Penick presided

Following the liturgy, Rev. Ann was given the opportunity to recount how she came to discern her call to ordained priestly ministry and the influential people and events over the years that convinced her that her call was from God. She charted this journey from her early days in Chicago as a convert to Catholicism at age 19 and through her involvement and training in many lay pastoral ministries in parishes and college campuses in Birmingham, Alabama, Charleston, SC, and Boston until she applied and was accepted for the ordination process of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA .

She described the credentialing as including, among several other requirements: her master’s degree in pastoral ministry from Boston College, a psychological evaluation, a criminal background check, several letters of reference, an admissions interview with the formation staff of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, and a full year of study and formation in priestly ministry. She was ordained a deacon in May 2010 and a priest the following year. She regularly presides at house and family liturgies in Baltimore and officiates at baptisms and weddings. She and her husband make their home in Southern Maryland. She, and all other Roman Catholic Womenpriests, are fully vetted and certified through the Federation of Christian Ministries, an ecumenical and national certification and commissioning organization.

A lively Q & A session with Rev. Ann ensued that lasted over an hour. For more information she may be reached at annpenick1932@gmail.com

During the Liturgy where Rev. Ann Penick presided

During the Liturgy where Rev. Ann Penick presided

9. Community Wrap-Up Meeting

Once again after Sunday Mass on July 13 at St. Margaret’s roughly forty attendees in large group were asked to tell which aspects of Dignity/Washington drew them to it. These were, in order of importance to the group, from greatest to least: community, sacraments, Catholic, justice, inclusion, support, faith, apostolic succession, LGBTQ and love. Then the group sub-divided into six smaller groups each led by a member of the Task Force and given about thirty minutes to discuss the question: what is the most important thing that the Board should consider when making its decision regarding whether or not to include women as presiders?

 

10. Final Upcoming Community Discussion

On Sunday, July 27th, the final in a series of community conversations for education and discernment on women presiders at Dignity/Washington Masses will be held in the church social hall at St. Margaret’s immediately following the 6:00 PM Mass. All interested members of the Dignity/Washington community are invited and encouraged to come and participate in drawing together all the various threads of the months-long discernment process on this very important issue. The event is scheduled to last roughly one hour. If you are unable to attend but would like to comment, please send your views by e-mail to Allen Rose, Women Presiders Task Force chairman, at dignity@dignitywashington.org or see a member of the Board.

A final decision on the issue of women presiders at Dignity/Washington’s Masses is expected in the fall 2014 by its Board of Directors, following the recommendation of its Women Presiders Task Force based on this education and discernment process. The community is encouraged to continue to pray that the Holy Spirit may guide and enlighten its leaders to make a decision in wisdom that will foster its growth in the love of Christ for each other, the wider Church and all of society.

Upcoming Special Events

Unless otherwise noted, special events are open to all Dignity/Washington members. Also see Recurring Events here.

Summer Potluck Picnic, Saturday July 26 The DignityUSA Young Adults Retreat will be taking place here in Washington next weekend, from Friday, July 25th through Sunday, July 27th, with most of the actual retreat activities at our Dignity Center. On Saturday evening, July 26th, Dignity/Washington will be hosting a potluck dinner cookout for the Young Adults, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, at Marion Park – the park is located on E Street, SE, between 4th and 6th Streets, a short walk from the Dignity Center – and all members of Dignity/Washington are cordially invited to this potluck in the park. D/W will provide and cook the main course of burgers, brats, and barbecue, as well as provide the beverages; all of you are invited to bring a salad or dessert, of any kind, to share.

We hope all of you will join the Dignity Young Adults for the potluck cookout. Again, this party will take place on Saturday, July 26th, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, in Capitol Hill’s Marion Park, on E Street, SE, between 4th and 6th Streets. If you have questions or need more information, please contact Martin Witchger at: martinwitchger@gmail.com.

 

COMMUNITY DISCUSSION: On Sunday, July 27th, we are having the next in our series of community conversations in our education and discernment process on Womenpreists. This July 27th community meeting will take place in the church social hall at St. Margaret’s church, immediately following our 6:00 PM Mass. We invite and encourage all interested members of our community to join us, and participate with us in drawing together all the various threads of our months-long discernment process on this very important issue.

 

Dignity Washington Anniversary Dinner: Dignity Washington will celebrate its 42nd anniversary on Saturday, September 27th with a dinner party at the Dignity Center. Community Service Awards, which recognize individuals for their special efforts and service to the Dignity Washington community, will be presented after the dinner. If you would like to nominate someone for a 2014 community service award, please see a member of the Board of Directors or email your nomination to dignity@dignitywashington.org

Dignity Hosts Special Liturgy, Discussion on Womenpriests

 

Acolyte and Leader of Song Chris Hinkle (L), Rev. Ann Penick, and Allen Rose, Chairman of the D/W Ad Hoc Committee on Women Presiders before celebrating Mass and leading a community discussion at the Dignity Center on June 28.

Acolyte and Leader of Song Chris Hinkle (L), Rev. Ann Penick, and Allen Rose, Chairman of the D/W Ad Hoc Committee on Women Presiders before celebrating a special liturgy and leading a community discussion at the Dignity Center on June 28.

As part of our discernment process whether to credential women as presiders at Dignity/Washington, the Liturgy Committee’s Women Presiders Task Force invited Rev. Ann Penick, a Roman Catholic Womanpriest, as a guest to preside at a liturgy held on the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Saturday, June 28.

Basing her remarks on the feast’s Gospel of the Holy Family’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem when Jesus was 12 and how Mary and Joseph anxiously searched for him when they were separated, Rev. Ann highlighted Mary’s recollection of the angel Gabriel’s words to her twelve years earlier that Jesus was destined to be the Savior and Christ; it was the memory that got her through this and many other painful events in her life. She exhorted all to have that same kind of trust and hope in the promises of God.

Rev. Ann Penick delivering her homily for the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, June 28, 2014 at the Dignity Center in Washington DC

Rev. Ann Penick delivering her homily for the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, June 28, 2014 at the Dignity Center in Washington DC

Following the liturgy, Rev. Ann was given the opportunity to recount how she came to discern her call to ordained priestly ministry and the influential people and events over the years that convinced her that her call was from God. She charted this journey from her early days in Chicago as a convert to Catholicism at age 19 and through her involvement and training in many lay pastoral ministries in parishes and college campuses in Birmingham, Alabama, Charleston, SC, and Boston until she applied and was accepted for the ordination process of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA.

During the Mass where Rev. Ann Penick presided

During special liturgy where Rev. Ann Penick presided

 

 

 

 

She described the credentialing as including, among several other requirements: her master’s degree in pastoral ministry from Boston College, a psychological evaluation, a criminal background check, several letters of reference, an admissions interview with the formation staff of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, and a full year of study and formation in priestly ministry. She was ordained a deacon in May 2010 and a priest the following year. She regularly presides at house and family liturgies in Baltimore and officiates at baptisms and weddings. She and her husband make their home in Southern Maryland. She, and all other Roman Catholic Womenpriests, are fully vetted and certified through the Federation of Christian Ministries, an ecumenical and national certification and commissioning organization.

A lively Q & A session with Rev. Ann ensued that lasted over an hour. For more information she may be reached at annpenick1932@gmail.com .

Dignity/Washington will continue the discernment process over whether or not to have RC Womenpriests preside at its Masses with two final community sessions later in July 2014. Please check our website, www.dignitywashington.org and our Facebook page for details as they become available.

During the liturgy where Rev. Ann Penick presided

During the Liturgy where Rev. Ann Penick presided

Take Me Out….

Dignity Washington joins the larger LGBTQ community for a night out at National’s Park

Dignity/Washington members and friends cheered on the Washington Nationals as they won their game against the Houston Astros 6-5 at the 10th Annual “Night OUT at the Nationals” event on June 17. Special guests included the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington singing the National Anthem. Special thanks to Jake Hudson, long-time Dignity/Washington member and baseball fan, who promoted the event in the Dignity/Washington community.

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Dignity Washington at the LGBT Night Out with the Nats

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Dignity Washington at the LGBT Night Out with the Nats

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Dignity Washington at the LGBT Night Out with the Nats

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Dignity Washington at the LGBT Night Out with the Nats

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Dignity Washington at the LGBT Night Out with the Nats

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Dignity/Washington seeks part-time Office Manager

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Dignity/Washington

After 15 years as Office Manager for Dignity/Washington and at the helm of the Dignity Center, Rick Lynch will soon step aside. We truly appreciate all of his efforts to make the Center a vital and integral part of our community and a place that many organizations have come to know as a meeting place.
 
Dignity/Washington seeks an Office Manager to work part time (approximately 15-20 hours per week), with oversight and coordination through the board of directors. Office Manager duties include:
(i) receive and respond to incoming mail, phone calls, and voicemail messages;
(ii) collect mail from PO Box and transmit financial-related mail to the Bookkeeper and D/W Treasurer;
(iii) prepare D/W “Sunday Bulletin” (weekly);
(iv) prepare Board Meeting agenda (monthly);
(v) maintain copier paper and other office equipment supplies for the office.
 

The Office Manager will also:
(i) maintain the Dignity Center events calendar by coordinating and resolving scheduling issues;
(ii) develop, disseminate, and enforce guidelines for usage of the Dignity Center by D/W and outside groups;
(iii) prepare rooms, furniture, equipment, etc., for scheduled Dignity Center events;
(iv) stock cups, utensils, paper plates, paper goods, and miscellaneous kitchen supplies, for Dignity Center social events.

For a full description of the job duties, click on the “Office Manager Duties (2014)” link below.

Questions about the position can be directed to members of the Executive Committee (Daniel Barutta, Tom Bower, or Jake Hudson). Interested individuals should send a cover email/letter with a resume to dignity@dignitywashington.org. The deadline for submissions is July 14.

Office Manager Duties (2014)

Dignity/Washington at the Capital Pride March

Dignity/Washington had a strong turn out for the 2014 Capital Pride Parade on Saturday, June 7. The Dignity/Washington contingent had about 50 eager marchers.

The slideshow below shows members of the Dignity/Washington community before, during, and after the march. A big thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s march.

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Members of Dignity/Washington are enthused and ready to march at the 2014 Capital Pride Parade.

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Dignity Washington members James Sweeney and Lenny Latham at the 2014 Capital Pride march.

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Poncho with friends James Liu and Nathan Judy

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Religious faith dimension brought prominently to 2014 Capital Pride Parade by Dignity Washington members (L-R) Alan Diaz, Kenneth Dowling, Jason Entsminger, and Paul Mills.

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Dignity/Washington marchers Jeff Vomund and Marti'n Witchger get ready for the 2014 Capital Pride March

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Dignity Washington President Dan Barutta, Vice-President Tom Bower, and John Hagar at 2014 Capital Pride Parade

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Members of Dignity Washington ready to march in Capital Pride Parade, L to R are Joel Boyer, Patrick Cassidy, and Brian Doyle

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Members of the Defenders Group of Dignity/Washington prepare to march during the 2014 Capital Pride Parade

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Dignity/Washington's couples in the "Chapel of Love"

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Dignity/Washington Contingent on the march during the 2014 Capital Pride Parade.

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Dignity/Washington contingent heading out in the 2014 Capital Pride Parade

Dignity/Washington's 2014 Capital Pride marchers

Dignity/Washington's 2014 Capital Pride marchers end the parade energized and ready for more

Members of Dignity/Washington are enthused and ready to march at the 2014 Capital Pride Parade.Dignity Washington members James Sweeney and Lenny Latham at the 2014 Capital Pride march.Poncho with friends James Liu and Nathan JudyReligious faith dimension brought prominently to 2014 Capital Pride Parade by Dignity Washington members (L-R) Alan Diaz, Kenneth Dowling, Jason Entsminger, and Paul Mills.Dignity/Washington marchers Jeff Vomund and Marti'n Witchger get ready for the 2014 Capital Pride MarchDignity Washington President Dan Barutta, Vice-President Tom Bower, and John Hagar at 2014 Capital Pride ParadeMembers of Dignity Washington ready to march in Capital Pride Parade, L to R are Joel Boyer, Patrick Cassidy, and Brian DoyleMembers of the Defenders Group of Dignity/Washington prepare to march during the 2014 Capital Pride ParadeDignity/Washington's couples in the "Chapel of Love"Dignity/Washington Contingent on the march during the 2014 Capital Pride Parade.Dignity/Washington contingent heading out in the 2014 Capital Pride ParadeDignity/Washington's 2014 Capital Pride marchers

Dignity/Washington Gay Pride Mass with Rabbi Laurie Green

Dan Barutta, President of Dignity/Washington with guest preacher Rabbi Laurie Green on Pentacost Sunday

Dan Barutta, President of Dignity/Washington with guest preacher Rabbi Laurie Green on Pentacost Sunday

Rabbi Green Explores the Meaning of Humble Pride

 

The 2014 Capital Pride Sunday, June 8, fell on Pentecost Sunday this year. Pentecost Sunday was marked by Dignity/Washington’s special welcome to Rabbi Laurie Green of Washington’s LGBT Temple Bet Mishpachah who delivered the homily at its Capital Pride Sunday Mass.

Noting the Jewish historical antecedents of the feast of Pentecost and the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, Rabbi Green told the Jewish tale of how there was an argument among mountains as to which of them God would select for this great honor. God rejected the most lofty and exalted mountains and instead selected lowly Mount Sinai, the least of the contenders, to show God’s favor to the humble and unpretentious.

Jewish tradition stresses the virtue of anavah which translates loosely as “humble pride,” that lets people accept who they are and what they’ve been given so they can use it in service to others. This attitude leads to joy, courage and inner dignity if one commits to it wholeheartedly.

Celebrating the advances in LGBTQI rights since Stonewall, she pointed out today’s backlash against those rights in countries like Russia, India, Jamaica and Uganda, among others. She challenged her own congregation and Dignity/Washington to give $20 and 20 minutes to help LGBTQI rights efforts worldwide as part of their Pride celebrations.

Dignity/Washington President Dan Barutta expressed the community’s sincere appreciation for her presence and remarks and pledged continued collaboration between our two faith communities.

Rabbi Laurie Green delivers her homily on Pentecost Sunday at Dignity/Washington

Rabbi Laurie Green delivers her homily on Pentecost Sunday at Dignity/Washington

Rabbi Laurie Green delivers the sermon on Pentecost Sunday at Dignity/Washington

Rabbi Laurie Green delivers the sermon on Pentecost Sunday at Dignity/Washington

Dignity at Gay Pride Interfaith Gathering

Gay Pride Interfaith Gathering

Gay Pride Interfaith Gathering

Dignity/Washington members pictured with Rev. Frank Schaefer, Methodist pastor who was convicted and defrocked for officiating his son’s same-sex marriage. He shared with those gathered for the 31st annual DC Capital Pride Interfaith Service, that he had never felt so free from fear after testifying in loving support of LGBT individuals at his own trial.

He wore the same stole he took out of his coat at his trial and put on before telling his jury that he will never stop ministering to all of God’s children. — with Allen Rose, Daniel Barutta, Bob Miailovich, Kenneth Dowling, Eddie Weingart and Lj Ranly.

Dignity/Washington Retreat Held on “Be Not Afraid”

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Jaimie Manson, a Catholic lay minister who has served two Manhattan churches and the homeless population of NYC, led a day of reflection on the theme Be Not Afraid: A Retreat For LGBT Catholics in a Changing Church on April 5 at the Dignity Center. Jaimie holds a Master’s of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, is a writer for the weekly column, Grace on the Margins, for the National Catholic Reporter and has led retreats and workshops nationally. Through sharing her own faith experience, she encouraged the group to reflect on why it was important for each of us to be Catholic and call ourselves Catholic, and how we welcomed others into the Church. Dignity/Washington member Tony Gryzmala presented an experiential introduction to Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina, which for many in the group was the highlight of the retreat. The day ended with a very fine communal Brazilian dinner.

 

 

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Theologian Mary Hunt Speaks at Dignity Washington

Theologian Mary Hunt

Theologian Mary Hunt speaks to Dignity Washington

Gay Catholics

Tom Bower, Dignity/Washington Vice-President, introduces Dr. Mary Hunt at the latest community conversation on the importance of the Eucharist and women presiders.

Noted theologian Mary Hunt and founder of Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) was the featured speaker in the most recent Dignity/Washington community conversation held on March 16 to study and reflect upon the importance of the Eucharist in the life of the chapter.

Another objective of the event was to discern whether Dignity/Washington will allow Roman Catholic ordained women to preside at its liturgies.

 

 

Dr. Hunt presented various responses from women of faith to the Washington, DC pivotal address of Sr. Theresa Kane, then president of the Leadership Conference of Religious Women, before Pope John Paul II in 1979, responses that continue to spark renewal and creative engagement today. The Q & A period sharpened the focus on several key considerations, including “do we need a presider to have a Eucharist?” and “how do we foster the emergence of a more horizontal form of leadership in the Church where there is a discipleship of equals that fully includes women?” More community nights like this are planned through the fall 2014 and will lead to a final decision by the Dignity/Washington Board. All are asked to include the community in their prayers during this discernment process.

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