WE SEND A LETTER TO POPE FRANCIS:
Our meeting at Salisbury: Towards Wholeness, on 26th October, 2019, universally signed this letter to His Holiness:
Dear Pope Francis,
We parishioners from Salisbury in the United Kingdom offer you thanks, prayers and support as you seek to change the Church at its heart by eliminating clericalism.
We ask for sacramental ministry to be shared equally by all who discern a call from God and are deemed worthy.
Working together naturally, supporting one another like St Francis and St Clare who transformed the Medieval Church, women and men of goodwill could renew the Church of the 21st Century.
God bless Your Holiness.
K a t h a r i n e
A Story of the Gifts We're Losing
Katharine is an active Catholic educator who is currently a Lay Reader in the Church of England. She describes her vocation to the Catholic priesthood:
My calling came partly through my ministry in the religious order I had joined as a lay member in 1991, and partly through my vocation as a teacher when I was working as a lay chaplain at a secondary school in France. I was used to teaching and leadership in my order, where I helped to write and translate retreats and other religious documents, and I always felt incredibly close to the Eucharist through praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament as often as I could.
I lived this as a lay sister, and then went to teach in France as part of my degree. Here I first felt that my calling was perhaps to priestly ministry. I was the resident lay chaplain in the boarding school supported by two non-residential priests, so a lot of my work with the students was when a priest was not available. The "lightbulb moment" for me was the night one boy in my care heard that his grandfather had died. It was late, and too far for him to go home, and he asked if we could have a service of prayers in the school chapel. So I wrote some prayers with Benjamin and we chose some hymns, and the entire boarding house of over a hundred students came to pray with us. As I stood at the front of the chapel and led the simple service, I knew this was what God was calling me to. This led to regular preaching in the school chapel, and even in Cambrai Cathedral. When I returned to England, it was a bit of a shock to find that women didn't do that! I would say I am a Catholic who exercises ministry in the Anglican and Catholic churches. I remain Catholic because my spirituality and my love of the Eucharist anchor me in the Catholic church, and because I still find a very important home in RC religious orders. I have often questioned why I never became an oblate in an Anglican order- there is still something so strong that glues me to the Little Sisters. As one dear nun friend who left the Little Sisters said to me - when all the trappings are stripped away, it is yourself before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. My vows are still Catholic, and that is probably the reason I still live that vowed commitment to God - because I made the commitment before God. Although the hierarchy consider this invalid, I know that that altar is where I made my commitment in 1992, and I don't take that back!
There is something about living sacraments "by desire" in terms of how we live our call to priesthood when we can't be RC priests, and I think in my heart I still desire religious life as I lived it. It is one of the reasons I am happy as a Anglican Reader - I have not burned any bridges with RC priest friends who would have felt that barrier if I had become an Anglican priest, or been ordained Contra Legem, against Church Law. I thought about this last option, but quickly dismissed it for myself.
Mary Ward, pioneering religious leader
I am not sure where my vowed commitment ever resides in terms of Canon Law, but, like Mary Ward, my foundress, who died without her order being recognised, I just get on with the job! Twenty-five years on from that ministry, I am now active as a friend of a different religious order, one with girls’ education at its heart. I am an active educator, in and outside of the church. My spiritual life is very sacramental. I lead a study group within my parish, as well as ecumenical study days and groups. As Mary Ward said; "In time to come, women will do much!". She was right!