This month, three new women priests were ordained -- two in California and one in Ohio.
In California, the newly ordained include Maureen Mancuso, who became a priest on May 4th in a ceremony in Lafayette, CA, and Maria Eitz, who was ordained on May 26th in San Francisco.
Both women have excellent credentials for ministry. Mancuso, 59, of San Ramon, is currently a teacher at Granada High in Livermore, but she also attended seminary and earned a master's degree in divinity in 1996 from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. The divorced mother of two, who was ordained by Roman Catholic Woman Bishop Olivia Doko will be pastoring the Namaste Catholic Community which meets at the Orinda Community Church in Orinda, CA. Prior to her involvement with RCWP and her diaconal ordination in 2011, Rev. Mancuso had been an RCIA instructor at Christ the King parish in Pleasant Hill. She has also been president of her parish council and worked as a hospital chaplain and as a retreat director.
Maria Eitz had been a member of the Liturgy Committee at her former parish, St. John of God Catholic Church in San Francisco. She was born in Germany, but moved to the United States in the 1960s. As a young woman, Eitz led children to safety and freedom out of East Germany during the Cold War. She also founded and directed Medical Volunteers International and has created human rights programs in Asia and Africa for children and parents rendered vulnerable because of wars, natural disasters and famine. Out of these experiences came a book, Desert Tales, a collection of stories from her time spent living with the Hadendowa in Sudan, where Eitz led a mission of medical volunteers during a drought.
Eitz also founded the Respite Care program at the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center to provide emergency voluntary shelter for children whose parents were in crisis and help keep children out of foster care. She ran the program for more than 35 years until her retirement. She was an official at Friends For All Children, one of the groups behind Operation Babylift that brought children out of Vietnam at the end of that war. She later adopted four children, including two from Vietnam, and raised numerous foster children. Her book, Dark Rice, describes the Vietnamese adoptions.
Rev. Eitz converted to Catholicism during the Second Vatican Council. She was influenced by the great Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner who guided her course of studies that culminated in a master’s degree in theology from Marquette University. Ordained on May 26th by Roman Catholic Woman Bishop Regina Nicolosi, she will be continuing her pastoral work with the Sophia in Trinity community that meets at Trinity Episcopal Church in San Francisco.
The 72-year old activist told the Los Angeles Times that she wasn't intimidated by the threat of excommunication. "If you are baptized," Eitz said, "you cannot be unbaptized. If you are called to the table that God calls people to, you cannot be excluded." She said that she was taking the step of getting ordained because "it is right and just." She said she wasn't seeking it for herself so much as to pave the way for the other women who will come after her.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, on May 25th, Dr. Debra Meyers was also ordained a Roman Catholic woman priest by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan. She has a Ph.D. in History and Women’s Studies and a MA in Religious Studies with an emphasis on pastoral care, and is currently a professor of History and Women’s Studies at Northern Kentucky University. She has co-edited several books including Inequity in Education: Historical Perspectives on American Education (Lexington Books, 2009), Colonial Chesapeake: New Perspectives (Lexington Books, 2006), Common Whores, Vertuous Women, and Loveing Wives: Free Will Christian Women in Colonial Maryland (Indiana University Press, 2003), and Women and Religion in Old and New Worlds (Routledge, 2001). The latter book has also been published in Spanish as Mujeres y Religion en el Viejo y el Nuevo Mundo, en la Edad Moderna (Madrid: Narcea, S.A. de Ediciones, 2002).
Dr. Meyers, who is also a wife, mother, and grandmother, said that God called her to the Catholic priesthood even as a child. She has been serving in RCWP's Resurrection Community in Cincinnati, focusing her ministry on single women and children because they make up a vast majority of the impoverished people in the United States today.
Asked by City Beat how she viewed her ordination, Dr. Meyers replied, "I think it is good for me to be a visual example particularly for women about the promise of a more inclusive Church. It helps women know that they really do have the quality, and they don’t have to suppress it. When they’re called by God, here are examples of how they can fulfill God’s love."
So three new and eminently qualified women have committed to serving God and the community as Roman Catholic women priests this month. Bishop Meehan reports that as a result of the latest ordinations this month and last month, seven other women have applied to enter the discernment process for becoming priests, and next month she will come to Virginia where she will ordain two women priests and three new deacons.
Photos: Thanks to Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan and Rev. Juanita Cordero from whose blog and Facebook page I shamelessly "borrowed" these photos. Top: Rev. Mancuso is 3rd from left, standing. Bishop Doko is next to her, 4th from left. Middle: Bishop Nicolosi presents the newly ordained Rev. Eitz. Bottom: Rev. Dr. Meyers assists Bishop Meehan at the altar.