Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Dream Fulfilled: Santa Cruz Woman Becomes a Catholic Priest

Last Saturday, February 8, 2014, licensed clinical psychologist Christine Fahrenbach achieved her lifelong dream of becoming a Roman Catholic woman priest. In a ceremony at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist in Aptos, California, Bishop Olivia Doko ordained Dr. Fahrenbach. The church was chosen for the ceremony because it is one of the places where the Sophia community which Fahrenbach led as a deacon would meet for liturgies. She was ordained a deacon in 2011.

Dr. Fahrenbach has a private psychology practice working with adult individuals and couples, as well as adolescents. She also provides life coaching for adults with ADHD and other issues. From 2007 to 2010, she was an adjunct faculty member at Palo Alto University.

In addition to her doctorate, Dr. Fahrenbach has a BA in Theology from the University of Notre Dame and an MDiv in Theology from Santa Clara University. During the 1980s, she taught religion at Mercy High School in San Francisco, and for a period of time, Fahrenbach, a lesbian, was co-director of the Lesbian and Gay Ministry at Holy Cross parish in Santa Cruz. As a result, she was invited and appeared on KALW radio's "City Vision" series in December 2011 addressing the topic "Far from Rome: Being Gay and Catholic in the Bay Area."

When she was interviewed by the Santa Cruz Sentinel earlier this year in connection with a showing of the pro-women's ordination film "Pink Smoke Over the Vatican", Dr. Fahrenbach told the reporter that she had wanted to be a priest since she was a child. "If we ever played church, I was always the priest," she recalled. "Just because the Catholic church isn't going to accept women priests in my lifetime didn't mean my call didn't feel true to me."

Additional women's ordination ceremonies are scheduled for May in Springfield, IL, Brecksville, OH, Cincinnati, OH, Olympia, WA, and New York City.

Photo: Rev. Christine Fahrenbach (L) with unidentified woman deacon and Bishop Olivia Doko (R). Courtesy: Roman Catholic Women Priests

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