Sunday, February 7, 2016

Women's Ordinations - January 2016

The first three women's ordinations of the new year took place on January 30th at the United Church of Christ Chapel in Altamonte Springs, Florida. The celebrant was Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan. Ordained to the ARCWP priesthood were:

  • Lorraine Sharpe Meyer of Casselberry, FL who has worked as a nurse and a chaplain and has specialized in care for people with Hansen's Disease, AIDS and dementia. She has also worked with the homeless in many areas of the U.S. and Thailand. She is the author of Dirty Feet: Stories of Really Terrific People, a memoir of some of her service experiences. She decided to become a priest because "as a lifelong Catholic, I so often witnessed male priests who, due to lack of proper training, were unable to comfort people requesting sacraments. Then, as a chaplain to people with dementia, I found that I was able to be a 'real priest' for them. When I discovered the Women Priest movement, I knew immediately that I belong to it."

  • Major Renee Dubignon of Holiday, FL, who served in the US Army from 1980 to 2005 and worked concurrently for the New York City Police Department from 1982-2003 as a behavior modification consultant. Since her retirement to Florida, she has been a marketing executive with the TraVerus Travel Network through her own company, Major Adventure Marketing Group. She has an MSW from City University of New York-Hunter College and in 2009-2010 studied theology at the Episcopal Divinity School. Of her calling to ministry, she says, "My deep faith in God's love guided me in the pastoral care of those in need of liberation from the negative effects of crime and evil. I have a calming spirit that aids me in helping others heal. God uses me as a vessel to heal physical and psychological problems." According to Bishop Meehan, Renee Ronnie Dubignon now ministers at the Spirit of Life Metropolitan Community Church in New Port Richey, Florida, where church members have a long history of serving the LGBTQI community.

Both of these women had been ordained as ARCWP deacons in May 2015. Also ordained to the ARCWP priesthood was Joan Throm who had previously been an assistant pastor at the interdenominational Family of God Community Church in Cocoa Beach, Florida. She has also worked as a recreational therapist and is now working on a degree in art therapy. According to Bishop Meehan, Rev. Throm is currently a grief support minister at Courtenay Springs Village, a long term care facility in Merritt Island, Florida. She also leads an ecumenical service every Sunday morning there.

In her homily at the ordination, Bishop Meehan said she believes that "nothing will stop our movement for the full equality of women in the Roman Catholic Church because nothing is impossible with God." She added her wish that the newly ordained women "be mystics, prophets and presiders at sacramental liturgical celebrations that create a more compassionate and just church" and that "they be midwives of grace bringing new life to our church in Florida and beyond."

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