On Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 1 p.m., the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) will ordain Kim Marie Panaro and Jim Marsh priests. The presiding bishop will be Bridget Mary Meehan of Sarasota, FL. The ceremony will take place at First Unitarian Universalist Church, 405 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12206. All are welcome.
Jim Marsh of Albany will be the first man ordained a priest by ARCWP. A graduate of Siena College, he trained with the Franciscan friars. After leaving seminary formation, he served his local church communities as lector, Eucharistic minister, religious educator, parish councilor and worked with youth and seniors. As an out gay man in the 80s, I experienced what it is being on the margins, he said, and I wanted to help people who were going through the same thing. So Jim established a DIGNITY Chapter in the Capital District region of New York and created an interfaith Eucharist table where all were welcome, including GLBTS. His work in establishing support services for AIDS victims and families was recognized by then Governor Mario Cuomo. Jim says he found home in Florida at the inclusive and egalitarian Mary Mother of Jesus Community. He is an active member of the Upper Room Community in Albany as well. I am humbled and grateful that ARCWP has invited me to participate in this great endeavor. As a servant leader priest, I will empower others to be good news and celebrate the holy within, among and around us.
Kim Panaro says her spirituality really started as a youth minister in CYO as a young teen. My spiritual path has been rich in women and men who teach and inspire me. For me, being a mom has been the greatest teacher. The better a parent you can be that’s where grace comes in, she said. Kim earned an undergrad in Religious Studies from the College of St. Rose and a MSW in Social Work from State University of Albany. She has served as a school social worker for many years. She is also a community peace and justice activist and has traveled to Nicaragua. Over the years she learned her spirituality is finding Christ in the margins. I always knew I had a calling in the church, she said. As a woman priest we don’t need to wait for permission to do what God calls us to be. As a woman priest I feel my ordination is to be a witness for Catholics who don’t feel comfortable in the church anymore. When I start talking to them about my priesthood, they are eager to listen and want to hear more. Kim is an active member of the Upper Room Community in Albany.
In this Holy Year of Open Doors we call on Pope Francis to move from condemnation to conversation with the Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement. In response to primacy of conscience, we ordain women in apostolic succession as an issue of justice and equality in our church. As a gesture of good will we ask our brother Francis to honor primacy of conscience by dropping excommunication and all punishments against us and our supporters. As faithful members on the margins of our church, we believe it is time to share our stories of priestly ministry in in respectful conversation with Pope Francis and begin a journey toward healing sexism in our church.
God created women and men equal: There is neither male nor female. In Christ you are one. (Galatians 3:28) As spiritual equals, all sacraments should be open to women. God calls both men and women to the priesthood, but Catholic women who are called are rejected because of their gender.
We are a renewed priestly ministry within a community of equals. While we ordain in apostolic succession, our bishops do not have a hierarchical role, said Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan. Our communities make decisions in a circular manner. All are welcome in our inclusive faith communities including GLBT people, divorced and remarried, and non-Catholics.
As the body of Christ, we gather around the table to
co-celebrate the Eucharist (consecrate Eucharist, share the Word of God, and give mutual blessing).
From the first ordination on the Danube in 2002 we have grown from 7 to 222 in 13 countries in our international movement. In the US we have 177 serving 65 communities in 31 states.