What did you hear on Easter Sunday about Mary of Magdala’s Witness?

Artist: Margaret Beaudette, S.C.
Artist: Margaret Beaudette, S.C.

In 2015, FutureChurch launched the Mary of Magdala Easter Gospel Restoration Project working with Catholics around the world to ensure that the full story of Mary of Magala’s witness to the Resurrection and commission by Jesus to “go and tell” is heard on Easter Sunday.

Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J., reminds us that for centuries, Mary Magdalene has been portrayed within the Christian faith as a former prostitute who repented her sins and became one of Jesus’ most dedicated followers. But, “in fact, Mary of Magdala was one of Jesus’ most influential apostles—and she was not a prostitute,” said Sr. Johnson. “Mary kept vigil at the cross throughout Jesus’ crucifixion, discovered the empty tomb after Jesus’ resurrection, and was then commissioned to ‘go and tell’ the good news.”

In Canada the bishops include all of John 20:1-18, but in the United States and elsewhere Catholics hear only part of the story, John 20: 1-9.  Thus, the telling of Mary of Magdala’s role as a primary witness to the Resurrection slips from view.

When reading the two versions side by side it is easy to see how dramatically the trajectory of the story changes when all of John 20:1-18 is proclaimed.  In the shortened version, the focus is on Simon Peter and their lack of understanding.  But in the longer version, we learn that the male disciples went home while Mary of Magdala stayed and continued to search for Jesus.  In doing so, she finds him, recognizes him as the risen Christ and is commissioned to go and tell the others.  The inspiring story of Mary of Magdala’s witness, commission and leadership role is proclaimed.

It will help us track the success of these efforts to restore the witness of Mary of Magdala to our Easter Sunday experience and will raise awareness so that more Catholics will be inspired to participate in this restoration work.  Share with us what you heard on the most holy of days, Easter Sunday.

Women Witnesses of Mercy are not push overs

Do not be lulled into thinking women who are merciful, are the silent sweet types.  They are not.

The women honored in our Women Witnesses of Mercy series are not push overs.  They are spirited and courageous and possess a kind of holy stubbornness when it comes to justice.

Artist: Marcy Hall
Artist: Marcy Hall

Sr. Dorothy Stang was feisty and energetic and loving — one of the great saints. She remained faithful to the poor, to the ruined Amazon, and so, to the Gospel and the God of justice and compassion. Beautiful stories come down to us.  She fed the hungry, built community, lived in destitution.  She confronted illegal loggers and corrupt ranchers, the class who stole land from the poor, kept them in misery, and bought off the police, the military and the government. Death threats rained down on Dorothy for years, along with insults and hate mail. Ranchers took aim at the community center for women that she had founded and riddled it with bullets. On one occasion the police arrested her for passing out “subversive” material. It was the United Nations’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Another time, she escaped by a hairs-breadth an attempt on her life. Yet she carried on and included the ranchers in her prayers for peace. Her defense of the poor was fearless.

simoneSr. Simone Campbell is another case in point.  She has gone nose to nose with her most vocal critics and continues to plod a path to their door to engage them in dialogue.  She does not give up when it comes to creating a society that is just for all and especially those who live at the fringe of our economic and social stratosphere.

A constitutive component of Sister Simone’s understanding of and preaching of the Gospel is that everyone — individuals, families, communities, organizations, and governments –must play their part in building a more just society.  Her conviction comes straight out of Catholic Social Teaching.  In CST we learn that in the image and likeness of a Triune God, the person is not only sacred but also inherently social. Living in community is an essential expression of who we are. But community isn’t something that just happens. Catholic Social Teaching and Scripture proclaim that each person has both the right and the obligation to participate society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, but especially the poor and vulnerable.

Sr. Simone struggles with what it means to carry out the Gospel.  In her heartfelt poem, Loaves and Fish she writes:

I always joked
that the miracle of loaves
and fish was: sharing
The women always knew this.
But in this moment of need
and notoriety I ache, tremble
almost weep at folks so
hungry, malnourished,
faced with spiritual famine
of epic proportions. My heart
aches with their need.

Apostle-like, I whine:
“What are we among so many?”
The consistent, 2000-year-old
ever-new response is this:
“Blessed and broken, you are
enough.” I savor the blessed,
cower at the broken, and
pray to be enough.

In April, we will release the next Women Witnesses of Mercy resource on Sr. Dorothy Stang.  Another tough, “stubborn” woman witness of mercy, she was murdered for her work defending poor Brazilians and the sacred life of the Amazon where they lived and where so many living creatures depend on its ongoing vibrancy and health.

Please donate $125 or more to FutureChurch’s Women in Church Leadership Campaign and get a poster with all twelve women witnesses of mercy with beautiful original art by Marcy Hall.

Women Ready to Serve as Deacons

drm-Flier Ready To Serve TeleconferenceThe Second Vatican Council recognized “there are men who actually carry out the functions of the deacon’s office” and thus “it is only right to strengthen them by the imposition of hands.”

Today the same is true of many women who lead parishes and serve as catechists and chaplains and in other ministries. In light of mission opportunities and pastoral needs, local Churches should be allowed to call forth women for the ordained diaconia of liturgy, word and charity.

Please join us on April 13, 2016 at 8pm ET as we hear from three women who are ready to serve as deacons.

Connie Walsh has always felt a particular call to the permanent diaconate, not priesthood or religious life. Cynthia (Sam) Bowns recognized her desire to serve as a deacon as she accompanied her husband through his diaconal formation program. Natalie Terry is engaged in and feels called to greater ministerial leadership, and would seriously consider the diaconate if opened to women. After each speaker shares her story, Luke Hansen, S.J., will facilitate questions and discussion.  Read the bios of our panelists below.

RESOURCES for those interested in women deacons!

  1.  Visit our new Catholic Women Deacons website.
  2.  Sign up for our retreat for those discerning whether they want to be deacons from September 16 – 18, 2016 at River’s Edge in Cleveland, Ohio by sending an email to Russ@futurechurch.org.
  3. Sign up for our teleconference series.   The first one is April 13th with our three panelists.  The second one is May 18, 2016 at 8pm ET with expert Phyllis Zagano.  The third is TBD.

Bios of Teleconference Panelists

Connie Walsh, of Maplewood, Minnesota, a certified community health worker, recently retired after 24 years as the manager of advocacy services at United Family Medicine in St. Paul, Minnesota. The clinic serves a diverse group of largely uninsured or underinsured persons. Connie served for eight years on the Commission of Women for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and for five years she taught a domestic violence curriculum at St. Paul Seminary and for deacon couples. She has received formation as an Ignatian Associate, served on a parish council and on 23 Cursillo retreat teams, volunteered in Guatemala, and served as a lector, Eucharistic minister, fundraiser, and religious educator.

Cynthia (Sam) M. Bowns, of Crete, Illinois, recently retired as an associate and alumni coordinator in the development department at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Sam has a Masters of Divinity and a certificate in spiritual formation from Catholic Theological Union, where she continues to volunteer. A married mother of three, she has served for decades in a variety of parish ministries, including co-chair of RCIA, lector, Eucharistic minister and art and environment. Sam, a certified spiritual director, first recognized her desire to serve as a deacon as she accompanied her husband Loren Bowns through his discernment and training as a deacon in the Diocese of Joliet. Following his ordination, Sam pursued further theological education in order be a well-prepared advocate for women called to ordained ministry. Loren, who serves as a deacon in the Archdiocese of Chicago, will also participate in the teleconference.

 

Natalie Terry, originally from Wynantskill, New York, is the director of the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center and Children’s Faith Formation at St. Agnes Catholic Church in San Francisco. She has a Masters of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California, where she is currently writing her thesis for a Licentiate in Sacred Theology in the area of sacramental theology. She graduated from John Carroll University in 2010 with Bachelor of Arts in religious studies, and then served as a volunteer with the Sisters of the Humility of Mary in Pulaski, Pennsylvania.  Natalie has been a facilitator and prayer leader with the Ignatian Solidarity Network, and she has served as a lay preacher, lector, Eucharistic minister and presider of Communion services and Liturgies of the Word.

Luke Hansen, S.J., a member of the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus, is a student at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California. Luke has a Master of Arts in social philosophy from Loyola University Chicago, has worked on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and served as an associate editor of America magazine from 2012 to 2014. He has reported from the Vatican, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and has won several awards from the Catholic Press Association for his writing. As an intern for FutureChurch, Luke recently edited the first edition of VOICES, a magazine that features the storytelling of Catholic women who work for the empowerment of women around the world through anti-trafficking initiatives, health care, education and other fields.