My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Some Reflections on My Priesthood

Dear Blog Visitors:

One of my favorite hangouts on weekends is the Wegman’s Superstore in Pittsford, New York (suburb of Rochester). It is a great place to shop and have breakfast, lunch or dinner. I find it is also a place that I can count on running into acquaintances from the past and present.

In recent weeks, usually while enjoying breakfast, I have been approached by former classmates and friends, who wanted to discuss my recent ordination to married priesthood. I have yet to get one complaint about my ordination, whether it be in Wegman’s, a parish or a variety of social settings.

I bring up these recent encounters, because I have come to realize that I am not the only person amongst my former classmates from St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry who have ventured into alternative forms of ministry within a Catholic context. What has become apparent to me, especially in the case of some of my former female classmates, is that the more educated in theology and church history one becomes, the greater disenchantment there is in the outdated polices of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.

My recent conversations with former classmates have not been confined to Wegman’s or parish settings. I have also received phone calls from persons around the country who relocated after graduation from St. Bernard’s. They had seen news articles about my ordination and wanted to congratulate me.

Between the phone calls and my personal encounters, I was saddened to learn that some of my classmates became so discouraged that they abandoned church-involvement altogether. In two other cases, women are on the ordination tract for ordination in the Episcopal Church. Another woman is considering possible ministry at Spiritus Christi Church (independent of Rome), and another has joined the UCC (United Church of Christ).

I find that in the course of my recent conversations, I have consistently been asked one primary question: What will I do next? Here my answer:

To be fair, I continue to have a great deal of respect for Bishop Matthew Clark of the Rochester Diocese. It is not an exaggeration to state that he is one of the few remaining ‘pastoral’ members of the American hierarchy. I often tell reporters that Rochester is in for a rude awakening when Bishop Clark retires, for I have no doubt the Vatican will replace him with a hard-liner.

Because of my respect for Bishop Clark, I informed him in advance of my recent ordination, so he would not have to read about it in the newspapers as his first exposure to the event. In return, I appreciate the fact that he did not admonish me for my ordination.

If you have been following my recent blog posting, you are aware that I am not receiving Communion in my long-time parish. This decision came about after a meeting with my pastor. His concern was that all it would take for problems to emerge would be one parishioner writing to the Vatican to complain about my receiving. So, for the past few weeks, I have allowed people in my pew to pass before me to go into the Communion line, as I stayed behind. However, since I consider the Eucharist to be vital, I occasionally attend liturgies where I am not known, so that I may receive.

I am currently discerning membership in Spiritus Christi Church. Being independent from Rome, it is nevertheless Catholic in its beliefs and practices. It is a community where I would have friends and where I would be accepted as a married priest. If I do join Spiritus Christi, I will do so as parishioner, and my active priesthood will continue be practiced independently, via my certification from the Federation of Christian Ministries, which allows me to be an officiant at weddings, baptisms and funerals. (If an opening for a priest should ever occur at Spiritus Christi, I would perhaps be interested in pursuing it.)

As far as my working toward reform, I will continue my role as media liaison for CORPUS (www.corpus.org). I will also maintain my episcopal relationship with Archbishop Peter Paul Brennan of ‘The Married Priests Now! Prelature’ and ‘Ecumenical Catholic Diocese of America.’ Additionally, I will continue to support the work of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo and the bishops of ‘The Married Priests Now Prelature’ toward changing the mindset of Benedict XVI and the Vatican on its outdated policy of mandatory celibacy for the presbyterate.

The bottom line is that we are all in this together. For this reason, I continue to be a strong advocate for CORPUS, an organization that is celebrating its 33rd year as an advocate for an inclusive priesthood. I also support the work of the new organization on the block, ‘The Married Priests Now Prelature,’ for having the courage to be a credible voice for the many married priests who have been hurt by an unfeeling Vatican. (This is a hierarchy that stripped the kindly Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo of his pension. What kind of institution would throw a 76-year-old man into the streets, only because he married a woman he loves?) I also continue to support the good work of the Womens’ Ordination Conference. (We will not have the inclusive table envisioned by Jesus until women are allowed to preside; Spiritus Christi is a wonderful role model in this regard.)

Let us all pray for each other in the midst of a church that is in turmoil.

Peace in Christ,
Ray Grosswirth

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