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.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Former Protestant Minister to Become Priest

Dear Blog Visitors:

I want to take this opportunity to wish Scott Caton well as he prepares for his ordination to the priesthood in 2011. In preparation for his ordination, he will be serving in the transitional diaconate at Blessed Sacrament Church in Rochester.



What makes this particular ordination unusual is that Scott is a former Protestant minister who converted to Catholicism, and he is married with six children. I want to be sincere with my welcome to him, because after all, he may help to prove a point I have been trying to make for over twenty years - namely, that Holy Orders and Marriage are entirely complementary.

On the negative side, Scott's admission to the Roman Catholic priesthood highlights a double-standard that is operative in the church. In brief, if a married Protestant minister converts to Catholicism, he is allowed to become a Catholic priest if Vatican approval is granted. If, on the other hand, a married Catholic seeks Holy Orders, he faces condemnation by the powers-that-be. To make matters worse, if a validly ordained celibate priest wishes to marry, he is forced out of his active ministry.

Ironically, Scott Caton will be serving at the same parish where I am not allowed to receive Communion. While I have been able to receive Communion at other parishes, Blessed Sacrament Church is the one notable exception. The reason? I was ordained a married Catholic priest at the hands of a married Catholic archbishop in 2006. So, I agreed to the request of Blessed Sacrament's pastor that I not receive Communion there, because he was afraid conservative members of the parish would complain if I did.

Considering the vast number of parish closings in Rochester and beyond, the Vatican needs to revisit its long-standing policy of mandatory celibacy for priests. The bottom line is that we already have married priests in the Catholic Church, and Scott Caton will become another one. I chose an alternative route to ordination as a married Catholic priest, and I am thankful that I am at least allowed to officiate at weddings, baptisms and funerals via my certification from the Federation of Christian Ministries.

I continue to pray, as I do every day, for a more inclusive priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church.

Peace to all,
Ray

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Images of an Inclusive Clergy





Dear Blog Visitors:

I continue to pray for the day when men and women members of the clergy will serve side-by-side in all religious denominations. This, of course, includes the Roman Catholic Church, which continues to insist that its priests be male and celibate.

Rochester, New York is indeed blessed to be the host city for many religious events at which male and female members of the clergy celebrate together for common causes. In the two photos above, taken by David Lewis, an inclusive clergy is gathered (including yours truly) for the ordination of five Catholic women to the priesthood.

While a Vatican spokesperson will often issue a negative comment concerning such an event as the ordination of women, there was notable silence on this particular occasion. My sense is that even the Vatican has come to realize that women are answering their calls to ordination with increased frequency and nothing will stop the will of the Holy Spirit.

At a time when parish closures are commonplace, and the numbers of men willing to commit to a life of celibacy are dwindling, I continue to pray that the Vatican will come to realize the potential of men and women serving side-by-side at the altar. I hope Pope Benedict XVI will take a good look at the photos above, and then try to envision a gathering such as Vatican III, at which men and women would be making important decisions to ensure the viability of the Catholic Church for the next two thousand years and beyond.

Let us continue to pray that all religious communities experience the type of inclusivity represented in the above photos.

Peace to all,
Ray

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Contemplating My Future








Dear Blog Visitors:

As I move closer to retirement from my secular job (Accounts Payable Supervisor for the City of Rochester), the number one question I am constantly asked is: "What are you going to do in retirement?" A corresponding question I am often asked is: "Are you going to start your own church?"

Starting a church is a daunting task for anyone who is called to active ministry, so I don't realistically see myself doing that. If, on the other hand, a faith community calls me forth, I will certainly enter into a dialogue to see if there is a potential meeting of the minds and spirit.

At present, I am not leading a faith community. In fact, there are some Sundays I am so exhausted from my secular job, that I simply find the need for solitude. (After racing against the clock the rest of the week, I occasionally need a Sunday to recharge my batteries.) When I do attend liturgies, it can either be at a diocesan parish, Spiritus Christi Church, or any number of worship spaces where the Holy Spirit leads me.

Last weekend was very special for me. As indicated in another blog post, I participated in a three-hour liturgy at Spiritus Christi Church, during which five women were ordained. I want to thank David Lewis for taking the three photos above at the May 1 liturgy. I am pictured making introductory remarks, prior to presenting the five ordinands with gifts from the CORPUS (www.corpus.org) community. (Deacons received pyxes and priests received oil stocks.)

Just as I pray for all of you, I ask that you keep me in your prayers as I discern my future after I retire from my secular job. I am open to wherever the Holy Spirit leads me.

Peace to all,
Ray

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Five Women Ordained in Rochester





Dear Blog Visitors:

I am filled with joy today because I took part in the ordination of five women in Rochester. The two newly ordained priests are Chava Redonnet and Theresa Novak Chabot, and the three newly ordained deacons are Caryl Johnson, Patti LaRosa and Ann Penick. Chava Redonnet will be serving the Rochester community and the others will serve in their respective cities/communities.

I want to thank Spiritus Christi Church for allowing RCWP (Roman Catholic Women Priests) to use their worship space for today's ordinations. It was also very generous of Rev. Jim Callan to host several out-of-town guests in his home for a couple days. I also want to thank the many musicians from Spiritus Christi who enriched the ordination liturgy.

The presiding bishop for today's ordinations was Andrea Johnson. (I have known Andrea for several years as a result of conferences we have attended that dealt with inclusive ministry.) Andrea did a spectacular job as presider of a three-hour liturgy. The time passed quickly, because the liturgy was rich with symbolism and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Thus far, there have been approximately 100 Catholic women ordained for service throughout the world, and the numbers will grow. As media liaison for CORPUS (www.corpus.org), I am very proud of the fact that our organization has embraced the ordination of women and some of our members have served as mentors for women preparing for ordination.

As the number of women called to ordination continues to grow, I was initially concerned that the support of married priests for these ordinations would not be reciprocated. However, my concern turned out to be short-lived, because my conversations with women priests and bishops have assured me that they do indeed support the ministries of married priests and partnerships we have forged will only get stronger. Therefore, I am delighted to report that a very successful collaboration will continue - namely, the partnership of Roman Catholic Women Priests, Women's Ordination Conference, Federation of Christian Ministries and CORPUS.

In the video that appears above, I reported on today's ordination liturgy. (The red stole I am wearing in the video is the same one I wore for the ordinations.) I have also included a photo of newly ordained priest, Chava Redonnet, giving Communion to Mary Ramerman.

Once again, my congratulations to Chava, Theresa, Caryl, Patti and Ann.

Peace to all,
Ray