This is a report from Pastor Nancy Corran from the Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community (MMACC) on the recent, “Church for Our Daughters” launch at the U.S. bishops’ meeting June 14th, in Huntington Beach. Nancy and several members of the community drove from San Diego to join the action… and then intrepidly took matters into their own hands.
Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community was beautifully represented at the “A Church for Our Daughters” demonstration in Huntington Beach outside the Hyatt Regency where the U.S. Bishops are meeting for their general assembly. Thank you to those who went, to those who wanted to go, and to all, – it is your spirit we carried with us.
Those connected to MMACC who participated in the march were Carol Kramer, Vinka Valdivia, Evi Quinn, Catherine Murphy, Agatha Graney, Jane Via, Grace and Paul Prine, Tim and Ali Kirkpatrick who invited along Ali’s sister, Amy, and their 2 year old Tess, and me with Elizabeth. We sang songs with our marching guitarist, WOC board member, Margaret Johnson. We held posters and pink carnations as we processed along the boardwalk to the back entrance of the Hyatt.
Our plan was to climb the staircase and cross a bridge into the Hyatt courtyard where bishops would be, but as we approached, staff security were already waiting for us, perched upon the stairs. It had been decided by the leaders of the demonstration that this particular action would not be confrontational or involve civil disobedience. While there is certainly place for such action, it was decided to proceed in the Spirit of Pope Francis who called for respectful dialogue and open encounter. We hoped the bishops might also seize upon this opportunity to respond to the Pope’s exhortation.
Nancy Corran (and Elizabeth) and Tim Kirkpatrick from MMACC marching toward the Hyatt
Organizing groups from Catholic Organizations for Renewal (COR) had: 1) bought a room at the hotel; 2) made lunch reservations at the hotel restaurant for 14; and 3) scheduled an appointment with one of the lead bishops at 1pm to deliver the declaration, extend an invitation to dialogue, and offer him a pink carnation. However, the booked room did not afford our humble band hotel entry; we were told that our lunch reservation had been cancelled by the hotel; and we were told that the bishop denied making the appointment (although it is unlikely security interrupted the bishop during liturgy to check). Bottom line, we were forbidden entry. It was disappointing. We read our declaration from the steps of the bridge to the Hyatt, about 5 individuals shared profound stories that illustrated the need for change in the church for girls and women, we sang more songs, and shared together in a ministry of presence. (Read Erin Saiz Hanna’s testimony here).
While the group action was unsuccessful in terms of our efforts to engage in dialogue with bishops, it was yet a peaceful witness which disquieted the patriarchy, forcing them to respond to us, even if it was with silence and silencing (and going back on their word). However, some staffers blocking our entry softened to us and were even seen tapping their feet to our tunes. The police presence was also supportive. There were some onlookers from the hotel and on the beach. Our pink mass stalled at the steps would have been seen from several dozen hotel rooms and balconies. The Co-Directors of WOC, Kate and Erin, will send all our invitations and a bouquet of carnations to the bishops with our regret we could not meet.
Tess and Elizabeth holding their ground
After disbanding, Carol K. Vinka, and I (with Elizabeth) decided to go into the hotel through the front door. We were cautioned by the hotel not to take our carnations or paper invitations as we would not be permitted to hand anything to the bishops. We walked into the hotel, still very pink looking (we all wore pink, the color of the campaign) and were permitted entry. In the courtyard we saw a few bishops, including Bishop Bob McElroy, San Diego’s own! After he got off the phone, we approached him. Carol initiated the conversation and explained that we were from his diocese and we were at the Hyatt with the campaign. He expressed support for what we stood for, shared that there was (hidden) support at every level for our concerns, and believed the church needs to change. Carol shared that her daughter had left the church and had no interest in returning. He said he was surprised not more had left (!). We would have spoken longer than the few minutes we had with him (as we had more dialogue in us!), but he had another phone call.
The four of us sat down to have a drink. Providentially, at just that time, all the bishops passed in front of us, mostly in twos, across the patio from the hotel lobby to the conference room where they were gathering. I was able to approach about 4 of them individually. I introduced myself, shared very briefly about our campaign, and encouraged greater support for girls and women in the church. Vinka also shared with another bishop who declared, “I don’t support that.” She also chatted with two other guests at the hotel (in German) who wondered at our pink presence in the midst of a sea of bishops. Happily, they were very supportive!
We were told several (we do not know how many) bishops were made aware of our campaign and demonstration beforehand (which may have been the reason for the systematic shut down), so we hope our presence in pink inside the protective hotel walls may have made a few more bishops pause in wonder, if only for a moment.
Nancy Corran holds a Diploma in Theology from Oxford and a MDiv from San Francisco Theological Seminary of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley. She received scholarships to continue studies in biblical languages at the GTU and also in exegesis, church history, theology, and praxis at the Universite of Neuchatel. Having long been attracted to many aspects of Catholicism, but holding untenable the church’s theology and treatment of women, Nancy made a profession of faith into the Catholic Church as embodied by MMACC during the Easter Vigil liturgy in 2010. A member of MMACC from its first gathering, and having worked as a pastoral assistant at MMACC for 3 years, the community called her to ordination in 2010. She was ordained on July 31, 2010.