On Saturday, May 12, 2012, we gathered in suburban Cleveland, Ohio at the Brecksville United Church of Christ to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Danube Seven. Our guest of honor was the only American among those pioneers, Dagmar Celeste.
Our celebration opened with a dramatic presentation by four women who presented a vignette from Making Waves, telling the stories of four ordained women from several Christian traditions. One of the women portrayed was Dagmar. Adding to the presentation were the Spirit of Life dancers.
Co-presiders of the mass were Dagmar Celeste and long-time friend, Bishop William Manseau of Massachusetts. Many Roman Catholic Women Priests also celebrated: Bishop Joan Houk (Pittsburgh), Elsie McGrath (St. Louis), Mary Grace Crowley-Koch and her spouse and fellow priest, Ron (Chicago), and Barbara Zeman (Chicago), who planned the liturgy and served as homilist.
Roman Catholic Womenpriests Barbara Zeman, Bishop Joan Houck, Elsie McGrath, Mary Grace Crowley-Koch and Dagmar Celeste.
Three women were formally admitted to the RCWP as candidates. Beverly Bingle (Toledo, OH), Ann Klonowski (Cleveland) and Kathy Rolenc (Chicago) were blessed by all present and warmly welcomed into the community. (There are additional candidates who remain in secret—catacomb—until circumstances allow them to come forward and be recognized publicly.)
The assembly was enthusiastic and participated with spirit, ably led by the host church’s music director, Dave Debick. Dave provided percussion instruments to a few willing participants (including candidate Kathy Rolenc), setting a lively mood.
After the mass, everyone moved to the church’s social room to continue the celebration. The gathered heard from Bishop Bill Manseau and how he came to be a bishop working with RCWP. Another dear friend of Dagmar’s, Bernie Meyer, spoke to the group in the persona of Mahatma Ghandi. He exhorted the listeners with words of peace, tolerance and perseverance. Christopher Celeste, Dagmar’s son, gave a moving reflection. He reminded us of the cruise on the Danube, during which his Mother was ordained, and offered the cruise as an allegory for her life. There are a number of locks along that river and the boat must stop, rise and settle before moving on. Christopher took us through some highlights of Dagmar’s life and how they required stopping, rising and settling before moving along.
RCWP candidates Kathy Rolenc, Ann Klonowski and Beverly Bingle
Members of the newly formed, lay led Community of St. Bridget (Cleveland) and Alan Klonowski arranged for the food and silent auction. Several generous donors provided beautifully handcrafted items (an afghan, sacred scarves, paintings, table linens and ceramics), jewelry, books, photo album, amazing gift baskets for weekend entertaining, a large Hummel doll and more. Bidders were delighted with their winnings.
Such an undertaking does not happen without the time, talent and treasure of many caring people. In addition to WOC and RCWP, this event was supported by Cleveland WOC and the Community of St. Bridget (Cleveland). The 10th Anniversary committee is grateful for Pastor Dave Shackle and the Brecksville United Church of Christ. Members of their community helped in so many ways, including being present for the celebration.
Funds raised at this event were split between WOC and the Great Waters Region of the RCWP to aid in priestly formation.
Guest Post by Alan Klonowski, WOC Board Member. Alan currently lives in Independence, OH.