The Table

Last week I had the opportunity to meet an amazing young German woman, vocal about her call to the priesthood visiting Rome with her parish. Jacqueline Straub, her parish priest and I sat down for coffee and cornetti…


Kate McElwee and Jacqueline Straub

Jacqueline was recently featured on a “LifeLinks” series called #ForChristsSake, highlighting the stories of three people who are called to ministry in their faith tradition, but because of their gender, sexuality, or relationships are not able to pursue their vocation. As soon as I saw the LifeLinks video, I wrote to Jacqueline on behalf of WOC to commend her bravery and offer our prayers and support for the prophetic witnessing that she brings to our church.

Many of our connections came to light during our meeting: Jacqueline went to parts of the “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” Germany tour and has met many of the European women priests. She was featuring in another documentary with Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza (a WOW2015 speaker). Her parish recently attended a meeting with “Catholic Tipping Point” Helmut Schuller’s Austrian Priests’ initiative to discuss how some parishes are sharing roles, and their use of the “Thomas Mass” – for those with questions and doubts.  Incredible connections that not only make the world feel cozy, but led her priest to devise a plan to have Helmut, Jacqueline and myself all reunite in Vienna.

Jacqueline, a fellow parishioner, and her priest visiting Rome from Austria

I asked her priest about his “conversion moment,” and he didn’t express an “a-ha” moment, but simply said that he has met many women who are called to the priesthood, and he trusts them and God.      AMEN!

What I loved most about meeting with Jacqueline is that she says things that few people in the women’s ordination movement really say… 

“I have time. I can wait. Things will change.”

(Jacqueline’s priest however, seemed very ready to hand his parish over to her, within the year.)

Her spirit and energy were a shot in the arm — needed optimism, for someone who clutches to hope in what can feel like a lost battle.

While Jacqueline is not idealistic or naive about this, she believes that she must stay and work within the channels of the Roman Catholic Church — and to her credit, she has received what read like personal responses from Cardinals and officials at the Vatican. Jacqueline’s story will be in the Winter/Spring 2015 issue of New Women, New Church, available to current members of the Women’s Ordination Conference (renew here).