The Table

More than 150 folks gathered at Trinity United Methodist Church in Des Moines to hear Fr. Roy Bourgeois tell 253882_327964550650964_533596931_nhis story of activism, and the price he paid.  Though he spent four years – four years! – in prison form protesting the School of the Americas, when he tells of being released from Maryknoll, his hurt is as fresh as if it happened yesterday.  This man, so clearly called to be a priest, lost his official Roman Catholic credentials because he supported women’s ordination in a public way. (Read Fr. Roy’s statement from 2012 on his dismissal from Maryknoll)

That began a pretty amazing weekend, honoring the Des Moines Catholic Worker’s 40th anniversary.  WOC was invited to participate in and co-sponsor  this great event, and to moderate a panel on women’s ordination.  Iowa has a vibrant Catholic Worker movement, with several houses of workers in Des Moines, as well as locations in other cities, and at least two farms!  All of these ministries are attracting college and graduate school interns, young adults in permanent positions, older folks, people who volunteer regularly (many for dozens of years!), older folks, all races and ethnic groups, and folks all over the GLBTQA spectrum.  An amazing and wonderful array of God’s children!!  When folks in traditional Catholic parishes moan: “Where are the millennials?”, they need look no further than the Catholic Worker in Des Moines!

Fr. Roy sharing his story of activism and witness to more than 100 people gathered in Des Moines

Fr. Roy sharing his story of activism and witness with more than 150 gathered in Des Moines

The panel we moderated included Rev. Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Rev. Mary Kay Kusner, and two young local women from the Catholic Worker and Drake University, Mary Traxler, Clio Cullison, neither of whom identifies wholeheartedly as Catholic.  We discussed a variety of issues, from the Pope’s commission on deacons to who each one of us finds inspirational in this work.
for blogWe also touched on Dorothy Day, the founder of the CW, for whom women’s ordination was not a big issue.  Of course, she was absolutely a woman of her times, having died in 1980.  A couple of audience members were quick to point out that the CW movement would see women’s ordination as a justice issue, just like racial equity, for sure, but that feeding the poor and listening to every person we meet is what they are all about.
Board Member, Marion Flynn moderating the panel: "More Listening, Less Judging: Imagining a Church of Gender Justice"

Board Member, Marion Flynn moderating the panel: “More Listening, Less Judging: Imagining a Church of Gender Justice”

I told the story of my college graduation, at Newton College of the Sacred Heart.  Dorothy Day was our commencement speaker, and I spoke on at the same podium.  She was a powerful and challenging speaker.  My talk is lost to eternity, but I know my call to the priesthood was apparent to everyone (and it was, after all, 1974, when we thought priesthood for women and married people would soon be a reality).  After the ceremony, Dorothy Day approached me, and asked me to think about the Chicago Catholic Worker, and she offered to make the connection.  As flattered as I was, I also knew that my call was different.  But I also knew that I had met the most significant woman I would ever meet, and that she had blessed my heart.

We are all so grateful to the people at the Des Moines Catholic Worker for the inspiring witness, and congratulate them for 40 years of service to the poor.  We love you all!

Further reading:
Roy Bourgeois in the Des Moines Register: Struggle for justice, equality continues in Catholic Church

Marion Flynn, WOC Board Secretary, studied theology in the 1970’s – and was certain there would be a path to the priesthood, having been called at a very early age.  She has worked as a banker and fundraiser, is active in her parish, and is honored, beyond words, to serve the cause of women’s ordination.  Marion lives in the Chicago area, but was born in Massachusetts.  She holds a BA from Newton College of the Sacred Heart, and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.