Rebel female bishop on Northern Ireland crusade to recruit women into Catholic priesthood.
By Suzanne Breen
August 21 2017
A female Catholic bishop excommunicated by the Vatican is in Northern Ireland on a recruitment drive to expand her movement of women priests.
Bridget Mary Meehan said five women who believe they have a vocation had come forward in the Republic and she hoped for a similar number on this side of the border.
“I believe our movement is in harmony with everything Pope Francis stands for in wanting a more open and inclusive Church.”The women, who belong to the US-based Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP), are defying the Vatican’s ban on female clergy.
Bishop Meehan stressed that although she had been excommunicated, she still saw herself as part of the mainstream Church.
“As an Irish Catholic, Catholicism is in my DNA,” she said.
“This isn’t about leaving the Church, it’s about leading it. This is about moving the Church towards equality and justice and healing the wounds of centuries of sexism.”
She yesterday said Mass at the Oratory, the church of Bishop Pat Buckley in Larne. He branded opposition to women priests as “sexism dressed up with theology”.
Born in Coolkerry, Co Laois, Meehan was ordained a priest in 2006 and a bishop three years later. The 69-year-old currently ministers in Florida.
Her family support her stance.
“My late father Jack Meehan was 82 when I was ordained. He was very proud of me. He had been a dance band leader in the 1940s and he played music at Masses which I celebrated,” she said.
Bishop Meehan said being branded “a white witch” and facing other insults didn’t bother her.
“I grew up in a conservative Catholic tradition so I see those criticisms as part of the journey we’re all on,” she said.
She rejected the Vatican’s argument that women couldn’t be priests because the 12 Apostles were male. “The risen Christ appeared first to Mary Magdalene, not to the Apostles, and called on her to announce the good news of Christianity. Mary Magdalene was the Apostle to the Apostles,” she said.
The ARCWP has significantly expanded from 2002 when seven women were ordained priests on a ship on the River Danube.
The organisation insists its ordinations are valid because the male bishop ordaining the first female bishops has “apostolic succession within the Catholic Church”.
Bishop Meehan was excommunicated in 2007, but insisted: “Our actions are justified because we are disobeying an unjust law. No one can cancel my baptism – it’s equal to that of any bishop, cardinal or Pope.”
Pope Francis has said the Church is unlikely to lift its ban on female priests but he has set up a commission to investigate whether women could be ordained as deacons, giving them the authority to marry couples and baptise babies, but not to celebrate Mass.
While Bishop Meehan sees him as “moving in the right direction”, Bishop Buckley is less optimistic. “Even if Francis wanted change, he is surrounded by a conservative cabal who will prevent it,” he said.
“The battle for women priests will be far harder than that for married priests. Opposition isn’t just in the Vatican, it’s extensive at a grassroots level.”
Bishop Meehan urged women who have a vocation to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or arcwp.org
Newspaper article links
‘Is it possible to be Catholic and a feminist?’
Female bishop calls on women to join movement
Catholic woman bishop on Irish vocations recruitment drive
|RTE Interview on Ray Darcy Show, Aug. 17th, 2017, 4:15-4:30 PM|
|Clare Women Encouraged To Become Priests
The call has come from Laois-born Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, a former Pastoral Nun who was ordained in the US in 2006 and is a member of the …
Great Interview with Gavin Grace on Clare FM today in Ennis
Irish Media Coverage of ARCWP Women Priests Grow Movement in Ireland
ARCWP CONFERENCE IN CLEVELAND
Saturday, July 15, 2017
ARCWP Retreat: We are the face of God, Notes from Marianne Williamson Presentation: How to Overcome Your Struggles”
Some ARCWP Community Insights:
We rejoice in the light inside of us, Spirit working within us, moving through us to effect change for justice and healing in our church and world.
Insight, awareness, connection and action.
We focus on liberation theology and mujerista theology- “at onement, not atonement!” The personal is the social is the political is the religious.
Peaceful mind through centering prayer.
Get up every day and put on God.
Do good, do what we can do to promote cosmic consciousness of our oneness.
Circle of love, circle of companionship demonstrate for justice!
The power of hatred is broken through conviction.
Love is at the center.
Small actions like telephone calls to legislatures to promote change and justice.
taking part in demonstrations to stand up for justice.
Mariane Willamson Summary of notes:
The only thing that will transform world wide-terrorism is to love with conviction.
Hatred backed by so much money and arms.
We have a power that is greater than bullets, the power of love!
All spiritual traditions lead to the same mountain., interconnection that we share!
Darkness does not hesitate to claim its power in economic injustice, permanent war machine, second highest child poverty rate in the U.S, and highest massive incarceration in the world.
We cannot embrace the power of darkness.
Multi national take over this country and we must pass laws to make changes.
So much darkness, you need to pray, meditate, download light.
Try not to take into the stress of the day by using your spiritual resources.
5 minutes with Holy Spirit will bless our thoughts for the day!
Claiming the light and filling it up with grace and love!
Spirit lives through us and moves through us!
Not in denial, you are in transcendence!
We are looking at keeping our children safe and our planet safe!
Lighten up –
Work of God is through you.
Go out into the world with spiritual energy
God cannot do for us what God cannot go through us!
Do not wimp out on the job that needs to be done!
Abolitionist Movement came out of Quaker Spiritual Tradition.
Suffragette Movement came out of Quaker Spiritual Tradition.
They had in common “cosmic companionship.”
They sat in silence and listened to God.
It led to do something about suffering of others, Resist!
Sit in silence, incorrect is intolerable.
Spiritual power is through us, grace of God working through us!
People of earth, thoughts of heaven is in us.
Time for us to be grown-ups in the world.
We need to work on making things infinitely right!
We need to rejoice in our infinite possibilities.
Spiritual revolution of our times!
Theology is in interwoven with the story of people.
It is not God’s job to feed poor children.
God says to us how can you let children starve?
Just as individuals seek conversion so must citizens own bad stuff that comes from our country.
Every child is one of our children and the earth is our home!
A post from Bridget Mary’s Blog
Saturday, June 3, 2017
“The Frenzied Adventures of the Frozen Yogurt Fiend (and Felonious Faithful)” by Katie Meehan April 18, 2012, Enjoy! this fun story by my niece!
Bridget Mary Meehan enjoying her favorite soft ice cream at McDonald’s
(Note: I was an Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister- Immaculata, PA. in 1995 I transferred to Sisters for Christian Community
In her former life, she was a nun. Now, she’s an outlaw. More importantly, she has loved and will always love ice cream.
She’s the eternal optimist. My father and uncle, her only siblings, are quintessential pessimists. They try their best to bring down my aunt at any possible chance.
“Dear Heart.” Uh-oh. That phrase is a red flag. Except, of course, Aunt Mary never really gets mad or annoyed- at least not enough to admit it.
The full-length sundress twirls through the kitchen. She doesn’t cook, just prepares. She sets out her father’s dinner then goes about dropping his pills into the opaque medicine box. Sixteen for each day… six after breakfast, three after lunch, three after dinner, and three before bedtime. She hums as she works.
Her car is small… a regular piece of shit, nicknamed by my father, the Jap Trap. The soothing sounds of the spiritual soul plays softly on her radio. It’s literally torture. Danny and I roll our eyes a hundred times over. We look over at her and giggle. She has to sit on a pillow to see over the steering wheel.
A heretic, really. She’s committed crimes against the Catholic faith with her social justice programs and community outreach projects. She’s an imposter. The impersonator of priests.
She backed into a wall once while parking on an empty street in Ireland. Afterwards, my best friend and I convinced her to drink with us. One Guinness later, she bid us adieu but not before leaving us twenty euros and sashaying out of the dingy pub with a crooked smile. At the door, she spun around and gave us a mischievous wink. We nodded knowingly and turned back to our Bulmers at the bar.
Her diet consists of power bars, diet coke, and McDonald’s frozen yogurt. She’ll walk for miles to get Mickey D’s frozen yogurt.
There are stuffed bears along the aisles. Her parishioners are smiling and waving me over. Dreading more social interaction, I slink over and nod as they all tell me, “your aunt is a saint.” I smile obligingly.
She was excommunicated the day I graduated from very same high school she attended two decades earlier. The ceremony was held in the National Shrine and she sat patiently, beatifically in the fourth row. I can’t imagine how she felt sitting within the very building at the heart of her faith and the enemy to her cause. Dick, her friend, came to Thanksgiving a few years ago. His dyed black hair, his gray beard, and white soul patch were a real sight to see. He smiled longingly at my aunt as my Uncle Pat mimicked the look behind him. Aunt Mary never noticed and denied the crush. “He’s a dear, sweet man. You know, his wife died three years ago. She had an amazing soul.”
I splash-kicked water into her face, accidentally, of course. She had already given up on keeping her hair dry. Danny, my younger brother, laughs and cries, “Let’s play cops and robbers!” We scream “Not it!,” and rush to opposite sides of the pool as my aunt wades out towards us.
She’s a dancing fool. Every wedding, every wake, all parties… She’ll dance by herself or whoever she finds. She doesn’t care. The Irish jigs really get her going.
She is short, about 4’9. Her platinum blonde bob frames a pair of soft blue eyes. She wears long, flowing dresses, chunky sandals, and an oversized floppy hat during the summer. In colder weather, she opts for bulky sweaters and tights under long skirts and wool dresses.
We packed up the whole family one Friday and drove up to Pittsburgh. We made a weekend of the ordination. That Saturday and a few loopholes later, my aunt was ordained a woman priest in the Roman Catholic Church. We took her out to dinner and my dad bought her roses.
I set up her Facebook for her. She bought me a Starbucks card for it and offered twenty days worth of praise for my social networking skills. She updates about ten times a day with articles or Bible verses that inspire her. Giddy with her technological abilities, she posts videos of my grandfather playing trumpet every week.
When I was eight, she made me teach her moves from my Irish dancing class. We’d spend hours perfecting the reels, hops, and lead backs on the cool, tiled floor of the darkened basement.
They knew the regulars at McDonald’s. (They were regulars at McDonald’s). Laura was a nice little old lady. We saw her at 6 pm every time we visited until one day, we didn’t see her. Intercessions went up to God and we dedicated our mealtime prayers to Laura. Aunt Mary bought an extra cone for old time’s sake.
Her voice is soft but her laugh is shrill. What’s worse is that she can’t carry a tune to save her life. She’s utterly hopeless. But still, she insists on singing.
She swims every day she can. My grandfather plays the trumpet for her on the sidelines in his baseball cap and baggy Hawaiian shirt as she splices through the water in their cheerful pool. The chestnut tree casts a shadow the length of the pool but she reapplies her SPF 75 four times every hour.
When we were younger, we’d play all sorts of games. Cinderella involved a pair of tattered old heels and many attempts to jam it onto all of our feet. For awhile, when I was very young, Mother Eagle was my favorite game. We’d race around the yard to protect and feed our baby birds. We’d coax our sometimes-willing beautiful black, brown, and white mutt, Belle, into a nest of pool tubes, old towels, and flower petals as we threw sticks and wiffle balls to her. Belle just lay down and sighed. She was a good sport, though.
The first time she drank, my aunt was 18 and at the convent. The nuns were watching some godawful John Wayne movie. She thought the cheap wine would taste like ice cream. By the next morning, she realized that she had been sorely mistaken, as she nursed her killer hangover.
Belle knew two words: “walk” and “McDonalds.” Aunt Mary was relentless in providing her already bulging frame with juicy double cheeseburgers. Whenever my dad and mom would grumble about it, she would reply: “Well, she likes them. And she wants them. I can’t help that she expects them now.”
She introduced Danny and me to Starbucks. Enough said.
She’d rather speak to me than my father who jumps down her throat every time they talk about this. She doesn’t want to put her father, my grandfather, in a nursing home. She just couldn’t. I understand
When Danny was younger, she’d trick him into holding her ice cream cone as she licked up the drips. Danny watched, dumbfounded, perplexed, as his cone was gingerly handed back to him, half eaten.
She cried once… on the phone. The next day, I had convinced my father to fly down to Florida with me to see him one last time. He recovered that time but I know the cycle will continue. When we arrived, haggard and wide-eyed, she hugged me, held me for a minute and refused to let go. I waited awkwardly, but patiently.
Turquoise, teal, navy, seafoam, robin’s egg, periwinkle, royal… Blue is her signature color. Occasionally, some green and purple pop out like a black squirrel.
She wears necklaces with bejeweled and rhinestone crosses the size of a fist. They rest above her pale breastbone.
She loves the Beatles.
She prayed fervently when her favorite president died… the Irish-American one. One wall in the basement is devoted to him: it bears a framed portrait of a young Jack Kennedy. A wooden crucifix is placed tenderly above it.
Years ago, she attended a St. Patrick’s Day dinner with Grandpa. She was invited to the White House by her idol. That night, my grandfather was kissed by an angel (Roma Downey) and she met and laughed with her feminist partner in crime, Hilary Rodham Clinton. I can guarantee from that framed picture in her bedroom that they laughed a little too hysterically for me.
The stock market arguments waft into the dining room where I’m trying to read. They never agree but my dad and aunt will spend hours nitpicking stock and bond choices the other has made. Afterwards, they stand a little closer and smile more.
After our near-death experience on the Irish Sea, we lost our appetites (and our lunch). I was squeezed in between my grandmother and mom, both stridently vomiting into the bags that the sailor had passed out earlier. When my father asked if they’d ever experienced such bad turbulence, the sailor answered that he’d been on a boat ride like this… but never with passengers. He promptly ran to the side of the ship and puked into the gray water. I looked over at my brother, nestled comfortably beside my aunt and grandfather. He glanced up from his Gameboy at all the hung-over college kids struggling a few rows in front of him and smirked. He went right back to playing his game. My grandfather was panicking and my aunt calmed him by swiftly pulling out about ten rosaries and handing them to all the passengers near her. My dad looked over and rolled his eyes. He had taken the incapacitated sailor’s job of passing out bags to the sick. He was currently instructing one aforementioned college kid to open his unconscious friend’s mouth so that she wouldn’t choke to death on her own vomit. My aunt settled in, crossed herself, and started the rosary. Her little voice chirped, rattling off the Apostle’s Creed, Our Father, and the first three Hail Mary’s. Each word got louder and several strangers joined in. My aunt offered a few words of solace… something about dying together. My father whipped around, nostrils flaring. “Shut up, Mary! We’re not going to die! I’m not dying without Pat!” A Midwestern woman who my aunt had befriended was appalled and spoke up, “You can’t speak that way to a nun!” My dad glared at the lady and yelled, “I can say whatever I want to her… She’s my Goddamn sister!,” before storming out of the little cabin into the miserable rain. My aunt turned to the lady and smiled, oblivious to my father’s recent outburst; she said, “Oh no. Now, I’m a priest.” Three hours later, we arrived at the dirty port and stumbled onto dry land. My aunt said her goodbyes to her newfound friends and exchanged contact information. She walked over to the van and slid back the door. “They were lovely people. Sean, do you think we could stop at a McDonald’s? I could really go for some frozen yogurt.”