St. Mary of Magdala Celebrations Inspire, Empower
“I grew up in a Catholic community and I loved it, but
I always felt like parts of the story were missing and no one would
tell me … Thank you for telling me,” wrote a grateful
woman who was one of about 120 who attended a St. Mary of Magdala
celebration in the Bronx, New York. Despite a record heat wave,
many traveled by public transportation to this afternoon event
cosponsored by the Sisters of Charity of NY and the Elizabeth Seton
women’s center. Arline Flaherty OP spoke on “Women
and the Body of God” and table sharing, prayer and refreshments
The Bronx event is just one of nearly 300 special celebrations
convened by women (and a few men!) working to transform patriarchal
understandings of God, scripture,
women’s leadership in the Church, and especially Mary of Magdala! Many
celebrations like CTA Columbus’ Woman, Why Are You Weeping? featured educational
sessions on women in the early Church and women’s roles today.
Creativity abounded with dramatic readings, vignettes in costume,
choral readings, liturgical dances, special food and special
music. While many celebrations occurred
in Catholic parishes, other venues ranged from retreat houses, to the Knights
of Columbus Hall, to private homes, to the sidewalk in front of the New Orleans
Seminary where 30 New Orleans CTA’ers gathered in front of the beautiful
sculpture of Jesus and the Samaritan women.
Several other celebrations were held “in the garden” highlighting
the verdant setting of Mary’s first encounter with the risen Christ. Notre
Dame de Lourdes parishioners in Skowhegan, Maine served “Magdalena cake,” and
French “madeleine” pastries at their program in Coburn Park. Food
from the Holy Land was served at the CTA Iowa event and a “Garden Celebration
and Supper” was one of CTA New Mexico’s two featured celebrations,
the other being a “‘St. Mary of Magdala speaks for herself” drama
in Chautauqua-style with music, prayer and commentary.”
In Napierville, IL, St. Thomas the Apostle parishioners Jana Minor
along with Bob and Jean Scanlan raised $1000 for projects serving
women at St. Mary of Magdala
parish in Haiti, their sister parish. They also celebrated Mary of Magdala as
a truth teller and invited each person to name their truth in a simple word or
The Catholic Worker in Vancouver, BC was one of many groups that
Gateley’s powerful “Soul Sisters.” They wrote: “We see
so much of the wreckage of women’s lives. Reading the choral prayer aloud
was like having finally found someone who understood all the pain, suffering
Twenty-two peace and justice groups in Cincinnati celebrated at Bellarmine chapel
on the Xavier University campus. Cosponsors included the Archdiocese
of Cincinnati Office of
Religious as well many communities of women religious, Catholic parishes and
CTA of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
Parishioners at St. Elizabeth Parish in Wyckoff, New Jersey have
been using our Celebrating Women Witnesses resources regularly
each month attracting between
60 and 70 people at a time. Their celebration with about 90 people featured with
Dr. Kieran Scott as a homilist.
Goshen, Indiana feasted at a carry-in salad dinner and then heard
presenters from the Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Goshen College
and Manchester College speak
about the canonical gospels, extracanonical writings, and the DaVinci Code.
As always FutureChurch members and Call To Action chapters spearheaded
the celebrations, two thirds of which were held in Catholic venues
such as parishes, schools, retreat
centers and convents.
Twenty-four CTA chapters and cooperating organizations either had
their own events or cosponsored with peace and justice groups
such as Dignity, Pax Christi and
others. There were thirteen ecumenical events and three Episcopal celebrations.
Media included a cover story and opinion piece in the National
Catholic Reporter and articles in the Atlanta Journal Constitution,
The Saginaw News, Saginaw Catholic
Weekly, West Tennessee Catholic, the Las Cruces Sun-News, The Napierville Daily
Herald, the Buffalo News, The Wichita Eagle and the Western New York Catholic.
Space doesn’t permit a description of all events but you can click
here for a pictorial overview.