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St. Mary of Magdala Celebrations Inspire, Empower

Photos from St. Mary of Magdala Celebrations across the country

Highlights of the Cleveland celebration

“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 followed.

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 phrase.

The Catholic Worker in Vancouver, BC was one of many groups that used Edwina 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 and doubt.”

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.

Summer 2005



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