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Worldwide Magdala Celebrations Abound

At least 342 St. Mary of Magdala celebrations were held all over the world last Summer. Thirty-six were held outside the United States (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, England, Finland, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines and Zambia).

The theme, "End the Silencing of Catholic Women: Put Women Back in the Lectionary...and the Diaconate." was chosen with the knowledge that at present, women's voices are silenced in our churches. Stories of female biblical leaders are omitted or made optional in our lectionary. Women, indeed all lay people, have recently been forbidden to preach at Mass even though canon law allows it.

This year's prayer service developed by Joan Brausch and Emily Hotel-Hoag included time for women to preach their inspiring homilies and named women leaders from the ministry of Jesus and women leaders today. By using the prayer service, organizers educated those gathered about these women while inspiring them by their example.

Many individuals and groups make these celebrations possible each year. At least ten Call To Action chapters as well as groups from Dignity, Women's Ordination Conference, and Catholic Worker participated. The National Catholic Reporter covered the Cleveland celebration which appeared on its website on St. Mary of Magdala's actual feast day of July 22.

Here are highlights:

Zambia: We had evening prayer using the resources you kindly provided. I sent an Evening Prayer format to some of our communities. I did a short input and Morning Prayer on St Mary Magdala for the community radio.

Litchfield, NH: For our first celebration, a few members of our parish women's group met for discussion of the life of Mary of Magdala, then a prayer service adapted from your website. Most had never heard that Mary of Magdala was NOT a repentant prostitute.

Kansas City, KS: Our Mary Magdalene celebration was sensational. We honored six Orders of Sisters who work in and around Kansas City, and at least 60 of them attended.

Netherlands: We were pleasantly surprised, when the priest started Mass today with a very good summary of the information about First Millennium women deacons by Hans Wijngaards, which I had sent him. His comment: 'I had never known all that!' We sang two hymns I wrote myself and I preached a homily.

Fairbanks, AK: We had a Mass in a small parish 100 miles from Fairbanks. We had a shared, very powerful and moving homily celebrating the women who have gone before us and continue to inspire us. We stayed for dinner and made the long drive back to Fairbanks late in the evening. We have been blessed with many strong, faithful women who support each other in the struggle to be Church and to remain in the Church. We are all members of Call to Action Alaska.

McKinney, TX: Our celebration was one of the monthly meeting programs of a group of women who had made At Home Retreats with me in the past twenty years. We had lunch first, everyone contributing something to the meal. Then we used the material from "Celebrating Women Witnesses": A Prayer service for the feast of St. Mary of Magdala: Apostle of the Apostle. Lively discussion followed.

Gainesville, FL: We enjoyed a Mass celebrated in one of our beloved parishioner's home. Must have been seventy plus laywomen and men participating the glory of the Word and Eucharist celebrated in such a warm, beautiful environment

Vancouver, BC: We held a service at our home (Vancouver Catholic Worker) on July 22, 2011 and 10 people attended. We used the prayer service but included elements to honor the people of the unceded First Nations territory in which we live.

Hampton Bays, NY: We held a bilingual service and reception in our parish on the eve of the feast day (July 21). 50+ people attended. It was our first celebration. 

Spokane, WA: Our celebration was small this year but powerful as always. With only seven women in attendance we had plenty of time for prayer and ritual as well as conversation and fun! Thank you for the great resources!

Estero, FL: Judy Lee presided and highlighted the children, having them give readings. Twelve regular CTAers and thirty-three homeless/poor attended.

The energy and powerful witness of celebrators around the world continues! Although the celebrations took place in varied languages, with varied styles of prayer, in varied venues, they all honored the faithful women witnesses both of the early Church and of today and worked to End the Silencing of Catholic Women!

View photos from Mary of Magadala celebrations around the world

Focus on FutureChurch

Winter 2012


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