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Magdala Celebrations Inspire, Encourage

Woman leader presides at parish celebration Woman leader presides at parish celebration

2012 was a great year for the Mary of Magdala celebrations.  This year’s nearly 400 services focused not only on the witness and history of St. Mary of Magdala but on the history of women leaders in the Catholic Church and advocating for a return to the tradition of ordaining women deacons.

In over 16 countries thousands gathered for prayer services, films, formal and informal presentations, discussion groups, meals and even traditional sung Vespers.  The celebrations ranged from a few friends meeting in a home to hundreds gathered in their parish church.  Working to “End the Silencing of Catholic Women,” Catholics in the United States joined their voices with those in Australia, Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, England, India, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Scotland, Singapore, Uganda and Zambia.

Many chose to celebrate the prophetic witness of women religious in the tradition of Mary of Magdala. Prayer resources encouraging support for U.S. nuns were adapted from the 2010 Magdala Celebration and posted to FutureChurch.org and NunJustice.org.

Hundreds of individuals and groups make these celebrations possible each year. At least ten Call To Action, four Dignity, and two Pax Christi chapters, as well as groups from Voice of the Faithful, Women’s Ordination Conference, and Catholic Worker organized services. The National Catholic Reporter covered the Cleveland celebration which appeared on its website on July 24th.

Here are a Few Highlights:

Albany, NY July 23 Over 80 people were in attendance and participated in the 2012 Mary of Magdala celebration in honor of women’s roles in the Church. MaryAnn Louison of Amsterdam presented a moving homily. CTA of NYS Capital District sponsored the celebration. Pictures and video are available at http://www.cta-nys.org/.  The “Table of Honor” was full of artifacts brought by members and friends. These held special spiritual significance to individuals who shared their stories by writing information on cards placed next to each one.

Cincinnati, OH July 22 Sisters of many area Congregations, along with Associates and friends gathered in the Motherhouse Chapel on July 22 for a prayer service honoring Mary of Magdala, known as “Apostle to the Apostles” for her witness and fidelity. Sister of Charity Mary Ann Flannery, director of the Jesuit Retreat House in Cleveland, Ohio, was the reflector. This, the 16th year of the event, celebrated the prophetic witness of women religious. Each Sister present was given a long-stemmed rose during the service as an expression of affection and encouragement.

Colombia, South America July 18, 22, and 24 Catholics and other Christians gathered at three ecumenical celebrations of the feast day, one held in Soacha on July 18, one in Bogota on July 22 and the last in Cali on July 24.

Corona, CA July 21 The St Mary Magdalene Catholic Community sponsored a family focused day at the El Cerrito Sports Park for their third celebration of the feastday. 175 people gathered for a bilingual service, followed by children’s games and refreshments. Utilizing materials provided by FutureChurch, the community sought to shed light on the historical Mary of Magdala.

Parish book group organizes prayer service Parish book group organizes prayer service

Gainesville, FL July 23 A Prayer Service Celebrating the Feast of St. Mary of Magdala and Honoring Our Women Religious was held at St. Augustine’s Parish and Catholic Student Center in Gainesville. Seventy-five people gathered to hear about Mary Magdalene as a model witness for consecrated religious women and featured names of many sisters who have ministered in the Gainesville area and at the Student Center.  This Twelfth Annual Mary Magdala Celebration was organized by the members of the St. Augustine’s Women’s Book Group. The Gainesville Sun published a feature article about the event.

Hampton Bays, NY August 22  Over 100 participants gathered at St. Rosalie’s Parish Center for a bilingual service celebrating women religious. Several sisters were involved, with three offering reflections on the gospel and nine others speaking about their lifetime of ministry. Each received a kiss and flower, and plenty of applause! Highlighting the giftedness of the next generation, a “small girls” choir of 6-8 year olds led the assembly in song.

Manhattan sand ritual Manhattan sand ritual

Manhattan, NY On July 20, a moving celebration was held in the main sanctuary of our parish.. The service concentrated on “naming” the negative and positive images/names given to women in the Gospels. During the first ritual each wrote a negative name in sand, received an embrace from another person, then wiped the word away.  The second ritual involved inscribing our true name on a nametag and what the positive “I am” is, relating it to God = I AM.  One speaker spoke of healing from negative names he had been called as a boy and young gay adult. The second speaker was a wise nun who spoke about Vatican II, the positive work of nuns with the marginalized and issues around LCWR. People were very moved by the service.

Fr. Tim welcomes parishioners to a Memphis prayer service Fr. Tim welcomes parishioners to a Memphis prayer service

Memphis, TN July 21-22 On Saturday, July 21, thirty-nine women and men participated in a prayer service and luncheon honoring Catholic sisters who have faithfully given their lives to serve Christ and his people. The eleven sisters in attendance gave witness talks that provided an opportunity to appreciate the work God is doing through them. On Sunday, July 22, the film “Women & Spirit” was shown after all Masses.

New York, NY July 21 This year a small prayer group that meets regularly to chant Vespers in Latin in Gregorian chant decided to be a part of FutureChurch’s Mary Magdalene observance. Praying in a private home and using their own more traditional materials, their service testified to their awareness of history and their concern for the  future of women in the Church. Their service gave a unique witness praying in a private home and using their own more traditional materials.

More highlights are available at www.futurechurch.org.

Focus on FutureChurch

Winter 2013


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