The Church Ladies

Two St. Louis women will soon become ordained Catholic priests — and in a Jewish synagogue, no less.

Hudson and McGrath, like some of their Womenpriest predecessors, plan to open a new place of worship — "a faith community," they call it — with those very tenets in mind. The women will go by their first names to parishioners and will begin the "Lord's Prayer" with "Our Mother, Our Father." Masculine imagery such as "Kingdom" and "Master" will not be used and anyone, regardless of sexuality and marital status, is invited.

"My hope for the new priests, Elsie and Ree, is that they'll be a light for people who have not felt welcome, who have felt on the margins of the Roman Catholic Church," says Gerry Rauch, a St. Louis member of the WOC's board of directors. "Those who have divorced and remarried, or those who are gay and lesbian and transgendered."

The first service at Hudson's and McGrath's Thérèse of Divine Peace Inclusive Community will take place at the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis at 4:30 p.m. on December 1, and weekly thereafter.

Jennifer Silverberg
Everyoneís welcome in the new Catholic church started by McGrath (left) and Hudson.

Jane Via, a Kirkwood native who now lives in San Diego, where she presides over the largest Womanpriest church in the U.S., is keeping Hudson and McGrath in her thoughts. Via is on "interdict" from her local archdiocese, a form of censure that prevents her from taking Communion in a Catholic church, among other things. Her "case" has also been referred to Rome for possible further punishment.

Via's advice to Hudson and McGrath: "Be faithful to the vision of a renewed priestly ministry at all costs, whatever the cost may be."

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