Twenty-five years ago, had anyone told me that I would become a member of a Church that didn’t ordain women, I would have laughed. I was Lutheran and interested in becoming a pastor. During my senior year in college, I shared these hopes with our college pastor who laid out the long path toward ordination. Realizing that starting a family was more important at that time of my life I postponed the pursuit of ordained ministry.
In 1995 I was invited to interview for the choral director position at The Basilica. The invitation didn’t come as a complete surprise. I had just conducted choirs of The Basilica, Temple Israel, and the College of Saint Benedict in an oratorio commissioned by The Basilica: Uvacharta Bachayim: Choose Life by Mona Lyn Reese. I was surprised though when this important Catholic church offered me, a Lutheran, the job.
Four years later I became Catholic. This wasn’t a big leap. The Lutheran Church in which I grew up taught me the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. So, with Johan as my sponsor and the choir watching through the grates of the sanctuary I was confirmed on April 11, 1998. I truly felt I had come home despite the unsettling fact that the old hope of becoming a pastor was still very much alive.
These past 20 years have not always been easy. I have been called a “turncoat.” I have wondered if I am a hypocrite? Why am I in a Church that doesn’t ordain women? I have indeed wrestled with the decision to remain.
Though tremendously important to me, I can’t claim that the Cathedral Choir and Choristers or the opportunity to make music in our glorious space are the primary reasons I stay. I also don’t stay because of humans, ordained or not. Human endeavors will fail. Humans themselves fail and sin as we have seen in the heart-breaking abuse cases. If I had put my faith in humans I would have left long ago.
Rather, the Eucharist, sharing in the mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ is the primary reason I stay. I love being part of a Church that has a mystery we struggle to comprehend at its center: the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is something that is so much greater than ourselves and yet one with ourselves.
Blessedly, I have also been afforded the opportunity to be a pastor of sorts in this Catholic parish. My beloved choir members recognize this. And I am truly blessed to serve them. I also help to form the faith of many children. I have presided at Stations of the Cross, Morning, Midday, and Evening prayer. This has certainly fed my pastoral sense. I cherish these opportunities and am grateful for them.
I may not agree with everything the Catholic Church stands for and I will continue to question and struggle. But I will do so coming to the table with all of you to remember who we are—beloved children of God, the Body of Christ.