|Call Waiting: Five stories of women who want to be priests|
The Little Flower That Couldn't
Read about St. Therese of Lisieux's desire to become a priest.
Theresa Trujillo remembers the first time she learned she could not be a priest. As a little girl growing up in Pueblo, Colorado, she was playing "Mass" with hosts cut from tortillas when she proudly announced she was going to be a priest when she grew up. It was a non-Catholic neighbor who delivered the shocking news: "You can't do that; you're a girl."
But it wasn't until years later that the truth truly sunk in. While she was working for a retreat program in her 20s, a male friend confided during a weekend retreat that he was "going to be a father."
"I thought he was going to have a baby!" says Trujillo. "But then I realized he was going to go into the priesthood. I started crying, and he thought it was because I was happy for him. But I was really mourning. It was the first time I realized full-out that this is something I can never do."
Now 30, Trujillo is dealing with the issue of women's ordination much as she does with the other injustices she is dedicated to fighting. "I believe in a multiplicity of strategies," says Trujillo, whose pierced nose indicates something of a rebel streak. "You stall the system, build alternatives, and work to change the system. I feel doing all of those is helpful to me."
Trujillo was doing a little bit of all three at the School of the Americas protest last November at Fort Benning, Georgia, where she was interviewed for this article. As a mestiza of Mexican descent, she is deeply concerned about the treatment of indigenous peoples. Another priority is intercultural understanding, which she helps to facilitate in her work with groups of Americans and Canadians who visit the Cuernavaca Center for Intercultural Dialogue and Development in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
Living in Mexico has exposed Trujillo to women's leadership in small base communities, as well as given her an international perspective about women's ordination.
It is this "intersection of oppression" that she wants to focus on as a newly elected board member for the Women's Ordination Conference, a national advocacy organization founded in 1976 to promote equality of men and women in the Catholic Church and a renewed priestly ministry. "This is not a single issue for me," she says. "I can't go away into my own bubble and work on women's ordination and not work on other issues. It's all interconnected."
She is grateful that her family, whose deep faith first nurtured her own, continues to support her in her struggles with the institutional church. Trujillo recalls how at WOC's recent 25th anniversary celebration in Milwaukee, women who felt called to ordination were invited to stand. Her father saw her get out of her chair and later called her a "dangerous woman"--and he meant it as a compliment. "It was great; he really got it," she says with a tear in her eye. "But I will not only carry on the faith my parents and grandparents gave to me. I also feel a responsibility to name injustice in it and to work to change that."