|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.
Life has not always turned out the way Mary Ruth Broz thought it would. When she first entered the Sisters of Mercy, she wore a full habit and taught eighth graders. The young nun certainly never imagined herself as a spiritual director running a center of feminine spirituality.
But for years Broz was sure she would be among the first women to be ordained Catholic priests. In the years right after the Second Vatican Council, many women entered seminaries with an eye toward preparing for the eventual ordination of women. Broz was one of them, beginning work on a master's of divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago in 1975.
"Those were very exciting times," she remembers. "The winds were blowing and change was in the air. At the time, I really believed the ordination of women was coming, definitely within the next 20 years. I thought I would be in one of the first groups."
She and the other women in her class did everything required of the Jesuit seminarians. But when graduation time came, they were in the pews at ordination. "It was one thing to know in your head that you won't be ordained, but sitting there I felt a lot of hurt and disillusionment with the church I love," she recalls.
Vocation is not a foreign concept to the 56-year-old Broz, who entered religious life after being taught by Sisters of Mercy in college. "I've always felt called to helping people make connections between their ordinary lives and where God is in the midst of them," she says.
That's exactly what she was doing as director of novices for her order when she began to realize she was being called to the priesthood. "Most of my work was in the area of faith development in people's lives. It just seemed natural to want the sacraments to be a part of it," she says.
But after 25 years, Broz has worked through much of the hurt and disappointment. "It didn't feel right to let this destroy me," she says. "I have to keep remembering that this is all part of the spiritual journey."
And she definitely believes God is working through the pain and confusion. "I believe I'm just where I need to be," she says. "It may be that the way I'm doing ministry now is preparing a path for others to continue believing in and honoring their call. When the pope comes out with his statements, he's honoring what he hears. We all have to honor our calls. God works in the midst of both."
Yet Broz still waits for the day women will be ordained. Even more, she prays for a renewed priesthood that is more inclusive and less hierarchical.
"I believe women will be ordained. However it happens, they will," she says. "Scripture says if a call doesn't go away, it's truly from God. All I know is that the call hasn't gone away."