The Jesuit Urban Center had planned a Nov. 17 ceremony to bestowits annual Imago Deo -- image of God -- award on Sister Jeannette T.Normandin, a member of the Sisters of Saint Anne well-known in Bostonfor work with women who are incarcerated, homeless or living with AIDS.
But last week the center fired Normandin and told her she could nolonger live there because she helped baptize two children with the Rev.George Winchester. Winchester was also stripped of his duties and toldto leave the center.
The Oct. 22 baptismal ceremony, held for the adopted sons of two gaycouples, violated church rules that permit only ordained ministers toperform baptisms, except in cases of emergency.
Church officials said Normandin, who believes women should beadmitted to the priesthood, wanted to make a political statement byparticipating in the baptism.
But Normandin, an 11-year veteran of the center's pastoral staff,denied the charges.
"It was quite innocent," she told the Boston Globe. "I wasn't tryingto make a statement. We were baptizing the two babies, and I blessed ababy with some chrism (oil). I didn't know it was a no-no."
The center's director, the Rev. Thomas Carroll, denied speculationthe award had been taken from Normandin, and said the ceremony had beendelayed until next spring "simply to have the event in a peaceful time."
Normandin said she was not disappointed by the center's decision todelay the award ceremony.
"I think it might give us some time to settle down," she said.