The Jesuit Urban Center had planned a Nov. 17 ceremony to bestow its annual Imago Deo -- image of God -- award on Sister Jeannette T. Normandin, a member of the Sisters of Saint Anne well-known in Boston for work with women who are incarcerated, homeless or living with AIDS.
But last week the center fired Normandin and told her she could no longer live there because she helped baptize two children with the Rev. George Winchester. Winchester was also stripped of his duties and told to leave the center.
The Oct. 22 baptismal ceremony, held for the adopted sons of two gay couples, violated church rules that permit only ordained ministers to perform baptisms, except in cases of emergency.
Church officials said Normandin, who believes women should be admitted to the priesthood, wanted to make a political statement by participating 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 trying to make a statement. We were baptizing the two babies, and I blessed a baby with some chrism (oil). I didn't know it was a no-no."
The center's director, the Rev. Thomas Carroll, denied speculation the award had been taken from Normandin, and said the ceremony had been delayed until next spring "simply to have the event in a peaceful time."
Normandin said she was not disappointed by the center's decision to delay the award ceremony.
"I think it might give us some time to settle down," she said.