As most of you know, following nearly three years of community discernment, there is now a gender-neutral process for credentialing presiders for our sacramental needs. I, along with the Board of Directors and the Liturgy Committee, am pleased to announce that on Sunday, February 19, Rev. Ann Penick, a Roman Catholic Woman Priest, will preside at the regular Dignity/Washington Sunday Mass at 6:00 PM at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church.
Starting in 1986, the hierarchical Roman Catholic Church forbade facultied priests from presiding at Masses for all
DignityUSA chapters. Since then, as a people in exile, local groups have discerned an expanded understanding of the
priesthood in order that they might continue to be nourished by the grace of the sacraments. In that way, Dignity/Washington has welcomed Roman Catholic priests as presiders who are gay, straight, with and without faculties, laicized, single and coupled, and on leave from official religious duties. It is the calling to a vocation, a high degree of training, and a loyalty to the Roman Catholic tradition that have been paramount. We have been blessed with many presiders who realized their calling to bring Christ to our congregation, which we know is in need of his grace.
At this time, Dignity/Washington has determined a call to welcome presiders in a manner not based on gender discrimination. The process began, following the aforementioned discernment activity, with a committee of twelve members drafting a gender-neutral credentialing document, overseen by the Liturgy Committee, and approved by the Dignity/Washington Board of Directors in June 2015. Subsequently, three priests’ training, experience, ordination
status, and commitment to the best of our Roman Catholic tradition, have been reviewed and approved – including Rev. Ann Penick. Following the Mass on February 19, Rev. Ann will join the normal rotation of presiders who bring
the Eucharist to the congregation on a regular basis.
To some in our community, this is a long overdue act of justice; to others, it is a fearful time of moving even further away from our Roman Catholic roots. Wherever you stand, or however you feel, let me say that much more unites us-as LGBTQ-identifying people of faith – than divides us. We are a community with a rich history; a community that is rooted in supporting each other when others would not, and we should not let our different ideas about church keep us from being kind and generous allies to one another. We want to celebrate ALL of our new presiders, but not in a boastful way. We will move forward, but I hope not without all of the members whose diversity – whether in thought
or appearance – makes us such an excellent image of the Body of Christ.
If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to myself or Jeff Vomund, Chair of the Liturgy
May God bless you,