A Catholic Ordination

the author wearing a priestly stoleLast month I was invited to participate in my friend’s ordination to become a Catholic priest through the Roman Catholic Womenpriests. I was asked to participate as a “member of clergy of other faiths.” We were asked to wear our clergy garb, but being Mormon I don’t have garb, so I wore my Beehive, Miamaid, Laurel, and YW Recognition Award Medallions and a CTR ring. One of the other priests let me borrow her stole.

Red is the color for ordination and the stoles and decor were all red.

The ceremony opened with a hymn called “The Summons” and is God asking if you’re willing to follow and grow with God and the last stanza is the answer. As the hymn was sung, all the clergy people walked up toward the front, bowed to the altar, and then sat down. I was a part of this procession. I share The Summons lyrics because they touched me and had me teary even before things got started.

The Summons by John Bell

Will you come and follow Me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let My love be shown? Will you let My name be known?
Will you let My life be grown in you and you in Me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?
Will you let Me answer prayer in you and you in Me?

Will you love the “you” you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around,
through My sight and touch and sound in you and you in Me?

God, Your summons echoes true when You but call my name.
Let me turn and follow You and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in You and You in me.

After the procession the program followed like this:

  1. Greeting- presiding bishop welcome everyone.
  2. Presentation- the candidate for ordination comes forward and declares she is ready for ordination. Others speak on behalf of her worthiness.
  3. Opening Prayer
  4. Liturgy of the Word- Various people read readings from the Old and New Testaments.
  5. Ordination Rite- a short prayer followed by a song/chant to invoke the Holy Spirit in the candidate for ordination
  6. Examination- This is where the candidate is asked her vows and promises to consecrate her life to God. I was asked to be part of the Examination and asked,”Are you resolved to fulfill the office of priest as a faithful worker who supports and serves the people of God?” to which she replied, “I am.”Liturgy of Saints
  7. Litany of the Saints- a long prayer/song listing all the saints to pray for us. During the song, the candidate for priesthood lays prostrate on a cloth on the ground. I believe it is to show humility to God and the community she’ll serve. She requested an extra stanza of  names of deceased family members and activists. That ended in the line “All holy unsung women, All you holy people, pray for us.”
  8. Laying on of Hands- the bishops lay hands on the candidate, moment of silence. Then everyone in the community lines up and goes to the candidate to similarly lay hands on the candidate. I had the privilege of doing this.
  9. Prayer of Consecration- The bishops then say the pray/words to bless the candidate to be a priest.
  10. Investiture- the candidate’s deacon stole is removed and she is dressed in the chasuble and stole of a priest.
  11. Anointing of Hands- The bishops anoint the candidate’s hands in preparation for ministry. Afterwards, the candidate is declared a priest.
  12. Procession of Gifts- the new priest receives a large bread plate, a carafe of wine and of grape juice for the comunion.
  13. Presentation of the Chalice and Paten- The bishops hand the new priest bread and wine for the communion.
  14. Offering of the Gifts- The bread and wine are blessed.
  15. Eucharistic Prayer
  16. The Prayer of Jesus (what we’d know as the Lord’s Prayer, but they started it with “Our Father, Our Mother in heaven”)
  17. Sign of Peace- bread is broken and wine poured to multiple chalices.
  18. Communion- The new priest (and other priests present) give the congregation communion. There is a communion hymn. When it is over the altar is cleared and there is a quiet moment.
  19. Prayer after Communion.
  20. Announcements
  21. Blessing- The new priest blesses the bishops who just ordained her.
  22. Closing Hymn and Recessional

Catholic ceremonies are long, but it was also so beautiful. It made me think a lot about what a “calling” is and my own life calling. Right now in the Mormon world I am “called” to be the Primary pianist. But is that really my “calling” in life? No. Do I know what my life calling is? I believe so, but I’m not at a stage in my life where I can pursue it yet. It’ll probably be another decade or so before I really can.

I thought about the beginning of the ordination- with people vouching for her her worthiness and the examination/vows and then lying prostrate during the Liturgy of the Saints. It felt so meaningful to watch her make her promises and then display her humility before God and all the witnesses there.

Also I was just so honored to participate. With all the words the LDS Church leaders say to claim everyone with a calling has access to “priesthood authority” there really is no action. But at my friend’s ordination I was greeted with a community who understands how much of my life and devotion I’ve given to my faith and accepted and recognized me as a person with authority. I am so grateful my friend gave me a place in her Catholic ordination all while knowing I’ll have no place in anyone’s ordination in my own Mormon family.


TopHat is putting her roots down in the Bay Area with her husband and three children. She loves the earth, yarn, and bicycling.

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9 Responses

  1. Wendy says:

    The end of your piece gave me chills. It sounds like such a moving experience tinged with sadness at the grief of what the LDS Church doesn’t provide women.

    I see you and honor your service and leadership in your faith community, TopHat. Your activism for the marginalized on this blog and elsewhere—especially the LGBTQIA+ community and trans women—is holy work. You deserve to be applauded and recognized. As do all women who serve in the church. Thank you for sharing what sounds like a sacred experience.

  2. What a beautiful experience!

  3. Maura says:

    Was this a Roman Catholic Church?
    I didn’t know they were ordaining women.
    I grew up RC, now LDS

  4. AdelaHope says:

    Tophat, I found this so meaningful and touching. I think I’ll be coming back to read your post again and again.

    Thank you for sharing <3 I also have *feelings* about my ambivalent priesthood status, and in light of all that surrounds Mormon priesthood/priestesshood/clergy, it sounds right that they acknowledged you as a clergy person.

  5. Karen Rosenbaum says:

    Loved this!

  6. Marilyn Hawes says:


  7. Caroline says:

    This is so awesome! I have read about Catholic Womenpriests, but I’ve never met any or been to an event. What a terrific experience.

  8. Just came across this again. I love your photo with your Mormon clergy garb!

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