Freedom To Serve

St James shellI was chatting with my bridge partner before our game the other night. It’s always an interesting conversation when I explain my ministry/work/clerical status in the Church. My careful discernment of three decades ago has led me to where I am today: a married lay person serving in ministry. That’s largely satisfying, though I have been poked by the occasional priest about the permanent diaconate. Strangely, the last two of the last three of those were seminarian directors.

I was reading Bishop Lynch’s reflections on women deacons here. In recollecting his interactions with female theologians, his point is:

What Margaret Brennan and Genevieve Weber contributed was probably far greater than if they had been ordained. They sure had more freedom to lead.

My own perspective is a greater freedom to serve. I never found a particular welcome in my home diocese of long ago. That would have been different, I suppose, if I had been ordained. But then the welcome would be for the office, not the man. Is that a characteristic of freedom?

While I now have a responsibility for a family, I do not find that hampers my authentic freedom. Not being tied to a particular bishop or diocese, I have the freedom to go where I can serve a parish best and provide for the well-being of a wife and daughter.

The best explanation I have for my non-Catholic friends is to say I’m something of a free agent. The spiritual term would be “pilgrim.” And there is indeed a great freedom in that.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Freedom To Serve

  1. Liam says:

    I identify with Hebrews 11:13-16. I call it Abraham & Sarah Spirituality.

    It means that our natural desire to find a “home” in our church community is not something to which we are all called to fulfill; indeed, many of us may be called *not* to find such a home for long periods in our lives.

    It’s interesting to me that, because Americans are such a transient people, one would think this spirituality might make more “sense” to us; instead, we are acculturated (by consumer capitalism) to expect nearly immediate gratification, and get restless when we don’t find an immediate sense of “home” in our church communities.

    • Liam says:


      13 All these died in faith. They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth,l
      14 for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland.
      15 If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, they would have had opportunity to return.
      16 But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them

      (New American Bible translation)

  2. charlesincenca says:

    Todd, we are again and frightfully in absolute agreement regarding “status.”

  3. Patti says:

    You were always more of a spiritual bent and it was largely a parish of social workers. Both valuable, but one is introspective and the other less so; sometimes a difficult marriage.

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