Why I Still Call Myself Catholic

It’s the question I get more than any other: Do you still consider yourself a Catholic?

It’s the critique I most frequently receive on this blog site: Just leave the church if you’re so unhappy.

Spending seven years at a Protestant divinity school, first as a student and later as an employee, enriched and expanded my understanding of what it means to be Catholic. Before arriving at graduate school, I grew up on Long Island in an Italian Catholic family that rarely went to church. Though I went to religious instruction, received the sacraments with the rest of the girls and boys, and attended church on the big feast days, the influence of the institutional church (involvement in parish life, connections with priests and nuns) was distant at best.


The Church Outside the Walls

I first felt called to the priesthood at the age of 13. It was my first Holy Thursday liturgy. And at that moment, at the close of the liturgy, when the “Pange Lingua” is chanted and every fragment of the Eucharist is carried outside of the church, I experienced something that was both irresistible and quite scary.

I wasn’t sure what I was feeling, but I felt compelled to dedicate my life to whatever was unfolding before me.


The Grace of Living on the Margins

For more than 15 years now, I’ve felt starved by the Roman Catholic authorities. But lately I wonder if they haven’t done me a favor.

Since the age of 14, I have felt called to the priesthood. The only real opportunity I’ve been given to discern this call was through my studies for my master of divinity degree (at a Protestant divinity school, of course).

Perhaps it was the insurmountable heights of the ivory tower’s walls or the unshakable hope of feminist theology that clouded my judgment, but it wasn’t until graduation that I realized that an openly lesbian, unapologetically liberal Catholic woman with a M.Div. had somewhat limited career possibilities.

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