The Image of Christ

I haven’t posted for awhile. Duh–Obviously! It’s because I’ve been grieving the loss of a very close friend. Mary Ann Schoettly RCWP (Roman Catholic Womanpriest) entered into eternal life this past summer from a sudden devastating illness.  Recently Mike Corso, her co-pastor of SOPHIA, the Inclusive Catholic Community she started, asked us to write letters of remembrance for her, well actually to her or to the Divinity about her. So here’s mine.

mary-ann-schoettly-priestSLDear Mary Ann,

How does one begin to describe the impact of such a beautiful woman as you on the lives of all those who knew you and even those who didn’t? My words won’t nearly do you the justice you deserve.

Voice of the Faithful NJ brought you into my life, as you were often the presider for our liturgies. Your inclusive approach to language and liturgy was an inspiration to us all. Your gentle yet resolved spirit challenged the injustice and inequality of the Roman Church and encouraged us to seek Jesus first in our hearts because by his word we are “made worthy” to be the Body of Christ.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have felt a calling to the priesthood. Of course I was told over and over again that this could never be because I was female. To me this was and is absurd because a woman brought Jesus into the world. Because Jesus was male I was told that only men could image him. Then I met you.  I have never met a more perfect reflection of Jesus.  You radiated the Holy Spirit. You absolutely glowed with the love of God for all humanity.

When I told you of my ‘calling’ at our lunch together, you were so supportive and encouraging. You even insisted upon picking up the tab!  On one occasion when we were reflecting on theology of the new cosmology I spoke of how I could understand God in scientific terms but couldn’t necessarily put it into words.  As a science teacher, your blue eyes grew large and bright.  You responded as you nodded your head in agreement, “You just know!”

Mary Ann, you ’just knew’ so much!  You knew justice and equality. You knew the pain of rejection by the Church you cherished but ultimate love and acceptance in the Faith you practiced. You knew dedication to a calling you could not ignore. You knew compassion and mercy. You knew something had to be done to reach out to alienated Catholics and all those searching for a welcoming inclusive community.  And you and Mike Corso made that happen in Sparta. Then you recognized a need in Morristown so you extended your love there as well.

Mary Ann, you knew the love of family, friends and followers. You were the image of Christ not only when you presided at liturgies but in your everyday kindnesses, outreach to and acceptance of everyone who crossed your path. You acknowledged and affirmed everyone’s unique gifts. Your righteous indignation focused on institutions and attitudes not people.

I and countless others are privileged to have known you, Mary Ann. You remain for us the image of Christ. It is now up to us to reflect that image to the world.

The words from Holy Woman say it so much better than I:

Holy Woman, holy woman of God
Holy woman, holy woman, you are love
We surrender in this moment and remember all we are
Holy woman, holy woman of God

Holy Woman, holy woman of God
Holy woman, holy woman, you are grace
We surrender in this moment and remember all we are
Holy woman, holy woman of God

Holy Woman, holy woman of God
Holy woman, holy woman, you are light
We surrender in this moment and remember all we are
Holy woman, holy woman of God

Holy Woman, holy woman of God
Holy woman, holy woman, you are peace
We surrender in this moment and remember all we are
Holy woman, holy woman of God

(words & music by Sydney Salt)

In Eternal Peace and Love,

mary

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