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Anne Tropeano takes a moment to pray Friday before people arrive for the rehearsal for her ordination ceremony at the Cathedral of St. John in Albuquerque. Tropeano will be ordained Saturday as a Catholic priest, then automatically excommunicated from the Church.

Anne Tropeano is set to be ordained Saturday as a Catholic priest, then automatically excommunicated from the Church.

Tropeano, a 47-year-old grants manager with the United Way of Central New Mexico, insists she has been called by God to the priesthood.

She said this week her planned act stems from frustration with the sexism of the Catholic Church but not from a desire to damage the institution. Tropeano said it’s not a stunt — that she wants to shed light on the question of women’s ordination, spur conversation and ultimately reform the Church.

“This is the road that God is asking me to take — to be a reformer,” she said in a phone interview.

Nearly 250 women have been illicitly ordained as Catholic priests since 2002, and there has been a growing push for women in the priesthood over the past 20 years, the Women’s Ordination Conference in Washington, D.C., said. Nevertheless, popes past and present oppose the movement.

Pope Benedict XVI called more than 10 years ago for automatic excommunication of both women who are ordained and the bishops who oversee the ceremonies. Excommunication means a person is no longer in communion with the Church and basically represents expulsion.

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Anne Tropeano walks down the aisle towards the altar Friday during the rehearsal for her ordination ceremony at the Cathedral of St. John in Albuquerque. On Saturday, Tropeano will be ordained as a Catholic priest, then automatically excommunicated from the Church.

Pope Francis recently backed Benedict’s ruling, although he does have a commission analyzing the role of female deacons.

Kate McElwee, executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference, said questions about the topic of women’s ordination have been around a long time. “And there’s a growing grassroots movement and a more vocal movement,” said McElwee, who plans to attend Tropeano’s ceremony.

The ordination is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Cathedral of St. John, an Episcopal cathedral in Albuquerque. Tropeano’s website states “all are welcome” at the event. Bridget Mary Meehan, a female priest from Florida, will oversee the ceremony. Meehan is the first member of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests to be called a bishop.

Tropeano said she has attended two retreats put on for lay people by Archbishop John Wester of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and admires him.

“I want to have a dialogue with Archbishop Wester,” she said. “He’s just, like, the real deal. He’s a good, good holy man. Maybe eventually we’ll talk. It’s really up to him.”

The Rev. Glenn Jones, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, said through an email that Pope Paul VI noted in 1976 that Jesus chose only men as apostles. The Catholic Church, in part out of respect for that example, doesn’t consider itself authorized to admit women to the priesthood, the pope said.

Jones wrote, “Thus, the Roman Catholic Church does not see attempted ordination of women as valid and, indeed, is an excommunicable action.”

Tropeano already goes by the name “Father Anne.” Her Gmail handle is “vaticanreject.” One of the photos on her website shows her in a clerical collar, throwing a karate kick at the camera.

She is far from grave and chats cheerfully. She said she had a boyfriend for 12 years and managed a rock band for five years, but those activities were from a different era. She discovered New Mexico while touring with that band, called TapWater, and moved to Albuquerque three years ago because she loves the area, she said.

“She’s such a go-getter,” said Melissa Fox, her boss with the United Way based in Albuquerque. Fox said she didn’t think Tropeano’s activism in the Catholic Church would pose a challenge for the United Way, “because she’s so well respected.”

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Anne Tropeano and the Rev. Mary Theresa Streck do a walk-through Friday during rehearsal for Tropeano’s ordination ceremony at the Cathedral of St John. On Saturday, Tropeano will be ordained as a Catholic priest, then automatically excommunicated from the church.

Although baptized a Catholic, Tropeano didn’t practice the faith early in her life. She was gradually drawn to it starting about 14 years ago while living in San Diego and later Portland, Ore. She began attending Catholic churches, then assisting them, then served as a pastoral administrator, helping run the business of parishes in Portland and Tacoma, Wash.



She attended the Jesuit School of Theology in California and received a master’s degree in divinity four years ago. The Jesuits, a Catholic order known for educational endeavors, taught her how to pray, helped her “see the meaning of life” and enabled her to “develop a spiritual practice that has led to a deep relationship with God,” she said.

“Yes, the Church is sexist, and obviously it has a lot of problems,” she said. Women who are ordained as Catholic priests are excommunicated, she said, while priests who have sexually abused children lose their jobs but typically aren’t excommunicated.

Still, she said, “It’s also the beautiful institution that is on fire with God’s love.”

Videos on her website, fatheranne.com, show her delivering short homilies in gray and black apparel and a priest’s white collar. She typically wears big glasses in the videos and has a natural delivery.

“God has given me that gift,” she said.

In one video, she says: “Our patriarchal societies across the world still suffer from the idea — the big lie — that maleness is superior, more competent, more gifted and women are to be sexual playthings, disposable.”

Tom Kelly, professor of systematic theology at Creighton University, a Jesuit institution in Omaha, Neb., said the Church is divided between those who want to maintain the status quo and those “who say if you don’t change, you die.”

Kelly, a Catholic, said Pope Francis has commissioned a group to examine the history of female deacons in the Church. Deacons aren’t priests, but attaining deacon status often is a step toward becoming a priest.

Kelly said that in Latin America, where there aren’t enough priests to meet demand, female lay ministers wear robes, give homilies and oversee baptisms and funerals.

“I see no theological reason why women cannot be ordained,” Kelly said. “I think it’s a disservice to the Church and a disservice to women to not allow them to take their full place, personally.”

The Rev. Kristi Koppel of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Albuquerque said the Lutherans have mixed views of women’s ordination. The Evangelical Lutheran Church ordains them, while the Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Synod of the Lutheran Church do not. Koppel’s church will host a Mass overseen by Tropeano at 1 p.m. Sunday.

“She’s going to shake and move the Catholic Church — I hope,” Koppel said of Tropeano. “We’re excited to collaborate with Father Anne and invite the spirit to continue to guide the Church into what it should be.”

Many other denominations allow women to lead, but Tropeano said she didn’t want to convert to one of those.

“None of us do it lightly,” she said of the women who seek Catholic ordination.

Acquaintances have distanced themselves from her, she said. And online, “People feel entitled to message me and call me a false prophet and tell me I’m the devil.”

Tropeano said for many years she has felt called by God to become a priest. She said she wondered at the time if she heard him accurately.

But as years passed and her spirituality deepened, she said, she decided she had interpreted the message correctly.

She said she could be a priest for hire, one who oversees retreats and weddings.

In the long run, though, she wants her own congregation. She wants to be a full-time priest.

(76) comments

Bella Rossellini

She hasn’t had any religious schooling like a seminary or monastery like men have to do before they are ordained a priest, and it lasts for 4 years. A person can’t just be ordained a priest because they want to be one, schooling is required. She’ll be excommunicated the day after by the Catholic Church, so that says a lot.

Joe Brownrigg

[thumbdown]according to the artcile she HAS gone to seminary, a Jesuit one at that!

Emily Hartigan

The article tells you: "...served as a pastoral administrator, helping run the business of parishes in Portland and Tacoma, Wash. [experience]

She attended the Jesuit School of Theology in California and received a master’s degree in divinity four years ago.[formal education]"

Comment deleted.
Joe Brownrigg

MANY a-historical claims here, "Prince."

Steve Martinez

If she wanted to really make a difference, she could have followed the lead of Rev. Talitha Arnold, of United Church, who is very much respected by the Catholic Church.

Joe Brownrigg

However, Talitha has not been ordained as a Roman Catholic priest. Instead she was ordained in one of the many Protestant denominations that practice local church autonomy.

Anita Mcginnis

That's a particularly pious pose for the camera. Are celebrity, narcissism and spirituality compatible "Father" Ann?

Kirk Holmes

Good for her ….. way past time for the Church to do away with priesthood celibacy as well.

Khal Spencer

Has it occurred to anyone that perhaps Madame Tropeano has received this call to the priesthood from a higher power in order to actually reform Catholicism and accept the reality that women are the equal of men? From some of the comments below, a lot of people think they can read God's mind.

“For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?”

Romans 11:34

Lupe Molina

600 years after Joan d'Arc burned, Khal. Weird how little truly changes.

Joe Brownrigg

There have been changes in the last 600 years, Lupe.

Joe Brownrigg

Good points, Khal.

Quoting any scripture (without critical study) is not helpful.

Raymond McQueen

Perhaps the good Roman Catholic Crime Syndicate (aka Church) should have accepted these widespread ordinations years ago. It might not be in the position it is in today with all the male predator priests causing its well-deserved bankruptcy.

Raymond McQueen

Prince Michael,

Does "The Creator of Heaven and Earth -and All that is in them" have male sex organ? Assume so from your comments.

Ishmael Maes

Mr. McQueen, yes, “The Creator of Heaven and Earth” does have a male sex organ. Jesus, the second person of the Holy Trinity is True God and True Man, He is the “Creator of Heaven and Earth”, Jn 1:1-5 “In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life: and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness: and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

And the darkness still does not comprehend it Mr. McQueen.

Joe Brownrigg

Ishmael (and your other et al), empty quotations without critical study are not helpful.

Ishmael Maes

Joe, quite the astute Theologian I see, also the knower of everyone’s level of knowledge and understanding, God Bless brother.

Comment deleted.
Khal Spencer

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” 1 Timothy 2:12

Oh, man. Every school and college in America is getting crosswise with the Christian God. Not to mention, what about Angela Merkel, Maggie Thatcher, Theresa May, Michelle Lujan Grisham, etc....

My suspicion is that Saint Timothy was simply a man of his time, so to speak. But since this is about religion, and religion is user optional, all I say is blessed be the wisdom of the Lord and it sure would be nice if we acquired some of it.

paul pacheco

Excommunicated after the ordination? She obviously has no regard for the Holy Eucharist because once she’s excommunicated, she’s not allowed to receive Communion anymore! And after all, that’s what the whole Mass is all about! The answer? Stick to the nunnery!

Jim Klukkert

In paul Pacheco's comment above, can everyone not hear the very tone, spirit and Love of Jesus?

Some may think pacheco's reply echoes Hamlet's admonition "Get thee to a nunnery!"

Many have interpreted this to be a reflection of Hamlet's perspective of women. To him, there is a frailty to the female psyche. These days, such remarks are seen as dismissive of women, and sexist.

Clearly pacheco is a sexist and a Dogmatist, and so should called out as such.

But in the spirit of Charity: The answer to your question sir, is Love sr. pacheco, nothing less will do.

Bella Rossellini

I was thinking something very similar Paul. Even if women could be valid priests she has no seminary schooling, but they can’t (be priest). It doesn’t make me closed minded or a bigot either and I’m sure some people are going to think of me that way.

Carmen M

Did she apply to theological seminary?

Joe Brownrigg

Carmen, read the article!

Bella Rossellini

I commented the same thing but worded it a bit differently. She has had no religious schooling or training.

Joe Brownrigg

According to the article. not true!

Lupe Molina

Women can tell old ghost stories too!

Khal Spencer

[lol]

Emily Hartigan

There are validly ordained women in the former Czechoslovakia, and other inevitable cracks in the blasphemy of all-male priesthood.

In the end, the Mystery of Love is stronger than these Byzantine paths. Women are icons of Christ. All the fear and insecurity in the world can't overcome G-d's love for all, as in Christ there is no male of female.

Joe Brownrigg

Emily, indeed, throughout history there have been women functioning as clergy. It just takes time for the public narrative to change. It will!

Emily Hartigan

[innocent]

Mike Johnson

And this organization is one many left wingers want to point to for wisdom on all manner of things, like global warming, mostly just hypocrisy.

Joe Brownrigg

[offtopic], Mike.

Patrick Brockwell

All a bunch of God bothering.

Comment deleted.
Lupe Molina

[lol]

Khal Spencer

"...Rev. Glenn Jones, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, said through an email that Pope Paul VI noted in 1976 that Jesus chose only men as apostles. The Catholic Church, in part out of respect for that example, doesn’t consider itself authorized to admit women to the priesthood, the pope said..."

You don't suppose that 2000 years of changing women's roles in society should bear on this? Come on, Church. Get real.

Joe Brownrigg

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Joe Brownrigg

Khal, the historic reason for celibacy in the RCC was to protect the assets of the church. No children, no inheritance. Of course, the NT wiped clean most mentions of women disciples. But we don't live in 34 CE.

Emily Hartigan

Eastern Orthodoxy has optional celibacy. It's a calling for some few, but a stumbling block for most.

Interestingly, affirming celibacy led to openly gay theologian James Alison, a Blackfriar, to be rehabilitated by Pope Francis.

Remember: it's one of the world's great Mystery religions. Even Freud knew Love is a mystery.

Joe Brownrigg

Some good points, Emily. In most Eastern Orthodox churches one can marry IF done before ordination.

Ishmael Maes

Joe your reply’s without critical thought and lack of knowledge are not helpful.

Joe Brownrigg

"Ishmael," because you have made NO specific claims, your vagueness cannot be rebutted. What part of church history do you challenge?

Andrew Lucero

Oh please... This is nothing more than a publicity stunt. The issue of female priests has long been decided. If you don't like the rules, you don't have to be a catholic.

Prince Michael Jauregui

CORRECTION: If you don't like the rules, you don't have to be a CHRISTian.

Katherine Martinez

Agreed.

John Egan

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux would most assuredly approve. All u ‘godly’ folks that are horrified by the sacrilege of female ordination ( oh my goodness! ) and the sheer terror, terror I say of female divinity … u certainly know who Thérèse is right? The youngest person to ever be made a Doctor of the Church ( there are only 36, 4 are women ) … Her parents are the first ( and to date only ) married couple canonized together by the Roman Catholic Church (by Pope Francis in 2015 ). The only … EVER.

She stands separate from every Saint … over the entire history of the Church. ( You can Google that! ) Mother Theresa of Calcutta, originally called Agnes, chose Thérèse as her namesake.

They also skipped with the usual 50 year delay required between her death and beatification …

Isn’t that curious? Hmmmmmm. Wonder if there is a reason they set multiple precedents with this girl, who was not seen as anything other than an ordinary nun prior to her death … at age 24!

On second thought please disregard all the prior facts … if u think too hard about it … it may cause you to think hard about it.

She also prayed for the priests, as she was rather taken aback that so many of ‘the real holy dudes’ were oh so weak and venal.

It is so hard for anyone to admit their faults and for institutions darn near impossible unless forced. Folks go mad in crowds and they regain their sanity one at a time.

If a ‘godly’ person feels moved to describe this woman as a devil or some other admonition in fact it is an evil spirit that is speaking through you when you say that. But hey if that works for you… why don’t you do you.

Here’s an idea tho’ … rather than lashing out why don’t you just listen to the voice that tells you to love and make an effort to be able to ‘tell the difference’. You’ll be glad you did!

I will be at the service to support this brave woman. So should you. Don’t be afraid.

Stand right by your sisters and brothers and they will do right by you.

Joe Brownrigg

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Bella Rossellini

I forgot to add that St. Therese would certainly NOT approve of women being priests. Not even the Pope approves of this, if he did she wouldn’t be excommunicated. Her ordination is not valid which means that she’s not a real priest.

Emily Hartigan

It's valid. But allegedly "illicit" so she will be excommunicated. [Vatican Two: the "final forum" is the individual conscience, the person and G-d --- so excommunication isn't the final word]. The Church can't deal with the fact that in Christ there is no male or female. As priest-theologian Gregory Baum said, he knew of no liturgical function that requires a [male organ].

She and many others are highly educated, many with PhD's. And Therese would rejoice.

Ishmael Maes

Ms. Hartigan, the ordination was not valid, Anglicans and Episcopalians do not have valid Holy Orders.

Ishmael Maes

Quite the contrary Mr Egan, St.Thérèse of Lisieux wouldn’t approve, she desired to be a priest herself but she understood and accepted her circumstances and embraced her vocation as a “daughter of Carmel and a mother of souls”. She states “And yet, while longing to be a Priest, I admire and envy the humility of St. Francis of Assisi, and am drawn to imitate him by refusing the sublime dignity of the Priesthood.” St.Thérèse was convinced that “God would never inspire me with desires which cannot be realised” all quotes are from Story of a Soul, The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

John Egan

Au contraire, ‘call u Ishmael’ to your quite the contrary. Although the typical response to your quotes would be other quotes (‘ dueling quotes!’ ) such as those referencing divine justice vs, mercy ( hint mercy FTW ) … the better solution is to suggest that you ask Thérèse yourself.

It is not an indictment to suggest that historical figures are looking at the shadows on the cave of their ‘point in time ‘ wall, but rather illustrative that even if words can survive editing, even if they can survive institutional repurposing, even if they can survive individual biases , they are still a product of their time and place … clearly. So why don’t you, with pure heart and noble purpose, ask her yourself? That is, if u can step outside the ‘ fear and domination ‘ box that has been built around us since birth and ‘realize that without realizing’ divinity exists within ( not just ‘without’) we are truly left out… Do you have bad thoughts? Do you have good thoughts? Can you tell the difference? Can you make that difference count? Seriously ‘tho ask her yourself… you might be glad you did.

I would be glad if Pope Francis , rather than making her parents Saints as a form of cosmological consolation prize (?) would release the full file on Thérèse… the trials and tribulations of Thérèse ( or perhaps the Passion of Thérèse? ) would undoubtedly make quite the Hollywood blockbuster …. What is certain is that she shook the patriarchy in a way that has never ever occurred in the modern age. Oh what those eyewitness testimonies might say !

Ishmael Maes

Mr Egan, St.Thérèse of Lisieux has told everyone, feel free to hear her own words and read her autobiography, it’s a great read, it’s called the Story of a Soul.

Bella Rossellini

It is written that St. Therese of Lisieux had deep feelings for having a vocation to be a priest but she didn’t try to act on them.

Ishmael Maes

👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

Ann Maes

Why bother? Let the Roman Catholic Church implode. Just be ordained Episcopalian!

Jim Klukkert

Ann Maes – I whole heartedly agree. This loyalty to an institution that seems not to serve so many of its members is hard for me to understand.

Of course, I used to wonder at the hatred between Boston citizens and New Yorkers when it came to all and any matters relating to baseball. But there you go ...

Mike Johnson

Yes, Red Sox/Yankees fans are amazing. But that, much like this, is just another form of tribalism that is so common in America, think politics.....

Joe Brownrigg

I think you miss the deeper reasons for this ordination, Jim. It is not at all like the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry.

Khal Spencer

Trouble is, Joe, that religions are sometimes hoist by their own petard. Recall Martin Luther and the 95 Theses causing a major break? Thing is, with a hierarchical religion like Catholicism, one bucks the Powers that Be at one's peril. I think that is why we now have Protestant sects.

My heart goes out to anyone who feels they have been called by a higher power, gets an advanced degree from Jesuits (who I always found to be wonderful back when I was attending Mass) who gets this sort of treatment, and who is told to be something other than a priest due to "tradition".

But no one asked me to re-write Catholicism and at least as of right now, no blinding light from above has hit me as I am at my keypad.

So it goes. I wish her well.

Jim Klukkert

Joe Brownrigg–As my friend Mike Johnson, speaking for many of us noted above, this 'is just another form of tribalism that is so common in America,' and I would add, throughout the world. Humanity seems to carry this competitive tribal thing, perhaps a trait formed by millennia of struggling to survive.

At some point this survival asset is likely to turn into the one thing that kills us all.

I do not mean to demean your faith Mr. Brownrigg. The Roman Catholic Church, in my view, is suspect, and so is this woman who poses so beautifully on the front page of the New Mexican. And so is the New Mexican for its sensationalist play of this issue.

It all reminds me of Gandhi's comment, who reported said: "Oh, I don't reject Christ. I love Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ."

Joe Brownrigg

Mr. Klukkert, there are many closed tribes. I am not RCC, but I am informed. "Tribalism" infects many institutions, including political ones...(do not exclude any out -of-hand).

A suggestion: do not start a claim with "I do not mean to demean your faith," especially since you have no idea what that faith is.

Khal Spencer

You think the Red Sox vs. the Yankees is bad? Ever been to a Bills/Patriots game?

Joe Brownrigg

[offtopic]

Emily Hartigan

It's not your faith location. That's fine --- G-d created the diversity, including secularism, among human seekers. But if you don't get it, don't knock it.

I prayed a lot, after almost 20 years outside the Church and 15+ years of agnosticism. and the leading was clear: My first language of the ultimate unknowable Mystery some call G-d, was Catholicism. My foster-family was the Friends. So I'm a post-modern Quatholic who knows the ins and outs of skepticism, non-belief, the abyss. Your way is different. Not "understanding" my way is your problem, my brother. But respecting it as I respect yours, is your call.

Johnny Duran

Gross!!!!

Shawn Bluejacket- Roccamo

As a Christian , I know this to be true you must be born again.. I am not Catholic

Joe Brownrigg

How many times, Shawn???[innocent]

Emily Hartigan

Infinite times -- "70 times 7" -- until he gets it that G-d loves each soul ever created.

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