Sunday, May 7, 2017

PCS 305: Praying with Women in Ministry in the Early Church

Welcome to Women in Ministry in the Early Church


In the early Church, we encounter the teaching, preaching, and leadership of women such as Junia, Phoebe, Priscilla, Lydia, and Mary, the mother of John Mark—all confident, independent, generous, faithful women, aware of their spiritual power and authority. The story of Thecla, a woman apostle who appears in the apocryphal book Acts of Paul and Thecla, reveals the tremendous impact of women’s solidarity in times of opposition, crisis, and rejection.

The women leaders in the early church show us how to nurture inclusive communities of faith where all are welcome. Their lives are a source of inspiration and an incentive to renewal in our commitment to work for justice, peace, and equality in our world. We can learn much about faith, hope, and love from these daring disciples.

From all over the world, sisters, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, women of many cultures, races, and ethnic backgrounds are sharing their dreams and visions to birth a new paradigm of worship, prayer, and community. 


Registration opens: TBA

Course Facilitators:


Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP
Bridget Mary Meehan, MA, D.Min, ARCWP, a Sister for Christian Community, is one of the founding members of the People’s Catholic Seminary. She is a member of the pastoral team at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida. Bridget Mary presides at liturgies, officiates at weddings and offers sacramental ministry. She is an author of twenty books. Her work in communications media include programs about women priests on Google and YouTube. Bridget Mary was ordained a priest in the first USA ordination in Pittsburgh on July 31, 2006 and was ordained a bishop in Santa Barbara, California on April 19, 2009.


Dr. Mary Theresa Streck ARCWP
Mary Theresa Streck, Ed.D., D.Min, is one of the founding members of the People’s Catholic Seminary. She is a member of the pastoral team at the Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community in Albany, NY. She presides at liturgies, officiates at weddings and offers sacramental ministry and is a member of the ARCWP Program of Preparation team. She earned a Doctorate in Education Leadership from the Sage Colleges and a Doctorate in Ministry from Global Ministries University. She was ordained a priest on September 15, 2013.

Cost: $100 (financial aid available)
Register now at peoplescatholicseminary@gmail.com

Mail check or money order to:
People's Catholic Seminary
PO Box 421
Watervliet, NY 12189
(paypal coming soon!)

To read the introduction to Women in Ministry in the Early Church, click on read more.


Introduction to Women in Ministry in the Early Church


The convincing women whose powerful testimony and activist lives fill the pages of this book show us how to be strong witnesses to the infinite love of the Holy One in our midst. Establish a relationship with these companions and prophetic witnesses to the gospel! Listen to their insights! Share your own story with them! They are our sisters and friends. Their words are a source of inspiration and an incentive to renewal in our commitment to work for healing and transformation in our world. We can learn much about faith, hope, and love from these daring disciples.

From all over the world, sisters, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, women of many cultures, races, and ethnic backgrounds are sharing their dreams and visions to birth a new paradigm of worship, prayer, and community. Women’s prayer groups have sprung up in many places and are exploring a rich variety of resources that celebrate the stories and spirituality of women.

Praying With Women of the Bible invites you to catch the living spirit of amazing witnesses to the inbreaking of God’s wondrous, passionate, infinite Love-with-us. In the reflections, discussion questions, prayer experiences, and guided meditations that follow, you are invited to reflect on each sister in the faith, to imaginatively recreate her story from your perspective, and to reflect on her words and actions in light of your experiences. This book invites you to experience a sense of solidarity with women, not unlike ourselves, who were mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, friends, servants, widows, prophets, leaders, seekers, ministers, martyrs, and apostles. As a resource for women and men to celebrate their biblical heritage, this book provides new hope for all who seek the Spirit’s empowerment in their lives. It reaffirms for today’s woman that nothing is impossible with God. Like our biblical sisters, who took initiative, contemporary women can dream new dreams of liberation, healing, and empowerment for our world. We can act as if our vision for equality, justice, and love is already happening, because it is! The inbreaking of God’s love through the gifts and empowerment of women is already a reality!

Each of the prayer experiences begins with introductory material that provides a brief background on the life of one of these biblical women. After that you will find a reflection drawn from the actions or writings of the individual, four discussion questions, and seven suggestions for prayer to help you contemplate the depths of divine love that this particular woman­-model reveals for your spiritual journey.

In the prayer experiences, I recommend that you use a variety of approaches. Some possibilities are journaling, poetry, dance, body movement, mime, drama, song, or some artistic response like drawing, painting, sculpting, playing with clay, stamping, or needlepoint. You may wish to use some of the prayer suggestions provided in each prayer experience as a guided meditation; or you may choose to skip around, trying a different one each time you reflect on a biblical woman’s life. Listen to your subconscious and try what attracts or excites you. Be conscious of what nourishes your creative spirit and do that!

Groups could use one or more of the discussion questions to get people talking about the contributions of these women and their impact on our hearts and lives. Background music—specifically classical or instrumental—may provide an appropriate setting for reflection and sharing. Before beginning, the group should decide on a facilitator to lead the guided prayer for them, and organize materials and space for art, journaling, story, body movement, creative activity, and so forth. After everything is ready, the facilitator reads aloud one or more of the prayer experiences, and allows time for reflection and response. Groups could then share their experiences and/or their responses to the discussion starters. Larger groups could break into groups of five or six for the discussion.

Groups could also design creative rituals celebrating the powerful women’s stories that appear in this book. One simple way of doing this is for the group to select music for the prayer experience(s) and movements to accompany the music in which group members can participate. This ritual could begin and/or conclude each session. Singing, humming, dancing, clapping, tapping, moving, swaying to music, and joining hands with others involves us in body prayer that helps us to connect with each other in deep ways.

Another suggestion is that group members could decide ahead of time to bring to the next session a symbol of the biblical woman the group is contemplating. Then, at the conclusion of the prayer experience, the members of the group could take turns sharing the symbols they brought. After each member shares, she puts the symbol on a special table decorated with cloth, candles, and flowers. The group then prays a litany, or spontaneous prayers, sings a song, does a circle dance, and/or engages in a group hug. Different members could take turns preparing one of these prayer rituals for each session.

Another idea for communal prayer is that groups choose one or more of the following elements for worship: water, oil, incense, bread, wine, or an art object such as a drawing, painting, or sculpture. Then the group creates a simple ritual such as washing of hands, anointing each other with oil, passing the art object around in the group, or breaking and eating bread together to celebrate the impact the biblical woman has on people today. These simple rituals, which can be accompanied by formal or spontaneous prayer, are moving worship experiences that not only deepen the group members’ relationships with heroic women, but also help the group members become a caring community.

Yet another suggestion is to use the senses—visual, auditory, tactile, and olfactory—in inclusive, communal prayer to open ourselves to the Spirit’s movement among us. Groups can design rituals in which members look at beautiful art, listen to melodic music, smell perfumed incense, touch soft clay, and/or eat delicious food. This prayer approach invites the group to savor spiritual experiences in rich and often unexpected ways. Resource books that have a variety of ideas for communal rituals are Women Prayer Services by Iben Gjerding and Katherine Kinnamon (Twenty­-Third Publications); We Are the Circle by Julie Howard (Liturgical Press) and the three-volume feminist lectionary series: WomanWord, WomanWitness, and WomanWisdom by Miriam Therese Winter (Crossroad).


The wind blows where it wills. Be open to the laughter, tears, insight, and wonder that the group may experience as it prays together. There are no right or wrong ways of doing communal prayer. Different things work for different groups. The important thing is to explore together, experiment together, share together, pray together, and celebrate together these daring women role models. With this book, I invite you to experience the rich legacy of spiritual empowerment that twenty dynamic, committed women of faith have shared. As you encounter these soul sisters, may you dance merrily together in God’s liberating, loving presence!