During the weekend of November 10-12, 2017, I participated in the ANCC “Come and See” Weekend. I drove from Connecticut. I’m a parishioner at St. Joseph of Arimathea Church, a Eucharistic Minister, Lector, Religious Education Teacher, the Treasurer and likely one of the oldest Altar Servers around.
Also, I am a woman contemplating a vocation in the church.
I was, frankly, a little anxious in the week leading up to this event. I didn’t know what to expect. Like women often do, I doubted my knowledge and ability. I don’t have a formal education in theology and my Catholic upbringing was on-again, off-again. I even was questioning whether or not I had a true calling. I decided to attend because Bishop George, after I shared with him that I wasn’t sure if I had a calling, said to me, “Cheryl, you had the calling when you were baptized!” I do know that I truly love God, want to serve and over the last year-and-a-half have deepened my faith through learning with the Notre Dame STEP Program.
Fourteen men and women – well, 11 men and 3 women – participated in the weekend. We began Friday evening with a presentation of the history of the ANCC with Fr. Matthew Bailey and then Benediction and Evening Prayer. We began to get to know each other. Through the weekend, we shared our stories. Many of us were hurt by the Roman Catholic Church, felt betrayed by that church, and stumbled upon the ANCC. We shared our love of Jesus and our dedication to God. I could feel the Holy Spirit at work throughout the weekend and the astounding support and love of all involved was incredibly moving and inspiring. We laughed a lot and cried a bit and built trust, not only in each other, but in our Church.
I participated in a Mass at a county psychiatric hospital at which Bishop George presided, and realized that we can truly spread our philosophy and love of God and church among those most in need. I witnessed a portion of a Spanish mass with Fr. Andres De Leon. The weekend ended with a beautiful mass and one of our participants accepted for candidacy, Bernardo Cardona.
In the end, I realized that in our church, the ANCC, women are absolutely accepted for vocations. Yes, we can be deacons and priests – just as we’ve always thought. At this point, there is only one woman priest in the ANCC, Mother Phyllis McHugh. But I believe the Come and See Weekend retreat inspired all of us to at least consider a vocation. Both women and men know that they are at home with the ANCC.
St. Joseph of Arimathea ANCC (New Haven CT)
You can read more about the Come and See Vocations Weekend in Fr. Paul Gulya’s “The Came! They Saw!”