HARTFORD, Conn.– When National Public Radio (NPR) in Connecticut wanted to talk to women of faith for a radio segment by the same name, it knew exactly where to find them – at St. Patrick-St. Anthony church here.
WNPR talked to a group of five women here– both staff members and parishioners – who weren’t shy about discussing the subject. WNPR came to the church on Aug. 28 after 11:30 a.m. Mass and set up microphones to interview Melina Rudman, director of servant leadership, Trudi White, director of volunteer ministry, and parishioners Jane Gallagher, Pamela Morrison-Wolf and Frances D’Amico.
Drawing members from 100 zip codes in both Connecticut and Massachusetts, St. Patrick-St. Anthony is a prominent fixture in the greater-Hartford area, well known to the media for its progressive and welcoming position.
“The interviewer asked us what it was like to be a woman in the Catholic Church today, and whether we felt empowered,” said Rudman. Their answer? A qualified “Yes!”
“I came away feeling affirmed and empowered,” said Rudman, who was on air for the first time. “I get to hang around with these amazing and determined women.”
The program begins by saying: “Women have taken leadership roles in religious communities around the world – challenging the long-standing, male-dominated traditions of many faiths. Today, we’ll meet several women who are visible as leaders in their faith — and we’ll talk with them about how they’re changing ideas from within.”
The women from St. Patrick-St. Anthony were in good company on the show. Also appearing were Laura Ahrens, Connecticut’s first female Bishop Suffragen of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, and Shamshad Sheikh, Associate University Chaplain at Yale University, who is Islamic.
The interviewer introduced the St. Patrick-St. Anthony women as people “who don’t necessarily agree with all of their religion’s teachings – but are working from inside for change.”
WNPR had initially contacted Morrison-Wolf, who coordinated with White to arrange the Sunday interview.
Rudman shares with HNP Today her thoughts on the show about feeling that the Catholic Church is somewhat out of balance. “I talked about the Church being out of balance. When everything is male energy and male imagery, it’s out of balance. But it would be equally out of balance if it were all female. As a Church, we need to find balance.”
The women were also asked how they reconcile a Church where females can’t be ordained. Rudman’s response? “I don’t want to reconcile to that. I’m a feminist and I ask myself all the time what am I doing here in the Catholic church?” But she added that the question is easily answered by her love for the Church.
“Right now, I stay because I feel that the only way there will be change is if we stay and speak truth to power in love. It is because I love the church, because I can see what it might become if we allow the Holy Spirit to move freely, that I stay.”
— Wendy Healy provides editorial assistance to the Province’s Communications Office.