When I wrote about Janine Denomme last month ("Is women's ordination old news?"), I reported that she was not only fighting for the right to be ordained, but literally for her life. Today she lost that second fight. Janine died this morning of cancer.
A former Jesuit Volunteer, social justice activist, Catholic high school and university teacher, lay preacher, church musician, parish council member, spiritual director and--a month before her death--an ordained priest through the Roman Catholic Womenpriests organization, she passionately served her church and community and inspired many with her courage and spiritual wisdom.
Sadly, because the church excommunicates women who pursue ordination, the Archdiocese of Chicago has refused to allow her to be buried at her Catholic parish.
I met Janine when we served on the parish council together, and I witnessed the pain she suffered from not being able to answer her call to ordained priesthood. She knew she risked rejection from the institutional church by pursuing her ordination through Womenpriests.
“I used to be scared by the prospect of excommunication. But after living with cancer, nothing can scare me more than that,” she told me last month. “This journey of living with cancer has cleared away any doubts about who I am and who God intended me to be."
That's exactly what she did--she answered the call to be what God intended her to be. And she inspires the rest of us to do the same.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen.