For more information about Roman Catholic women priests click here.
Sophia in Trinity: A New Catholic Community
On second and fourth Saturdays in San Francisco, 10:30am, Victoria presides at a newly formed Catholic community Sophia in Trinity. She was invited by Trinity Episcopal Church to start a new Catholic community using their chapel. For more information please click here.
A Catholic Community of the East Bay
Namaste Community, of the East Bay, welcomes Victoria as celebrant on the 4th Saturday of each month at 4:00pm. for Eucharist with a simple potluck that follows. This house church meets in different homes in the East Bay. The group is comprised of women and men from Orinda, Lafayette, Pleasant Hill and other surrounding communities. For more information contact Gwen or Eartha.
Services and Sacraments are provided:
The Celebration of the Eucharist
A ministry to LGBT people
Visit website: Threshold Ministries
Catherine Rue, my mother, blessing me at my diaconate
ordination on the river Danube in Austria, 2004
My Journey to Priesthood
For many years I have felt myself to be living and working as a priest in my theatre work, teaching and church activism. My ordination by Bishops Christine Mayr–Lumetsberger, Gisela Forster and Dr. Patricia Fresen formalizes and affirms the call to priesthood that I have been living for years. When I read the press release (summer 2003) of Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger’s consecration as bishop, I knew this was the moment. I met Christine, briefly, at Denise Donato’s ordination in Rochester. I had an urgent need to get to that ordination—in the midst of a New York blizzard! And now I know why.
In many ways, priesthood is a return to living a consecrated life. In the late 60’s I entered the religious life to consecrate my life to God in a teaching order. I left the order a year later knowing this was not my call.
When I left the convent, I left the church. The theatre became my church. The women’s movement my congregation. For 25 years I have written and directed theatre in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. I have conducted workshops in Seoul, Manila, Beijing, Frankfurt, and Florence, Italy. Theatre is transformation. It is an arena for inspiration and combustion. Like the sacraments, the theatre can be an occasion for “the infusion of grace.” While theatre is not a sacrament and sacraments are not theatre, theatre can be a rehearsal (and performance) for living life. In theatre we can witness how to live a life infused with God’s grace and challenges.
When I traveled to Nicaragua in the early eighties, I witnessed the power of base communities. Congregations understood prayer as action—creating clean drinking water was prayer, getting street lights working in a village was prayer. I saw for the first time in my life, the Catholic Church involved in the work of social justice. That vision led me to return to studies in l985. I studied feminist and liberation theologies at Union Theological Seminary in NYC with Dorothee Soelle, Beverly Harrison, and James Cone. Just before receiving my M.Div. in l988 I was asked by Dignity-NYC to con-celebrate the Eucharist with an “out” gay priest on the sidewalk, across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. As lesbian and gay people, we did this for 9 months to say “we are church” to Cardinal Ratzinger and his now infamous “Halloween Letter.” That letter stated that homosexuality is “an intrinsic moral disorder.” We understood the Eucharist as both a spiritual and political act. It was there, saying a liberation/feminist Eucharist on the sidewalks of New York, that I first understood my call to priesthood.
In l990 my partner Kathryn Poethig and I celebrated a ceremony of commitment with our families and friends. July 14, 2004 was our 14th anniversary. We met one another at Union Theological Seminary. She is a university professor in global studies, the daughter of two ordained Presbyterian ministers. Through the years we have worked for a more body positive theology, as well as the inclusion and ordination of lesbian and gay people in both the Protestant and Catholic churches. My priesthood will be a further opportunity to open the door of inclusivity and affirm the importance of priests who are partnered.
During the early ‘90’s, I received my doctorate from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. My work focused on how feminist theatre enacts feminist theology. In this doctoral work, I claimed my theatremaking as the work of Christian feminist theology.
In l997 I co-founded and con-celebrated a feminist, inclusive Eucharist with 12 other women and hundreds of witnesses on the former site of the Oakland cathedral in California. With this act, we claimed that we are all priests. The site of our Eucharist has been an inner city park, the exact spot where the cathedral collapsed in the Loma Prieta earthquake of l989. The park is peopled by the homeless of Oakland. We celebrated “A Critical Mass” for 6 years. Before each mass, we cleaned the park and fed the homeless. We called ourselves, “A Critical Mass: Women Celebrating Eucharist.” The Mass as we celebrated it, used gesture, silence, and the arts, keeping elements of the tradition and balancing it with “something new.” This community was part of my ministry, working for change in the Roman Catholic Church. It was created on the belief that by our baptism we are all a part of the “priesthood of all believers.” There were no presiders at our Eucharists, we all were. After six years of this kind of celebration, I began to see that most Catholics, while supporting the idea of the priesthood of all believers, were not there yet. There was an interim step that was needed. That step was re-imagining what it means to be priest by ordaining women.
As a priest, I consecrate every aspect of my life to God.
But one cannot simply add women to the traditional priesthood without affecting theology. You can’t just add women and stir. It is my hope that as more and more women with feminist consciousness are ordained to be priests, they will work with others to change exclusivity to inclusivity, in language, in theology, in rituals and sacraments.
In the traditional priesthood, the priest provides the sacraments within a parish setting as well as offering pastoral guidance to parish members. While I facilitate the sacraments as a priest for individuals and communities, I am also aware that my theology expands and makes more inclusive the traditional sacraments, such as marriage (to include lesbian and gay people) and ordination (women’s ordination) and Eucharist (to welcome everyone to the table, including the divorced, gay and lesbian people, those who’ve had abortions, those who practice birth control, all the people of God. Thus I look forward to engaging with those individuals and communities in a process of education.
Priesthood is both a spiritual and a political act. As a spiritual act, I consecrate every aspect of my life to the Spirit of Love that I might walk alongside others and be a witness to their incarnation, “God within us.” Priesthood is a spiritual and political act in that other Roman Catholic women may be able to see themselves as priests and be nourished in their own calls. At this moment in time, women bishops ordain women priests. This is a prophetic witness to other women (and to our male allies) that we are church.
With the women of the early church who have gone before me, I understand priesthood as a signal and symbol of women’s call to leadership in creating a renewed priesthood, a renewed church. And while I do firmly believe in the priesthood of all believers, I also embrace the urgent need for women’s leadership, both spiritually and politically in our church. Women priests call the church to its future, to the not yet, right now
SELECTED MEDIA, VICTORIA RUE ROMAN CATHOLIC WOMAN PRIEST
"Ordination as Equals: Can Thai Theravada nuns and Roman Catholic women priests shatter the clerical glass ceiling?"
Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, summer issue 2009 Read Article...
“Crossroads: Women Priests in the Roman Catholic Church” in FEMINIST THEOLOGY, Sage Publications, September 2008 Read Article...
“Pink Smoke” (forthcoming film)
A documentary by Jules Hart about women’s ordination within the Roman Catholic Church
Cross of Change
July 18, 2007 in Good Times Weekly
For centuries, only men have been allowed to wear the big spiritual pants in the Catholic family. Not any more. Victoria Rue and a growing number of other ordained Roman Catholic womenpriests and bishops are suddenly paving the way for a bold new priestly ministry. And the Vatican isn’t amused. Read more...
Rue the day: lesbian Victoria Rue is part of a growing wave of women priests who are turning the Roman Catholic Church's tradition of patriarchy on its ear. Is the Vatican listening?
The Advocate, July 17, 2007
Women on a mission to storm the gates of Rome
The Guardian, UK, July 9, 2006
Females are swelling the ranks of Anglican clergy, but in the Catholic church, many won't wait for the Vatican to find its feminine side - they're taking the crozier into their own hands. Read more...
Defiant female priest says Mass
May 28 , 2006 · in The San Jose Mercury News
Renegade Group Holds Services; Diocese Says Sacraments Invalid
Roman Catholic Diocese Reacts to Woman Priest
May 10, 2006 · in The Spartan Daily
The Diocese of San Jose has publicly condemned Professor Victoria Rue of San Jose State University for claiming that she is a female Roman Catholic priest. On April 23, the diocese issued the following statement in response to news reports of Rue who leads Mass celebrations twice a week at the Spartan Memorial Chapel. Read article...
Cover story -- Women priests: women seeking ordination
Victoria Rue of Watsonville, Calif., ordained last summer on the St. Lawrence Seaway. "I don't see myself being other or better or in a higher state than... Read more...
BBC NEWS | Americas | Nine 'women clerics' defy Vatican
Four of the nine women were ordained as priests and five as deacons aboard the Thousand Islander III boat that sailed on St Lawrence River. Read more...
abc7news.com: Will Women Ever Be Priests? Were They?
Victoria Rue, Watsonville: "I've been looking for ways to enact my priesthood for to be the priest that I feel that I am for many, many years." Read more...
Justice For Women
Victoria Rue, an ordained womanpriest who was ordained on the St Lawrence Seaway in July of 2005. She spoke about her call to ordination and her work as a ... Read more...
The Soapbox Prophet: Interview with Victoria Rue
I had an interview tonight with Victoria Rue, the SJSU teacher who had posters of the services she ministers at the Spartan Chapel vandalized this week. Read more...