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Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova

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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/01/25 21:32:44 (permalink)
Out of the Depths: The Story of Ludmila Javorova, Ordained Roman Catholic Priest by Miriam Therese Winter
-Book Review by Fran De Chant

Sister Miriam Therese Winter's remarkable book, Out of the Depths, details the first complete account of a piece of history destined to shake the allegedly immutable foundation of the Roman Catholic priesthood. Circumstances that led a bishop of the Czech underground Church to secretly ordain a woman is the story eagerly awaited by many who had gleaned only parts of it. At the center is the learned, intensely private, deeply spiritual and duly ordained Ludmila Javorova. I count myself among those who were fortunate to meet this extraordinary woman when she visited FutureChurch leaders in a private meeting in Cleveland in 1997.

Ludmila in Cleveland, Ohio Fall 1997:

(l to r) Sheila Daley (CTA), Ludmila Javarova,
Dan Daley (CTA), Miriam Therese Winter,
Christine Schenk (FutureChurch).

How this book came to be written is itself an odyssey. In 1992 a delegation from Women's Ordination Conference and the Quixote Center undertook a visit to the Czech Republic. They had read a 1991 New York Times article reporting that women and married priests and deacons had been ordained to serve the Czech underground church suffering under communism. With the help of a Czech priest, they traveled to Brno and met about 20 members of the underground church who questioned them about the purpose of their visit. After the meeting a woman invited the Americans to visit her apartment to continue the discussion. It was Ludmila Javorova. Over the next 48 hours, she shared her story on the condition that her name be kept confidential. After another visit to Brno in 1996, Ludmila cautiously agreed to visit the U.S. on the condition that her visit would be private.

In the course of Ludmila's travels in this country, the late Bishop Francis Murphy from Baltimore listened to her account with warmth and support. Sister Chris Schenk was instrumental in bringing Sister Miriam Therese Winter and Ludmila together in Cleveland. A few nights after a random meeting of the two across the aisle of a train to New York, Winter experienced a sudden awakening from her sleep and knew she would write Ludmila's story.

Winter then journeyed to Brno and with the help of translators, unraveled an unusual sequence of events. In the process, a friendship was forged between the American Medical Mission Sister and the gifted, reticent woman whose life's story would turn a world of established notions upside down.

Ludmila's family traces its origins to Monrovia in Czechoslovakia. Born in 1932, her early life in a family of eight girls and two boys was hard-working, faith-filled, and marked by devotion to home and duty. The German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939 transformed daily life into a struggle for survival. Following the end of World War II, Communist domination imposed civic and religious oppression so severe that the region still struggles to recover after more than a decade of freedom.

Against this background of religious repression (known as the Totality), Felix Maria Davidek experienced his call to priesthood and was ordained in 1945. Later imprisoned by Communist authorities for 14 years, he was consecrated bishop of the underground Church by Bishop Jan Blaha in 1967. These facts are well documented, approved and recognized by the Vatican, under Pope Paul VI, as part of a complex effort to preserve an autonomous Church behind the Iron Curtain.

Likewise, there are facts supporting the Vatican's knowledge and approval of numerous ordinations of married men among the underground Church, a branch of which was known as "the Koinotes" during this period. Unfortunately, secrecy necessitated by the harshness of the Communist regime has blurred documentation of ordinations of several women. At last, Ludmila has revealed her story of a nighttime rite of laying on of hands, witnessed only by Davidek's brother, followed by a private first mass and the new priest's first blessing. A priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek....

The remainder of Ludmila's story is marked with dignity and sadness. When he ordained Ludmila, Davidek intended that she would serve women inmates in Communist prisons who were deprived of sacramental ministry. Although she waited daily for her arrest, Ludmila never was taken to prison, leaving her in a marginalized situation. She was a priest, yet not known as one, even to her own parents. Ludmila could exercise her ordained calling only in private or by keeping her priestly faculties unknown to those she ministered to - an unbearable tragedy.

In Out of the Depths Miriam Therese Winter simply and elegantly relates a remarkable story, often in Ludmila's own words. By book's end, I sensed that I was looking for, but did not find openly stated what Ludmila would say to women who presently seek priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church. Would she encourage them to follow in her footsteps? Would she point them down a path that would subject them to the humiliations she suffered and the ostracism that stills shadows her? Or might she advise them to wait for the sea-change in the Church's world-view that surely must come?

This reader views Ludmila's sacrifice as virtual interior martyrdom. I am certain that she would want to make smooth the way of women who will come after her. In her own words, "I didn't aspire to power, I didn't do it to compete, I just wanted to serve. I wanted only to make the life of others lighter. I believe that the essence of the Gospel is to make the yoke light for people and I wanted to help."

She has helped. The repercussions of her ordination are profound. In the official Church, resistant as it may seem, her life and her words must make a difference. Surely her witness will bear the fruit of a host of other easier witnesses. May she, Ludmila Javorova, experience in her lifetime the recognition of her ordained calling This book, most truly written "out of the depths" of a priestly woman's striving and suffering, is a landmark beginning.


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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/01/25 21:33:07 (permalink)
An Open Letter to Rev. Ludmila Javorova: a paid advertisement in The National Catholic Reporter, May 31, 2002

Ludmila Javorova was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in the late night hours of December 28, 1970 by Bishop Felix Maria Davidek, in the presence of his brother, Leo. Following the rite of ordination, Ludmila celebrated her first Mass--simply, quietly, together with Felix and Leo, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and all the angels and saints of God."
--from Out of the Depths: The Story of Ludmila Javorova, Ordained Roman Catholic Priest, by Miriam Therese Winter, MMS (Crossroad, 2001)

Dear Ludmila,

We write to you as church, for we are People of God. We affirm and celebrate you as our priest, Ludmila, and we salute with gratitude your 20 years of service as a priest in the underground church of Czechoslovakia. We also acknowledge the ordination of other women and married men who helped keep the Roman Catholic Church alive during perilous times.

We publicly celebrate your ordination and we invite others, including our brother bishops, to attest to your priesthood. We know that our God of radical love, who recognizes the goodness and equality of all persons, women and men, called you, and you obeyed God's call to discipleship.

In the depths of our hearts, we know that the ordination of women is just, consistent with the spirit of the Jesus of the gospels, and in line with our finest traditions. We know, too, that many more priests are needed to meet the urgent pastoral needs of our church worldwide. And we read the signs of our times as we see women around the globe claim their full humanity for the good of humanity.

Your life, Ludmila, stretches our church beyond theological arguments to the reality of God's action. You risked your freedom and your life to say "yes" to God's call in an act of prophetic obedience. Your ministry is a faithful witness to the gospel, a sacrament nourishing the community, a prayerful call to do justice. Your story joins today's church to our spiritual forebears: Prisca and Lydia, Thecla and Phoebe, and other ordained women who served the early church of the Mediterranean. We now can assert that women have been ordained in our day! You have gone before us, and we pray--indeed, we know--that many more women will follow. God's call to prophetic obedience will not be denied.

Ludmila, you are a priest forever!

Sponsored by

a project of the Quixote Center
PO Box 5206 * Hyattsville, MD 20722
301.699.0042 * 301.864.2182 fax

A Voice for Women in the Church
PO Box 2693 * Fairfax, VA 22031
703.352.1006 * 703.352.5181 fax
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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/01/25 21:33:35 (permalink)
Ludmila's Story
At the height of the Cold War, a Czechoslovakian woman was ordained a Roman Catholic priest.
By Miriam Therese Winter

During the communist era in Czechoslovakia, Catholic religious orders were banned, and most existing clergy were jailed, sent to labor camps, or forced into military service. Some were even murdered. It was in this climate that some church leaders decided to ordain a few remaining qualified individuals--including some women--to be priests.

The ordination of Ludmila Javorova was a secret hidden not only from the communist government in Czechoslovakia but also from other members of the remnant Catholic Church. Her ordination stirred controversy even among the members of the Koinotes, or hidden church. Bishop Felix Maria Davidek, a member of this underground group, decided to ordain her against their wishes. Here is her story, as told to Miriam Therese Winter.

Felix, Ludmila, and Jan Blaha were the last to leave Koberice. Ludmila went directly home. Late that evening, Felix came to see her. She tells of what transpired. "He told me to get ready. He asked me if I were willing to receive ordination from his hands. He was prepared to do it. He said the decision was mine, but not to take too long to decide or delay in telling him. I wanted to know why he was in such a hurry. Why not wait with the ordination for maybe six months or a year? He replied: 'Believe me, I cannot delay it, because I do not know what will happen with us.' The times were so uncertain. He felt the pressure of that intensely. Still I persisted. Why this haste? What else was there behind it? He told me it was his burden that he felt it was 'a matter of conscience,' that we had already spoken about it at the Council. 'If we wait for a man to approve this,' he said, 'it will never happen, so we must go ahead without it.'

"'But why have you chosen me?' He replied: 'It is natural. It is one minute to twelve.' By this he meant that the issue of women priests was urgent and could no longer be ignored. Later he told me that new things are not received with open arms, and that if we want them to be accepted, we have to make them present. And how would he inform the pope? 'It is my responsibility to inform the pope. I will investigate every possible way to inform him personally. Now let's pray to the Holy Spirit.'

"It is hard to identify the criteria whereby I made my decision. There was really no time to think much about it, because I had to work. At the same time I felt like I really did not have anything to think about. In my heart, everything was clear. I guess one might say that some things are done on another level of being, one that is too deep, too transparent for words. I had one full day to live with the question. Then on the way home from work on December 28, I stopped in to see Felix, and I said, 'Yes, I will receive it.' It was all very simple. I said yes to it, to receiving everything associated with it, to all of the consequences connected to it. Of course I had no idea of the size and shape of the cross that was standing just ahead of me, that was out there awaiting me. I had no idea how to develop this charism, but I accepted it with faith, with a feeling of responsibility, and with love."

Around 10:00 p.m. that evening, Ludmila went to Felix's place ready to receive the sacrament reserved through the centuries for men. "Why did I not make a retreat before becoming ordained?" It may seem surprising that she spent no time at all preparing for such a significant step, but she was already prepared, had spent a lifetime getting ready, had heard every argument for and against, deep within, waiting for a time such as this. What more could she have said to God that had not already been spoken in words and priestly ministry to hear God speak to her. Ludmila would say more pragmatically, "There just wasn't time."

Prior to her priestly ordination, Ludmila was ordained a deacon. The liturgy for ordination to the priesthood was from the Rite of Ordination According to the Roman Pontifical, literally, word for word. Felix followed the same rite used from time immemorial to ordain men as priests:

Consecrare et sanctifare. Vouchsafe, O Lord, to consecrate and sanctify these hands by this unction and by our blessing. That whatsoever they shall bless may be blessed, and whatsoever they consecrate may be consecrated and sanctified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Accipe potestatem offere sacrificium Deo. Receive power to offer sacrifice to God and to celebrate Mass, as well as for the living as for the dead, in the name of the Lord.

As a member of Koinotes, the hidden church, local manifestation of the universal church, Ludmila Javorova was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in the late night hours of December 28, 1970, by Bishop Felix Maria Davidek in the presence of his brother, Leo, who witnessed the event. Following the rite of ordination, Ludmila celebrated her First Mass-simply, quietly, together with Felix and Leo Davidek, Mary the Mother of Jesus, and all the angels and saints of God.

As she walked back home around midnight, the awareness of what had just occurred reached her in all its fullness. "It is hard to describe the moment," she says. "A space was opened up for me and I entered into it. Its depths, its beauty are perceived without words. I go toward it. I do not know what it is, but I go." She also felt happy, she says, but this was a different kind of happiness than what we usually understand by the word.

As she walked toward home that December night, she realized she was crying. Ludmila had spent a lifetime keeping her tears in check, had struggled to suppress her emotional response, to conceal the deep feelings within her. She did not like it when she cried. She had put up with it when she was young, but tonight? "I would always be holding my emotions back. I though I would be over it by now. But in those first hours of priesthood, I can say that I saw the beauty of God, at one moment I received the mercy of God, and I thought, I am crying. And I said, 'Get used to it. And let others get used to it. I am just going to cry!'"

On entering her home, Ludmila smiled. Another little girl was crying, her niece, Bohumila. She remembered it was her name day-the name means "loved by God"-and she gifted the child with her blessing, the blessing of a brand new priest. She whispered, "You have such an important day for celebrating your name. When you are grown up, I will tell you about it, but for now, it is a secret."

Ludmila kept her secret. That was one of the conditions of her being ordained. She could tell no one about it. She did not tell her mother, nor did she tell her father. "A major problem for me at the time was, how would I celebrate Mass so that no one at home would see it? For the first few days, I went to Felix's place or Felix came to mine and we would celebrate together. Because he usually came every day, nobody was surprised or suspected anything. Later, I celebrated alone when everyone was sleeping. I thought of my bedridden brother, Vaclav, lying in the room across the hall, and I longed to tell him about it, because we loved each other a lot, but it was not possible. This was one of the many things I offered up for transformation during Mass.

"Felix always wished that the people would express aloud the words of consecration with the priest, so they would realize they too are celebrating the Mass. The priest is there as a servant. He is the one presiding, but they do everything together with him, and that's how a beautiful unity is formed. And so the Holy Mass becomes an act of salvation. Everything in this world is changing. There is nothing stable. People get used to its small acts and participate with joy. When the priest celebrates genuinely, he-or she-becomes attuned, and this helps to prevent the priest from becoming self-centered. Now that I was a priest and celebrating Mass together with him, I knew exactly what he meant and felt the same as he."

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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/01/25 22:18:27 (permalink)

News about Ludmila's male collegues....first perspective from the year 1990 --  The New York Times  John Tagliabue writes...


Czechoslovak Church's Quandary: Married Priests
Special to the New York Times
by John Tabliabue
November 22, 1990

Czechoslovakia's Roman Catholic Church is urging priests who were secretly ordained in the years when religion was repressed, among them married men and fathers, to come forward to have their status reviewed by church authorities.

According to church officials interviewed here this week hundreds of priests were secrety ordained and even some bishops secretly consecrated during the more than 40 years when religious activities were severly restricted by Communist governments.

During this period, the officials said, as fears ocassionally mounted that all known priests might be imprisoned or exiled, some churchmen secretly ordained people who, in normal times, might not have qualified to be priests. The officials said that some of these were married at ordination, while others took spouses later.

Some Women Ordained

There appear to have been one or two cases of married bishops, and it seems that in a few instances, the churchmen said, women were ordained as deacons. The position of deacon within the church, like the other major holy orders of priest and bishop, is not open to women.

"We want to deal with all these cases with great sensitivity," said the Rev. Dominik Duka, the provincial of the Dominican order, which itself only regained full legal status after the collapse of Communist rule. "We must always bear in mind that these religious performed enormous services for the church."

The issue poses serious problems for the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican, which does not permit married clergy and bars women from ordination. A recently concluded Vatican conference in Rome debated the issue of celibacy for priests before reaffirming church doctrine in this matter. Meanwhile, calls for greater roles for women within the church have been raised in many countries.

Questions on Validity

Church officials in Prague said that many of the cases here involved the troubled figure of the Rev. Felix Davidek, the Bishop of Brno, in Moravia, in the 1960's. Persecuted and imprisoned for many years by the Communist secret police, Bishop Davidek secretly ordained many men, some of them married, in a desperate effort to assure the survival of the clergy. Many candidates were simple, uneducated people, and it is not clear whether all the ordinations were valid.

It was rumored that Bishop Davidek, who died in the 1970's, ordained women. Father Duka said no evidence exists to support this, but he acknowledged that women elsewhere were consecrated as deacons.

"We are dealing with these cases," he said, "the women in the meantime have agreed not to exercise these functions."

"It was a terrible time, with much persecution," explained Archbishop Giovanni Coppa, the newly-appointed Papal Nuncio, as he discussed the years when Czechoslovakia was ruled by people who were among the most zealously anticlerical Communists in Eastern Europe. "It is all under consideration at the Vatican. We just do not know how many are involved, the numbers are still coming in. Many are married, some have children. In many cases we simply do not know if the ordinations are valid."

Training in Secret

The secretly ordained priests were usually trained clandestinely in private apartments and homes, often by noted theologians visiting from abroad, including the Polish Dominican Jacek Sali, or the German theologian, Johann Baptist Metz.

In the severest period of persecution, during the 1950's, ordinations also took place secretly in the detention camps and prisons where the clergy were interned. Later, in addition to those priests clandestinely ordained in Czechoslovakia, there were others who were sent for secret ordination in East Germany or Poland by bishops including Cracow's Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, later Pope John Paul II.

After their ordination the secret priests continued to work in their regular jobs, usually hiding their religious vocations except on those occassions when they acted as priests, administering sacraments in great secrecy.

Rebuilding a Structure

"Many of the clergy acted more or less spontaneously, and no one knows exactly what the situation is,"' said the Rev. Tomas Halik, the secretary of the newly re-established Czech Bishops Conference. He said the confusion was compounded because many of the churchmen who recruited and ordained the secret priests are dead. "Now it is a question of how to re-integrate all of these people into the fold of the church."

As the Communist regime collapsed over the last year, the shape and scale of the underground church has increasingly come to light. Father Halik's own history is a case in point. Banned from the priesthood by the Communist authorities, he studied sociology and psychology at Prague's Charles University in the 1970's, while studying theology in clandestine courses. In 1978, on what was purportedly a tourist trip to East Germany, he was secretly ordained in Erfurt.

For nearly a decade he led a dangerous double life, working as a lecturer in the psychology of leadership at the Communist-controlled Institute for Management Training in Prague, while secretly following his priestly vocation. Underground Jesuits Emerge

Such cases crop up daily. In Kosice, Slovakia, it was discovered after Communism's collapse that five faculty members at the Communist-run state university were in fact Jesuits, including the Dean of the School of Civil Engineering.

Though accurate statistics are unavailable, Father Duka said that of the 3,000 or so priests now in Czechoslovakia, about 1,200 belong to religious orders like the Dominicans, Jesuits and Salesians, that were strictly banned by the Communists. About 600 of these were ordained in the underground, he said, the rest were trained and ordained in seminaries permitted by the Communists for the preparation of regular diocesan priests.

The Rev. Vaclav Maly, a well-known opponent of the former Communist regime, said that dozens of priests in recent years may have sought in marriage companionship and support in the face of Communist persecution. Echoing voices throughout the church, he said, "These are able men, many have the charisma to preach, even if they did not have the strength for celibacy. It would be good if these priests could be more active in their communities."

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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/01/25 22:19:34 (permalink)

This perspective from the year 1999 --  the US of America's Andrew Nagorski of Newsweek writes...

Fathers With Sons
Can The Roman Catholic Church Accept The Czech Republic's Married Priests?

By Andrew Nagorski
May 10, 1999

When Jarmila married Jiri Florian in the Czech city of Brno in January of 1969, she said "I do" to a TV technician. Two months later, her husband was also a Catholic priest. He'd been ordained in a secret ceremony shortly after their wedding. That was practically the only way Catholics in Czechoslovakia who opposed the communist regime could be ordained back then. Jarmila took it all in stride. "I was 18, and I saw it as a romantic adventure." She even helped her husband organize secret masses. They didn't tell their three daughters about their father's double life until the regime ended in 1989. But the girls weren't surprised. "Our oldest daughter told us she'd suspected for a long time," says Jarmila.

Fortunately, the local communist authorities didn't. And that was the whole point. During the dark days of the cold war, the former Czechoslovakia's communist regime relentlessly persecuted Catholics, carefully vetting who could be ordained and jailing anyone who spoke out against the government. It wasn't long after the Soviet invasion in 1968 that an underground church took root. Bishop Felix Davidek of Brno, a priest who'd spent 14 years in communist prisons, began secretly ordaining priests because so many parishes were shorthanded. They needed a cover, though, and so many of the priests ordained by Davidek were not only engineers, librarians and musicians, but married men. By day, they worked their jobs and raised their families. By night, they conducted secret masses in private homes.

The plan worked, and the Catholic Church survived. But now the Vatican, which has always insisted on strict rules of celibacy for Catholic priests, finds itself in a tight spot. Though Davidek hedged his bets by ordaining the married men as Eastern-rite priests--a special Ukrainian branch of the Catholic Church that allows for married priests--the men performed traditional Roman Catholic ceremonies as well as Eastern-rite ceremonies.

They still do, and their congregations have gotten comfortable with the notion of married men saying mass. This, along with the dwindling number of men becoming traditional Catholic priests, raises an interesting theological question. Should the church rethink its position on celibacy?

In the years immediately following the collapse of communism, the Vatican seemed determined to keep its priests chaste. Czech church leaders quietly ordered the married priests to stop saying mass. The Vatican began questioning whether Davidek had even been properly ordained as a bishop. According to married priest Vaclac Ventura, who now teaches theology in the northeastern city of Olomouc, the years spent in limbo were particularly frustrating. "It was a time when priests who had collaborated with the secret police were given the green light, and we were given the red light," he says. The church had been willing to support Ventura and his peers when its survival was in danger. Now that it seemed it wasn't, the church couldn't decide how to deal with its married priests.

The Vatican knew it owed the priests something for supporting Catholicism during troubled times. It also knew the Czech Republic was still suffering from a priest shortage. So two years ago church leaders came up with a compromise. They established an Eastern-rite diocese in the Czech Republic, and 20 of the married priests were admitted into it. "This was created for them because the Roman Catholic Church didn't want to accept them directly," concedes one church official in Prague. The priests took the job, but not without noting the ironies. "We're Eastern-rite Catholic priests, but we have no parishioners," says Josef Javora, a married priest and father of three sons who keeps a framed picture of the pope in his Brno apartment. "It's absurd." The married priests can say Eastern-rite mass for Roman Catholics, but they're only allowed to say Roman Catholic mass in the company of a celibate Roman Catholic priest.

Most of the parishioners couldn't care less about the priests' marital status. Ivana, a woman who worships at Brno's St. Mary Magdalene, where three married priests serve, says, "I'm not dogmatic. If their consciences are clear, they can stand on their heads." The priests contend that marriage can actually make them better servants of God.

"Marriage means to live in love, which is what Christianity is all about," says Ventura, who was a librarian in the old days. "You can have very deep experiences in marriage. It allows you to understand the problems of the people better."

The people want the priests they know and trust--whether they're married or not. Already, pressure from local parishioners has forced the Vatican to consider restoring the married priests' right to perform Roman Catholic ceremonies alone. Until they do, Josef Javora will have no problem finding a partner for his Sunday mass. Inspired by his father's dedication, the unmarried Marcel Javora was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1995.

Together, the father and the son continue to keep the holy spirit alive in Brno.

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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/01/25 22:20:32 (permalink)

This perspective from the year 2000 -- Britain's Jonathan Luxmore of The Tablet writes...

Re-ordination an option for secret Czech priests
Jonathan Luxmoore
The National Catholic Reporter
February 25, 2000

No mention of women ordained in underground

In an effort to end a communist-era split between underground and official clergy, the Vatican has demanded that secretly ordained Czech priests obtain official recognition in order to continue their ministries. For some, the requirement will mean being re-ordained.

The instruction came in a Feb. 14 statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The communist assault on religion was especially aggressive in the Czech regions of the former Czechoslovakia. Some 150 to 250 Catholic priests and a number of bishops were ordained clandestinely during 40 years of communist rule under special powers granted by Pope Pius XII.

One underground Czech bishop also ordained a small number of female priests and deacons. The statement makes no mention of their situation, and observers say there is virtually no possibility that the Vatican will recognize their ordinations.

The situation of former underground priests has been controversial since the collapse of communism in 1989. Many have accepted offers from Rome to regularize their status, but others have insisted that their suffering provides all the legitimacy they require.

Some of these secretly ordained priests are married, as are four of the underground bishops.

A church spokesman in the Czech Republic said the new document signaled an "open dialogue rather than an ultimatum," and said the presence of married clergy would be "interesting and helpful" in wider discussions of celibacy.

The statement -- released during a Prague visit by the congregation's secretary, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone -- said the Holy See respects the courage shown by communist-era church leaders and understands the "psychological motives" of priests who resent suspicions about their ordinations.

Nevertheless, it demanded that the priests not celebrate the sacraments without Vatican authorization. "Whoever refuses the authority of the pope and bishops celebrates illicitly," it said.

In its new statement, the congregation said church law in both the Eastern and Latin rites does not allow for married bishops, but offered no specific suggestions for resolving the status of four married Czech prelates.

In an NCR interview, the spokesman for the Czech Republic's Catholic Bishops' Conference, Fr. Daniel Herman, said he believed the actual number of undocumented priests was closer to 150 than the 250 cited in some press reports, adding that most had accepted the Vatican's "conditional re-ordination" demand. That includes, he said, 22 married priests now exercising various functions in the Czech Republic's 50,000-member Greek Catholic rite.

Although the church had no "secret service" for calculating precisely how many priests had refused, Herman said, 22 had accepted invitations to a Feb. 14 meeting with Bertone in the Vatican's Prague nunciature, and these were believed to represent "almost all."

Herman said particular problems had been posed by priests who were unsure who had ordained them, adding that some had been ordained in parks or private apartments without rituals or witnesses, and been given the names of bishops who were already dead as the ordaining bishop.

"This may have been justifiable as a security measure, to protect clergy during interrogation, but it also created grave complications," Herman said. "Secret police archives show the communists attempted to destroy the church's canonical order by infiltrating their own agents and creating false priests."

In 1997, the Prague Post cited evidence that Czechoslovakia's Catholic and Protestant clergy had been the most infiltrated of all professional groups, with 800 out of 6000 priests and pastors, 13 percent of the total, acting as informers.

The Vatican statement said nothing about the women ordained in the underground church. Bishop Felix Davidek, who died in 1988, ordained approximately six women as priests or deacons. His motive, according to sources, was to provide pastoral care for women in Czech prisons, which were segregated by gender.

The best-known woman ordained as a priest by Davidek, Ludmilla Javorova, today lives in Brno in the Czech Republic and works as a catechist.

According to the 1999 book Skryta Cirkev (The Secret Church), Davidek also consecrated 17 bishops without Vatican approval between 1967 and 1987.

The Vatican statement did mention Davidek. It said that "serious doubts" exist about the validity of some ordinations, "in particular those performed by Bishop Felix Maria Davidek."

Herman told NCR that witnesses testified that Davidek suffered schizophrenia and had re-ordained several priests after doubting the validity of his previous acts.

Herman said the challenge of integrating married priests could provide valuable lessons for the broader church.

"Though we aren't the only country with married priests, I think our experiences can be interesting and helpful for wider discussions on priestly celibacy. This isn't a dogmatic question: It's merely the praxis of the Roman Catholic church. And it's under discussion today."

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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/01/25 22:21:41 (permalink)
And from June 2008 -- news verifying the Vatican's change in stance regarding Ludmila's male colleagues....  This from Radio Prague.


Vatican ordains Czech Republic’s first married Roman Catholic priest
Current Affairs
by Rosie Johnston
Current Affairs
Radio Prague
June 6, 2008

The Vatican has just ordained father of four Jan Kofroň into the Roman Catholic priesthood. This makes Mr Kofroň the Czech Republic’s first ever married Roman Catholic (Western Rite) priest. But this is not the first time that Father Kofroň has been ordained. He was originally made a priest in 1970s communist Czechoslovakia, where he subsequently worked illegally in the country’s underground church. Following the revolution, the Vatican declared his ordination invalid, but in recent weeks, it has reversed its decision. I met Father Kofroň to ask him how it was that, as an already married man, he became involved in the priesthood:

Photo: www.apha.cz

“A friend of mine who was a Salesian priest, and window cleaner on Wenceslas Square in Prague, discovered a link with a very illegal, very hidden form of the church.I was asked if I was open to the idea of priesthood, even though I was married. It was surprising, of course, to me, but nonetheless I was told that the way was open, and that permission had been granted by Pope John Paul VI.

“But after the Velvet Revolution, Rome started to have some doubts about the validity of these married priests and their ordinations.”

I heard that after the revolution, priests who were married and who found themselves in your situation were able to practice Eastern Rite Catholicism, but not Western Rite Catholicism. Why were you so adamant about practicing Western Rite Catholicism?

“It became a question of my conscience. It was strange – just imagine the situation, there are several thousand Ukrainians here who also need, of course, priests performing Greek Catholic services – but after 1998, when 18 of my colleagues accepted ordination into the Greek Catholic Church – there was an overflow of Eastern Rite priests.”

Do you think that there is an inconsistency in the Vatican’s stance on married priests? If you are an Anglican vicar who becomes a Catholic priest, you are allowed to be married, and be ordained a Catholic priest. Do you think that it is slightly unfair that for people like yourself, there are many difficulties that an Anglican vicar just wouldn’t have?

“I think it is understandable that the Catholic Church has a sort of fear of its priests not being celibate. But I think that the time for married people being ordained priests is coming. I don’t think the time for it is just yet, but it is coming. I am convinced about that.”


Source: Czech Radio 7, Radio Prague
URL: http://www.radio.cz/en/article/104856
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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/01/25 22:43:55 (permalink)
Pope Benedict to visit Czech Republic in September
Catholic News Agency
January 24, 2009

Prague, Jan 24, 2009 / 07:27 pm (CNA).- A Czech government spokesman announced yesterday that Pope Benedict XVI will visit the country on September 28, feast of St. Wenceslaus, patron saint of the Czechs.

Pope Benedict XVI

The spokesman said that the Pontiff recently wrote a letter to Czech President Vaclav Klaus, expressing his desire to visit the central European nation. The trip would include a visit to Prague, where the Pope would pray at the ancient Cathedral of St. Vito, and a stop at Brno, the country's second largest city.

The details of the visit are being worked by a commission formed by the Papal Nuncio to the Czech Republic, Diego Causero, and Bishop Vaclav Maly, the president of the organizing committee chosen by the local bishops' conference.

post edited by Sophie - 2009/01/26 22:25:01
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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/01/25 22:47:09 (permalink)

The spokesman said that the Pontiff recently wrote a letter to Czech President Vaclav Klaus, expressing his desire to visit the central European nation. The trip would include a visit to Prague, where the Pope would pray at the ancient Cathedral of St. Vito, and a stop at Brno, the country's second largest city.

Dear friends,

Hmmm... during his visit to the Czeh Republic, the Pope is including a stop in Brno.  Brno happens to be the home of Ludmila Javorova.  I wonder:  what are the chances a visit with her will be on his itinerary?

Ludmila Javorova 
The courageous Ludmila Javorova -- a woman who answered God's call to priesthood in a time of Catholic persecution during the Communist occupation of Czechoslovaka.  In the early 1970s, she was ordained a Roman Catholic priest by Bishop Felix Davidek.

Bishop Felix Maria Davidek
The times in Czechoslovakia were dangerous for Catholics.  Facing fierce persecution, the Church moved 'underground.'  The fact that priests were targets for arrest, imprisonment and other forms of persecution meant that it became difficult if not impossible to deliver sacramental ministry to the Catholic faithful.  Appreciating that the status of a celibate man would draw attention and suspicion, courageous bishops responded creatively by ordaining women (Ludmila is one) and married men to serve as priests.

Though the ordinations of the married men have since been recognised by the Vatican, the work for recognition of the vocations and service of these courageous women continues to be a project in progress. 


Ludmila Javorova  
Ludmila Javorova continues to make her home in the city of Brno.
If you haven't done so already, I invite you to browse through this thread to become acquainted with her story!
with love and blessings,
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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/01/25 23:10:01 (permalink)

Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic, and
home of Ludmila Javorova
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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/01/25 23:11:37 (permalink)
Brno is the second-largest city in the Czech Republic. It was founded in 1243, although the area had been settled since the 5th century. Today Brno has 403,304 inhabitants and is the seat of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic, Supreme Court, Supreme Administrative Court, Supreme Prosecutor's Office and Ombudsman.

View of Brno from the castle Špilberk.


Brno is located in the southeast part of the country, at the confluence of the Svitava and Svratka rivers. The city is a political and cultural hub of the South Moravian Region (estimated population of 1,130,000 for the whole region). At the same time, it represents the centre of the province of Moravia, one of the historic lands of the Bohemian Crown. It is situated at the crossroads of ancient trade routes which have joined northern and southern European civilizations for centuries. Due to its location between the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands and the Southern Moravian lowlands, Brno has a moderate climate.

Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul


The etymology of the name Brno is disputed. It most likely comes from Old Czech brnen, brno 'muddy, swampy.' Alternative explanations derive it from a Slavic verb brniti (to armor or to fortify) or a Celtic language spoken in the area before it was overrun by Slavic and Germanic peoples (this theory would make it cognate with other Celtic words for hill, such as the Welsh word bryn). Throughout its history, Brno's locals also used to refer to the town in other languages, including Brünn in German, ברנו in Hebrew, and Bruna in Latin.


Brno as such was acknowledged to be a town in 1243 by Václav I, King of Bohemia, but the area itself had been settled since the 5th century. From the 11th century, a castle of the governing Přemyslid dynasty stood here, and was the seat of the non-ruling prince.

During the mid-14th century Brno became one of the centres for the Moravian regional assemblies, whose meetings alternated between Brno and Olomouc. These regional authority bodies made decisions on political, legal, and financial questions. They were also responsible for the upkeep of regional records.

Dominikánská Street in the city centre
During the Hussite Wars, the city remained faithful to King Zikmund. The Hussites twice laid siege to the city, once in 1428 and again in 1430, both times in vain.

During the Thirty Years' War, in 1643 and 1645, Brno was the only city to successfully defend itself from Swedish sieges, thereby allowing the Austrian Empire to reform their armies and to repel the Swedish pressure. In recognition of its services, the city was rewarded with a renewal of its city privileges. In the years following the Thirty Years' War, the city became an impregnable baroque fortress. In 1742, the Prussians vainly attempted to conquer the city, and the position of Brno was confirmed with the establishment of a bishopric in 1777. In 1805, The Battle of Austerlitz took place 6 miles south-east of Brno.

In the 18th century, development of industry and trade began to take place, which continued into the next century. Soon after the
industrial revolution, the town became one of the industrial centres of Moravia — sometimes it even being called the Czech Manchester. In 1839, the first train arrived in Brno. Together with the development of industry came the growth of the suburbs, and the city lost its fortifications, as did the Spielberg fortress, which became a notorious prison to where not only criminals were sent, but also political opponents of the Austrian Empire. Gas lighting was introduced to the city in 1847 and a tram system in 1869. Mahen Theatre in Brno was the first building in the world to use Edison's electric lamps.
During the "First Republic" (1918–1938) Brno continued to gain importance — it was during this period that Masaryk University was established (1919), the state armoury (Československá Statni Zbrojovka Brno) was established (1919), and the Brno Fairgrounds were opened in 1928 with an exhibition of contemporary culture. The city was not only a centre of industry and commerce, but also of education and culture. Famous people who lived and worked in the city include Gregor Mendel, Leoš Janáček, Viktor Kaplan, Jiří Mahen, and Bohuslav Fuchs.

In 1939 Brno was annexed by Nazi Germany along with the rest of Moravia and Bohemia. After the war, the ethnic German population was expelled.

Historical population
Demographic evolution of Brno between 1389 and 2000
1389 - 8,400
1645 - 4,500
1850 - 49,460
1900 - 138.000
1919 - 221,545
1925 - 242,401
1937 - 289,326
1940 - 238,204
1950 - 284,670
1970 - 335,701
1990 - 391,979
2000 - 383,034

Brno Today
  • Brno Exhibition Centre, established in 1928, is the city's premier attraction for international business visitors. Annually, over 1 million visitors attend over 40 professional trade fairs and business conferences held here. In 2007, the centre hosted the 14th Meeting of Central European Presidents, and a Rolling Stones concert. Exhibition and convention industry contributes heavily to the region’s economy, while 90% of Czech population associate Brno with trade shows. Thanks to its excellent infrastructure with modern facilities, Brno Exhibition Centre has a prominent position in the region. Therefore, Brno can be nicknamed the capital of trade fairs of Central Europe.
  • Masaryk University, located in Brno, is the second biggest public university-type school in the Czech Republic and the first in Moravia. Today, it consists of nine faculties, more than 190 departments, institutes and clinics. It is recognized as one of the most significant institutions of education and research in the Czech Republic and a respected Central Europe university with democratic traditions advocated since its establishment in 1919.
  • Špilberk Castle (royal castle, from 17th century fortress and the feared prison e.g. Carbonari) is one of the principal monuments, as is the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, also known as Petrov. The cathedral was built during the 14th and 15th centuries. Its bells ring noon at 11 a.m., a tradition since the siege by the Swedes in 1645.
  • The town has a long history of motor racing. The first races were run as a checkpoint for the Vienna-Breslau race in 1904; in the 1920s, the town hosted the Brno–Soběšice hillclimb race; and in the 1930s, all races were held on the street course called Masaryk Circuit which led through the streets of the western part of the town and neighbouring villages, such as Bosonohy and Žebětín. A series of Czechoslovakian  Grand Prix was held from 1930 to 1935, in 1937 and also once after the war, in 1949. Since 1968, Brno has been a permanent fixture on the European Touring Car Championship (ETCC) series, and has held motorcycle races since 1965. The road course ceased to be used at the end of 1986 when all motorsport activities resumed at the new permanent Masark Circuit, which was completed in 1985 in the northwest section of the town. Among other events, it hosts the Moto GP series. The Czech Moto Grand Prix in 2008 was won by Valentino Rossi.
  • Ignis Brunensis, an international fireworks competition, is held each June. The show attracts more than 200,000 spectators regularly.
  • Villa Tugendhat, a unique example of modern functionalistic architecture, designed by Mies van der Rohe and built in the late 1920s close to the centre of the city, was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2002. Another renowned architect who changed significantly the modern shape of Brno was Arnošt Wiesner. Many of his functionalistic buildings can be found all around the city.
  • In the 1990s, after more than 70 years of discussion, the city council decided to build a new main train station farther from the centre of the town and to develop a more modern area of the town, which is currently occupied by train track. This plan has been criticized for its possible economical and ecological consequences. The whole Brno railway junction is to be reconstructed, which is very complicated due to its 170 years of development since the first train came to Brno from Vienna in 1839. The construction is projected to finish in 2017. After municipal elections in autumn 2006 this project has been put on hold by new city leadership and it appears that an upgraded main station in the city centre will be reconsidered.
  • The Brno University of Technology, established in 1899, has been developing the Czech Technology Park since 1995.
  • Every September, Brno is home to a large wine festival (Slavnosti vína) to celebrate the harvest in the surrounding wine producing region.
  • Hantec is a unique dialect that originated in Brno, however most peoples' knowledge of it is restricted to a few words.
  • Brno is the home to the highest courts in the Czech judiciary. The Supreme Court is on Burešova Street, the Supreme Administrative Court is on Moravské náměstí (English: Moravian Square), and the Constitutional Court is on Joštova Street. This makes Brno a second capital of the Czech Republic—or would, if the constitution didn't define the capital as being solely Prague. Thus, Brno might be thought of as the "capital of the judicial branch of government" in the Czech Republic.
  • Brno is home to a Synagogue and one of the largest Jewish Cemetaries in Moravia. A Jewish population lived in Brno as early as the 13th century, and remnants of tombstones can be traced back to as early as 1349. The functionalist synagogue was built between 1934 and 1936. While there were 12,000 members of the Brno Jewish community in 1938, only 1,000 survived the Nazi persecution during Germany's occupation in World War II. Today, the cemetery and synagogue are maintained by a Brno Jewish community once again.
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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/01/26 03:10:24 (permalink)
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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/02/28 04:43:24 (permalink)
Dear friends,

We have just passed the anniversary of the February 26, 1987 Church of England General Synod's 'yes' vote to women priests.  News media at the time reported that 'by a huge majority, the debate of almost ten years duration" was cleared away and within the next few years, the final go-ahead for women's ordination was achieved.

Actually, the journey towards women's ordination in the twentieth century Church of England started many more than ten years before the 1987 vote.  On January 25 in 1944, a woman named Florence Li Tim Oi was clandestinely ordained in war torn Macao.  Her story bears some remarkable similarities to that of Ludmila Javorova.

In tribute to both women, we explore Tim Oi's story here.  If you have any questions, as always, let me know.

with love and blessings,

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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/02/28 04:49:35 (permalink)

Reverend Florence Li Tim-Oi with Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie
Florence Li Tim-Oi (Chinese: 李添嬡 Cantonese Lei Tim'oi, Mandarin Li Tian'ai; 5 May 1907 in Hong Kong26 February 1992 in Toronto)
::First Anglican Woman Priest::
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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/02/28 04:50:18 (permalink)
Li Tim-Oi

Icon of Rev. Li Tim-Oi written by Rev. Dr. Ellen Francis Poisson, OSH

At the turn of the twentieth century, China was on the brink of dramatic change that would “propel the country from its seemingly timeless though not always peaceful state, trough war and turmoil, to a state of unpredictable, highly-charged political revolution (Li & Harrison, 1985).”
In the fishing village of Aberdeen, Hong Kong, however, the old way of life persisted as it had for centuries. At that time, baby boys were highly prized – not so were girls. A bowl of ash could be at hand to smother unwanted new-born girls. However, Mr. Li, a Christian convert, doctor and headmaster, welcomed his daughter on May 5, 1907. A forward looking man, he wanted to challenge prevailing notions and was determined to show local farmers and landowners, who clung to old ideas, that a daughter could and should be cherished. He gave his infant the name Tim-Oi, “another much beloved girl.” Mr. Li also did not have any of his daughters’ feet bound like other girls of the educated and landed class (for centuries, the feet of women were bandaged from a very young age to keep the feet small and delicate, to mark their station in society, as well as to confine and restrict their lives).
Tim-Oi completed her primary schooling at 14, but pursuing her studies was out of the question. Her father had to provide for two wives, five sons and three daughters. And while Tim-Oi was a much beloved daughter, the boys had priority when it came to secondary education. Tim-Oi remained dutiful but fervently prayed that she be afforded the same opportunity as her brothers. She reminisced: “I used to pray to my heavenly father: if my father can afford to educate my brothers, perhaps at the end I could go to continue my education as well.”
Her prayers were apparently heard. After all her brothers finished their studies, her father relented. Tim-Oi was sent to Hong Kong for secondary schooling at age 21. While a student she joined an Anglican church, Saint Paul. She also got baptized and took the Christian name Florence, because her birth-month, May, is a month of flowers, and for Florence Nightingale whom she admired. In 1931, at the ordination of a deaconess at the Cathedral Church of Saint John in Hong Kong, she heard and responded to the call to ministry. The preacher, Rev. Mok Shau Tsang declared, “Here today we have an English lady … who is willing to sacrifice herself for the Chinese church? Is there a Chinese girl who would be willing to the do the same?’ Tim-Oi recalled kneeling down and with the words of Isaiah responded, “Here I am, send me.”

Tim Oi and other students from Union Theological College were enlisted to form a first aid squad.

After nine months teaching at her father’s village school, she could no longer postpone her vocation. She was awarded a scholarship by the Anglican Church and took a four-year course at the Union Theological College in Canton. During her third year, peace was shattered by war with Japan. Along with her fellow students, she served the thousands who were wounded and displaced by the incessant Japanese air raids. Li Tim Oi experienced the horrors of war.

Deacon Li Tim Oi with Bishop Mok.  Behind are Tim Oi's parents. 
Saint Mary's, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.

In response to the great need at the time, she was made deacon in 1941, and was given charge of an Anglican congregation in the Portuguese colony of Macao, which was overflowing with refugees from war-torn China.  As a deacon, she was not authorized to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and consecrate the element.  A priest had to travel from Hong Kong for this.  Nonetheless, Tim-Oi acted as a full time pastor, tending to the physical and spiritual needs of her suffering congregation and neighbors.  In the absence of resident priest,she baptized, married and buried faithful.  She gave much needed succor to the grieving, sought food for the hungry and kept hope and faith alive among those whose live she touched.

When a priest could no longer travel from Japanese-occupied territory to preside for her at the Eucharist,
Bishop Ronald Hall of Hong Kong asked her to meet him in Free China, where on January 25, 1944 he ordained her "a priest in the Church of God.” In his mind, Bishop Hall was merely confirming what he and many others witnessed - that Tim-Oi had the gift of priestly ministry.  In a letter to Archbishop William Temple, Hall explained the extraordinary act he was about to do:

I have three Chinese priests in Hong Kong but they cannot now get permission to go to Macao ... Her work has been remarkably successful.  My judgment is that it is only exceptional women who can do this kind of work.  But we are going to have such exceptional women in China and such exceptional need.  Moreover, working as a minister in charge of a congregation, Deaconess Lei has developed, as a man-pastor develops, and has none of that frustrated fussines that is noticeable in women who having the pastoral charisma are denied full exercise in the ministry of the church.  After World War II, Tim-Oi tried to diffuse the controversy surrounding her ordination by surrendering her priest's license, but not her Holy Orders, the knowledge of which carried her through Maoist persecution.
After World War II, Tim-Oi tried to diffuse the controversy surrounding her ordination by surrendering her priest's license, but not her Holy Orders, the knowledge of which carried her through Maoist persecution.

She suffered from the Red Guards who made her cut up her vestments with scissors and humiliated her in many other ways. Yet as Ted Scott, the Primate of Canada, recounted, "she was never bitter, never harbored any resentment against those who caused her suffering … she had the resources to forgive all that had been done to her." Along with the other victims of China’s Cultural Revolution, Tim-Oi lived in obscurity and hardship for over 30 years. The Bamboo curtain eventually lifted and Christian ministers including Tim-Oi received their back pay from the government. She bequeathed her savings and pension rights to good causes in China. She was also finally permitted to reunite with her family in Toronto.

She resumed the practice of her priesthood in the Church in China and in Toronto when she retired in 1981. She was awarded Doctorates of Divinity by General Theological Seminary, New York, and Trinity College, Toronto.

Florence Tim Oi Li died on February 26, 1992 in Toronto and is buried there. In Minneapolis on August 4, 2003, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church agreed to insert the Anniversary of Tim-Oi's priestly ordination in the Church's Calendar of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, to be observed on January 24. In Ontario the following June, The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada agreed to include Florence Tim-Oi Li in the Calendar of Holy Persons in their Book of Alternative Services, on the anniversary of her death.

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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/02/28 04:58:09 (permalink)
On January 25, 1944:  Florence Li Tim-Oi becomes the first woman to be ordained a priest in the Anglican Communion.
Florence Li Tim-Oi was the first female priest to be ordained in the Anglican Communion. Already appointed as a deacon to serve in the colony of Macao, she was ordained priest on 25 January 1944 by the bishop of Hong Kong, in response to the crisis among Anglican Christians in China caused by the Japanese invasion. Since it was to be thirty years before any Anglican church regularized the ordination of women, her ordination was controversial, and she resigned her licence (though not her priestly orders) after the end of the war. She was appointed an honorary (nonstipendiary) assistantant priest in Toronto in 1983 and formally reinstated as a priest the following year.

The details of her story:
  • In 1931, a Chinese woman named Li Tim-Oi attended an ordination service for a deacon in Hong Kong Cathedral. She heard the preacher say, “Here is an Englishwoman who is offering herself to serve the Church. Might there also be a Chinese woman who feels called by God to serve as a deacon?” Li Tim-Oi prayed to God and asked whether she might be so called.
  • Tim-Oi  then studied theology in Canton was ordained a deacon in 1941. After graduation she was given charge of a congregation in the Portuguese colony of Macao. When World War II broke out, there were many refugees and considerable fighting in that area. Tim-Oi persisted in her service and worked hard to provided pastoral care to refugees and congregants of her community.  The fighting in the zone made it impossible for her parishioners to receive the sacraments because a priest could not get through.
  • In 1944, Bishop R O Hall of Hong Kong asked her to meet with him in unoccupied territory in free China. The trip was difficult and perilous. When the two met on 25 January 1944, Bishop Hall ordained her "a priest in the Church of God". He knew that this was as momentous a step as when the Apostle Peter baptised the Gentile Cornelius. As Peter recognised that God had already given Cornelius the Baptismal gift of the Spirit, so Bishop Hall was merely confirming that God had already given Tim-Oi the gift of priestly minstry, but he resisted the temptation to rename her Cornelia.
  • Controversy ensued when authorities of the Anglican Communion learned of her ordination to priesthood. Rev Li Tim-Oi was asked to relinquish her priest's license. Concerned for the difficulties her status might cause for Bishop Hall, and because she viewed his position to be more more important than hers, she agreed to relinquish her priest's license and ceased functioning as a priest. But she never renounced her Holy Orders. She continued to serve another congregation, in Hepu, until the rise of Communism.
  • Under Maoist persecution, churches in China were closed, and Tim-Oi was sent for “re-education.” She entered a very dark period of her life and even considered suicide. Then, she says, she was “touched by the Holy Spirit.” She heard God speak to her and say, “Are you a wise woman? You are a priest!” She knew then that God was with her and would support her always, through all of her adversity.
  • Tim-Oi was sent to work on a farm, and part of her assignment was to take care of the chickens. Her home was raided several times and her possessions taken away. Many years later, she was asked how she sustained her faith during this time, and she answered, “I just went up the mountain and nobody knew.” Eventually she was able to “retire” from the farm, and she received permission towards the end of her life to emigrate to Canada.
  • In 1983, arrangements were made for her to come to Canada where she was appointed as an honorary assistant at St. John's Chinese congregation and St. Matthew's parish in Toronto. The Anglican Church of Canada had by this time approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and in 1984 -- the 40th anniversary of her ordination-- Ms. Li was, with great joy and thanksgiving, reinstated as a priest. This event was celebrated not only in Canada but also at Westminster Abbey and at Sheffield in England even though the Church of England had not yet approved the ordination of women.
  • From that date until her death in 1992, she exercised her priesthood with faithfulness and quiet dignity.  She won tremendous respect for herself and increasing support for other women seeking ordination. She was awarded Doctorates of Divinity by General Theological Seminary, New York, and Trinity College, Toronto.
  • The very quality of Ms. Li's ministry in China and in Canada and the grace with which she exercised her priesthood helped convince many people through the communion and beyond that the Holy Spirit was certainly working in and through women priests. Her contribution to the church far exceeded the expectations of those involved in her ordination in 1944.
  • She continued to serve at the Anglican Cathedral in Toronto for several years before her death in 1992.
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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/02/28 05:01:57 (permalink)
It takes one woman
Thursday 26th April 2007
by Christopher Hall

Florence Li Tim-Oi, first Anglican woman priest and Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury

The 100th birthday of Florence Li Tim-Oi, the first Anglican woman priest in Hong Kong, is celebrated this month with the re-launch of a charity founded in her memory. Oxford's Canon Christopher Hall takes up the story...

On 5 May 1907 a girl was born in Hong Kong who was to transform the worldwide Church. Her Chinese father called her Tim-Oi, 'Much Beloved', because he welcomed another daughter after his first-born had died, even though most fathers wanted sons.

Li Tim-Oi worked hard and when she was 24, she received a vocation to ministry in the Chinese church. She attended a seminary in Canton, where her New Testament tutor was Geoffrey Allen, later Bishop of Derby before retiring to Deddington. In 1941 after lay ministry in Portuguese Macau, she was ordained Deacon (an inclusive order in China), in charge of the church there. Japanese occupation of Hong Kong stopped visits from priests, so she was licensed to preside at Communion.

To regularise her position on 25 January 1944 she was made 'priest in the Church of God' by my father the Rt Revd Henry Hall, the Bishop of Hong Kong, after a hazardous journey to Zhaoqing in Free China. This church-transforming event paralleled the baptism by Peter of the first Gentile. The Bishop wrote to Ursula Niebuhr that Tim-Oi had shown 'like Cornelius that God has given her the true charisma'. Made by God she was no more 'unclean' than the Gentile Cornelius.

Forty years later, after Li Tim-Oi met Archbishop Robert Runcie at Lambeth Palace, he said to Archbishop Ted Scott: 'Who am I to say whom God could or could not call?''  Under pressure in 1946 from a 'Purple Guard', not the bishop, Tim-Oi resigned her priest's licence but not her Holy Orders. In her next parish she founded a maternity home to stop girl babies like her being smothered.

While Mao ruled China she suffered in obscurity, but released to Canada in 1981 she resumed her ministry in her 70s, harbouring no resentment at what she had undergone. After Li Tim-Oi died in 1992, her sister pump-primed the Li Tim-Oi Foundation to train women with Christian vocations to make a difference in their communities in the Global South - 200 to date.

With a relatively small grant these women use their energy and resources to impact their world  in ways we can hardly imagine:
  • Niceria Nkonge lives in a culture that includes polygamy and female genital mutilation and domestic violence. She works alongside the growing Mothers' Union to educate families about the Christian lifestyle.
  • Ruth Wakanene is a priest and gifted evangelist serving seven widespread congregations in the Mount Kenya diocese. She is recognised as 'a phenomenon' by her bishop who likens her to Billy Graham.

As with Li Tim-Oi they are proving that ‘It Takes One Woman’ to be an agent of change.  A saint was born a hundred years ago.  Learn more at www.litim-oi.org
- Canon Christopher Hall,  Hon Secretary, Li Tim-Oi Foundation
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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/02/28 05:06:10 (permalink)
The Bishop who recognised Florence Li Tim-Oi's call to priesthood and confirmed the call of the Holy Spirit by ordaining her a priest:

Ronald Hall
Bishop, Missionary
1895 - 1975

Born in 1895, Ronald Owen Hall was an undergraduate at Oxford and retired to the Diocese where he was an assistant bishop until his death on this day in 1975. He will, however, be remembered for his remarkable ministry among the rapidly expanding population in Hong Kong where he was bishop for 34 years and for his holiness of life. He was a man of missionary vision who had a profound influence on the leaders of the church in China. He was seen as a man who was ahead of his time in such things as ecumenism, Anglican relations and non-stipendiary ministry and during World War II ordained the first Anglican woman priest. But it was in his care of individuals that he was most loved. His ashes are buried in the sanctuary of St Margaret's Lewknor and the memorial reads, 'He showed us how the Christ he talked about is living now'.
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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/02/28 05:06:46 (permalink)
A 'Letter to Florence' on the Diamond Jubilee of her Priesting
January 25, 2004
Dear Florence, or should I call you Tim-Oi?

Tim-Oi was the name your father gave you to demonstrate that you were his Much Beloved Daughter - to demonstrate that he was not disappointed not to have a son. Florence was the name you chose at your baptism.
Florence Nightingale was your role model. You later tended the wounded when Canton was bombed. Did you know that she too felt called to priesthood, but was denied it ? May I call you Florence - the name we used when you stayed with us twenty years ago ? Do you remember getting up before breakfast to write my father's name in Chinese to go on the cover of his biography ? I remember you being so anxious to get it right.

Florence, what are your reactions to what we are doing today? I imagine you showing the same child-like pleasure as when you were welcomed back with firecrackers on your Return to Hepu in 1987 - puzzled at first and then jigging up and down clapping with joy.

Sixty years ago you could never have imagined that the Episcopal Church in the United States would today be observing this Anniversary of your Priesting in its Calendar, or that the Anglican Cathedral in Seattle is marking today with a daylong event. You could not have imagined that I would have been in Minneapolis last year testifying on your behalf - nor certainly did I - and as a result here we are, and here is Sister Ellen Francis all the way from New York with the icon of you she has written - a commission she accepted with alacrity, because she had written about you in her doctorate on the ordination of women.

No saint claims to be a saint, and neither did you - except in so far as we are all called to be saints. In 1987 when Bob Browne was making the film Return to Hepu, you said to him: 'I am just an earthen vessel with God's treasure inside me.' No saint would claim more than that for herself. Yet here we have an icon of you with a halo. Just as I was writing this letter to you, by the grace of God, an Orthodox priest was explaining on BBC radio his understanding of an icon. Every human being, he said, is made in the image of God. So when we look on an icon of a human being, we are to see, in it and through it, the image of God. So when we, and others after us, come and stand before this icon of you, we are to see the treasure of God in your earthen vessel. I hope you are happy with that.

Sixty years ago what did my father and you talk over before he made you a priest in the Church of God ? You told Ted Harrison, who wrote your biography [Much Beloved Daughter], that my father talked to you about lifelong priesthood, not of the momentous step you both were taking. After his death Ursula Niebuhr wrote to my mother saying that in 1942 my father had visited her and Reinhold. They had agreed that, if women were to be ordained in the episcopal tradition, then someone needed to do it first. The bishop knew then that there you were in neutral Macau, in pastoral charge of the congregation, and you and they were cut off from priestly ministry following the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong. When he returned to the vast part of his diocese in South China early in 1943, you probably did not know that he wrote to his brother bishops in China saying that he would ordain you when it was possible for you two to meet.

Did my father tell you that he was tempted to give you a new name - Cornelia? He recognised, even if you did not, that to ordain a woman was equivalent to Peter baptising the gentile Cornelius - quite contrary to the then understanding of God's will. Peter had been shown that, contrary to Jewish belief, gentiles were not unclean - and neither are women. What mattered to my father, as mattered to Peter, was that God had already given to you the gift of priesthood, which for three years you had been licensed to exercise, and your ministry had been manifestly blessed. Who was he to deny what God had already done?

You said to Bob Browne: 'I know I'm not a diamond. Beautiful diamonds experience many cuttings and polishing.' Florence dear, that most certainly was what you experienced: first from the Purple Guards, the episcopal vigilantes, whose minion persuaded you to resign your licence to exercise your priesthood. What must that have cost you for the next 30 years or so ? You were however still seen to be a priest. In 1993 I met a Sri Lankan in Colombo who told me he had been puzzled in the early '50s seeing a woman in Canton wearing her stole priestwise. I told him your story.

Soon after that the government in Beijing closed all churches and stopped ministers exercising their ministry. You told me you dare not then be seen with your Christian friends, lest you get them into trouble. I asked you how then could you worship. You said: 'I just went up the mountain to pray. Nobody knew.' Did you remember what St Paul wrote to Christians at Rome: 'Suffering produces endurance. Endurance produces character. And character produces hope'? Your character gave us hope and does so still.

There was much more suffering in store for you. Re-education in Beijing nearly drove you to suicide, but knowledge of your priesthood carried you through. Later the Red Guards came knocking on your door - more than once. You surrendered not only what might have been of value to them, also what was of no value to them but precious to you. They made you cut up your priestly vestments with scissors. You certainly experienced many cuts, but you were polished by the grace of God into a beautiful diamond. Today we celebrate your diamond jubilee.
At my suggestion your sister Rita accompanied you in your 80th year on that trip back to China. Your pastoral antennae were as sharp as ever. Do you remember late one evening in Guangzhou you insisted on responding to some personal crisis ? Bob Browne overheard you arguing with Rita. She said: 'Tim-Oi, you're retired. It's not your problem.' You responded: 'Rita, you no tough guy like me !' and off you went to give your care. When we visited you in Toronto for what was to be the last time, there were five of us round your hospital bed, and you were ministering to us.

That reminds me of the text on which you chose to preach in Bolton 20 years ago: 'Having loved his own, he loved them unto the end.' That was your own experience. It was also true of your priesthood: You loved your sisters and brothers to the end.

You know Rita's so proud of you now, even if, when first you had heard your call to ministry in Hong Kong cathedral, she tried to dissuade you from becoming a 'bible woman' as she put it. Ten years ago she made the Li Tim-Oi Foundation possible, and now 130 women have been helped to fulfil their vocations just as you were helped. Edidah Mujinya was one of the first. She sent me a Christmas card from Uganda. In a note she described herself and her sisters as 'daughters' of Li Tim-Oi. Let me tell you: you now have 130 daughters in Brazil, Burundi, Fiji, Kenya, Lesotho, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Africa, the Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. What a family for you to mother ! - and with God's help and ours it will go on growing. Pray for us as we strive to make that happen.

In this eucharist we give God thanks for you and for all you mean to us. Words by Sydney Carter [from his song Present Tense] were adapted for my father's epitaph. They are equally true of you: 'She showed us how the Christ she talked about is living now.'
Christopher Hall
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RE: Catholic Woman Priest Ludmila Javorova 2009/02/28 05:08:17 (permalink)
Face to faith: An end to discrimination would be the best tribute to the Church of England's first female priest, says Christina Rees
The Guardian
May 12, 2007

One hundred years ago a baby girl was born in China. At that time it was often the practice to have a bowl of ash at hand at a birth, to smother the child if it was a girl. But on May 5 1907 no bowl of ash was used or even wanted. Both mother and father, educated Christians, were delighted to have a healthy baby daughter, and she was named Li Tim-Oi - Much Beloved.

When Li Tim-Oi was baptised she chose the name Florence, after both the flowers of her birth month and Florence Nightingale. The name held a strange significance: Florence Nightingale longed to minister in the Church of England, but was spurned because of her sex; however, Florence Li Tim-Oi was to become the first female Anglican priest.

On January 25 1944, in the midst of war-torn China, the then bishop of Hong Kong, an Englishman named RO Hall, ordained Tim-Oi "a priest in the Church of God". He was censured for his action by fellow bishops, and, to defuse controversy, Li Tim-Oi surrendered her priest's licence - but not her holy orders. She later resumed the practice of her priesthood in China and then in Canada.

After Li Tim-Oi died in 1992, her sister established a foundation in her honour that gives grants for training Anglican women in the developing world. Over 200 have been trained so far. As chair of a group that seeks to end discrimination against women in the Church of England, I was asked to become a trustee of the foundation, and not long ago I travelled to east Africa to see what some of the women it has helped were doing with the training they had received.

I met ordained women in their 20s overseeing up to eight churches, with no transport, sometimes walking for six hours a day to visit parishioners. I met women working with street children, helping them reintegrate with their families and get back into full-time education. One woman had started an adult literacy school on the outskirts of Kampala. On a wall next to a brightly coloured poster of the alphabet she had hung another poster warning parents against practices involving child sacrifice. On the wall of a rural church in Kenya I saw another poster calling for an end to female genital mutilation.

Every woman I met was challenging her own culture about practices that they believed clashed with the Christian gospel. They were also bravely challenging their own churches where they met collusion with harmful practices and colleagues turning a blind eye to behaviour contributing to the spread of HIV/Aids. In addition to their Christian work, many of them were teaching people in their communities ways of becoming economically self-sufficient. I came away convinced that these women hold the key to ending traditions and practices which are damaging to women and that they are uniquely placed to help end the spread of HIV/Aids.

The Li Tim-Oi Foundation has just been relaunched as It Takes One Woman (Ittakesonewoman.org), summing up the life and spirit of the first female Anglican priest and the women being trained in her memory, and underlying the saying: educate a man and you educate an individual; educate a woman and you educate a community.

Perhaps this centenary year of Li Tim-Oi's birth is a good time for the Anglican communion to speak out with one voice against traditions and practices that harm and discriminate against women and to affirm the ministry of women to all orders: deacon, priest and bishop. The greatest tribute we could pay to Florence Li Tim-Oi - and Florence Nightingale - is for our church to accept that God calls women just as God calls men.
Christina Rees is a member of the Church of England general synod and the Archbishops' Council
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