Why I Became An Ordained Roman Catholic Woman Priest – Even Though Vatican Says “No!” (Ann Penick)

On Saturday, June 4th, I was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Baltimore, Maryland through the Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP). Their website is www.romancatholicwomenpriests.org. This is not an approved path with the Vatican nor with a number of the clerical hierarchy nor with 25% of the sitting-in-the-pew Roman Catholics. We will not leave the Church which is why RCWP is on the radar screen of the Vatican and many of the Roman Catholic clergy. We believe that the Roman Catholic Church can become what Christ calls it to be, but it can’t be changed from the outside–conversion must begin from within.

My decision to become a priest was made after much thought, prayer, and discussion with family members, priests, and religious brothers and sisters. This was not a decision that came about yesterday or within the past year. It didn’t come out of politics, militancy, or anger. When I met Jesus in my life back when I was age 19 and sought direction to a faith community, I listened to God’s call in my life and joined the Roman Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil Saturday evening Mass in 1971. I believed I was called to ministry within the Church and have been involved with a variety of ministries since including music and dance as well as college campus ministry from 1997-2008. For many years I believed I was being called to serve as a deacon and even told some people that if the Church opened up the permanent diaconate ministry to women, I would discern.


Six years ago when I attended the Women’s Ordination Worldwide conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, the calling to the priesthood came to the forefront. My initial response was, “NO! Please, not me!” followed by the thought that I had now gone off the deep end. I sat on this knowledge for three years–telling nobody! Yet, every time I went on a retreat, worked on a retreat, spent time in prayer and/or scripture study, or went about the work of college campus ministry, this call to priesthood would revisit me over and over again. When I finally did tell people, I first told my family. My husband’s response was, “For a very long time I saw you were being called.” My step-daughter’s response was, “For a very long time I saw you were being called.” My step-son, his partner, and my brother have expressed full support.. I also discussed this with four Roman Catholic priests, a religious brother, and a few nuns who all confirmed mine was a genuine call and not to ignore it, but to move forward with it.

I’ll admit–I’m into being popular and this is not a popular walk! I have no illusions that this road is going to be easy to travel. Moving into uncharted waters is scary for me. But, for me, the Roman Catholic Church is my spiritual home. I believe this is where I belong. This is how I live out my faith.. I’m not being called elsewhere. This isn’t quite what I had planned! I’m only beginning to grasp the “why” of it all and I’ll be unpacking this for the rest of my life. I will try to do my best to do what God wants of me. I am a follower of Jesus. I know the Church can be better than this and it will be!

Ann Penick
Priest, Eastern Region USA
RCWP ><>


If you want some Biblical reasons to back up the approval of women functioning in every part of the leadership of the body of Christ, here is my series to check out: Liberating Women for Ministry?

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  • I come from a background where I am fully in support of women in ministry, my Mum is ordained and where I know from experience the pain it causes to have your calling questioned simply because of your gender. I also greatly appreciated your candour and honesty. Therefore, this question is simply for your perception rather than hostile:

    I wonder, how do you reconcile the implicit covenant that exists ordination (to faithfully administer the gospel as taught by the church) with a situation where your denomination doesn’t reconcile full ordination as being an equal gospel value? Or, to put it another way, how do you reconcile an agreement to teach in submission to the church with an act (however justified, and I think the cause is 100% justified) of disobedience against the church under whom you teach and celebrate?

    Do you see what I am trying to drive at here? There is in your situation (as I’m sure you are only too personally aware) a tension – how do you personally reconcile it?

  • Jonathan Aigner

    20-year-old Jonathan would freak our if he heard what 27-year-old Jonathan was about to say, but “good for you.” Seriously. Your example to women (and men) who are being called into the ministry is fantastic. Silencing half of those gifted and called into ministry is one of the Church’s most egregious tragedies.



  • Leo Ladenson

    Very sad. Completely at odds with the mind of the Church.