When Kathleen O’Connell Sauline came forward for Communion at St. Luke Parish in Boardman, Ohio, the priest placed a cloth over the bread and said he could not give her the Eucharist. Likewise, a deacon refused to give her the consecrated wine from the chalice.
The longtime parishioner and parish volunteer had been expecting it.
Eight days earlier, Sauline had been ordained a deacon through the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, which is part of the international Roman Catholic women priests movement. The Vatican considers the ordinations illicit and has said that the women priests and deacons incur automatic excommunication.When refused the sacrament at Mass on July 8, Sauline replied to the priest and deacon that she was hungry and thirsty “for that which Jesus called us to share,” then moved toward the center of the church and waited with her hands open. Later, a lay Eucharistic minister gave her Communion, she said.
The priest, Fr. Zachary Coulter, who was ordained last year, is one of two sacramental ministers at the parish. Sauline said Coulter knew she was pursuing ordination and had earlier tried to talk her out of it.
Her response to him, “This is the church in which I raised my daughters and in which I belong. Nothing you say can exclude me from this church,” recalled Sauline, who has been a member of St. Luke’s for 11 years but recently moved to another city.
Coulter and other members of the parish staff declined to speak with NCR.