|Photo by Rafael Mallorca|
Angela Lippard is a beautiful woman both inside and out. She has taken the bold stance of becoming a Deacon in an Independent Catholic Church since The Roman Catholic Church does not allow women to become ordained. This is her story:
Tell me a little about yourself?
I’m what they call a Cradle Catholic; I’ve been Catholic since birth. My dad worked for the Roman Catholic Church, he’s a Deacon. I’ve been with Catholicism since I’ve been alive. Now I’m with an Independent Catholic Church that is not sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church. I will most likely be ex-communicated because I have been ordained as a Deacon in the Independent Catholic Church.
Why are you doing this given the consequences?
Being ordained for me was not just a rebellion, is a calling. Let me tell you a story. I have a lot of gay friends: one of my good gay friends was having a party. One guy at the party noticed that my dad was a Deacon and his walls came down and he started speaking openly to him. The guy told my father that he was always worried that God hated him, he felt un-loved in his own church, and he broke down crying at the doors of the church. My father basically told him that Jesus was there crying with him, for you are a loved child of God. That story inspired me to want to do something like that with my life.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is, “All are welcome in my Father’s House.” When I talk to most people about spirituality I don’t bring up God or Jesus or the Church. I bring up love.
What is the nature of your spirituality?
Experiencing God as goodness, and love, that is what I know of God. We all have gifts to contribute in this world.
What are your duties as a Deacon?
I can assist at Mass at the Independent Church, weddings, funerals, and officiate ceremonies. I can offer Spiritual Direction. I have Bachelors in Religious Studies with an emphasis in Spirituality. I feel like I see and experience God in all people.
Explain excommunication from the Church:
Women in The Roman Catholic Church cannot be ordained, hence the excommunication. What it means to be excommunicated is that I am not welcome in The Roman Catholic Church.
This makes me feel hurt and sad. Anonymous Bishops have ordained women, “illegally” for many years, however they have not been sanctioned or recognized by the Church. Most of these women have been perceived as doing it as a statement.
Why did you leave the traditional Catholic Church?
I have found an Independent Church. I’m not in favor of the Church’s view of women and homosexuality. I feel that this is a calling. I also feel called to work with the LGBT population.
There are many good things about the Catholic Church. There is a small community within a larger community. They believe in justice and peace and dignity in all people.
Being Catholic is my identity in some ways. I have learned to worship a certain way. Even within my Church I can worship in a community of people. The Catholic Church teaches us to reach out to our neighbors and in our Independent Catholic Church we welcome all faith traditions.
As an outsider I tend to think of Christianity as Jesus obsessed. Can you speak to that?
In any religion, any fundamentalist point of view will come across as extreme. For me when it comes to the notion of Jesus: Personally I feel there is Truth. We often get caught in semantics. I think Truth=God=Goodness. I think there are several different doors to the truth. My way doesn’t have to be your way. I’m definitely not of the belief that if you are not Christian you will go to hell.
I know karma is kind of an eastern thought process, do you believe in it all?
I think that if you put negativity out there, you will get it in return. I don’t think bad things happen to people because they are bad. I think the reason bad things happen has a lot do with our free will. Good things can happen to us everyday, but we have to be open to them. If you open yourself up to good things, good things will start happening.
What’s your relationship to God?
I often refer to God with the feminine pronoun as “She.” I feel like if I was made in God’s image then I think of Her like myself. I have found God in pieces and experiences. I have God “moments” where I feel the presence in my life. I think of God as sort of the Great Spirit, much like my mother’s Native American culture. I think of God as nature, community, friends, I see God in others. I see God in solitude and I even see Her in the Eastern Market.
Do you pray or meditate?
I pray. I pray alone, in Mass. I also think serving others is prayer. I think relationships are a form of prayer. My ideal job would be to love people. I think that’s prayer.
To visit Angela’s Church please refer to: Christ the Good Shepherd (www.Ferndalecgs.com).