National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date:  July 30, 2004

St. Mary Magdala's feast day commemorated worldwide


Some 300 groups in the United States and worldwide commemorated -- in poems, music, art, dance, liturgy, novenas, rituals and lectures -- the feast day of St. Mary Magdala. The saint, whom some have mistakenly believed to be a prostitute, was “the apostle to the apostles.”

As NCR was going to press, Mary Magdala was being celebrated in parishes, convents, diocesan offices and schools on or around July 22. Festivities in her honor stretched from Buffalo, N.Y., to Trinidad and Tobago, from Seattle to South Africa.

“A number of bishops wouldn’t allow women’s feet to be washed last Holy Thursday,” said St. Joseph Sr. Christine Schenk. “This is especially ironic when we recall the prominent role Mary of Magdala and other women played in accompanying Jesus through crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection while the male disciples fled. The Mary of Magdala celebrations help heal some of the effects of such absurdity.”

Schenk of Cleveland, Ohio, directs FutureChurch, a 5,000-member organization striving to educate Catholics about the seriousness of the priest shortage, the centrality of the Eucharist and the systemic inequality of women in the Catholic church. She has led the drive to lift Mary Magdala’s feast day to prominence in the United States and abroad. The celebrations have been cosponsored over eight years by Call to Action.

“St. Mary Magdala symbolizes the significant position of women in the early church and she now stands as a beacon for women in the Catholic church,” Schenk told NCR.

She pointed to the 82 percent of paid lay ministers who are women, yet “none has a voice in the governing of the church. Instead, they have little job security and are often treated unjustly,” she said, referring to recent firings in Atlanta and Lexington, Ky.

Patricia Lefevere, a frequent contributor to NCR, lives in New Jersey.

National Catholic Reporter, July 30, 2004

This Week's Stories | Home Page | Top of Page
Copyright  © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing  Company, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO   64111
All rights reserved.
TEL:  816-531-0538     FAX:  1-816-968-2280   Send comments about this Web site to: