Carol Marin: St. Scholastica teens want to see new focus on women, youths, social justice
BY CAROL MARIN March 13, 2013 7:12PM
Pope Francis speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio who chose the name of Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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Updated: April 16, 2013 3:47PM
Eight members of the senior class of St. Scholastica Academy huddled around my iPhone on Wednesday afternoon as we watched the new pope address his flock.
These young women studied Francis I’s image intently, listened to his first words closely and had some very clear views about what they hope he will do.
Not the least had to do with their gender.
“I don’t see women’s ordination coming anytime soon,” said Mary Kate Cahill, “but I would hope perhaps he would find a way to include women in positions of authority, because you know you are missing a whole base there, excluding all these people.”
Women in the church, she believes, have been marginalized. “I feel like we are [treated like] a special interest group,” she said.
“There’s the Archdiocesan Pastoral Women’s Council but there is no Men’s Council,” she pointed out, “and that kind of strikes me as funny.”
Irony is something these seniors understand. They represent the last graduating class for this venerable all-girls Catholic school. It will close in June after 148 years, a consequence of skyrocketing costs and declining enrollment.
Moreover, the Benedictine sisters who have been the intellectual and spiritual pillars of St. Scholastica, like American nuns everywhere, have been subjected to a Vatican inquisition into whether they were too dedicated to the poor and disenfranchised. And not sufficiently fixated, unlike the bishops, on opposition to birth control, abortion and same-sex unions.
The students say many of their Catholic friends do not attend mass regularly. And so to grow the church, these young women believe, there is a continuing and urgent need to focus on issues of social justice. That, they argue, is what will help bring their generation back into the pews.
“Giving to the poor and getting involved in more service projects especially for our generation” is what class president Alexsandra Najda believes will inspire others her age.
“I’m hoping [the Church] goes more modern again,” she said.
What does modern mean?
“To get more youth involved in the church and get church more exciting and less of a thing that you have to do every Sunday and more something you want to go to,” she explained.
Keenly aware that there are too few priests for too many parishes, keenly aware that it is the women of the church on which the male hierarchy depends to keep things running in those parishes, the seniors of St. Scholastica return to the question of women and ordination.
“I would like to see some female priests in the Catholic Church,” said Shoshanna Coalson. “I know that’s a huge change. I guess I’m not very hopeful of that, but if it happens, it would be awesome.”
And then some.