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I visited recently with one of my daughters, Christine, a college sophomore. She lives on campus with a close-knit group of friends who spend time, as college students do, talking about life and career plans. Two of her friends, it seems, plan to enter the seminary after college. Both want to become priests. Both are women, one a Catholic, the other a Baptist. Given current constraints, both plan to become Episcopalian priests.

Their decisions apparently involve little regret and a lot of confidence. They will find their way to serve somewhere in the Christian family.

I talked one afternoon to a dozen of these bright women students and gained yet a deeper appreciation for the fruits of the feminist revolution reshaping our land. If the feminists of our generation have had to struggle for institutional and social change, those of the next generation, it seems, take change for granted, are more at peace with themselves, believing themselves to be part of a cultural "feminist" shift sweeping the planet.

These young women tie ecological and feminist thought and brush aside, as anachronistic, supporters of patriarchy. They say this without self-consciousness or rancor. It's just the way things are and the way things will have to be if the earth is to regain balance and health.

These young women are also concerned about physical Health. All had cut down on or entirely cut out red meat, for example. They appeared eager to integrate spirit, mind and body. And from what they told me, they are not exceptions in their generation.

I left them feeling hopeful. Feminism is healthy and growing and the force of movement is continuing to shape the way. If feminist thought ever disappears, it may well be the result of having so reshaped culture that the word will have lost its original meaning. The seeds of such a dramatic change appear well planted and ready to bloom.

A closing thought. I try to keep an open mind. At a minimum, it helps me stay in better touch with my children. Yet, we all are the products of the forces and times that shaped us. Thinking of my daughter and her friends, I had a regret.

It was that the energies, insights and desire for service these young women showed cannot yet shape the ordained priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church.

I know that old institutions change slowly. I also know that one day women priests will be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. Maybe not in time to capture the expressions of my daughter's friends. But one day it will happen. I say this because the alternative thought is too painful to contemplate: an institution living in another time, incapable of change and forever c%w to the imaginations of my daughter, Christine, and her friends.

Given what I continue to learn, I can say with confidence that kind of church simply won't last.
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Title Annotation:ordination of women
Author:Fox, Tom
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Dec 17, 1993
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