The following comes from a May 2 story in the Contra Costa Times.

A Catholic from birth, Maureen Mancuso has always felt compelled to minister for the Roman Catholic Church. Now, she’s facing excommunication for what she will do Saturday: become the first woman of her faith ordained a priest in Northern California.

“We feel the call by God, and God for us is a higher authority,” she said. “I think the church has to recognize that it does have the power to ordain women, and that women can be woven into the tradition.”

Mancuso, 59, of San Ramon, is a member of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests, an international group that says it has ordained about 150 women as priests, bishops and deacons worldwide — including two priests who work in Los Gatos and San Francisco. The Catholic Church says the practice goes against the church’s official canon, and women who seek the ordinations automatically are expelled from the church.

Mancuso, who was born in San Francisco and is now a teacher, attended seminary and earned a master’s degree in divinity in 1996 from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. She had hoped that by the time she was ready, the church would allow women in the priesthood. Instead, the Vatican hardened against the idea. Mancuso joined the Womenpriests group, which began in 2002 when an anonymous Catholic bishop ordained seven women on the Danube River in Germany.

Suzanne Thiel, the Womenpriests group’s western representative and board president, says the group has 116 U.S. members and 152 worldwide. A majority are priests, along with a few bishops, deacons and candidates. The organization is diverse — members are single, married, gay and straight women; some are even men — with an average age of about 57….

Mike Brown, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland, which serves the East Bay, said the diocese won’t comment on the ordinations or the Womenpriests group.

“They can put the word ‘Catholic’ in the title, but it’s not a sanctioned organization,” he said.

George Wesolek, the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s director of public policy, echoed those comments, saying he doesn’t see the church changing its stance.

“The Catholic Church’s teaching is pretty clear about women in the priesthood,” he said. “This is a fringe group that is pushing their particular agenda.”

In 2008, the Vatican took a further punitive step, declaring that any ordained woman, and any bishop performing an ordination, would be excommunicated….

Mancuso, who teaches at Granada High in Livermore, said she considers herself part of a reform movement within the church. She is divorced with two grown sons; her family, she said, is supportive….

While there are others in the Bay Area in the Womenpriests group, Mancuso is the first to have her ordination performed in Northern California….

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