First Female Priest

by Paula Montgomery from Annapolis County, NS
Jun 25, 16

In the spring of 2003 there was a special evening held at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Church Point, Digby County, Nova Scotia.  

A Mass was held in celebration of the Episcopal ordination for Bishop Claude Champagne. I was newly converted to the Catholic faith, and I wanted to take in the magnificent mass with its pomp and circumstance. My sister, visiting from Germany, agreed to go with me. We departed early from West Paradise, and arrived at the church, the majority of pews were still empty. We asked a Greeter at the door where we should sit and he pointed to a section near the front.

My sister found a pew and sat down, but I decided to sit further forward because I did not want to miss any of the ceremony. Ushers passed out programs to everyone and I took a moment to peruse the booklet, which was in French, English and Latin.

Pretty soon the church was filled to capacity with parishioners and guests from surrounding counties.  

Before long the Knights of Columbus marched in, dressed in their black cloaks, with red satin trim, white plumed purple hats and carrying their ceremonial swords.  

Next came the procession of the priests, who had come from all across the Province for this special occasion. As I turned around I noticed that all the pews were filled, with the exception of mine and the one in front of me. The priests kept coming and coming, my stomach started to knot as I realized where they were heading. To my pew, from both sides, forcing me in the middle. 

“Well”, I thought “at least, I’m right in the action.”  

The ceremony began. One of the clergy said something in French and all the priests stood up – I popped right up with them. The priests put forth their right arm, pointing towards the urns of holy water in front of the first pew. I followed suit – extending my right arm with great gusto. Then the priests began to recite in unison, something in Latin. I don’t know Latin, but I did my best to follow, looking at the wording in my program.  

When we finished, the priests all put their arms down, I followed suit. I quickly turned round to smile at my sister, and that is when, to my utter dismay, I noticed that no one else was standing, just me and the two hundred priests. I plopped down in my pew, red as a beet, and frantically searched in the booklet for the translation of what I had just recited.  

It would appear that I had just renewed my priestly vows.  

Well Stuart, I figure I am the first woman to be inducted into the Catholic Priesthood. Now I just have to find a Parish to preside over.