Why Father Anne?
I go by Father Anne for many reasons, but in a nutshell, it's this: the priest is one of the most powerful symbols in the Roman Catholic tradition, yet it is significantly constrained in our Catholic imagination because it is collapsed solely with the male form. A key part of my ministry is to expand this rich symbol to include the body of a woman. I live the life, I wear the clerics, and I go by the title "Father." As I embody the priesthood throughout my days, I become a living witness to the truth that God calls women to serve as priests.
In addition to doing this heavy symbolic work, the title is "sticky." It piques people's curiosity, and it both mocks the notion that women cannot serve as priests while at the same time confirming the reality that I am, indeed, a real Roman Catholic priest--as real as any man. Lastly, when people in the United States hear the title “Father” in reference to a person wearing a collar, they almost always identify it with the Roman Catholic Church. I want there to be no mistake: I am not Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, or Methodist. I am a Roman Catholic priest, and it is the Roman Catholic Church that I challenge with my ministry.
Why do you break the law?
The exclusion of women from the priesthood is rooted in an unjust law propped up by sexist theology. It's really that simple. There is ever-increasing historical, archeological, theological and scriptural evidence that supports the ordination of women in the Catholic Church. After many long years of discernment, struggle, sacrifice and prayer, I had to finally obey God's ask of me. Though some interpret my ordination as a sign of disrespect for the institutional Church, it is actually a great act of love for the Church I adore.
I encourage you to put aside your preconceived notions and invite God to teach you about this issue. Thoroughly educate yourself and pray about all you learn in the light of the Holy Spirit. There are numerous times in history when the Roman Catholic Church has dramatically changed its position (complete reversal). For example, the Church has changed its position on slavery, ecumenism, religious freedom, and Judaism. As human beings we can never know all things, and so we must walk the humble path of allowing the Spirit to ever-deepen our understanding of what it means to be fully human. Ordination is one more area where God is working to bring the Church into alignment with God's desire for justice for all creation. The more tightly the Church grips this teaching, the more people it drives away from the Church and, often, from God.
Women's Ordination Conference