Document 29: Shawn Copeland, OP, "Your Daughters Shall Prophesy," in Women's Ordination Conference, New Women, New Church, New Priestly Ministry: Proceedings of the Second Conference on the Ordination of Roman Catholic Women (New York: Kirkwood Press, 1980), pp. 155-58.
At the second Women's Ordination Conference, Shawn Copeland, like Fran Ferder, sensed a shared impatience capable of energizing the movement or causing it great damage. Asked to offer the central reflection in the closing prayer service, Copeland did so with reluctance because she felt called to counsel "waiting." She called on her heritage as an African-American Catholic woman, linked the oppression of her ancestors with the oppression of women the world over throughout time, and said that a common theme for all of them was waiting. For Copeland, waiting could be sacred because it encouraged community, prayer, and reflection. She hoped the gathered feminists would wait with patience, pondering the ways they oppressed others so they would not tear down oppressive structures only to perpetuate oppression in new forms.
Rite of Departure
YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY
M. Shawn Copeland, O.P.
SHAWN COPELAND, OP, is an Instructor in Applied Theology at Harvard Divinity School and the former director of the National Black Sisters Conference. She is a member of the Adrian (MI) Dominican congregation.
Peace, My Friends — Opening Song
Opening Prayer — Louise Dempsey, CSJ
REFLECTION DANCE — "The Passion According to Mary" Dancers: Carla De Sola and Greg Reynolds
I am a child born of the union of tradition and crisis. Sorrow is my grandmother; suffering and striving my aunts; begin a-new my great-grandmother. I am a daughter not a son: my name is waiting.
My name has lived my life under the whip, under the lash; my name has lived my life within walls, within bondage; my name has lived my life through exodus, through sojourn.
I have waited in the deserts of Syria, in the streets of Egypt, in the land of Babylon. I have waited in the cloisters of France, in the palace of the Oba of Benin, in the rice-paperhouses of Japan. I have waited in the Glens of Armagh, in the slave ships bound for hell, in the barrios of southern California.
I have waited in the tin shanties of Soweto, I have waited in the showers of Buchenwald; I have waited in the hills of the Dakotas.
I have waited in fields and vineyards, picking cotton and beans and grapes, cutting cane. I have brought down my hoe on hard ground; I have gripped the plow firmly; I have forced fruit from the earth.
I have waited in houses — washing, cooking, cleaning. I have sheltered the orphan, welcomed the stranger, embraced the lonely. I have lived alongside pain and disease, poverty and misery, anxiety and affliction. I have pleaded and hurt; I have known the coming of despair; I have given birth.
I have waited in the journey. My throat has grown parched thirsting for truth and justice. My feet have grown bloody cutting a path across the precipice, making a way where there is no
way, coursing a road where there was no road. Righteousness was my guide. I have slept under gathering clouds with hope; I have rested near fresh water with faith; I have eaten and grown strong with love.
I have known blood and want and pain and joy. I have drunk water from the well; I have walked the threshing floor; I have been to the mountain top. I am waiting.
And the word of the Lord came to
Go forth, and stand upon the mount
before the Lord.
And behold, the Lord passed by,
and a great and strong wind rent the
mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks
before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the
wind: and after the wind an earthquake, but
the Lord was not in the earthquake: and
after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord
was not in the fire: and after the fire
a still, small breeze.
And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his
face in his mantle and went out and
stood at the entrance of the cave.
The Lord God was not in the whirlwind.
The Lord God was not in the earthquake.
The Lord God was not in the fire.
The Lord God was in the gentle breeze.
This conference is convened and attended by those who believe that humankind, female and male, reflects the image of God. This conference is convened and attended by those who believe that the Holy Spirit is no respecter of persons, that that same Spirit breathes as it wills. This conference is convened and attended by those who believe that the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church is necessary for the Church's ministry; is important for the Church's future; is significant for the Church's tradition.
The Convenors and Planners of this conference have asked me to speak a word. I do so reluctantly. The word I speak comes to me from my God, from my ancestors, from my sojourn; the word I speak surrounds me, becomes me, penetrates me. The word I speak is waiting.
Waiting. Waiting does not surrender the standard; waiting does not submit defeat; waiting does not suppress the call. Waiting is not retreat, waiting is the preparation for advance. Waiting is not cowardice, waiting is the courage to cre-ation. Waiting is not acquiescence, waiting is the struggle for fidelity.
For some, waiting is an abomination, an embarrassment, an anachronism: still, I ask you wait.
Prepare. Be bold and assertive. Struggle.
Minister to God's people. Listen. Be faithful to your call.
Be firm. Wait.
The whirlwind will not take Tradition. Tradition bars the doors, locks the windows, draws the drapes against the whirlwind.
The earthquake will not take tradition. Tradition reinforces the walls, secures the foundation, repairs the faults at the slightest tremors of the ground.
The fire will not take tradition. Tradition secures the house, surrounds it with a moat, eliminates the volatile.
The whirlwind, the earthquake, the fire: these three only destroy, evoke defense. None but the gentle breeze can take tradition.
The gentle breeze comes quietly under the door; the gentle breeze shakes the foundations; the gentle breeze fans the flame. The gentle breeze calls tradition to new life in every age, holding
fast to what is essential; nuancing, shaping, interpreting for the present and future, enriching the past.
Rite of Departure Program continued.
MINISTER OF MUSIC--James Burns
For the gentle breeze erodes the established disorder; the gentle breeze challenges the calloused comfort of clericalism; the gentle breeze confronts the complicity and silence of injustice.
The gentle breeze creates the new woman, the new man, the new humanity, the new Church: God is in the gentle breeze. Wait. Those who wait for God shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk upright and not faint. (Is. 41)
Wait. Waiting is for work, for preparation, for ministry, for dialogue, for building, for bonding.
Wait. Break old chains; discover new ties that bond. Under stand your oppression, and understand that you have oppressed. Understand your hunger, and understand that you have grown strong and well-fed on the backs of others. Understand your pain, and understand that you have crippled and maimed others.
Break the old chains; discover new ties that bond. Wait and know that in the waiting comes the gracious sovereign love and mercy of our God.
Wait. Soon the very stones will cry out. Wait. But remember: Trouble is coming to any who build towns with blood and found cities on iniquity. Wait.
Wait for the gentle breeze.
Wait even under discomfort, dissatisfaction,
Wait always within community, care, commitment.
Wait hopefully through struggle, sorrow, suffering.
I am a child born of the union of tradition and crisis. Sorrow is my grandmother, suffering and striving my aunts, begin anew my great-grandmother. I am the daughter of the Church: my name is waiting.
Sion Sing, Break into Song, For with you is the Lord--with Saving Power
Matthew 10 passim--Louise Dempsey, CSJ
RESPONSE-Prayer of Embrace
SOLO-"Bathe Her in Your Love"*
RITE OF GOODBYEBe Not Afraid-Closing Song
*Gestures by the congregation
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