Ordained Priest 2017

Ordained Deacon 2017 

Alice Marie Iaquinta

 Master of Divinity and for PhD Adult and Continuing Education

Master of Arts English and Education

Bachelor of Arts English and Education

 Associate of Arts – Interior Design

My ordination was an act of surrender to the Spirit and obedience to God, not an act of defiance of the church. I love the Roman Catholic faith and want to see the reforms of the Vatican II Council fulfilled. This is the “new springtime” that Pope  John XXIII and the Council recognized and we ordained Roman Catholic  Womenpriests are the “signs of the times.”

During the Second Vatican Council, although I had been raised in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, I converted to Catholicism at 19 in 1964. My Catholic,  Italian grandmother had a profound influence on my spirituality as I grew up. Because my family lived during my entire childhood, in a two family home with nana living  upstairs, I spent a lot of time with her.

My road to priesthood was not only unplanned, it wasn’t even on my radar, as my  feelings about the direction of the Church, so heightened by the possibilities for  reforms during the Council were dampened, year by year, until I simply didn’t practice  Catholicism for a long time. I spent a lot of years angry and disillusioned.

My faith in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, however, deepened, without participation in  what I came to fully understand to be the hierarchical, patriarchal and misogynist Church.

I walked away from institutional Church for decades as a young woman coming of  age in the feminist age of the ’60’s and 70’s. It was only after spending time in the  Quaker church in the mid 1990’s that I was reluctantly led back by the Spirit to full-tilt lay  ministry involvement in a parish with a very “Vatican II” priest. So began a profound  spiritual walk, nudged by the voice with no sound, saying, “It’s time to go home.” I was  a lector, a Eucharistic Minister, led a weekly prayer and healing group, sat on the parish  council, chaired the parish directory project and attended daily mass before teaching  each day. I even chaired the parish festival one year, something no woman had ever  done!

Being a divorced, single mom to three children for most of my adult life, made it  imperative that I be well educated in order to have a secure career so I could provide  for them. After earning an A.A., I worked as an Interior Designer for a few years. Then I finished my B.A. and, a few years later, the M.A. in English and Education. After 25 years  of teaching, I pursued a Ph.D. in Adult Education, planing to become a teacher  educator after graduating. I had taught General Education courses for the Wisconsin Technical College System; ultimately I taught for over 40 years.

I always felt teaching was a calling and believed that my courses in interpersonal  communications, marriage and the family, and ethics, ministered to students in very  deep and healing ways on a personal level. The students frequently told me, “this course changed my life.” I brought a strong counseling background to the classroom.  Because I wanted to help train teachers to learn to teach students not subjects and to  bring love and compassion to the college classroom, I began a Doctoral program,  completing all the course work and the first three chapters of my dissertation,  “Transformational Teaching and Learning. ” But as I was immersed in the writing, the  spiritual walk that I’d been on for five years deepened; something kept nudging me to  change my educational direction. In the Jubilee Year of 2000, I went to Italy for three  weeks and it was in the basement chapel of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi that, as I  lit candles and prayed for my children and grandchildren, and finally for myself for clarity  about what God wanted for me, that I heard that same voice with no sound, I’d heard  once before. This time I “heard” in my heart, with crystal clarity, the message, “Teach  for Me.” Though it didn’t make sense to me at the time and though I couldn’t articulate  exactly why I was walking away from the nearly completed Ph.D., I knew down deep that  it was the right thing to start over. I withdrew from my Ph.D. program for a reason I  couldn’t explain.

Then, I immediately applied to St. Frances de Sales Catholic seminary in Milwaukee.  I was accepted and offered a full scholarship to study for the M.Div., right along with the  men in the priestly formation program. I entered the seminary at 56. Ironically, at the  conclusion of seminary endeavor, my senior thesis ended up to be “The Spirituality of  Teaching and Learning.” Although my focus had stayed the same, the approach was  entirely different. By then I’d also completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education and  been a Pastoral Associate for a year at a Milwaukee parish as part of my seminary  formation education. The parish then employed me in that position while I finished my  degree. I’d participated in twelve ministry formation seminars in addition to the 120  required credits of study, most with the men in the priestly formation program. We were  together in all our classes, meeting the same requirements for the degree.

I became aware of my call to the priesthood, only after the six years of full-time study, graduating with honors in May 2006 at 62. It happened right after graduation, during  the ordination ceremony of my five male classmates. My heart broke at the moment the  men were called by name to stand and say, ”Here I am. I am ready.” I felt a sharp stab  to my heart and I just “knew” that I was not supposed to be left behind. I learned about  Roman Catholic Womenpriests one month later. By August I’d been accepted into the  formation program. A year later, I was ordained a deacon in May 2007 in Toronto,  Canada. Because I had completed the exact same training men are required to have  for priesthood, I was completely ready to say, “Here I am. I am ready.” I was ordained a  priest in August 2007 in Minneapolis MN after a year of RCWP discernment and  preparation. There were only about 25 of us in the world at that time!

My journey finally made sense to me. I served the region as its first Program  Coordinator, admitting applicants, mentoring and guiding candidates in the  preparation program and then coordinating ordinations for three years. Grace was  building on Nature, as a former mentor used to say to me. Given my seminary  formation experience and my decades of teaching, I was ready to take on those tasks. I  coordinated the development of the first national Program Coordinator’s Manual and  also worked on the development of the national governance document.

After ordination as a “baby” priest, I was invited to join a half dozen married former RC priests in leading a community of progressive Catholics, Jesus Our Shepherd, north of Milwaukee WI. I continued teaching full-time for five more years.

In 2010, I felt called to start an inclusive Eucharistic Catholic community, rooted in  Vatican II, to serve all of southeastern Wisconsin. Wanting a balance of female and male  presence in its leadership, I approached a married former Passionist priest, Jim Ryan, who I’d come to know at the JOS community. Numerous long conversations about our  individual visions of what the guiding principles of a community would look like made  clear that we shared the same vision. Our theologies aligned, our concept of the  discipleship of equals of all members was in sync and collegiality, transparency and  consensus decision discernment were foundational principles for us both.

We hosted a CTA caucus to gauge interest in November of 2010. The next month, on  Gaudete Sunday of Advent, we held our first mass for the new Mary of Magdala,  Apostle to the Apostles Catholic Church in Wauwatosa/Milwaukee, WI. We  progressed from mass once a month in the first year, twice in the second, and finally to  every Sunday in the third year. Dec, 13, 2020 we marked the tenth anniversary of our  vibrant, social justice and outreach minded community, albeit not the way we had  planned due to the Covid pandemic. We rent meeting and office space from the  United Methodist Church in the village of Wauwatosa which is adjacent to the city of  Milwaukee and easily accessible by the freeways for all of southeastern WI. Despite the  challenges of Covid our community has remained strong and committed. We partner  with the Methodists in numerous outreach and social justice ministries serving the inner  city in the 53206 zip code. We celebrate a joint liturgy on Ash Wednesday and were  going to initiate a Palm Sunday joint reading of the Passion in our courtyard before each  community processing into its own worship space for the rest of the liturgy. Covid  interfered with that plan. We hoped to go further in the future with a full joint liturgy, so  we face the future together with hope.

I retired from full-time teaching in 2013, to pursue my ministry in the MoMAA  community, service to RCWP and to my family, and to travel. My passion is flower  gardening and it is while on my knees planting and weeding that I have my deepest  prayer!

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