Ordained Pret 2019

Linda Wilcox

MA Theology and Pastoral Ministry

Benedictine Oblate 

BA in History  

BS in Library Science   

I am what as commonly referred to a “cradle Catholic.” I grew up in Detroit, Michigan where I attended Catholic grade school and high school. Church and faith were a big part of how I lived my formative years.  

After attending the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN, I graduated with a BS in  Library Science and a BA in History and then worked for the St. Paul Public Library for  almost 40 years. I learned early on that spirituality was the “one thing” that called to  me the most and lit a fire in me. I wanted to be able to apply my love of spirituality in  newfound ways during my retirement. Thus, while I was still working, I started attending  classes at St. Catherine’s in order to obtain an M.A. in Theology and Pastoral Ministry  which I did in 2005. During this time period, I became involved in the Oblate program  at St. Paul’s Monastery in Maplewood, MN and in 2001 became an Oblate. I now try to  live my life based on Benedictine values to the best of my ability.  

My husband Russ and I married in 2001and have four grown children between us.  We belong to a small faith community that is still ongoing after 20 years. Gardening  and quilting are my favorite past times. We live in a small town near the St. Croix river.  

For many years I was a member of Guardian Angels Church in Oakdale, MN. While  there, I taught religious education, served as an RCIA companion/mentor, participated  in the Just Faith program and visited our sister parish in Nicaragua. I still appreciate all the love and support of the clergy, staff, and members of the community who supported  me in my journey to priesthood.  

I became interested in women’s ordination through exposure to the movement at the  Call to Action gatherings in Milwaukee that I attended for many years. During one of  these conferences I attended a mass at which Mary Rammerman, an ordained Catholic  priest from Rochester, NY presided. I am a visual learner, and it was after this  experience that I could not get the image of a woman wearing vestments behind the  altar saying Mass, out of my mind. Eventually I realized that I could be that woman too!  I yearned and longed for it. At the same time, I was terrified of everything I had ever  learned about excommunication. I struggled for a long time, but with the help of a  spiritual director, I was finally able to say “yes” and I joined RCWP in 2006. I was  ordained a deacon in 2008 in Chicago and a priest in Minneapolis in 2009.    

Ordination meant for me that I could finally live out my call, my yearning to serve  God’s people, in a public, sanctioned manner as a woman. Having lived through  Vatican II, I wanted to continue the ideals and goals that had roots during this reform. I  wanted to take the reform further with the full and equal inclusion of women in the  Catholic Church by means of ordination. I wanted to be a visual sign that I am a woman  and I am a priest. A path is being made and seeds are being sown by me and my sister  RCWP priests for all the women who will come after us to serve God through ordination.  

As I discerned my call to the priesthood, because I have always had a passion for  cooking, I felt a strong connection between planning and preparing a meal and the  Benedictine value of hospitality. Now, as co-pastor of Compassion of Christ Catholic  Community in Minneapolis, MN, I gather at the communion table with the community,  to celebrate the breaking and sharing of bread at our inclusive table where “all are  welcome”.  

Putting my History and Library Science degrees to work preserving the history of our  women’s ordination movement for the future, I now serve as one of the RCWP-USA  archivists. Grace does build on nature! Early on I served as one of the Administrators  for the region, planned a number of the regional retreats and served as a mentor to a  number of Candidates in the Preparation Program.  

Before my ordination I was active in the hospice program and ministry to the  homeless. In the future I would like to do this again. However, my primary ministry right  now revolves around family ministry. For some time, with the help and support of my  amazing husband, I have been caring for my 97 year old mother who lives with us.  Caregiving is so difficult. I am trying to learn to welcome God into each challenging moment knowing that the Holy One is there with me through it all. My mother was my  teacher at an early age, and she continues to teach me in my seventies. I have so much  left to learn. I hope I will be able to support others who face a similar challenge. 

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