Ordained Pret 2013

Ordained Deacon 2012 

Martha Sherman

 Master of Arts Theology  

 Bachelor of Arts English and Theology  

Master of Science Anthropology

I grew up in St. Charles, MO, across the street from my parish and school. As the youngest of seven, I grew up quickly, competing academically with my older siblings and eager to please my mom, a registered nurse, and my dad, a retired Army officer. I met the high expectations they  had of their children. Life around the dinner table or kitchen sink was enriched by  conversion and the songs we sang together as a family.  

My father had a massive stroke when I was 12 and I spent more and more time  around school and the convent taking piano and vocal lessons. The sisters became my  main support as my mom cared for my disabled father. They were the women who had  listened to my teen angst and taught me to pray. They were the ones who had  encouraged me to study theology, to know God in greater depth. In fact, I loved  studying theology. Because the School Sisters of Notre Dame strongly influenced me  during elementary and high school, after graduating from St. Louis University with BA in  English and Theology, I entered the SSNDs. The degree in English was convenient, but  in Theology things always came back to God, who is LOVE. In English, the professors  wanted us to repeat the great minds, while in Theology I could explore my passionate  love for God. I knew God was calling me to something and religious life seemed the  obvious choice for a young Catholic woman. Though I left after just four years, I  continued to teach religion in an SSND run school for eight more years. I knew religious life was not where I was supposed to reside; I was very restless, as I could not see where  I was to go.  

On my meager Catholic school teacher’s salary, I always budgeted for the National  Catholic Reporter. It was with great interest that I read about the women ordained on  the Danube in 2002. I kept track of these womenpriests and then one day an appeal  arrived from the Women’s Ordination Conference. The card asked, “Do you feel called  to the priesthood?” I began to cry and it was all so clear. I wrote to RCWP and asked if  they might consider accepting me to their program of preparation and discernment.  My heart soared when I was accepted in 2010. I had begun my Master of Theology at  St. Louis University years before, but I completed my Master of Theology from Global  Ministries University as I prepared for ordination.  

I am a child of the Second Vatican Council. I spent 16 years in Catholic Schools and  then taught in them for another eight. By the time I was in second grade I had  memorized the Eucharistic Prayers at Mass. When the priest would invite us to encircle  the altar during the liturgy of the Eucharist I felt like I was concelebrating with the priest,  even though I was still in elementary school. When I was entering the convent in the  1980s, my then 70-year-old aunt suggested that I was better suited for the priesthood. I  laughed and then tried to be a good sister. But avoiding God’s call was not an option  for me and hundreds of other women. I was ordained a deacon in Indianapolis in 2012  and a priest in St. Cloud, MN in 2013. I trained as a hospital chaplain in Sioux Falls, SD  over two years while pursuing my MTh.  

I was ordained a deacon on April 15, 2012 in Indianapolis, IN and a priest on June 23,  2013 in St. Cloud, MN. I served the Midwest as Regional Administrator for 6 six years,  2013-2020 and currently as part of the Program Coordinator team, as well as briefly in 2013.  

From 1995 to 2018 my wife, Marie, and I owned and operated Camp America  Campground in Salem, SD. We considered this a ministry of hospitality. I formed a  small house church in Salem and celebrated with people from a wide range of faith  traditions from 2012-2018 during the camping season. I found my priesthood involved  listening to many people who had been hurt by the church, who found me  approachable. I always asked their forgiveness on behalf of the Church and reminded  them that the institution is not the Church, the people are the REAL church. 

Now, having retired from the camping industry, we moved to IA to be closer to my  family in the St. Louis area where, in my spare time I am renovating a house built in 1880  and enjoy reading mysteries, playing my guitar and growing flowers that bring smiles to  others. I pray with the RCWP led Full Circle Catholic Community, in Coralville, IA, pastored by Mary Kay Kusner. I do preside when needed. I also do a “coffee house  ministry” in Washington, IA. I set out a sign to let people know I am a Catholic priest  willing to chat and have met some nice folks.  

After six years in leadership within RCWP, I am currently in a two-year program to  become a spiritual director. It is my hope that this program might re-engage my heart  and help me to rest with God and eventually help others on their spiritual journey.  

Parishes close or consolidate while women priests gather with Catholics in homes  and Protestant churches across the globe to celebrate the Eucharist. Some people say  that I, a Roman Catholic woman priest, should just join the Episcopal Church to be a  priest. My response is, “I am Catholic, the Church is the people of God, it is my church. God called and I answered with my whole being.” Who are we to say no when God  calls? 

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