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Former nun to be ordained as first female Catholic priest in Georgia

For Diane Dougherty, it is a way to live up to her calling and to challenge the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. It is a hierarchy that Dougherty maintains is sexist. Though not recognized by the Vatican, the Coweta County resident and longtime former nun will be ordained next week and will become the first female Catholic priest in Georgia.

Dougherty on Oct. 20 will be ordained a priest in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) at a ceremony at First Metropolitan Community Church in Atlanta. Asked earlier this week at her home near Newnan if the ordination is valid, Dougherty said, “I’m being validly ordained in the line of Peter, but it is not recognized by the church hierarchy.”

The ordination service will be performed by female bishop, Dougherty said. The woman who ordained the bishop had been ordained by a male bishop, though his name has not been released, Dougherty added.

“The male hierarchy will not recognize the ordinations even though not all of them believe that women cannot be priests,” Dougherty said.

Once ordained, Dougherty will continue serving at First Metropolitan Community Church, as well as developing Intentional Faith Communities in Newnan and throughout the Atlanta area, empowering women to lead within the church and advocating for women’s ordination. Intentional Faith Communities include both Catholics and non-Catholics, she said.

Dougherty also spent time in Fayetteville where, for 10 years, she taught second grade at Hood Avenue Primary School. Having retired in 2011, Dougherty called Hood Avenue Primary the best kept secret in Fayette County.

Prior to her years as a school teacher in Fayetteville, Dougherty served in the Religious Education and Faith Formation office at the Archdiocese of Atlanta. As a lay minister, she served in Catholic schools and parishes as a master educator and catechist. An Ohio native holding a number of academic degrees, Dougherty also served for 23 years as a Sister of the Humility of Mary in Pennsylvania.

From Dougherty’s perspective, she has the training and the experience to serve in the priesthood. But why do it, given that the Vatican does not recognize women as priests?

“I’m passionate about discipleship. I didn’t ask for my vocation to serve as a disciple. I have worked in the church for nearly all my life except when I taught school in Fayetteville,” Dougherty said, explaining why she is taking the next step that will result in her ordination as a priest. “I’m doing this for the children of the next generation of women who think they cannot fully participate in the Catholic tradition. It is the biggest systemic oppressor of women in the world. I’m not above or below anyone. The most important thing is that I’ve been called to do this. It was my original call.”

As for the Catholic Church not recognizing women in the priesthood, Dougherty maintains that such an approach is tantamount to sexism that needs to come to an end in the 21st century.

“I am choosing to make a stand against sexism, an illness that is killing the very heart of our church,” Dougherty said. ”I do not want the children of the next generation to believe this is what God would have them do. I do not want little boys to grow up believing they are somehow ‘better’ than girls. Nor do I want little girls growing up to believe God would never call them into the fullness of discipleship because they are women. Separate but equal has been proven to be a false foundation for any culture and most particularly, any religion.”

Dougherty maintains that archeological evidence has been found that women served as priests in France, the British Isles and in the Mediterranean area. Fast forward to today, Dougherty insists that she is not part of a breakaway or renegade group.

“We are authentic women living out our gospel call within the Catholic Church. We stand as equals with all clergy through this ordination,” she said. “Sexism is now and always has been divisive. You cannot take half a religious denomination, make them second class, and say this is the will and intent of Jesus. The gospels and experience of the early church clearly indicate women have been called to full discipleship. There is historical and archeological evidence that verified women were priests and deacons for the first 1,200 years of its existence. That is also how long it took to make a hierarchy to say we never existed. Oppressed for the last 800 years, we are now rising up to say once again, we are here, we have been here and we will always be here, because God calls us all to be God’s presence on earth — both male and female.”

Above all, Dougherty insists that she became a religious woman to answer God’s call and served in parishes, schools, archdioceses and other Catholic institutions. 

“I have never left the church. When this opportunity arrived, I saw it as a fuller pathway of service,” she said. ”I am passionate about women called to be disciples. I hope to open doors within the Catholic tradition to allow this to happen.”


The "King James" version of our Bible is courtesy of The Holy Roman Catholic Church, way back when (392ad) a Bishop decided which "Gospels and writings of Paul and others" would make up the what we call today the Bible.
The Church has over the centuries Changed it's "laws" it has reversed it's "laws" especially dealing with Women, so I have to ask, how is it "amazing" that in today's Woman Welcome World V some islamic woman shut up world is it the Church has yet again reversed it's Cannon? I mean I thought God's word was eternal...and now you're telling me a bunch of guys can VOTE to change it ???

Dear Lord, Please Save me from those that say they Speak For you....

Everyone' s myths carry equal weight. Yours, mine, Romney, Abdula. They are all right

Don't know why stuff double post off the smartphone even when I only hit save 1x. Geo. Harrison was right ..Chanting the names of the Lord & you'll be free. a great album that All Things Must Pass


Just an FYI- The King James Bible is a Protestant bible authorized by King James I of England in the 17th century. James was the head of the Church of England (Anglican). The Catholic versions of the Bible include the Apocrypha and are used by Orthodox and Roman Catholic Clergy.

Understood, but WHERE do you imagine the Church of England and King James1 got what we call the Books of the Bible?
Allow me to give a Hint, Holy Roman Catholic Church Bishop Athanasius (373)
was the key decider as to which manuscripts (Books) would be included and discarded, Such as the Gospel of Mary, Peter, Andrew, Judas and Revelations according to Peter, were not allowed in, Changes to Old Testament "stories" were made hence the difference between Our Bible's tales in the Old Testament and the Hebrew Torah.

mivaldes's picture

I'm sure this "nun" is a good human being, but let's get it straight for the non Catholics that read the citizen, she is not being ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. Anyone can call themselves a "catholic" as the word simply means "universal," but not everyone can call themselves a Roman Catholic. And no woman can call themselves a Roman Catholic Priest. It's not sexism, it's Apostolic tradition that has been followed for 2000+years.

Marcus Valdes
Fayetteville, GA

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