Updated: Feb 28
A long-time member of Light of Christ in Longmont, Mother Sheila pastored the independent Catholic Boulder Community in Discernment. With tender love and thanksgiving we mark the completion of her baptismal journey. Our prayers and loving support go out to her husband Peter, their family and the communities blessed by her ministry.
+ + + Fr. Teri Harroun of LOC posted this wonderful tribute on Facebook with the accompanying photo.
If you go to Sheila’s Facebook page, her cover photo is of the two of us on the day we were ordained Catholic priests. She was the trailblazer for women’s ordination. It was because of her that the Denver Post shared the story of our ordination.
This tiny woman filled the biggest rooms. She was a justice maker and a peace seeker. She was a preacher and a painter. She was generous and encouraged the best in others.
We’ve prayed together, laughed together, worshiped together, created together, were ordained together and got tattoos together. We’ve shared lots of coffee. Twice she got me to make a paper mache version of my uterus, and to tell it’s story from womb to tomb. She bought my kids bikes for the apartment after the divorce and gifted me some of my favorite days in the mountains between being pastoral associate and pastor at Light of Christ.
When she made a scholarship for young women seeking ordination, she gave my book of poetry to each woman who received a scholarship.
And for many of us, she published our stories of ordination. That book just might be the last book she published. She helped keep all of our stories in the world longer than we will be here.
Longer than we will be here.
We were not cookie cutter versions of each other, Sheila and I. We agreed some and we disagreed some. Always kindly. I hope that is part of what makes the ECC stronger, the diversity that does the hard work of unity. But she was my friend. My mentor. My seminary mate. The one who first taught me of the feminine Spirit of God Sophia. The woman who laid on the floor of the church with me where
God had pitched a tent with us and felt the Holy Spirit expand within us and ordain us to something that so many have been denied. Neither of us has ever taken that for granted.
But in all that we have shared I never ever ever ever thought we would share what we shared this week. That with her husband I would anoint her body which came from Love and to Love it would return. That I would sing her the words of deep peace and may the angels and here I am. That I would call to her mother and her aunts and the countless other women ready to greet her on the other side of the thin veil. That I would witness her death and experience her assurance that love really does cross all boundaries.
But this woman doesn’t rest, my friends. There is still work to be done. She is in peace. Oh yes. But there is not rest. May she live in peace, love in peace, and continue the dreaming of peace.
Oh Sheila. We’ve still got things to share.
Amen. And Alleluia.
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The scholarship program mentioned above was established in memory of Sheila's mother, Lucile Murray Durkin. Information can be found at https://www.womensordination.org/programs/scholarship/
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Sandra Life writes: "My grateful memory of Mother Sheila is all the spiritual leadership she gave the early years of guidance to Mary of Magdala. Beautiful woman. She has clearly enhanced evolution."
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Fr. Michael Nicosia recalls: "It was such a joy and an honor to journey with Sheila's Boulder Community in Discernment during its early years. I have to admit, her untraditional liturgical style stretched my narrow views; having witnessed how empowering it was for the community, I'm the better presider for it.
"I am also grateful for how she supported me and the other clergy of the Region, whether it was participating in discernment circles or meeting me for lunch to buy artwork out of the back of my car. And then there was the fellowship - she was always ready for a party! I look forward to raising a glass to her memory and enduring blessings."
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