Barbara’s Spiritual Bio

I am a cradle Catholic from Brooklyn, NY. I was baptized at two weeks old, made my first Holy Communion at seven years old, received Confirmation in the seventh grade, got married in the Catholic church when I was 20 years old, got divorced at age 22…and that’s where my spiritual journey hit the first fork in the road. I sought spiritual guidance from a local parish priest who told me that I’d be excommunicated if I got divorced. Well, I did it anyway. Maybe that priest wanted nothing to do with me but that’s not what God wanted. The spiritual longing in my soul took me in search of a new church home, a search which lasted seven years (still searching?) till I joined the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod where I was welcomed with open arms. Another divorce and a third marriage brought me to Minden, NV where I adopted and raised my two children. Our Lutheran congregation was the center of our lives. This is where I first became engaged and in love with women’s ministry.

Fast forward 13 years to 2002 when I started feeling called to return to the
Catholic Church. I visited the pastor at our local Catholic Church who welcomed me back with open arms and expressed his disappointment with the misinformation I had been given by my parish priest back in Brooklyn some twenty years prior. But I have no regrets about my years as a Lutheran. It was there that I developed a love of Scripture and, unbeknownst to me at the time, where the seeds for my spiritual call were planted.

In 2003 I got divorced again and my son went off to fight in Iraq. It was a
tough year. I relocated to southern CA with my teenage daughter and immediately became active in my local parish. They had a thriving women’s ministry and it was here that those seeds which had been planted in Trinity Lutheran Church began to grow. In 2005 I found myself enrolling in a Masters program at Mt. St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles. I had intended to study literature but the Holy Spirit had a different plan and I enrolled instead in a Religious Studies program. I have worked in technology for my entire career, some 40 years, so I can only attribute this decision to a call. In fact, it was during these years that I discovered what a “call” really is: it’s something you can’t not do.

It was during these years at MSMU that I deepened my love of women’s ministry…and where my understanding of women’s ministry took a turn. But it wasn’t without a spiritual battle. I took a class on Women in Scripture which started out with some “pagan” ritual of honoring the divine feminine and I just about reported the professor to the Pope! I wrestled with her and her “heretical” teaching throughout the semester till somewhere along the line, the flame of the Holy Spirit was lit within my soul and I began reading everything I could get my hands on that was written by and about feminist theology. Soon thereafter I was the one being reported to my pastor as a heretic who was leading the women of my parish straight to hell!

In 2008, while doing the research for my Masters thesis, which was titled “Women at Work: A Feminist Theological Perspective,” I came across FutureChurch. I became a member, then was elected to the Board, on which I served for about six years. My spiritual passion was nurtured and deepened during these years as once again I found myself spending my kids’ inheritance on a D.Min. degree. I researched all kinds of topics, like spirituality, conflict management, and canon law, but my passion continued to be women’s ministry and so I chose to focus my research on unveiling the stories of women in Scripture and Christian tradition. These were busy years, working full time as an executive at IBM and studying for my doctorate but I loved every minute of my life. I married a man in 2005 who didn’t understand why I was doing what I was doing, but he supported my studies and never complained when the dining room table, and every other table in the house, was strewn with research material, or when I passed on some opportunity to go someplace on a weekend because I had to study. He proudly accompanied me to my graduation in South Bend when I received my doctorate from the Graduate Theological Foundation in 2016 and he was genuinely proud of me.

In 2013 we moved to Reno and I became sort of a local celebrity. I had traveled to Greece and Rome with FutureChurch and was frequently called upon to speak to women’s groups about my pilgrimages. Our bishop was openly in favor of women’s ordination to the diaconate, Pope Francis seemed to be the Pope we had prayed for; I thought I had found my spiritual home. But here I find myself again, wondering what God is calling me to in a church that seems intent on continued subjugation of women and turning a deaf ear to the working of the Holy Spirit. I’ve found myself experiencing a dark night of the soul, I stopped going to Mass (long before COVID), I stopped reading Scripture, I stopped reading the books I loved about women in Scripture, I have become angry, disappointed and feeling very alone. The only thing I kept reading were my emails from FutureChurch, which has become my anchor to a faith life which seems to be drowning. So here I am, seeking to discern what this God who won’t abandon me, wants from me. Here I am, Lord!

7 thoughts on “Barbara’s Spiritual Bio

  1. Hi Barbara, thank you for your post. I was struck by the transformation you experienced with the Women in Scripture class that started with the “pagan” ritual. I think it is courageous to name those sort of transformations. It reminds me of my own transformations and moments when I have been surprised to see my judgement turn into appreciation. In that class, was it a particular reading or moment that changed things for you?

    1. There was no “ah ha” moment that changed things for me. I even thought about dropping her class but the Spirit prevailed! My awakening was slow, but once my eyes were opened, there was no turning back! I eventually apologized to the professor for my indignation and closed mindedness. As Cecelia said in her WOC keynote address, “La realidad cannot be contained by what we want to see.”

  2. Hi Barb, I was so pleasantly surprised to see that you joined this group after all! Thank you for your sharing as I was able to get more insight into your journey. Thank you for your comments in my own bio. It has been a long time that we’ve known each other, but more keeps getting revealed. Here’s to whatever ways Sophia shows us along the next path of our journey! Blessings to you!

  3. Hi Barb,
    “So here I am, seeking to discern what this God who won’t abandon me, wants from me. Here I am, Lord!”
    Amen. These are such wise words for me right now. Thank you.

  4. Hi Barbara – what a road you have travelled. I am in awe of your continual searching. I am grateful to be on this part of the journey with you. Diane

  5. Barbara, thank you for sharing your story. I think it is great that you are choosing to be a part of this group while undergoing a “dark night of the soul.” We have all been there, probably more than once. That is definitely a good time to seek community. ! All best, Jeannine

  6. Hi Barb, I enjoyed reading your introduction and appreciate your journey in which you have been open to being surprised and delighted by the opportunities the Holy Spirit has placed on your path.

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