Roman Catholic Women Priest Pt. 1

This episode is the first of a two part series on Roman Catholic Women Priest (RCWP). In this episode, we follow the story of Sr Letitia Rawles, ex-nun and ordained women priest.

Pa Ying:
"I thought that before I die, I want to fulfil God's call and my life-long dream to become a priest." -Sr Letitia Rawles

Sr Letitia “Tish” Rawles has devoted 47 years of her life to the teaching of God. She was a Sister of the Incarnate Word for 22 years before joining the Sisters of the Precious Blood. On October 22nd, 2015, she was excommunicated.

“I’ve wanted to be a priest since... probably the fourth grade, as soon as I started attending Catholic school.” (The Daily Beast)

Her excommunication from the Sisters of Precious Blood was a result of her ordination as a priest on April 18th of 2015 by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP).

“As I was being ordained, I was thinking about the more in-depth ways I could touch people’s lives, that I could be there for them...Especially for the dying, to hold their hands as they go to their loving God, whoever he or she may be for them.”

After her ordination, Sr Rawles worked as a “catacomb” priest. According to Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan of the ARCWP, “A catacomb priest is a priest who functions privately in service of a specific community,”. Sr Rawles worked with the Atria Northgate Assisted Living Facility in Cincinnati, where she performed last rites and ministered to the sick.

Though she has been excommunicated, Sr Rawles’ community continued to provide for her as her health declined. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, late stage liver disease, and diabetes. In response to her excommunication, Sr Rawles said, “I don’t blame them, I mean, they’re following the rules, man-made rules of the Vatican,”

"She has gone against what the Catholic Church teaches… We didn't make a big decision to do this. She was dismissed as a result of her actions." Sister Joyce Lehman, president of the Sisters of the Precious Blood.

Sr. Tish Rawles passed away on August 31st, 2017.

“I always wondered why there were no women at the altar, only men.” -Sr Letitia Rawles

This marks the end of the first of a two part special on Roman Catholic Women Priest. For more information about Sr Leticia Rawles please refer to the links in the description section.

For more information:

About Curve Riders

Curve Riders is a short narrative podcast of women who didn't make the history books. Produced by Pa Ying Vang; the series presents achievements and cultural impacts of women religious. Inspired by SisterStory's coverage "Sisters of Influence" on pinterest the podcast aims to present these stories anew with an emphasis on storytelling through writing, sound design, and music. The podcast was created by Alexa Harnagel who produced it in 2015 with subsequent production also handled by EJ La Valle and Maakwe Cumanzala.