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Group Of Women Defy Vatican, Join Priesthood

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Although the Vatican does not recognize female priests, a group of women have still found a way to become ordained priests -- with the hope that one day women will be welcomed into the ministry.

In the Roman Catholic Church, faith and tradition meet every Sunday. However, at Compassion of Christ Catholic Community in Minneapolis there is a new approach to the weekly teachings. Women serve as priests, a practice not allowed within the Catholic Church.

"I had to work through a lot of fear before I was ready to say, I was ready to be ordained," said Rev. Monique Venne, a co-pastor at Compassion of Christ.

Venne is among 90 women around the world who have gone against canon law to follow a calling. Her step into the catholic ministry took place last year.

"I was floating on a cloud," said Venne."I have always felt myself happiest when I was near the altar."

Bishop Regina Nicolosi, who performed Venne's ordination ceremony, was among the first female bishops in North America.

In 2002, a group of women were ordained by valid Catholic Bishops in secret, in Europe. They believe that allowed them to ordain other women.

"I'm ordained in what we call apostolic succession," said Nicolosi. "I believe my ordination is valid."

Their movement has come at a cost, however. The church has threatened ex-communication, meaning they can't receive sacrament or be buried in a Catholic cemetery.

"It's harsh to be attacked and to be called names, but I do not believe I'm a scandal in this church," said Nicolosi.

Every Sunday, the women follow faith to the altar, whether it's in homes or churches of other denominations.

"We believe women are called the same way men are called," said Nicolosi.

The Catholic Archdiocese says only baptized men may be ordained to the priesthood. There is the option for the women to be welcomed back to the church, but they would have to recant and apologize for their mistake.

The women, however, hope one day their prayers will be answered and the Vatican will recognize them.

"I don't expect to see it in my lifetime, but I'm doing it for the future of women," said Venne.

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