chimes.sum2013.web0729 - page 12

building bridges to all christians
SFTS helps a Catholic student pursue God’s call
By Christopher Schilling
ver since she was a child, Mary
Romo has had a passion for
ministry. She fondly remembers
attending St. Agnes Grammar
School and being captivated by
the liturgy of the Catholic mass
while singing in the choir.
Despite her passion for
church and ministry, however,
Romo experienced restrictions
on her participation in worship
because she was a girl.
“All girls could do was to sing
in the choir in the back of the
loft where they were not even
seen,” she recalls.
But then came Vatican II.
This movement in the Catho-
lic Church not only addressed
relations between the church
and the modern world, it also
allowed women to have a more
active role in ministry and wor-
“It was seeing a woman read-
ing the lectionary from the po-
dium and later seeing a woman
serve as a Eucharistic minister
that allowed me to explore those
callings,” Romo says.
She followed her calling and
became a lector and a Eucharis-
tic minister. Vatican II helped
her not only to discover her call
to serve God and the larger church, but
also to sense a call to teach and support
others in their spiritual lives.
“Through Vatican II, our Catholic
enclave was broken open in that we were
now encouraged to get out from under
the bushel basket Jesus spoke of and en-
ter full-heartedly into the larger world,”
she says.
Romo’s spiritual callings took her
to Israel as well as into teaching for the
Rites of Christian Ini-
tiation for Adults (RCIA)
program at St. Ignatius
Church. She also discov-
ered a passion for lead-
ing spiritual retreats and
for helping people find,
touch, see, and hear God
in different ways.
After earning a MA
in theology from the Uni-
versity of San Francisco,
Romo knew she wanted
to go farther academical-
ly. At first, she considered
the possibility of earning
a Ph.D. in theology. But
though she had a passion
for theology and the aca-
demic world, she felt more
called to earn a D.Min.
She felt this would equip
her to guide students in
their preparation for min-
istry as well as in their aca-
demic pursuits.
“What I really cared
about were the students
and how I could help
them appreciate their
charisms and expand their
horizons,” Romo explains.
While looking at the D.Min. pro-
grams offered by various seminaries, she
discovered San Francisco Theological
Seminary. It was her curiosity about at-
tending a non-Catholic institution, she
says, that led her to enroll in the D.Min.
program at SFTS. Not only did she feel
a sense of freedom and acceptance at
SFTS, Romo says, she also found the
experience outside her own Catholic tra-
dition to be refreshing. She found that
learning in an ecumenical environment
taught her more about what it meant to
be Catholic.
“The D.Min. program at SFTS
was the perfect program—both for the
schedule, the variety of classes, and
the opportunity to focus on what I re-
ally wanted to explore, namely, Catholic
women in the U.S. post Vatican II,” she
For Romo, working to earn her
D.Min. degree has been a long, utterly
engaging, thought-provoking, and chal-
lenging journey. She says she could never
have gotten this far had it not been for
the kindness, encouragement, and pa-
tience of the administrators at SFTS.
In addition to being a student, Romo
directs the RCIA program at St. Ignatius
Church, where she serves as spiritual di-
rector, lector, and Eucharistic minister.
She also volunteers at the St. Vincent de
Paul Wellness Center for people in re-
covery and is involved in other ministry-
related activities. She and her husband
also led a married couples’ retreat at a
Jesuit retreat center in Los Altos in May.
Like other Catholic women, Romo
knows there are limitations to what she
can and cannot do in the church. But
despite these limitations, she and other
women are finding ways to do ministry.
“Even though we are closed off to or-
dination, we are finding our own paths,”
Romo says.
By seeking her own path, and by
helping others do the same, Romo has
discovered many ways to respond to
God’s call.
Christopher Schilling is a 2013 M.Div. graduate.
I really cared
about were
the students
and how
I could
help them
appreciate their
charisms and
expand their
— Mary Romo
SFTS CHIMES | Summer 2013
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