Sunday, April 27, 2008

Woman’s Call to Priesthood Actually a Raging Case of OCD

Photo courtesy of

Leonora Simmons recently came to terms with the fact that her 'vocation' was actually an anxiety disorder.

LOS ANGELES – What appeared to one woman to be a lifelong – and thwarted -- call to the Catholic priesthood has actually turned out to be an undiagnosed case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD.)

“Since the age of five I felt called to the Roman Catholic priesthood,” said Leonora Simmons, a 43-year-old legal secretary who attends St. Theodore Catholic Church in Santa Monica. “When I would go to mass with my family and watch the priest consecrate the host, I initially had such feelings of joy and love for God. Gradually, though, I began to have these intrusive thoughts and feelings that I should walk up there, that I should be doing the consecrating,” she said. “It didn’t make much sense to me because I knew a little girl couldn’t be a priest.”

Simmons said around that same time that she also had intrusive thoughts about being contaminated by direct mail pieces from Pizza Hut, that the letter “F” would bring her bad luck, and that if she touched batteries, she was going to have a “really bad day.” However, she said she didn’t see any of this as unusual. “It seemed like typical five-year-old-girl stuff,” she said.
“I told Sister Louise at our church about my feelings, and pretty soon, a group of older, unmarried women at the church began telling me that I might have a vocation to the priesthood,” Simmons said.

After years of “fighting the call,” Simmons said she finally relented to what she thought was God’s promptings and fell in with what she says now was the wrong crowd. “I was cutting my hair short, buying polyester suits from JCPenney’s, and wearing those lace-up shoes with the high wedges because all my friends were doing it,” she said, shaking her head.

She started taking Reiki classes at All Saints’ Episcopal Church downtown to learn about the ancient Japanese art of inner healing, and became part of the Women’s Priest Movement. While involved with the movement, Simmons said she began dating a transgendered man who was going to become a womanpriest because he disagreed with the Church’s teaching on sexuality and women’s ordination. “Yeah, it was a complicated relationship,” she said.

During her years in the wilderness, Simmons said she also felt a lot of anger toward God. “Why was God calling me, someone who could never be a priest, to be a priest? It seemed so unfair, and besides that, I really hated the shoes and the haircut,” she said.

Clarity finally came a few weeks after she began taking the prescription drug Paxil to ease the depression she experienced following her father’s death. “I was walking the labyrinth and meditating at All Saints’ Church, like I always do twice a week. As I approached the center of the labyrinth, it all just seemed so silly to me – the call, the desire to be a priest, the way I was wearing my hair, and even walking the labyrinth. I wondered where all the years went.”

Dr. Craig Forester, Simmons’ psychiatrist, is the one who prescribed Paxil to alleviate her depression. “Once we saw that the Paxil was making a lot of difference in her thinking, we decided to add some cognitive therapy to the program, and since that time, she has been making remarkable progress. For example, she regularly orders from Pizza Hut, and is growing her hair out into a stylish bob.”

Simmons agreed that the new program has changed her life for the better, and that she has accepted who she is, where she is. “Just because a compulsive thought pops in my head doesn’t mean I have to go with it.”

Read my news stories today at Inside Catholic

Courtesy of Dan Lacey

Once again, Inside Catholic is supporting my apostolate and bringing you the news no one else will. An order of nuns has been taking care of my family while I worked on these stories. The nuns and my family say, "hello." Read the stories now at Inside Catholic.

While you are at it, you should add Inside Catholic to your blogroll, too, so you can keep up with their blog everyday.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Perks of Faith-based Marketing


Photo courtesy of

Special to

“I suspect the Pope’s immigration comments may have less to do with spreading the gospel than they do about recruiting new members of the church…This isn’t preaching it is ‘faith based’ marketing,” Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado
--Fr. Gaenswein, ask the marketing group to come in now.
--Yes, your holiness. (exits the room)
(Three American men in business suits and a female in a purple dress walk in the room.)
--Pope Benedict, it is such an honor to meet you. (one of the men says while shaking the Pope’s hand)
(The other members of the group shake the Pope’s hand)
--Your holiness, we have put together a presentation of how the Catholic Church should go about recruiting new members.
(Pope Benedict nods and smiles, gesturing to each member of the group to sit.)
--As part of the faith-based marketing plan, we think you should continue saying things like you have in the past—taking a strong stand against birth control, abortion, divorce, gay marriage, etc. All those things are unpopular and repel members, but we feel all of this makes you stand out, makes you a religious leader with an edge….
--…But here is the kicker (interrupts one of the other men)—We think you should start encouraging Mexicans to leave Mexico and go to the United States. This is going to be what really causes the Church to explode. …Sure many of them will abandon Catholicism for evangelical churches, and many more will start imitating other Americans by using birth control and limiting their families.
--..(the third man interrupts) And, true, many of these Mexicans will not be making decent wages and won’t have much to throw in the basket on Sunday…..Well, anyway, it sounds good, though, huh?
(Pope Benedict pauses and strokes his chin.) I will have to think about it. All of this – this marketing and such is new to me. It’s something I will need to think over tonight. People keep telling me, “You need to get a Facebook account. The kids will love it.” I just don’t know. Let me think about it. It does sound promising, though.

“Open borders benefit Catholic churches looking to
fill their pews and collection baskets.” – Michelle Malkin
--You are so naïve, my son.
--Holy Father, I am trying my best to understand.
--I know, Georg. This isn’t about the Gospel. This about shifting around Mexicans until we get the desired result.
--I see.
--People say if we just changed our stance on birth control or divorce or abortion, we would fill more pews, fill more collection baskets...
--Yes, but that would be—
--But this way is a lot more challenging, interesting. Don’t you think?
--(smiles and nods) You’re right. I think I’m understanding.
--Just think of the money that will start pouring in here as a result of these migrant workers doing backbreaking work that no American wants to do. I hear people who pick lettuce all day make a lot of money, and you know where all that money is going to go. (smiles)
--Right. (nods and laughs)
--OK, see if you can do what you can to smuggle about 500 Mexicans across the Texas border by Saturday.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Light posting

Hi readers,

I just wanted to let you know that there will be light blogging going on here for a few days. Advent wreath-making classes and other church activities have me very busy. However, I found an order of nuns who have agreed to help take care of my husband, child and dog so I can focus on what is really important. In the meantime, you have my permission to check other Catholic news sources, as unreliable as they may be at times. I apologize for putting you in 10th place, dear readers.

If you have news tips and story ideas, feel free to contact me at maureenscoolblogatgmaildotcom

God bless, Maureen

Thursday, April 17, 2008

News Briefs

Catholics in Washington D.C. and New York City ask the Holy Father to offer up his suffering for them and their intentions.

Papal onlookers beg Pope to ‘offer up’ poor musical selections from Papal visit for them

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Patti Renfroe said she knows that when the Holy Father hears “One Bread, One Body” played this week during his historical trip to the United States, it has to hurt his aesthetical nature, but she is hoping that the pain it causes him may mean she will spend less time in Purgatory.

“As he rode by, I yelled out, ‘Pope Benedict, please offer up ‘One Bread, One Body’ for me and my kids, for our salvation!” He kind of gave me a knowing, but pained smiled and nodded. “What that man has to suffer for us,” said Renfroe, a music teacher at Our Lady Queen of Heaven School in Arlington, Virginia. “People just don’t appreciate it.”

Meanwhile, the eight members of the Thompson family, who traveled from Providence, Rhode Island, to see the Pope, stood along the police barricades, holding placards with the phrase “Remember Us When You Hear City of God!” painted in tempera paint. “Please offer it up for us! My dad’s out of work,” 12-year-old Josiah Thompson continued yelling as the motorcade drove by. “I just hope he heard me,” said Thompson. “Anytime I hear a lame song, I offer it up for him. My dad says if I keep doing this, the Pope will probably live to be 103.”

Non-Catholics say they hope Pope will begin implementing their ideas now that he is stateside

LOUISVILLE, KY – Across the country, non-Catholics are writing blog posts, calling into radio talk shows and loudly expressing opinions over dinner, in hopes that the pontiff will discover their ideas while he is in the United States and take them to heart.

“Did you guys read my latest blog post?” Daniel McMillan, a lapsed Methodist, asked his co-workers at Hart, Hart and Martinson Accountants in Louisville today. “I wrote about how the Catholic Church should allow priests to get married. I really think that would cut down on the sexual abuse problems. If the Pope Googles himself while he is here, maybe he will see it and comment on my blog.”

Andrew Davis, a cab driver who works in Chicago, tried to get through to the Pope via the Sean Hannity Show this afternoon. “Yeah Sean, I think the Pope should bless your ideas about birth control. You’re a good Catholic and you use it. I’m not Catholic or anything, but I think more people would join your church, if the Pope would change this rule. Pope Benedict, if you are listening, Sean and I are great Americans. You should listen to us.”


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Religious Order Continues to Blend In, Make No Real Difference in Community

Photo courtesy of curious maps
Things haven’t changed much in Spanish Fort over the years, thanks to the Holy Cross Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

SPANISH FORT, ALA. – Holy Cross Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, a religious order that has existed in Spanish Fort for over 25 years, has not changed the community for better or worse in any way during that time.

Yesterday, in honor of their anniversary, the sisters baked a cake for themselves at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church and invited church staff and priests from around the area to attend. “So we have some religious sisters living in town?” asked Father Thomas Lawrence, head pastor at Our Lady of Angels, unaware the church secretary, Shirley Montoya, was a founding member. “Well, thanks for bringing a cake, whoever you are,” said Lawrence.

Almost three decades ago, Holy Cross Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament broke off from Little Sisters of St. Francis of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Montoya said the sisters who left the old order felt they were being called in a different direction. As part of the change, Holy Cross Sisters dress like other women in the community, live in their own apartments or houses, and work at various jobs in Spanish Fort. After Little Sisters of St. Francis left the area, the convent was turned into trade school.

“Our charism is ‘community’, so we really strive to blend in and not rock the boat,” said Sister Shirley Montoya, dressed in a matching beige blouse and skirt set from Dress Barn. “Our goal is to be like everyone else in our local parishes, and like everyone else here in town,” she said.
“Well, everyone else here in town seems to be Protestant, but whatever.”

“When we first arrived, we used to do things like say the Divine Office together, but then Sister Wendy had an epiphany one day and said, ‘Hey, nobody else in town is doing this,’ so we just stopped,” said Montoya.

Several years ago, the order offered an ecumenical Bible study for a week until a couple of attendees started debating scripture interpretations. “At that point we decided to just put the Bible away. It had to stop,” said Montoya. “Now we watch “American Idol” together and eat pizza, and everybody is a lot happier. We all think Simon is very divisive, though,” she said. “We’d be even happier if he left the show.”

For the last two years, Sister Wendy Adams has worked at Easy Spirit Shoe Store in Colonial Mall. Felicia Stewart, a co-worker and agnostic, said she was surprised to learn Adams is a religious sister. “One day, I tried to get her in a debate on whether God existed, and she just kind of shrugged her shoulders and started putting the new spring shoes out on the shelves. Whatever she is, she doesn’t seem to be that sold out.”

Sister Agnes Greene said before she joined the order, she used to volunteer at a homeless shelter and work at a soup kitchen in Atlanta, but those days are over, now that she is a novice with the order. “The other day, I was in my car at a stop light when I saw a man holding a sign that said, ‘I lost one of my arms and one of my legs in a horrible tractor accident. My children are hungry and my wife left us. Please help.’ Anyway, the car in front of me just kept going once the light turned green. So, I just followed that driver’s example. I rolled up my window, turned my head the other way and said to myself, ‘Screw it,’ and just hit the gas pedal. If I had given the man something, I would have really stood out from everyone, and that just isn’t keeping a sense of community.”

Stanley Richards, a member of the Spanish Fort Knights of Columbus, said he has yet to meet one of the sisters. “When I go to diocesan functions, prolife fundraisers and missions, I keep looking for a group of ladies who look holy or something, but so far, I just keep running into your run-of-the-mill old ladies.”

Montoya said she would like to see the order grow, but doesn’t want to push the issue. “If any women in the community feel called to our order and our charism, great,” she said. “But, if not, we will keep on with the same mission we’ve had for the past 25 years -- being residents of Spanish Fort.”


Monday, April 07, 2008

Abortion Providers, Big Apple Advertising Firm to Launch $10 Million Campaign to Combat Anti-Choice Messages

Photo courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald
The new ad campaign stresses the fact that abortion clinics even exceed the sanitation requirements of businesses such as nail salons.

NEW YORK – The American Association of Abortion Providers (AAAP) and Manhattan’s J. Arthur Bosch Agency are kicking off a $10 million campaign this month to counteract the nation’s anti-choice propaganda machine.

The campaign, titled “Cleaner Than,” will feature print, television, radio and Internet advertising. The purpose of the campaign is to override some of the anti-choice stereotypes of the abortion industry, including the notion that it is a largely unregulated field. Print ad headlines include: “What’s cleaner than your neighborhood nail salon?” “What’s cleaner than your vet’s office?” and “What’s cleaner than your son’s room?” At the bottom of each print ad, the tagline states: “Your local abortion clinic.”

Robert Neillson, creative director for J. Arthur Bosch, said he is excited about the new campaign. “The AAAP is letting the public know, through this campaign, that abortion providers know what a bottle of Lysol is, and the government doesn’t have to strong arm them into using it every now and then.”

Michelle Gooding, public relations director for the AAAP, said the industry as a whole has been dogged by erroneous anti-choice propaganda that clinics are unsanitary and unsafe. “As far as the Internet rumors that there is not adequate access to emergency equipment at abortion clinics – that is categorically untrue,” she said. “Everyone knows medical emergency equipment is only an ambulance ride away.”

She added that she believes the campaign will set unfounded rumors about the industry to rest. “There is just so much more flexibility in this industry,” she said. “You don’t have to be an ob-gyn to perform an abortion. You can be an allergist, or a chiropractor or a psychiatry resident moon lighting a couple of days a week to pay off your student loans. We aren’t restricted by the same rules a hospital or regular clinic would be, and that flexibility allows us to have more clinics out there to serve you.”

Anti-choice activists who have seen the campaign are already crying foul over supposed inaccuracies. “The campaign says they are cleaner than a vet’s office,” said Thomas Fontenot, president of Journalists for Life. “But the truth is your local veterinarian’s office is subjected to more stringent regulations than an abortion clinic would be.”

Gooding said she is not surprised by reactions on the part of the anti-choice movement. “Why can’t they just accept what we say and save women’s lives in the process?”


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

More News You Might Believe


As hard as it might be to believe, in addition to being a devoted wife, mother, dog owner, advent wreath making instructor at my local parish, and light to the masses, I have found the time to write a few more breaking news stories. Read them now at Inside Catholic. or continue to be an in-the-dark-Catholic.



Striving to be a Higher Being