The bucolic Mundelein campus that houses a theological university and the largest Roman Catholic seminary in the U.S., there are 220 men studying to be priests — plus one woman about to join a small cadre of female faithful blazing new paths. On Saturday, Dawn Eden Goldstein is expected to graduate from the campus’ University of St. Mary of the Lake with a doctorate in sacred theology, which will allow her to help train aspiring priests. The feat marks the first time a woman at the north suburban school will earn such a degree. Priests and administrators at the university emphasize that Goldstein, 47, is not earning her degree from Mundelein Seminary, but from St. Mary’s, a co-ed theological school where most students are men. Still, Goldstein’s accomplishment signals a new direction in American Catholicism. “I’ve found a kind of equilibrium here,” she said, referring to the cautious pride professors have expressed about her pursuit. “I’ll be glad to move forward, but I’m thankful for the experience of being here.” She is earning the degree, issued by the authority of Pope Francis, at the same time Francis is pushing to raise the profile of women in the Catholic Church, most recently in his 260-page apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia,” in which he praised some aspects of women’s liberation, though he did not go so far as to say women should be priests. Goldstein is not calling for women’s ordination. She’s not condemning celibacy, and she voluntarily took a vow herself. She’s simply pursuing an education to shape the church’s ministers of tomorrow and mentor women who feel called to serve the church. “There is a lot more room for women in leadership positions in the church than has been allowed in times past,” she said.
Read more. They have much more about Dawn’s remarkable background and faith journey, well worth reading.
Photo: John Konstantaras / Chicago Tribune