Extract from Colette Joyce, “Women’s Ordination to the Priesthood: From Rejection to Vocation” in Visions and Vocations:
The question of why Catholic men are priests, yet Catholic women are not, struck me at an impressionable age. I was sixteen when a non-Christian friend of the family asked me if I thought women should be priests. My answer was a very shocked, ‘No!’ However, both the question and my reaction nagged at me, and I began to give it more serious consideration. I was surprised by how appalled I was by the idea of a woman at the altar. Where did that thought come from? I was a reader myself already by that time and I loved giving this service in the Church, proclaiming God’s word from the Old and New Testaments. I wanted to spend a lifetime devoted to God. I used to listen carefully to what the priest said and make up sermons in my head, thinking about what I would say if I were in his position. I loved the Mass and concentrated intensely during the consecration of the Eucharist. Every moment of it mattered to me, and I was just beginning to discover that I also loved helping other people, that I even had some leadership qualities which helped groups around me to grow. All these things were starting to suggest to me that I might have a vocation to priestly service except one – I was not a man. This idea of a vocation alarmed me. There followed six years of internal conflict. Why was priesthood an awful thing for a woman to contemplate for herself, and why did I not want to see other women in that role? Why could I not consider priesthood for myself?