Our very own Sister Maxine Kollasch, IHM, was interviewed on NPR program “Tell Me More” with host Michel Martin. A couple weeks ago, the program’s producer found Sister Maxine via A Nun’s Life Ministry and asked to interview her along with author Leora Tanenbaum, an observant Jew, and the Reverend Renita Weems, a minister ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The conversation was on women’s leadership in religion, though, as we soon discovered, it was steered specifically towards the “glass ceiling” and the ways in which women do not have access to the same roles or experiences that men do. Listen to the 15 minute segment by clicking the play button below (if the player doesn’t appear, here’s the direct link to NPR website).

This was an interesting topic, to be sure, and a timely one as March was Women’s History Month. It was fascinating to see the topic addressed across three different religious traditions. Sister Maxine did a great job, especially since she found out only moments before the show that she’d be asked about women’s ordination in the Catholic Church. Not an easy topic to address! But Sister Maxine did a great job and spoke well.

I think there’s an assumption among some that if ordination were open to women that Catholic sisters and nuns would of course take that “next” step. But that’s not the case at all. Ordination is not a “next” step or a “higher” calling, as if somehow an advanced progression along the path of holiness. However God calls a person is the way of holiness for them, no better or worse than any other calling. We have to unseat this assumption in our Catholic imagination because it does an injustice to God and to each one of us.

There’s also another assumption that the only way to fully lead within the Catholic Church is to be a priest. This is a tough assumption to address because on the one hand we know there are many ways to lead within the church. There are many leadership roles for women and men, lay and ordained. On the other hand, the structure of church leadership is built on ordination, specifically the ordination of men to the priesthood. For many women and men, this is a conundrum. And that’s an understatement.

Think about we as a church have thought about calling, especially with the Second Vatican Council’s affirmation of the universal call to holiness. What does your own call to holiness mean in terms of how you relate to everybody in the church? What questions does that raise for you? What surprises or insights?