Local Reverend Celebrates 10th Anniversary
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"I have always been catholic," said Reverend Denise Donato, Mary Magdalene Church. "It's just a part of who I am."
Denise Donato's path to priesthood wasn't always pretty.
"This was the deepest call of my heart and I knew that God was calling me," she said. "I just could feel it. I sensed it. I knew it. Yet the tradition that I loved so much did not recognize women as being eligible for ordination."
Four years ago she started her church, Mary Magdalene in East Rochester.
"It's become home for people who have been isolated or just in fear of not being comfortable participating in their faith," said parishioner Lynne Hamilton. "To me it's become home."
Although it is not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, Donato says they practice the catholic faith.
"It's because of woman priest, it's because we marry same-sex couples. We invite everyone to communion. These are things that put us outside the bounds," said Rev. Donato.
On Sunday the congregation celebrated Donato's tenth anniversary since her ordination to priesthood.
"It's just really empowering as a woman to see the evolution of the church," said Hamilton. "I believe it changes people and it will eventually changes institutions and we have to celebrate it."
Rev. Donato says her church has grown immensely over the years, going from a congregation 10 to 12 members to the full house in attendance on Sunday.
"I think that where we're as a community of Mary Magdalene, is a church that is living into the future," said Rev. Donato.
Donato is looking forward to the next ten years.
"I think if the Roman Catholic Church is to survive, it's just got to open its arms," said Hamilton.
Rev. Donato and her parishioners are hoping their faith will take them down what they call a progressive path.