When the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) or the Philippine Independent Church opens its door for women ordination to Sacred Ministry: diaconal and preysbeter or priesthood in the 1990’s, varying responses coming from the pews. Either a member was for or not was no longer an issue to debate. The IFI through the Supreme Council of Bishop (SCB) had already made a mark, women were welcome to the Ordained Ministry. Though there were a fraction of the IFI membership who refused to recognize that women have an equal place in the altar same with the men, elevating and blessing the host as representative of Christ who is a male.
In May 2004 during its regular meeting, the Supreme Council of Bishop (SCB) approved woman episcopacy. It was an overwhelming decision which proves IFI’s readiness in identifying women’s equality to the third order of Sacred Ministry. No doubt the Indiginous Filipino Catholic Church demonstrated a clearer understanding and acceptance of women ministry in the church both of the lay and the ordained. The gift of ordination is no longer the domain for men. The woman priests on the other hand were jubilant and prayed that out tribe may increase. So with the SCB’s decision for woman episcopacy, we the IFI woman priests began to look forward that someday we will have a woman striding in the church aisle with a fuchsia vestment.
It is not a question of either IFI is ready or not ready for a woman bishop. My contention is, the Church has already been READY. From 2004 up to the present, the National Search Committe (NSC) is open for women nominees to episcopacy. In our Diocese of Greater Manila (DGM) I was one of the four priests who received the blessing from our fellow clergy to become diocesan nominees to the National Seach Committee (NSC) with the endorsement of the Diocesan Bishop. However, I still have not done all the requirements to be submitted to the NSC. But The Reverend Emelyn Dacuycoy processed the requirements, accepted the challenge and braved herself to the many diocesan conventions. Congratulations to my batchmate SATS (St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary) ’89 who had been elected twice as Diocesan Bishop during the Diocesan Convention in Batac and Dumaguete. Her being elected twice ascertain the readiness of the Church to have a woman bishop. However, the last stop, which is the SCB has the final voting power. The membership of the SCB changes, decreases and increases as well. My ardent hope and prayers that opportune decision may not be any longer. In God’s time, difficult and heavy loads will be made all possible and bearable. This is very promising and put our trust on it.
Let us not stop praying, let us not stop dreaming and let us not stop believing. The IFI has already walked a hundred miles ahead and it will continue to walk embracing us all. To my fellow strong-spirited woman priests, we are already partakers, participants and partners of this lifelong journey of our faith and commitment to God’s service. Pro Deo et Patria my dearest sisters, keep the fiery love to serve in our hearts bursting. God bless us all continually.