Seattle’s newest inclusive Catholic community, Living Water, does not have a full-time priest. While some might argue that this puts us at a disadvantage, a closer look will reveal the many exciting advantages to this (temporary) situation. First, it means the lay members of the community are fully involved in every aspect of the decision making, liturgy crafting, venue finding, daily praying, and visioning for the future of our fledgling group. Second, it means that we enjoy monthly visits from a variety of presiders, each of whom brings their own particular “spin” on the Eucharistic liturgy.
This month, Vieda Baker, one of RCWP’s only African-American priests, visited Seattle for the New Year’s liturgy celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, the Theotokos (or “God-bearer”) and the World Day of Peace. One of Vieda’s first questions for Junia’s Journal was, “Are we going to have black-eyed peas and cornbread for the New Year?”
Vieda heard the call to priesthood in 2016 when she attended the ordination of Puanani Lalakeia, whom she had first met while pursuing her Master of Divinity at Marylhurst University in Lake Oswego. Vieda had been serving as a eucharistic minister to the veterans in Portland both at St. Elizabeth Anne Seton parish and at the VA hospital. “At the ordination, I was compelled to learn more about RCWP and spoke to several people who directed me to Rev. Penny Donovan. Penny and I sat in church talking until they closed up the church, and then we sat outside on the bench and talked for another two hours!”
That was the beginning of Vieda’s journey to priesthood, which culminated in her beautiful ordination ceremony on September 10th 2022. Several members of Seattle’s Inclusive Catholic Community traveled down to witness the joyous event. Living Water community members who also attend Holy Wisdom were particularly enthralled by Vieda’s powerful singing, which she demonstrated at her ordination during the processional, “We’ve Come This Far By Faith.” She was part of Holy Names Parish in Los Angeles, where she first sang the hymn with Father Clarence Rivers, one of the architects of the Lead Me, Guide Me hymnal.
Vieda’s roots in the Black Catholic community have added a richness to our experience of inclusive Catholicism, and we were eager to invite her to preside at one of our home liturgies. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed Vieda’s company and her buoyant energy. “It was warm and welcoming, and very soulful,” remarks Vieda. And of course, we served her black-eyed peas and cornbread.
Vieda returned to Portland on January 2nd, after telling Junia’s Journal that she was basking in the warm hospitality of the Living Water Community. We wish to thank Vieda for her generosity and kindness, and we can’t wait to invite her back for another visit.