In 2012, Vikki Marie became the 10th Canadian to be ordained as a Womanpriest. The Roman Catholic Womanpriest movement is not recognized by the institutional church, and female priests are often excommunicated after ordination. Marie now leads Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community in East Vancouver.
Amy van den Berg: I read somewhere that your life experiences made you adept at detecting the silent suffering of others, do you feel that?
Rev. Vikki Marie: In my young adulthood, I was a practicing alcoholic. I sobered up at the age of 42 when I finally started university. I had a firm belief in God, but I had been hurt a lot because of racism in the church. My majors were anthropology and sociology, which helped me discover that the things that happened to me as a Black woman were not my fault.
A lot of the times people who you least expect, not just the poor and disenfranchised, are suffering, but they just keep it inside. I used to do that when I had no outlet and didn’t know who I could trust. It’s kind of a gift, that I can sense when other people are suffering.
AB: Now that you are ordained as a Roman Catholic Womanpriest, that ability must help in your own congregation.
VM: Oh yes. I don’t know if you know that a lot of the churches in Vancouver and in B.C. are protesting the [Trans Mountain] pipeline. My community came out with me and joined other religious leaders and people at the pipeline. On one occasion, I got arrested! I’m still doing my community service, which was my sentence — 120 hours.
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AB: You’ve been very involved with various social justice movements and actions. How important is social justice to you?
VM: I take to heart Micah 6:8 — to do justice and walk humbly with our God. I believe that God calls us to love our fellow creatures, people, animals, plants, everything. God gave us this wonderful gift of this Earth, and I think it’s insulting to God to destroy it. Especially as a woman of colour, how could I want justice for myself if the original people of this land don’t have justice?
AB: Your congregation is very inclusive. How important is equality and acceptance in your congregation?
VM: Our community supports each other, but we’re also outward looking. We’re not in competition with the Catholic church. We have other Christians in our community, and our services are in the afternoon so if someone belongs to another church and wants to come to ours, they don’t have to choose. We’re just the lifeboat that catches people who are thrown overboard.
This interview has been condensed and edited.
It was originally featured in Broadview’s July/August 2019 edition with the title “Rev. Vikki Marie.” For more of Broadview’s award-winning content, subscribe to the magazine today.