ARCWP Priest Tish Rawles Excommunicated

A Cincinnati nun was excommunicated and dismissed from her Roman Catholic religious order last week after admitting she has been secretly acting as a priest since this spring.

Sister Letetia “Tish” Rawles, who has been a nun for 47 years, told the leaders of her order she was ordained in April as part of a movement that has been rebuked repeatedly by the church for violating Catholic teaching. Rawles, 67, has presided over religious services in secret and ministered to people who lived with her in a Cincinnati nursing care facility.

While other women have been ordained priests in violation of Catholic teaching, Rawles is believed to be the first member of a religious order in Greater Cincinnati to acknowledge taking that step and to face dismissal because of her actions.

Supporters appealed to the Vatican on Tuesday to allow Rawles, who is critically ill, to remain with the Dayton, Ohio-based Sisters of the Precious Blood. They said she has served the church as a teacher and care giver for decades and should be allowed to remain a nun, even if the church does not recognize her as a priest.

“Here’s a woman who has devoted 47 years of her life in service to the people of God,” said Janice Sevre-Duszynska, spokeswoman for the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. “And now she’s being thrown out of her community.”

Rawles said she felt called to the priesthood since childhood and wanted to respond to that call before it was too late. “I thought that before I die, I want to fulfill God’s call and my life-long dream to become a priest,” Rawles said in a statement Tuesday.

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Campaign to ensure Sister Tish Rawles can continue as a Sister of the Precious Blood by overturning her excommunication

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