news and notes
Rosemarie Smead has found her
life calling and is ready for what the
future has to offer. After 26 years
as a professor, the former Indiana
University Southeast faculty member
turned her lifelong faith into a history-
making event for women in religion.
On Saturday, April 27, Smead became
the first Catholic woman in Louisville
to be ordained into the Association of
Roman Catholic Women Priests.
The movement to accept female priests
is growing. According to a recent CBS
Gallup Poll, more than 70 percent of
Catholics in the U.S. support women
joining the priesthood. The issue of
allowing females to serve has reached
as high as the Pope. In April, Pope
Francis stopped short of saying that
women should be ordained, but he
emphasized the “fundamental” role
they play in the Catholic religion.
While the Catholic Church does not
officially recognize her title, Smead has
no doubt that she is answering a higher
Retired professor makes history through her passion for religion
I will spend the rest of my years
serving God by serving the poor of our
community and anyone else who wants
to be a part of what the very best of the
Catholic Church has to offer,” she said.
Smead was born into a passionate
Catholic family in Akron, Ohio. She
grew up during the 1950s accepting
the teachings of the church and praying
daily. At the time, the highest position
a woman could reach in the church was
a cloistered nun because the priesthood
was off-limits entirely.
Still, Smead felt strongly about her
faith from an early age.
I knew my calling was to go to the
monastery and pray for all of the
people in the world who wouldn’t or
couldn’t pray,” said Smead. Upon her
graduation from high school, she was
accepted into a cloistered monastery in
West Virginia.
Her spiritual journey continued at
Marquette University where she
pursued a bachelor’s degree in theology
before moving onto the University
of Houston for a master’s degree in
psychometrics, and finally Auburn
University for a doctorate in counseling
psychology with a marriage and family
therapy concentration.
Smead came to the School of
Education at IU Southeast as an
associate professor in 1981 and taught
counseling until her retirement in
She coordinated the master’s
degree program in counseling and
mental health counseling in the School
of Education, and she also received the
Distinguished Teaching and Service
During her time at IU Southeast,
change began to happen in the world
of religion. The Episcopal Church in
the US had voted to recognize the
ordination of women priests in 1976,
and in 1992, both the Church of
England and the Anglican Church of
South Africa approved the ordination of
women priests. However, the Catholic
Church still maintains that only men
should serve as priests.
Smead, however, wants change to
I want to be an active part of that
change, not sit by and wait for some
future generations to generate the
courage to stand up to the hierarchy
and demand change,” she said.
Smead’s ordination as a priest took
place at St. Andrews United Church
of Christ on Browns Lane. She will
continue to practice at Christ Sophia
Inclusive Catholic Community in
Smead believes change must happen,
and she hopes that one day the men of
the Catholic Church will realize that
fact and see how important the women
are to the Catholic community.
Someday the men will figure out
that it’s oh so much better if we work
By Kim Kerby
IU Southeast Intern
Former IU Southeast education professor Rosemarie Smead, right, at her ordination into the
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.