About Saint Mary Magdalene Community

We Hold These Values

  • We are a faith-sharing community that follows the teachings of Jesus as we understand them.
  • We celebrate open, shared Eucharistic worship with the words: Receive who you are, the Body and Blood of Christ.
  • We embrace a common priesthood in which all persons have equal status in the community liturgy and social action.
  • We welcome all into our midst, to share our journey, to break bread together, and to nourish the Christ in each of us.
  • We rely on the transformational nature of God to direct the shape of our worship and the direction of our social responsibility.

The History of our Community

In 2007, the Community of Saint Mary Magdalene was born in a field of dreams. Like the premise of the popular movie, the founders believed, if “we” built it, “they” would come. And come they did, from all over the five county Philadelphia area and the states of Delaware and New Jersey.

During Covid, our zoom Sunday Masses attracted people from all over the United States, the United Kingdom, and Belgium.

But it took time and hard work.

The founders of the community emerged shell-shocked from the implosion of another intentional Eucharistic community determined not to replicate the patriarchal leadership of either the institutional church or the small community they had just left. They were resolved to build a discipleship of equals where all members had an equal voice. In the new community, there was to be no eminence of degree. The liturgy was to be the work of the people rather than the priest. The community was to be owned and operated by its members rather than by an outside entity or by the ordained members.

The community has followed this practice from the beginning.

The Sunday liturgy reflects the community’s belief in the equality of all people before God as it organically grew from a tiny group of ten into what the community is today. After the homily, members of the community are invited to give their brief reflection on the readings. Parishioners offer the prayers of the people. The Eucharistic ministers offer up the gifts at the Offertory and remain with the priest at the altar during the Eucharistic prayer. The entire community prays the Eucharistic prayer and raises their hands over the gifts at the Epiclesis. The community prays the words of institution together.

The community empowers members to use their considerable gifts. Some are readers, others are Eucharistic ministers. Some provide opportunities for community prayer and study outside of Sunday Mass. Others tend to our charitable giving. Some have been called to preach and others to preside at liturgy during the absence of the priests.

All Christian sects/denominations/churches are the heirs of early Christians, growing organically from their respective understanding of the gospel. What separates one denomination from another is so small, it is really not worth mentioning since Jesus promised that whenever two or more are gathered in his name, he will be present. Prior to Covid, the Community of St. Mary Magdalene, two United Methodist, and one Lutheran congregation regularly participated in yearly ecumenical worship services.

The Community of St. Mary Magdalene meets every Sunday in person and on zoom for Mass at 9 o’clock. All of the seven sacraments are available. There are many opportunities for prayer on zoom: First Fridays, Friday prayer services during Advent and Lent, and lectio divina. Community members engage in Reiki on zoom and hike together through God’s green forests.

In their imperfect way, members of the Community of St. Mary Magdalene try their best to love one another and the world as Jesus commanded. The community has come this far by faith, leaning on our God, and trusting God’s holy Word. God has not failed us yet.

Apostolic Succession

The Roman Catholic Church understands that the current practice of the Catholic faith was handed by Jesus to the twelve apostles at the Last Supper who then passed on that faith to succeeding generations of clergy through the laying on of hands down to the present.

According to this tradition, all of the women ordained as Roman Catholic Women Priests were ordained according to apostolic succession since the bishops who ordained them are in the line of apostolic succession. Consequently, their ordinations are valid but are considered illicit since the Church forbids the ordination of women.

Wendi Steinberg was ordained a deacon in Weston, MA, by Rev. Jean Marchant, Bishop of the Eastern Region of Roman Catholic WomenPriests on 12-10-2023

How We Practice

  • During liturgy, members ask for prayers for loved ones and those who may be suffering around the world.
  • Everyone consecrates the Eucharist together.
  • Members comment after the homily and sometimes members deliver the homily.
  • Sometimes members of the community lead the liturgy.
  • Everyone is welcome to Communion.
  • We share our resources with local, national, and international charities recommended by our members and voted on by the community.

Our Pastoral Team

Eileen McCafferty DiFranco, RCWP

Eileen McCafferty DiFranco has lived most of her life in Philadelphia. Ordained a Roman Catholic Womanpriest in 2006, she, along with other parishioners, founded the Community of St. Mary Magdalene in 2007. Philadelphia. As a worker priest, Eileen served the children of Philadelphia as a school nurse for twenty-five years. Eileen has a Master of Divinity from United (formerly the Lutheran) Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. She has been married to Larry DiFranco for almost fifty years, is the mother of four adult children, and the grandmother of six. Eileen is the author of the 2017 book, How to Keep Your Parish Alive which provides a blueprint for founding intentional Eucharistic communities and the upcoming book Taking Out the Saints.

Caryl Conroy Johnson, RCWP

Caryl has been a member of the St. Mary Magdalene (SMM) Community since December 2007. She has happily served the community as a priest since her ordination through Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP) in 2011. She is also a member of the Upper Darby Ministerium, is a spiritual director, and has led retreats and theological reflection groups. Most recently Caryl has been leading the SMM Hiking Club, whose focus is finding God in nature. Prior to her journey in the SMM Community, she served as a pastoral associate at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Springfield, PA, where she worked in bereavement, ministry to the sick, youth ministry, liturgical ministry, and interfaith events. She has a B. S. in Business Administration from St. Joseph’s University, a M. A. in Religious Studies from St. Charles Seminary, and a M. S. in Spiritual Direction from Neumann University.

Caryl loves spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren, is an avid hiker, and enjoys traveling. She has published the story of her call to priesthood My Journey into Freedom: The story of one woman’s path into ordained priesthood in the Catholic Church and has also written a book entitled Living Oneness, Embracing Diversity: A collection of reflections, liturgies, ceremonies, retreats, and homilies. Both are available on Amazon.com. Caryl can be reached at ccjohnson2236@aol.com.

Kathleen Gibbons Schuck, RCWP

The first time Kathy walked in the door she felt “at home” despite the multi-story scaffolding that dominated the space. Before that day in 2012 when she first experienced the Community of Saint Mary Magdalene, her journey had taken her to multiple states and continents. She never dreamed that in 2015 she’d be ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement! In addition to serving as a member of the pastoral team at SMM, Kathy ministers to the LGBTQIA community at Dignity Philadelphia.

Early in her career, Kathy worked in a variety of telecommunications sales, management, and marketing roles at Bell Atlantic and Verizon. Leveraging that success, in 2003, she started a coaching and consulting business that expanded her worldview with travel to Nigeria, Ghana, and the Republic of Benin.

Kathy is a certified Leadership Coach and holds a master’s in Theology and a bachelor’s in Sociology. Spouse to Stan, mother to Ann, friend to many, Kathy is energized building relationships, traveling, and bringing people together. She believes some of the best times are spent with friends over food. As the journey continues, Kathy remains richly blessed by the people and the Spirit who incarnate the community of Saint Mary Magdalene.

Community Leaders

George Limbach

Treasurer

Carol Dougherty

Charitable gifts

Anne Hayden

Community Action/
SETUP Team

Mare Curran

Community Action

Stan Schuck

Setup Team

Jim Kaib

Music

Linda Maylie

Setup Team

Denise DeZolt

Zoom Moderator

Peg Devine

Zoom Moderator

Diann Westrick

Zoom Moderator

Tina Shelton

Setup Team

Kelly Carney

Zoom Moderator

Stan Johnson

Moderator

Mary Anne Geskie

Lectio Divina/
Centering Prayer

Joan Aspan

Music

Forever Remembered

Community Members Whose Legacies Live on Through Us

Bud Englert

November 5, 2012

Jack Bendon

September 21, 2021

Nancy Bradbury

December 7, 2022

Joe Butler

January 7, 2023

Carolyn Nelson

April 8, 2023