Thankfully within the halls of the institutional church there has been more and more talk of gender equality. This is a breath of fresh air compared to how the all male hierarchy has responded in the past. Though sadly there is still resistance in one area that is still totally dominated by men. I find it even more sad that those groups who are so open to things like women in the priesthood have overlooked one important area of gender disparity that our prophetic voices need to cry out to Heaven about.
You might wonder what I am talking about. Sometimes areas of justice inequality happen right underneath our noses and societal stereotypes in gender roles make us miss them even if we are more finely tuned to gender disparity than others. I am speaking about ushers. Have you ever seen a female usher. Maybe some diocese are more enlightened than mine, but I have only seen male ushers. From the ultra-traditionalist ushers wearing suits to more laid back males wearing a variety of clothing. But what they all have in common is they all have two distinct sex chromosomes (XY), and are of the heterogametic sex.
This seems to be a small t tradition and there are not even any Vatican document regulating this. Though of course even if this had been a long tradition of the church and even considered part of Apostolic Tradition we would be able to override this just as in women’s ordination. When it comes to ushers to paraphrase St. Paul their are neither Jew or Greek. Some might argue that it is not the will of Christ that there be women ushers. But scripture is silent as to the sex of any ushers at the last supper. While Old Testament usher (doorkeepers/gatekeepers) were male this was just a cultural bias like the all male priesthood in Mosaic law.
Historically Ustiarius Theodora is the inscription on a 9th century mosaic in the St. Zeno Chapel of the Church of St. Praxedis in Rome. Historically, Ustiarius was the mother of Pope Paschal I, and he created the chapel for her. This is certainly proof that there were women ushers as the name shows.
Ontologically women are just as capable of taking money from others as men are. Some would make the case that they are even more capable at doing this than most men. Physically women are also just as able to pass the basket as they walk up and down the aisle so there can be no case made against them here. Women are often excellent greeters and pointing out empty seats comes naturally to them.
The Catholic Church must continue to adapt itself to changing times in order to remain prophetic. We must let go of past prejudices and fully embrace women ushers into our churches. Let go of past gender preferences and false gender roles. There will be no justice until there are women usher. So I call all women who feel they have a vocation to be an usher to let their prophetic voice guide them and to stand up and greet people as they come into the churches. Let not the gender conventions of the past deter you and rise up against male hierarchical thinking that uses their power to keep you from becoming ushers.