Rare look at church through the eyes of a female priest

Marty Meyer-Gad
Marty Meyer-Gad

Marty Meyer-Gad, a Santiago, Minn. Township resident, has published a 377 page memoir highlighting her life and path toward becoming an ordained Catholic priest. The memoir is entitled Seventy-Four Cents. Meyer-Gad officially became an ordained Catholic priest on April 10, 2010. To do this, she followed a curriculum.

“Most, like myself, had taken most of the required courses or competencies as we got our master’s or through our work,” Meyer-Gad explained. “I was the liturgy coordinator for parishes. I also trained lay people in Detroit and Chicago to help meet parish needs as the priest shortage grew. I taught at Sacred Heart Seminary and coached priests on their style for public prayer.”

According to Meyer-Gad, some Catholic bishops, seeing the exclusion of women from the priesthood as an injustice in need of correcting, ordained the first Roman Catholic women priests in modern times in 2002. Though the Catholic hierarchy considers the ordinations illicit, the number of female priests in the U.S. has grown to over 100, with seven priests and one bishop residing in Minnesota.

Meyer-Gad herself has “felt called to be a priest all her life”.

“I am against the ordination of women. I am also against the ordination of men. But my training is in leading worship which currently in the Catholic Church requires ordination,” she said.

And so, on June 15, 2006, her journey to become ordained began.

“I got an email saying that the bishops got the final vote needed to accept Rome’s literal translation of our Mass prayers, sight unseen. The prayers had been quickly translated into English after Vatican II. The 1965 text was to be replaced with a more lyrical translation at a later date. That translation was finished in 1998. The English speaking bishops approved the translation in accord with the powers given them by Vatican II. The translation was sent to Rome as a courtesy. Rome rejected the translation, thus diminishing the power of the bishop conferences.

“The same day I got an email from Call to Action mentioning that some women had been ordained, so I contacted them,” she said.

Meyer-Gad says that the book helps anyone with or without a religious background glance at the turmoil in the Catholic Church through some historic perspective.

“Pope Francis is changing the direction of the Catholic Church. Seventy-Four Cents identifies some roadblocks he faces,” she said.

In order to write her book, Meyer-Gad participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month) in November 2010. This is where writers are challenged to get at least 50,000 words of a novel written.

“I wrote what became my memoir as a fictional novel during that November. That first draft was really rough. I redid it as a series of essays because they contained more of what I wanted to communicate than my life story did,” she said.

“The hardest part in writing this book was cutting so much out. I almost have enough for a work memoir,” she added.

After taking that class, Meyer-Gad rewrote her memoir and kept editing it. It was as this time that she retired from her full time job in Monticello to work on her writing.

“I hired a professional to edit the 19th draft of it. Using his and other readers’ comments, I decided the 21st draft was ready for publishing.”

Seventy-Four Cents is not Meyer-Gad’s first brush with writing. In the ’90s she wrote a novel revolving around the first women being ordained; she also started a Bible Study series called At Home With the Word, which is still being published with a different writer every three years.

One of her goals now is to attract an agent or publisher so she can devote time to three other writing projects.

“I have lived an unbelievable life and seen many facets of the Catholic Church. I will not give up on the Catholic Church and look forward to the day when the laity will reshape its structure,” she said.

Seventy-Four Cents is listed in ebook formats at Smashwords and in paper format on Amazon. It can be found at Pedal Inn Antiques in Becker, Central MN Art Co-op in Princeton and Willow Tea in St. Cloud. Meyer-Gad is still looking for a store closer to Monticello.


Kendra Hartsell is a freelance business and feature writer for the Monticello Times.