Subvert the Dominant Paradigm

Below is a link and parts of a beautiful reflection that Louise’s dear friend Deb gave at her memorial service back in April. She captured the heart and spirit of Louise that so many of us are going to miss. 

Louise Akers’s reflection

On Wednesday evening, April 10, the Resurrection Community, a community led by Roman Catholic women priests celebrated the life and work of Louise Akers, SC. Louise was instrumental in the founding of the community. Rev. Paula Hoeffer presided at a beautiful Mass which featured some of Louise’s favorite songs — Standing on the Shoulders and Let the Women Be There both by Marsie Silvestro.

The first reading was from a body of work that I refer to as the gospel of Louise — her words from her 2009 talk at Call To Action. As the reader proclaimed her words, we were reminded of Louise’s prophetic call.

The vision of Vatican II continues to call us from passivity to active participation, from a parent-child relationship to mature adulthood, from clericalism to a living community, from a hierarchical structure to being the People of God.

I am convinced that a [distorted] god-image is the lynchpin which holds patriarchy all together. the male monotheistic image of God grounds patriarchy in all its subsequent institutions. We need to proclaim alternatives and truly acknowledge that God is not made in the image and likeness of those who currently rule our world and Church.

After the readings, I had the awesome (as in terrifying) task of trying to reflect on Louise’s vast love and her Gospel-led life and work.

If there was one “Louise-ism” that came through as I read and re-read her words, it was, “Subvert the dominant paradigm.” It was an exhortation worthy of a bumper sticker and it was the way Louise chose to invest her life’s energies.

Some of my words recalled Louise’s passions — all arranged on her button board (pictured) — the mosaic and map of her life’s work — all in Twitter length sayings. It now hangs in the office of the person who served as her faithful and brilliant secretary, Sue Ditullio.

Here are a few of the words I offered that evening. I share them here in order to invite and inspire all those who knew Louise to continue the work that is her legacy — a legacy rooted deeply in the Gospel.

On one of the last nights of Louise’s life, as she struggled to breathe, I put my hand gently on her shoulder and kissed her forehead lightly several times — a healing gesture I have carried out countless times with my own children and grandchildren. At that moment, I felt the same tenderness for Louise that I have felt for my own babies — pure grace — nothing more — nothing less.

And tonight, while Louise is not here for us to kiss on the forehead, I want to invite you to share your own gesture of love – for Louise – but maybe even more so for the work she would want us to carry on in her name.   

As you see, we have Louise’s button board—the mosaic of her life’s passions and work — in Twitter length sayings. 

Some of my favorite are:

“Women make laws, not coffee.”

“Jesus was a liberal.”

“I’m straight, but I’m not narrow.”

“The weeping of women is all our pain.”

“Priestly people come in both sexes.”

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

And finally one of my very favorites considering Louise’s unmovable determination;

“Damn it. Do it.”

I also brought a large blank bulletin board, some cutout shapes, pens, and push pins.  As we continue to worship together, I ask you to meditate on Louise’s legacy – her continued call to us to “subvert the dominant paradigm.”

Then make your own button – share your own passion and promise to Louise– in a Twitter length saying…

And as we come to the end of our worship together – please pin it on the board.

It will be our way carrying on Louise’s life force — her work. It will be our mosaic – our testament of love – for Louise — for her work — for each other – for God’s people.

As the liturgy came to a close, I felt anew my gratitude for having crossed paths with Louise Akers and all those who stood next to her and with her throughout the years — a whole community of women and men who had nothing better to do with their lives 🙂 than to carry out the work of the Gospel — which calls us to, “Subvert the dominant paradigm.”