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The seeds of the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes were first sown in the Fall of 2003. A small group of women met at the Carpinteria CA home of Sr. Suzanne Dunn and Sr. Joanne Miller to study the work of Margaret Wheatley, a writer who envisioned that a future for the Catholic Church could come about through an increased role for the cooperative, inclusive leadership style of women. The group met monthly to support, learn, listen, and encourage one another. In time they called themselves Women of the Willing Disturbance (WWD), and the bond they shared was a desire for deep, true, authentic spiritual sustenance.

2005 – 2006

In late 2005, WWD hosted a dinner with women from the Central Coast of California who were planning a daylong national conference near Santa Barbara. The focus of the conference was the exploration of ordination of women priests in the Catholic Church. Two organizations convened the conference: the Women’s Ordination Conference and Roman Catholic Women Priests. WWD agreed to assist with logistics and hospitality for the conference.

The conference was held on February 18, 2006, with workshops and presentations, and a liturgical celebration led by a Roman Catholic Woman Priest. WWD left that evening feeling spiritually fed, and empowered, and ready for action.

That evening all the members of WWD, except one, gathered at a Carpinteria restaurant, Señor Frogs. Seated at two separate tables, and inspired by the Holy Spirit, they reached the same conclusion – that Suzanne Dunn would be a remarkable priest. (Suzanne was the one woman who was not present).

When she was informed of this call, Suzanne revealed that she had spent much time in prayer and discernment about ordination. She said that she would need the support of a community to proceed, and she trusted that, if priesthood was to be in her future, God would provide the community and the call. And so she began her study for preparation to the priesthood, supported by WWD and other interested persons.


Suzanne was ordained to the priesthood in a joyful celebration on September 7, 2008, at La Casa de Maria in Santa Barbara CA, surrounded by WWD and other friends and supporters. On September 14, 2008, she presided over the first liturgy of what would become the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes, a community of inclusivity and collaboration. That liturgy took place in the same home where the first gathering of the WWD had been held. 

Thanks be to God.

The Beatitudes, from the Gospel of St. Matthew (5:3-10)

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  • Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.

  • Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.

  • Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.

  • Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

  • Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.

  • Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

  • Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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