And who am I, this Rev. Catharine Clarenbach? I am a white, fat, queer cis femme with physical disabilities and managed mental illness, including attention deficit, bipolar, and trauma-related conditions. All these identities inform my spiritual work and my passion for intersectional justice.
Building on the spiritual desire and religious experiences I had as a devout Roman Catholic girl, I have, since 1996, helped hundreds of people in small groups, 1:1 guidance, and large-scale worship and ritual. In addition to my current religious identities, I have been invited into the ceremonies, seasons, and lives of many other religions. These include the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), la Regla de Ocha (Lukumi/Santeria), Reform Judaism, and Episcopalianism.
My wife jokes that if I truly had my druthers, I’d practice four religions. I’d be Episcopalian in the winter, since they celebrate Advent so beautifully. I’d be Catholic in the spring; I mean, how can I truly let go of Holy Week? I’d be Pagan in the summer ‘cause I can’t resist drumming at a good Fire Circle or making and attending deeply transformative ceremony. And I’d be Quaker in the fall, when, after all, the world around me seems ripe for quiet contemplation.
Nevertheless, as it turns out, I am bi-religious. I was initiated into Stone Circle Wicca in 1999, and attained my Third Degree in 2006. I was also ordained into the Unitarian Universalist ministry in 2015, after having been granted my Masters of Divinity with honors from Wesley Theological Seminary in 2014. These two faiths, Stone Circle Wicca and Unitarian Universalism, are the foundation of my religious identity.
I have further studied at the Washington Theological Seminary with Sisters of the Holy Names, with the Sisters of St. Joseph, and at the Urban Spirituality Center in Portland, Oregon, where I received my formal certification in spiritual direction.
I believe deeply that Love is the Source of Life, and that serving the longing for Divine relationship is one of the most powerful ways to heal the broken places in our hearts, in Western culture and in the world.