Plymouth, Massachusetts resident and Massachusetts Bible Society director, Rev. Anne Robertson -- a United Methodist minister -- never imagined that she would get the chance to share a ritual drop of water for a baptism remembrance with a Roman Catholic cardinal, but on January 12 Cardinal Sean O'Malley asked her to do so, the Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA) website reports today (January 15, 2014).
"It was completely unexpected," the Rev. Robertson said yesterday in her first media interview about the encounter. "I'm still blown away by it. What moved me was not so much that I was anointing him," she said. "It was him being willing to accept that from my hand -- to ask me, as a woman in ministry, to do that. I was choking back tears for hours."
The Rev. Robertson was the only female clergy member who assisted at a special 50th anniversary worship service at Sudbury United Methodist Church. Cardinal O'Malley delivered the homily at the ecumenical gathering, which commemorated a groundbreaking appearance by Cardinal Richard Cushing at the church in 1964.
As part of last Sunday's anniversary service, the 500 who filled Sudbury United Methodist to overflowing were invited to receive a drop of consecrated water on their forehead and be told, "Remember your baptism and be thankful." The ritual resembles the ceremonial receiving of ashes on Ash Wednesday, but isn't a formal United Methodist sacrament.