As a young girl in Catholic school, Diane Whalen always wanted to be close to God. She set her sights on becoming a nun, until puberty hit and her interest in boys forced her to make a course correction.
It wasn't until Whalen was in her 20s that she started hearing people advocate for women’s ordination into priesthood. The Church never did come around to this idea, but an organization called Roman Catholic Womenpriests began ordaining women outside of the Church institutions. In 2010, Whalen became the first female ordained priest in Washington.
At her ordination, Whalen remembers feeling profoundly connected with loved ones living and dead as she lay on the floor listening to the Litany of Saints. And in her conversation with Gabriel Spitzer, she says she also feels connected to her 8-year-old self, the little girl who longed to do good and to live a life close to God.