Rita Lucey was ordained as Central Florida's first woman priest Saturday afternoon, but at 80 years old, she'll likely be excommunicated from the church — no longer able to receive sacraments like communion.
The Roman Catholic Church does not allow women to be ordained as priests, only men.
"If that happens, that's how it will be," Lucey said. "But because I am called by the Holy Spirit to be a priest, I am here. It's time."
People from across the country came to the ordination ceremony at Christ Church Unity in Orlando. The church practices Catholicism but openly accepts people from all different backgrounds.
"It is so important for the Catholic Church to be inclusive of everyone — gays, lesbians, transgender, divorced and remarried," said Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan.
Added Lucey: "I think it's time we had a woman priest in Central Florida who can minister to all of the alienated Catholics."
Lucey was ordained by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a branch that's part of a growing international movement pushing for more women priests. There are now dozens of women priests across the U.S.
"Seventy percent of Catholics want women priests, and 39 percent of young people that have left the church recently have said gender inequality is an issue," Meehan said.
The group believes women priests were a part of the Catholic Church from its inception, but were later removed by men.
"I think that the sexism that has existed for so long within the Catholic Church has denigrated women, has not allowed them the full sacraments of the Catholic Church," Lucey said. "And so we take it upon ourselves to make those kind of changes."
We reached out to the Diocese of Orlando for comment, but did not immediately hear back.