Elsie McGrath | St. Louis Public Radio

Elsie McGrath

Reverend Elsie McGrath, photographed in her home on November 14, 2019, said becoming an ordained Catholic priest was "a monumental step forward in educating people about what the church really ought to be."
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Elsie McGrath never thought of herself as a rulebreaker. 

But in 2007, she broke one of the most fundamental rules in Roman Catholicism when she became an ordained priest. 

She was later excommunicated, along with fellow priest Rose Marie Hudson and Bishop Patricia Fresen, who ordained the two.

Women are barred from joining the Roman Catholic clergy, but McGrath is hopeful that will change. Last month, Pope Francis caused a stir when he said the Vatican would explore the possibility of female deacons, a class of ministry allowed to oversee weddings and baptisms but not consecrate Communion.