WASHINGTON -- The right-wing publication, The Wanderer, calls her the "chief priestess." In some circles she's known as "the Arch WOC." At bishops' meetings she wears red. At the microphone -- especially when addressing the media -- she blossoms. She loves it.
Ruth McDonough Fitzpatrick, the Women's Ordination Conference national coordinator, is conciliatory and combative. She can be open or suspicious, which can affect working relationships. And she has always labored in an office that never has enough money at the end of the month.
Her friends kid her when, in any new situation, she's instantly able to produce the worst-case scenario. Her flights of paranoia stem from her work on Central American justice issues -- when being paranoid was a sensible precaution.
Friends agree, and possibly her enemies and detractors, too, that if ordination for women were approved tomorrow, Fitzpatrick would be one of the first in line. Her studies at Washington Theological Union are almost completed.