Karen Parsons is no iconoclast. She hasn’t challenged her church’s teaching on women, but she has chosen a ministry of compassion to seafarers from all across the world, especially to those who pass through Galveston’s port. Even so, she’s been a pioneer when it comes to cracking the stained glass ceiling.
Parsons began working in port ministry for the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1985 as a volunteer. Two years later, she became the director of the seafarer’s program there. Then in 1992, she was appointed by Bishop Joseph Fiorenza to be the first Catholic laywoman in the world granted the title of port chaplain. That was at the Port of Galveston, where she still serves.