Saturday, November 1, 2014

HOMILYARCWP: Ordination on Nov. 1, 2014-by Bridget Mary Meehan “We Are Partners: Called to Minister Side by Side”

  HOMILY: Ordination on Nov. 1, 2014- Bridget Mary Meehan
“We Are Partners: Called to Minister Side by Side”
                     Today the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests will ordain 3 women to serve inclusive Catholic communities where all are welcome.

Judith Bautista, from Colombia, South America is a therapist, renowned poet, musician and educator. In her words: “I work to support leaders who accompany communities hit by poverty and violence, some of them are defenders of human rights, but others are leaders who accompany resistance in building solidarity amid the difficult living conditions of the people.” Judith is 47- years old. For 27 years she has been working in spiritual direction and pastoral care. As a religious for nine years, she ministered to women and youth. In the church of the poor, she continued nourishing her lifelong encounter with God through her studies in the Bible, theology and human rights and by becoming close to the suffering and needs of those around her. "My call to the priesthood”,Judith said,  “was always present. Now I've found through ARCWP that it can happen. God's people can continue living fully and in joy. I live my baptism, together with my brothers and sisters."  
Like deacon Phoebe, whom St. Paul praised in our second reading as an outstanding leader in Romans 16, our newly ordained deacons, Sally and Janet, will continue to co-preside at inclusive liturgies, to preach,  to offer educational opportunities for theological discussion, and to serve the needs of others in ministries of compassionate care.

Sally Brochu is the mother of 3 children, grandmother of 10 and great-grandmother of 4, all of whom she delights in. She has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling from Emmanuel College in Boston. She has served in a variety of ministries including Lector, Eucharistic Minister and a RCIA Team member. After fulfilling Clinical Pastoral Education requirements, Sally became a Board Certified Chaplain through The National Association of Catholic Chaplains.  For ten years Sally served as Director of Pastoral Care for a Catholic Regional Medical System in Maine. For over a year, Sally has co-presided at liturgy here at MMOJ and has been called forth by this community for ordination.  
 Janet Blakeley has a Master's degree in Clinical/Pastoral counseling from Emmanuel College, Boston. In addition  she has taken graduate courses in Scripture and Theology at the following institutions: University of Fribourg, Switzerland, Lay Ministry Training Institute, Boston Andover-Newton Seminary, Boston College and Boston University  After a lifetime of various ministries - church musician, parochial school administrator, parish adult education leader, volunteer in Haiti, spiritual director - and after raising a family of three children and a second family of grandchildren, Janet Blakeley is saying "yes" to God and to the call of our community for ordination.  Accompanying her in ordination will be her partner of 20 years, Sally Brochu.“Together we love our life at Mary, Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota,” Janet writes “ and we look forward to serving there…Thank you for holding onto the dream until we could be part of it.”

In the Beatitudes Jesus introduces us to a God who delights in us, works through us and blesses others through us. Every time we listen to or console someone who is grieving, every time, we say a kind word to mend a broken heart, every time, we sign a petition against the death penalty or demonstrate for peace through non-violence, we are living as a blessing, Every time we act with compassion, witness for justice, or even smile with love, we are blessings and blessed. We, like Mary, in the Magnificat, are proclaiming God’s empowering presence doing great things for us. We are living blessings, mystics and prophets through whom God is loving, comforting, healing, and challenging injustice today! We could ask ourselves, how are we “walking, talking blessings” to the excluded? How can we nurture our inner mystic?  

In the Beatitudes, Jesus said; “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of their struggle for justice, the kindom of heaven is theirs.” When referring to the kindom of God, Jesus used the Aramaic word Malkuta, the root Kut meaning empowerment.  This is what our women priests’ movement is about empowering all including women to live the fullness of their baptismal call as spiritual equals created in the divine image.

 This means that we begin our theological reflection by listening to and learning from the lived experiences of the poor, of women, of the excluded and marginalized, of the Earth and of all creatures. Option for the poor is at the heart of the Gospel. Sounds a lot like the emergence of Liberation, Feminist and Mujerista theology to me!

In her new book, The Elephant in the Church, Irish theologian Mary Malone thinks that the Church should treat women as the “significant theologians that they are.” She argues: “For women have always done theology and ministry in both word and deed… that provides the living guide for more than half of the church.” The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests’ Preparation Program fosters circular leadership in communities of equals and honors the spiritual, educational, professional, life and faith experiences of women (and men).

Change is in the air at the Vatican. Even though Catholic bishops failed to approve their draft document welcoming gays, Pope Francis’ call for open dialogue and new ways of thinking in the Synod of the Family has fostered an open and bitter debate between prelates on greater acceptance of same sex couples. In the draft document, ‘relatio” released on Oct. 12th
the Vatican said that gays and lesbians have "gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community"  and acknowledged that same-sex couples can give "precious support" to one another

While the bishops will meet in Oct. 2015 and the final report will be issued then, I believe that a major seismic shift is already taking place as marriage equality becomes the law in more and more places. In living the Beatitudes we are called to treat everyone as the beloved of God with equal human rights. May the people of God lead the way in honoring our LGBT sisters and brothers for who they are, for the holiness of their being and the gifts of their ministries.

This transformation of consciousness will lead the church to embrace true change not only in its tone, but also its teaching on homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, contraception and women priests!  

My sisters and brothers, the Spirit is a’moving in our midst!

In sacramental communities like Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community, we are healing the soul wound, the grave dishonesty that has been so damaging to the LGBT community and other marginalized groups in our church by welcoming all the Banquet Table of God’s extravagant love.
I look forward to the day that Pope Francis will address women priests as
"beloved sisters and partners" and witnesses to Gospel equality! Now this would cause the mother lode of all seismic shifts in the Catholic Church!

Let me share a few recent examples of how women deacons and priests are living the Beatitudes today:

On July 18, 2014, The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests donated $1,000 to a Catholic Worker house that shelters homeless women after the Cincinnati archdiocese retracted its funding because a woman priest led a prayer service at the shelter.

On August 27, 2014, The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Marriage Equality cases from the states of Indiana and Wisconsin. ARCWP Priest Mary Weber accompanied by her husband Gary Meister attended a rally in Indiana supporting Marriage Equality. On Oct. 23, 2014, ARCWP Priest Diane Dougherty attended a rally for Marriage Equality in Atlanta, GA and wrote an article about it.

On October 7, 2014, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, Kathy Kelly, and Georgia Walker, a deacon with ARCWP, appeared before Judge Matt Whitworth in Jefferson City, MO, federal court on a charge of criminal trespass to a military facility. The charge was based on their participation, at Whiteman Air Force Base, in a June 1st 2014 rally protesting drone warfare. Kelly and Walker attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the Base Commander, encouraging him to stop cooperating with any further usage of unmanned aerial vehicles, (drones), for surveillance and attacks. (Article by Kathy Kelly,

There are many more stories of women priests and our inclusive communities living the compassion of God in our times! Read my blog! It has seven years of stories about our adventures on the margins! Jesus calls us to step out of the boat, and like Peter, trust that God is leading us as we walk on water!
 Now we ordain our beloved Sisters:Judith, Sally and Janet. The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests rejoices that 3 women called by their communities, will be ordained today to serve God’s people.  May they be living blessings who bring justice, compassion and love to our Christian community and beyond!

Bridget Mary Meehan, D.Min., a Sister for Christian Community, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 31, 2006. She was ordained a bishop on April 19, 2009.  Dr. Meehan is currently Dean of the Doctor of Ministry Program for Global Ministries University, and is the author of 20 books, including   Living Gospel Equality Now: Loving in the Heart of God, The Healing Power of Prayer and Praying with Women of the Bible . She presides at liturgies in Mary, Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida. Dr. Meehan can be reached at and

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