Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sally Brochu's Presentation of Janet Blakeley for Ordination in ARCWP

Women priests are often challenged on their preparedness for ordination, This speech, by Sally Brochu, shares an excellent example of how our lives, ministries and spirituality prepare us for a renewed model of priestly ministry in a community of equals in the Roman Catholic Church.  

As Irish theologian Mary T. Malone writes in her book, The Elephant in the Church :
 "... the experience of the ordinary day-in day-out women of Catholicism can begin to be respected as among the primary bearers of the Faith, and respected, heard and treated as the significant theologians that they are. They can also be recognized and respected as the foundation stones of many a parish community, for without the presence and ministry of women, these communities would not exist.  For women have always done theology and ministry in word and deed.  " (p. 171.)

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests' Preparation Program affirms life experience, spirituality and ministry as valid theology. Through the People's Catholic Seminary, we offer courses for candidates without degrees to equip them for inclusive, prophetic, sacramental and spiritual ministries in a renewed model of priestly ministry within a community of equals in the 21st century. 
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Sally Brochu's Presentation of Janet Blakeley for Ordination in ARCWP
Janet Blakeley’s ORDINATION – Sally’s Witness
Bishop Bridget Mary and all gathered here today, it is with so much joy that speak today of Janet’s qualifications for ordination to the priesthood. I speak not just from my viewpoint because I am blessed to experience her goodness every day, but I believe I speak for members of MMOJ and ARCWP and also for family and friends.
Janet has been in ministry for most of her life and she has had a positive impact in so many lives, many of whom are here today. Even before the day she was baptized a Catholic at age 23, she has sought and grown in her love of God: learning, studying, experiencing and always helping others in their spiritual journey. She has a curious mind and a keen intelligence that prompted her to expand her horizons. She married and she and her husband, a University Professor, and their 2 adopted children lived and traveled in Europe and Africa. When they returned to the US, they adopted a third child in Boston.
While living in Switzerland, Janet attended the University of Fribourg and was privileged to study with men who would become the periti of Vatican II. Family life was very busy and once back in the US, she sought a Master degree in Ecclesiastical Music at Boston University and took Theology courses at Boston College. She received a Master in Clinical Pastoral Counseling from Emmanuel College in Boston in 1994. She was the first non-religious woman to graduate from the Jesuit-run Center for Religious Development, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She worked at various Retreat Centers in New England as a Spiritual Director and with individual directees for over 20 years. There again, she saw how awesome God was in the lives of the many whom she accompanied on their spiritual journeys.
Throughout her earlier years in the Boston area, she was a teacher and later Vice-Principal in a Catholic School; ran the Parish Center of a large Quincy parish; directed a Archdiocesan Program for poor inner-city grandmothers raising their grandchildren; directed another Boston Archdiocesan Program that brought orphaned children from Haiti, and found adoptive homes or connected the children with family members already living in the US. Able to speak Creole, she could communicate with these children and families. You’re wondering how she learned Creole? In the early 80’s, a very poor parish, St Boniface, in Quincy, began an outreach to their parishioners. That expanded to include a sister parish in a poor hamlet in South Haiti that had no access to healthcare. They raised money, but were told they had to bring it down, because the money would never get there. Janet was on the second of these trips, where she helped the much-loved pastor, envision and design a healthcare clinic. After eight working trips to Fond des Blancs, Haiti, Janet saw St Boniface-Haiti Medical Center grow and flourish. Today this expanded facility cares for over 70,000 people a year. Janet always speaks with such respect and awe of the Haitian people who are so poor, yet they have a deep faith, resilience and such joy-filled hearts like none she had ever met. Like her involvement in the Charismatic Movement, her Haiti experience was life changing.
As she moved into retirement, she faced a major life-challenge. Her daughter was killed in a car accident. Janet became the Legal Guardian to her four grandchildren, ages 7 -20. We raised them for 10 years. They are all adults now and we are so proud of them. Eden is with us today.
This brief overview of Janet’s story speaks of her compassion and outreach to the poor, not just local but a global outreach; her intelligence & leadership skills; her enlightened teaching and preaching skills; her deep faith and love for God; her remarkable listening ability and keen insight; her magnanimous heart and love for people; her genuineness and generous hospitality. She has so many gifts and life experiences that she brings to ministry to God’s people. Many feel that her ordination today is the formal recognition of her priestly ministry that she has lived throughout her lifetime.
We rejoice today but even nature rejoices. On our lanai, we have two Christmas Cacti. Today, both, for the second time since Christmas, are in full bloom! I think this is a visible sign of God delighting in her and smiling upon her this day.
Sally Brochu 3/5/2016

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