Today, June 20,2017 Pope Francis gave an inspiring speech praising parish priests in various parts of Italy who entered into the dark corners of society and reached out with the hands of Christ by keeping the poor and marginalized primary in their service. Rev. Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests responded in her blog that she hoped the Pope would also end the darkness of the church by including women priests in his consideration for Holy Orders. I would like to illustrate the ministry of three RC woman priests,members of Roman Catholic Women Priests, Eastern Region who attempt the kind of service the Pope desires of priests. Even as illness causes a curtailing of services of the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Pastors Judy Lee and Judy Beaumont and Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia press on as parish priests among the poor and homeless and marginalized. We present here some of the recent activities of two RC women Priests and then ,for reference, the articles on Pope Francis’ Speech and Rev. Dr. Meehan’s Response.
Here (above) we minister to and with a church member and her family as she deals with hospitalization for advanced cancer and critical corollary problems. Linda has been in the hospital for almost 40 days now and her Health Plan, for those on Disability, is inadequate for discharge planning. Also she has so many Doctors who do not coordinate with each other that she is hardly seen as a whole person and her cancer treatment has fallen by the wayside while the family needs much assistance in negotiating the medical and hospital systems that are critical to her life. Pastor Judy Lee is working with the oldest children and the husband to help them get the best care for her and she is also challenging the systems directly herself. She has helped them apply to two Cancer Foundations for help with daily living expenses so they do not become homeless as their Mom receives treatment. She has anointed Linda with the family present and participating twice and prays with the family as often as she can. This is a family that is falling between all of the cracks and suffering with a lack of real safety net for the poor in America and in this area. Pastoral work with Linda and this extended family of over 20 people includes many helpers from the congregation. This large and close family keeps vigil in the hospital almost daily. Below Judy Alves is with one of the little nieces who visit the hospital and Judy Alves, a Lawyer, is also the mentor for Linda’s 15 year old twins. She takes them to tutoring, and enriching educational opportunities and monitors school progress while their Mom is so ill.
Here (below) are some members of the Core leadership Group with the three Pastors serving this community after a recent Mass. We must be fed in order to feed the sheep.
Another pastoral activity is helping to prevent homelessness with supporting formerly homeless people in housing and helping them to find new housing when needed. Brenda (left) is seeking housing for her family of two and four pets. Mr. Gary is continually thankful for his apartment in housing for the physically disabled, and Patricia is delighted with her housing in Senior Housing.
Below Patricia shows her home to our parishioners . Patricia lived in the woods for almost two years before meeting our Pastors and then living behind our church for seven months. She remains a member of our community and was confirmed in 2016 along with Brenda and two members of Linda’s family, her eldest son, Quayschaun and her mother, Mrs. Jolinda Harmon.
Two months ago Patricia lost her beloved cat Sarah who died suddenly. Sarah was her companion in the woods and in her church and Senior Housing. (above Pat and Sarah relax in their room behind the church). Pat was truly bereaved at Sarah’s loss and we shared her grief. Last week Pastor Judy Beaumont and I brought her a little kitten that completed her home and family again. Assisting homeless animals often brings joy to our people as well.
Our church members were so happy to participate in the ordination of Rev. Maria Elena Sierra Sanchez at our church, welcoming a new Pastor who would serve the poor and outcast in Colombia, South America.
Pope Francis, will you welcome your new women Roman Catholic Priests of the Poor as well?
From Radio Vaticana: Pope Francis pays tribute to “Italy’s parish priest” Pope Francis pays tribute to Father Primo Mazzolari in Bozzolo, near Cremona – ANSA Pope Francis pays tribute to Father Primo Mazzolari in Bozzolo, near Cremona – ANSA
20/06/2017 12:58SHARE: (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday made a pilgrimage to northern Italy to honor two 20th-century parish priests whose commitment to the poor and powerless challenged many faithful – inside and outside the Vatican – to step outside their comfort zones. The Pope flew by helicopter to Bozzolo, near Cremona in the region of Lombardy, to pray at the tomb of Don Primo Mazzolari, parish priest of a small town, a scholar who wrote about St. Francis and Blessed John Henry Newman, he opposed the Mussolini regime and emphasized the importance of the poor. Sanctioned for a time by diocesan authorities, Father Mazzolari was a friend of Pope John XXIII and praised by the future Pope Paul VI. He died in 1959. The Pope then travelled to Barbiana, near Florence to pay tribute to Don Lorenzo Milani, a wealthy convert to Catholicism who founded a parish school to educate the poor and workers. In Bozzolo, Francis stood in silent prayer before the simple tomb of Mazzolari, and then delivered a long tribute to the priest whom he described as “Italy’s parish priest.” The Pope quoted Mazzolari’s writings about the need for the Church to accompany its flock and recalled his exhortation that a priest’s job isn’t to demand perfection from the faithful, but to encourage them to do their best. Quoting Mazzolari’s own words he said: “Let us have good sense! We don’t to massacre the backs of these poor people.” He said the legacy of priests like Don Mazzolari is a bright one that challenges us to leave our comfort zones. “Don Mazzolari tried to change the world without regrets for the past; he was not one who hung on to the Church of the past, but tried to change the Church through love and unconditional dedication” he said. Pope Francis warned against those men of the Church who “do not want to soil their hands” and who “observe the world through a window”; he warned against those who engage in what he called “separatist activism” where one runs Catholic institutions like banks or businesses; and he spoke out against the temptation for spiritualism which dehumanizes and is devoted only to the apostolate. Don Mazzolari, the Pope said, conceived the Church going forth into world in the firm belief that that is the only way to reach out to those who do not come to Church any more. “He was rightly described as ‘the parish priest of those who are far’ because he always loved those on the peripheries and to them dedicated his mission. Pope Francis concluded his speech with an exhortation to all priests to “listen to the world”, to “step into the dark areas without fear because it is amongst the people that God’s mercy is incarnate.” He urged them to live in poverty and said that the credibility of the Gospel message is in the simplicity and poverty of the Church and he reminded them always to treasure the lesson of Don Mazzolari.
Bridget Mary’s Response: As a movement for inclusiveness within the Roman Catholic Church, we are on the peripheries, serving the rejected, marginalized Body of Christ. When will Pope Francis leave his comfort zone and embrace a church for everyone including women called to Holy Orders? Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, www.arcwp.org