Saturday, August 24, 2013

ARCWP Women Priests Promote Tolerance

Miriam Picconi
Wanda Russell
Women priests promote tolerance, ‘cupcake ministry’
Flagler County Sheriff’s Office employees hold cupcakes delivered by ordained priests Miriam Picconi and Wanda Russell as part of their “cupcake ministry” to recognize and appreciate public servants.
Photo provided by Miriam Picconi
By Laurie Hahn
Published: Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 5:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 23, 2013 at 2:43 p.m.
[It’s been more than a year since Miriam Picconi and Wanda Russell were ordained by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests as Catholic priests, and their “Inclusive Catholic Ministry” is going strong.
“We truly welcome everybody to the table,” Russell said. “We are interfaith; we don’t try to impose our beliefs on others. Our group has Jewish, Baptist and Catholic members. It’s so refreshing to see people of different backgrounds discussing issues and coming to the same concerns about the essence of faith.”
Their Inclusive Catholic Ministries of Palm Coast inter-faith theology discussion group meets on Wednesdays at their home, and they hold mass on the third Saturday of each month.
“We want to emphasize what we have in common rather than what divides us,” Picconi said. “Jesus preached acceptance of all people. We’re going to what was the essence of Jesus’ message.”
That acceptance includes their willingness to perform same-sex marriages and outdoor ceremonies, which are not permitted in the Roman Catholic Church. They said they also don’t believe in telling their congregation how to think, vote or plan their families.
Picconi and Russell were ordained April 14, 2012, by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. There are approximately 150 women priests in the world, according to the New York Times, and a recent NYT/CBS News poll found as many as 70 percent of U.S. Catholics believe women should be allowed to be priests.
But the ordination of women remains forbidden by the Catholic Church. Pope Francis recently said Pope John Paul II’s statement in 1994 that the church has no authority to ordain women as priests is final, so “that door is closed.”
The ordination of women is considered by the Catholic Church to be an “infallible teaching,” which means the faithful cannot dissent and the subject is not open for debate.
Picconi and Russell regret the church’s stance, but not their decision to continue to serve.
“We’re not extreme or radical feminists,” Russell said. “It’s important for all churches to realize that women are people too. … We believe that all people are created in God’s image.”
The women, who became friends in 1981 when Picconi was appointed as a youth minister at Russell’s church, are retired from previous jobs — Picconi was in a religious order for 25 years and Russell is a retired social worker — but that doesn’t mean they’re taking life easy.
On Sunday, they will preside at an interfaith worship service at Castle Otttis in St. Augustine; they also speak at Sunday school classes and officiate at weddings, baptisms, funerals and retreats. They also offer spirituality workshops and counseling.
And there’s the “cupcake ministry,” in which they deliver baked goods to law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical services or others — to show their appreciation.
“These public servants risk much for us and get too little thanks,” Picconi said. “We want them to know how grateful the faith community is for all they risk for us.”
Picconi and Russell said they are always trying to find ways to respond to the needs of the community.
“When we find people who are hurting and are broken in spirit, how do we respond? How do we find the needy people?” Russell asked.
Picconi added: “Ministry isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life.”
Contact Russell at 502-320-6814 or; contact Picconi at 502-320-6817 or

Friday, August 23, 2013

September 15th Ordination in Albany, New York

Historic September 15th Ordination of Albany, New York’s 
First Woman Priest along with Two Deacons

On Sunday, September 15, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. Mary Theresa Streck of Albany, New York will be ordained a priest in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. Mary Sue Barnett of Louisville, KY and Maureen McGill of St. Petersburg, FL will be ordained deacons.

 The presiding bishop will be Bridget Mary Meehan of Falls Church, VA and Sarasota, FL. The ceremony will take place at First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany, 405 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12206.  All are welcome.

Media are invited to interview these women by email or phone. Respectful photo taking/videos during the ceremony is acceptable.

The candidates are theologically prepared and have many years of experience in ministry.

A former Sister of St. Joseph, Mary Theresa Streck earned an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. She is an artist and peace activist who is co-founder and director of the Ark Community Charter School in Troy, New York, a school primarily serving low-income families.

“I am seeking ordination as a Roman Catholic woman priest because I wish to continue and expand a life of service within my tradition to those who have been marginalized in the church,” said Mary Theresa Streck.  “I am living the change I wish to see in the Roman Catholic Church:  equality for women in a church where all are welcome.”

A wife and mother, Mary Sue Barnett has a Master’s in Religious Studies and a Master’s in Biblical Studies. She leads women’s spirituality retreats in Louisville and is a mentor of a young adult feminist activist group that specializes in advocacy for girls and women.

Maureen L. McGill is a wife, mother, grandmother and retired attorney in St. Petersburg. She has spent most of her professional career advocating for abused and neglected children.

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests calls on Pope Francis to embrace the full equality of women in our church and world community to lay the foundation for peace. Just as Clare and Francis were partners in living out the Gospel with the poor and marginalized, we invite Pope Francis to do the same with women priests.

Today women priests continue to follow the tradition of women disciples living and preaching the nonviolent and empowering Gospel taught to them by Jesus. We are leading the Roman Catholic Church into a new era of community and solidarity with all people.

Women priests are answering the call and our movement is growing since it began in 2002 with the ordination of seven women on the Danube. There are now more than150 women in in the world in our Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement, including 100 in 30 states in the U.S., living and serving over 60 inclusive Catholic communities and welcoming all to receive the sacraments.

According to a recent CBS Gallup Poll, over 70% of Catholics in the U.S. support women priests. There is no shortage of vocations as women are now saying “Yes” to this call and are being ordained. In 2013, ARCWP will have ordained 15 women priests and deacons.

Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan (703-505-0004) and Janice Sevre-Duszynska (859-684-4247) of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests will be in Albany from Sept. 12 –16.  They will be available for interviews about our justice movement for women priests in the Roman Catholic Church.

Release date:  Friday, August 23, 2013

Contact:  Janice Sevre-Duszynska, D.Min. (Media), 859-684-4247

Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan,,



Celebration of Priestly Ordination for:

Mary Theresa Streck of Menands, NY,, 518-225-1614

Celebration of Ordination to the Diaconate for:

Mary Sue Barnett of Louisville, KY,,


Maureen McGill of St. Petersburg, FL, 850-572-5413

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Archbishop Eamon Martin, Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland

"Eamon Martin, the youngest member of the Hierarchy at 51, was Rome’s surprise choice to lead the Irish Church in the coming quarter of a century. Since his appointment last January the "young" Derryman, as the heir apparent to the hapless Cardinal Sean Brady, has surged to national prominence as the Church’s chief spokesman in the 21 years long Church-State battle over abortion.

Having lost a crucial battle with the passage with resounding majorities through the Oireachtas of the Protection to Life during Pregnancy Bill, Martin has served notice that he has commitment, stamina and youth on his side to renew the crusade for the holding of a constitutional referendum aimed at returning to the situation prior to the 1992 X case when the Supreme Court permitted abortion where suicide is threatened by the mother.
In barely eight months he has unleashed threats of excommunication on Catholic politicians in both the Dail and Seanad Eireann who supported the limited legislation to give effect to the Supreme Court judgment in the X case.
“It was a shock to hear Archbishop Martin's warning of excommunication to any TD voting for the abortion legislation,” complained a stout Northern Protestant from Lisburn, the heartland of traditional evangelism that traditionally equated Home Rule with Rome Rule, but is now coalescing with the DUP-Sinn Fein administration at Stormont.

“Church leaders have every right to advise and counsel their members, but to issue an explicit threat to elected representatives over how must vote in parliament is an assault on the democratic process,” he told Goldhawk, cannily adding: “there was a whiff of the medieval about it.”
His thundering “No cooperation with evil”, which he claimed was being enacted by the Oireachtas, was the strident one-liner rallying cry to the Pro-Life forces from the surprisingly soft-spoken Derryman with Hollywood good looks of a slick salesman, a winning smile and a misplaced reputation for a safe pair of hands. He sounded more like like a miscast Humphrey Bogart in a script authored by the New York-born Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles J. Brown, cast in the role of an Armagh midwife.
As a barometer of changing attitudes, most moderate Catholics on both sides of the border, and not just the ageing liberal brigade from the heady days of the reformist Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, would intone Amen to the Lisburnman’s incisive verdict. Although described by a Tyrone parish priest as “a thoroughly good fellow,” a Belfast Catholic said she finds him under-whelming and un-prepossessing but wily. “He wouldn’t have got as far as he has without being the latter.”

“Eamon, the Awful”, as distinct from the generally acclaimed “good” Diarmaid Martin” in Dublin, is not due to take over the reins of ecclesiastical power vested in the Primacy of All Ireland until August 2014 when Cardinal Brady retires at 75. Already, however, Martin’s blitzkrieg arrival marks him out as the big broom in a new generation of bishops picked for orthodoxy and loyalty to the Holy See by Nuncio Brown.

Nationally unknown when his appointment was announced, he was nonetheless a familiar figure within the cloistered walls of Maynooth, where he acquired an insider’s intimacy of the secretive workings of the Hierarchy as secretary to the Episcopal Conference. Indeed, when Seamus Hegarty stood down as Bishop of Derry, Eamon was appointed caretaker administrator of the diocese of Derry.

Echoing at his first news conference Mary Robinson’s 1990 Presidential “come dance with me” invitation, Martin said this was a good time to “sing a new song to the Lord” in a time of change, challenge and opportunity. He repeated this signature tune on his installation in Armagh’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in April, when he explained that his motto would be Sing a new song to the Lord – suggestive of church renewal.
Instead of a new spring, and in contrast to his image for being politically savvy, Eamon’s bellowing on the abortion legislation took many by surprise - not because of what he said but because of the language and tone used. It was as if he was threatening opponents with the archaic excommunication ritual of “bell, book and candle”, retorted Labour’s Sean Sherlock, who damned the primate-in-waiting’s threats as "incendiary".
From the outset Eamon attacked the Government’s decision to introduce legislation to allow for limited abortion in line with the 1992 X case decision. This catapulted him on a collision course with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who insisted that the Government would not be diverted from introducing legislation following public furore over the death in Galway University Hospital of the pregnant Indian Hindu woman, Savita Halappanavar.
Martin’s lack of expertise in theology – he was a maths teacher, college principal and a musician - did not inhibit him from pronouncing on the unborn. As one of a family of 12, Martin obviously felt he well placed to speak with omniscience on childbirth.
This dogmatism brought him a learned rebuke from the late Sean Freyne, the former professor of theology at Trinity College, Dublin, who dubbed him a scaremonger operating with a 19th-century devotional understanding of the Eucharist. Freyne also accused Martin of “disingenuously insisting that the church was not being threatening” when during the pregnancy Bill’s passage, he had even suggested no priest should administer Communion to any politician who supported the Bill and had warned that errring politicians “excommunicate themselves” from the body of Christ.
Martin’s overnight rise to hawkish prominence is due to the management strategy of Archbishop Brown, the Pope’ Ambassador’s to Ireland, which is essentially to promote younger and energetic men with managerial skills to the episcopal ranks by designating them to head dioceses other than their own native ones.
In Martin’s case, two factors appear to have influenced Brown’s in nominating him to Rome for the top job. First, Martin had shown zero tolerance towards clerical paedophiles when he served on the Church’s own watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children, (NBSC), until earlier this year, Martin had also impressed by not hesitating as administrator in Derry to name two previous bishops of Derry criticized in the NBSC review of that diocese in November 2011. Significantly, in an address on August 11 in West Belfast’s Saint Oliver Plunkett Church he doubted that “the dark clouds of abuse shall lift easily.”
Second, and probably the most significant consideration for Brown and the Vatican, was that last December Martin in his capacity as administrator of the Derry diocese came south to join some other bishops outside Leinster House at the first of what turned out to be monster protests against the proposed abortion legislation.
According to a church insider, the phlegmatic Martin, unlike the nervous Brady, is noted for his ease with the media and is willing “to articulate Catholic teaching clearly and compassionately on very significant matter of unborn life.” At key stages in the legislation’s passage he either took part in news conferences or issued statements and gave interviews. These interventions were given ample space in the national media.

Unnoticed, however, by journalists were his timely interventions on the Eternal World Television Network, (EWTN), the American Catholic fundamentalist television conglomerate founded in Alabama by Mother Angelica. This first “Catholic CNN” is the satellite station used in past campaigns by Derry’s better known Pro-Life crusader, Rosemary Dana Scanlon. Its programmes beam to over 100 million viewers in 115 countries including Ireland.
On the opening day of the Dail debate Martin featured on EWTN from outside St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh denouncing the Bill, and again ahead of a critical vote on July 10, urged TDs to vote against the Bill. He also deplored the lack of a free vote of conscience in Fine Gael that cowered T.D.s like Mayo’s Michelle Mulhern but was unsuccessful in the case of Blessed Lucinda Creighton.

Martin’s holy blarney failed when on July 12, ironically the biggest day in the Orange Order’s marching season to commemorate the victory of the Protest King Billy against the Catholic King James, the Dail passed the legislation by 127 to 31 votes.
On Wednesday July 17, the third day of Senate sitting on abortion, the surprisingly Martin also appeared on EWTN along with two women associated with the Vigil for Life movement and Micky Harte, the Tyrone manager, who said the Irish legislation with its 35 weeks time-span was worse than the UK 1967 Abortion Act.
Eamon of Derry’s coalescing with militant uncompromising Catholicism contrasts with the more diplomatic approach pursued by Diarmuid of Dublin. You did not see Diarmuid joining the street demos, and while his statements were orthodox, he appeared to recognise the limited constitutional application of the legislation.

Both Martins are of strong character and as professional churchmen will work well together. But Eamon just cannot compete with the broad range of cultural, pastoral and life experience which Diarmuid acquired over almost three decades as a diplomat with the Holy See.

Both Martins, too, will watch closely the tide charts on the Tiber to guage the winds of change under the first Latin American Pope, though neither of them will take initiatives to introduce married and women priests favoured by the majority of Irish Catholics, especially now that Pope Francis has closed the doors on the ordination of women. Nor has Francis’s more conciliatory language towards gays softened the church’s teaching that active homosexuals are disordered. Nor has the intellectual purge against theologians such as Redemptorist priest Tony Flannery been lifted in Rome, Drumcondra or Armagh.

Michael Kelly, the ebullient editor of the Irish Catholic, has predicted that Eamon Martin can renew Irish Catholicism by targeting young people, as has been done with a degree of success by Diarmuid. But Kelly has also counselled Eamon not to make Diarmuid’s mistakes of being seen to be remote from his fellow bishops and local clergy. It might just suit Eamon if Pope Francis would find places for Sean Brady and Diarmuid in his administration when he reforms the Roman Curia!
However, Eamon is now saddled with an ingrained, perhaps even imperishable populist image of his being a Northern backwoodsman who does not understand public opinion in the Republic. He failed when he eye-balled and commanded Kenny to desist from enacting the Bill. He did so in a theocratic imperial manner which belonged to the earlier decades of the independent Southern State, but which no longer carries any political or credal weight in a society where the standing and influence of the Catholic Church has substantially diminished.
In personalizing the confrontation so menacingly, Eamon lost to the country and western Taoiseach from Castlebar who accurately claimed that his handling of the legislation was “in tune with Irish public opinion and the public expression of support in this case.”
It is likely that the majority of Irish Catholics who continue to practice their religion identify with Kenny’s insistence that his Catholic faith has not been damaged by the abortion controversy. Like, Kenny, many Catholics will remain regular Mass-goers with their religious beliefs intact, but most likely too, with their skepticism about the credibility of Eamon Martin’s rhetoric and leadership abilities reinforced.
Compared with Eamon’s insistence that legislation was not required, a stance which gave the impression that he was more concerned with the unborn than with the health of the mother, Catholic women reacted more warmly to Enda’s “sensitive” appreciation that the legislation brought “legal certainty” and conferred a Constitutional right on them.
In contradiction to Eamon’s claim that “the deliberate and intentional killing of an unborn child” would create difficulties for doctors, Enda pointed out that “written into the legislation is the clarity of the Constitutional responsibility of medical personnel to do everything practical and possible to save the life of the unborn, as well as that of the mother.”
To say the least, it has been an inglorious start for Eamon Martin’s expectedly long reign: he has a major Church-State defeat under his clerical vestments. The current Government has now parked the unfinished business of wider abortion legislation to a future Oireachtas. With President Michael D. Higgins signing the legislation into law without referring it to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality, it is now up to the Hierarchy and/or the Pro-Lifers to attempt to mount a legal challenge through the courts.
As Alex White, Labour’s Junior Health Minister noted, any further changes (such as incest, rape and foetal abnormality) will require a amendment to the Constitution in the not too-distant future, an indication of his confidence that the Church will lose even further ground to a more liberal abortion proposal in a future referendum.
That Eamon Martin is gearing up for the next round of battle was signalled at Knock Shrine, County Mayo, on August 15, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin when Cardinal Brady consecrated Ireland to the Immaculate Heart of Mary - and Eamon, was principal celebrant and preacher.
The last such consecration was made by Pope John Paul II in 1979 when Eamon was an impressionable 18 years old, and in a belated effort to get back on side with the Catholic women of Ireland, Eamon revealed that a print of the Annunciation fresco by Fra Angelica hangs on his bedroom wall, a symbol his dedication to Catholic womanhood. "


Article by Irish Journalist John Cooney about Prominent Irish Priest-Scholar: Fr. Iggy O Donovan/ Saga with Vatican Inquisitors

"The scrambling in the undergrowth of terrified rebel theologians fleeing from the censorious clutches of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and its zealous agent in Ireland, Papal Nuncio Charles J. Brown, nearly hit the front pages of the national dailies on the August Bank Holiday week-end.

The Irish Independent, stung by the Irish Times interview with Peter Casey and lavish coverage of a TV3 documentary on the son of American divorcee Annie Murphy was planning to splash on its front page what it was billing as the biggest internal Irish Church scandal since the 1992 flight of Bishop Eamonn Casey.

Indo’s new editor Claire Grady was prepared to launch war against Rome’s intellectual persecution of liberal clerics especially the Augustinian monk, Iggy O’Donovan.

The congenial Iggy came to national prominence when it was belatedly reported at Easter 2006 that he and several other Augustinian monks had concelebrated Mass in Drogheda, Co Louth, with the local Church of Ireland the Rev Malcolm Graham as a gesture of reconciliation on the ninetieth anniversary of the Easter Rising.

For his troubles, Iggy was reprimanded by Cardinal Sean Brady, whose diocese of Armagh extends to Drogeda, and worse still, he was removed from a Theology lecturing course in Rome and had to publicly apologise to the Church Authorities. Iggy was under strict orders to step back into line and avoid any more public controversies.

Early last month the Indo-owned Drogheda Independent reported that Iggy was being removed from his prestigious position as Prior of the Augustinian Church in Drogheda’s city centre. This report was dismissed as “jumping the gun” and the dailies went back to sleep.

However, the rumblings returned at the funeral of Trinity College theologian and former Mayo priest, Sean Freyne, when a senior figure in the Association of Catholic priests spread the word that Iggy was in fact vacating the priorship and was being sent on a year long sabbatical, both at the behest of the CDF and the New York-born Archbishop Brown, himself a former official in the Old Roman Inquisition.

This prompted Brendan Butler, the spokesperson of the ‘We Are Church’ lay organization to issue a press release expressing shock at learning that Fr. Iggy O’Donovan O.S.A. had been removed as Prior and was offered a year’s leave of absence from his priestly duties which he accepted.
Butler condemned this silencing by the Vatican against another “outstanding” Irish priest and called upon Pope Francis “to immediately rescind this unjust action against Fr. Iggy as well as withdrawing the silencing of Fathers Tony Flannery, Owen O’Sullivan, Sean Fagan, Brian D’Arcy, Gerry Moloney and others.”
Butler’s press release galvanized Irish Times Religious Affairs Correspondent Patsy McGarry as well as the Indo to contact Iggy who assured them that he was due a move after serving two terms as Prior and that he had not been suspended by Rome. Iggy who plans to spend his sabbatical year in Limerick where he hopes to do pastoral work also spoke to Butler who withdrew his statement.
Iggy’s story was buried but the saga does not end there, because he was due to speak at the Humbert International Summer School later this month, and its fiery director John Cooney reluctantly had to accept Iggy’s withdrawal from the Ballina-based School. But Cooney may yet be the beneficiary of the loss of Iggy – he promptly replaced Iggy with the Rebel Redemptorist theologian, Tony Flannery who has no fear of Rome and Brown.
John Cooney, Irish journalist

Bridget Mary's Response:
When will Vatican officials ever learn? They keep pushing more and more of the mainstream to the margins, so that now the margins are growing and becoming the new mainstream!
 Fr. Iggy will become another major figure in the ongoing saga with Rebel Priests Take on Vatican Oppressors! His books will become best sellers and his name will become world-known! Fr. Iggy, you are in for a bonanza moment here! Look at what happened to Elisabeth Johnson. When the U.S. bishops condemend Quest for the Living God, it became a best-seller on
 This is why I call the CDF/Vatican inquistors
 "the gift that keeps on giving" Their theme song could go something like this:"Will they ever learn, NO, they will never learn!" Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

LCWR Media Release: Meeting with Archbishop Sartain/A Win-Win Possible Resolution?

"The session with Archbishop Sartain allowed a profound and honest sharing of views. Due to time limitations during the assembly, Archbishop Sartain had little opportunity to answer the members’ questions. Clearly, however, he had been listening intently and heard the concerns voiced by the members, and their desire for more information. The extraordinarily rich and deeply reverent conversation during the board meeting gave us a greater understanding of Archbishop Sartain, and we believe he now also better understands us. Although we remain uncertain as to how our work with the bishop delegates will proceed, we maintain hope that continued conversations of this depth will lead to a resolution of this situation that maintains the integrity of LCWR and is healthy for the whole church.”

" I Don't Know You" A Homily for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time by Judy Lee, ARCWP, Co Pastor of Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Fl.

"There are many places in the Scriptures that give us a glimpse into the heart of God and the love that God has for us, a love rooted in God’s intimate knowledge of who we are. ”I have called you by name; you are mine” quotes the writer of second Isaiah in the time of the Babylonian captivity. (Isaiah 43;1) and David’s beautiful Psalm 139-” YHWH, you’ve searched me and you know me…You created my inmost being and stitched me together in my mother’s womb…”(Verses 1, 13 ). In John 10:14 Jesus assures us: “I know my sheep and my sheep know me”. It feels good to be known. Some of us long to be more fully known by those we love. In a popular song of a few years back the singer almost cries: “If you don’t know me by now, you will never ever know me at all”. And for some of us, it feels good to be known and still loved, for we fear that if others truly knew us they would not love us. Yet we are assured that God both knows us and loves us. In the same way in these texts God is expressing abiding love for Israel and those chosen to be God’s people.
However,In Sunday’s texts, particularly Isaiah 66:18-21 and Luke 13: 22-30 the words of the the writer of third Isaiah and the words of Jesus are not so reassuring. Both texts establish that God has thrown open the doors of exclusivity and invited people from all over the world to serve God and God’s people, not only those originally chosen. While this maybe cause for our rejoicing as we too are included in the kindom of God, those who thought the kindom was their exclusive club probably experienced a sense of outrage and loss.
Now Jesus also taught us in the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20: 1-16) that God has been generous with us and we are not diminished by God’s generosity to others. Yet, even in this parable he says that those who think they have it all sewn up , who have “done their labor”, done the “right thing” yet are critical of the way God gives to others may not have it right, including the religious who do not understand God’s loving inclusivity. They will need to learn that the “last shall be first” in God’s kindom. Strangers will come in and sit near the head of the table. And, imagine, Isaiah is saying to God’s originally chosen, that people from other nations and stations in life will even become priests and Levites ( that is priests in lines of priests). Imagine their anger and confusion and dismay. Is it not akin to the response of the Catholic hierarchy in discovering in their midst the presence of validly ordained women priests? They have responded like the workers in the parable, with anger- we have served you “the right way” and now You are not fair, how can You include them? And going further, “The church cannot ordain women” (And by extension God cannot call women!) “You women cannot be one of us anymore-out you go, you are “excommunicated” sent out from us-you will not be served at the Table.” And is this not akin to saying that the Table of Jesus is exclusive, only those belonging to the club and paying the dues exacted may come to the Table?

One of our Deacons recently told me the story of attending a dear friend’s funeral in a local parish. The priest who gave the homily did not know this wonderful woman and she could not recognize her friend in the homily. But, worse, when the time for the Eucharist came, the priest announced: only Roman Catholics who attend church faithfully on Sundays and have recently received the sacrament of Reconciliation may come to the Table. Most of the bereaved sat in the pews.
A few years back on a certain Sunday all members of a parish would wear rainbow ties or colors as they went forward to recieve holy communion to show solidarity with their gay brothers and sisters who were forbidden to come to the Table. A few weeks ago, it the Diocese of Venice in Southwest Florida under Bishop Frank Dewane, a group of Parents of Gays and Lesbians (PFLAG Parents) were asked to not to meet in their parish church,Blessed Pope John the 23rd in Fort Myers. How ironic when we think of John the 23rd! Housing this important group of Catholic parents was a wonderful pastoral undertaking of this parish. The ejection of this group is a prime example of the Bishop enforcing that the Church club is exclusive and some people cannot belong.
Pope Francis has offered some hope to the church and to the world recently as he modeled simplicity and reaching out to the poorest and the outcast among us. While not making a doctrinal statement he also offered hope when he said of gays in the clergy and in the pews: “Who am I to judge?” Yet in the same breath he responded to a question about women in the church by saying that the church cannot ordain women. Well, Jesus did not ordain anyone but he made Mary of Magdala an Apostle to the Apostles by appearing to her and to the other women first and sending her to “go and tell” the good news that Christ Lives! Dear Brother Francis, thank you for a slim hope for the LGBT Community but in redeeming the outcasts, do not forget your sister priests.
So, what appears to be two very difficult texts to hear, where strangers are invited to the table and to the priesthood and, where Jesus says to those who plead that they sat at his table and heard him preaching in the streets (his church) ”I do not know you or where you come from; get away from me, you evildoers!” are not very difficult at all. Jesus is challenging us to know him and to know our loving God. Jesus is saying that he does not know those of us who do not love as he loves, who want to belong to an exclusive club instead of welcoming and including people from all corners of the face of the earth to “take their places at the feast in the kindom of God” (Luke 13:29). Those who may come into the presence of Christ but do not love and who exclude those whom God has invited in will learn that “some who are first will be last”. There is still hope in this, the last in line may still be in the kindom, but they will not be given places of honor. And this is because knowing God means not knowing about God with our minds, or our doctrines or dogma, but knowing God in loving relationship and therefore loving our neighbors, all of them, as ourselves. And we want all of our loved ones at the Table with us.
When we know God we know love, for “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God,and God in them…We love because God first loved us.”(I John 4: 16,19). When we know God we know love, we love God and all people-we live love. When we know Christ we know the Way of love. We know love that embraces all- the mentally ill, the poorest, the second class citizens, those of different sexual orientations, the lepers of our times, those who are not of our religion or country,even enemies of our country and those who are just plain difficult, ugly and not at all like us. We do not have lists of those we exclude and we do not say hollow things like “love the sinner and hate the sin”. Jesus asked us not to judge the sins of others, or those who sin differently than we do. Christ Jesus is building the kindom with everyone from everywhere!
In love relationships that continue to grow and sustain knowing one another is essential. A love song of decades gone by says “To know, know, know, him is to love ,love, love him, and I do…” Let us therefore know Christ and love him, living all inclusive love as he showed us. Then we will hear the words we long to hear, “I know you” because you are living in my love-and loving everyone!"
Rev. Dr. Judith A. Lee,ARCWP
Co-Pastor of the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, FloridaIMG_0026

(“I know my sheep and my sheep know me”John 10:14-what wonderful reciprocity!
This is an embroidered symbolic picture on a priest’s stole (one of four or six symbols depending on the length) created by the Women’s Cooperative-Tejiendo Sororidades in Cali, Colombia

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

North Jersey Churchgoers Voice Skepticism About Archbishop/Archbishop: Blames Critics and Labels Them as "Evil"

Newark, N.J. -- Archbishop Myers fires back in letter to the faithful - A defiant Newark archbishop lashed out at critics in a letter to Catholic clergy, defending his handling of an alleged pedophile priest and denouncing the media, victims’ advocates and politicians as "evil" for distorting his record.

Anointing/Blessing of Mary Theresa Streck for Ordination/Service by Inclusive Catholic Community in Albany, New York

Dear Community,
Many thanks to all of you who anointed me and blessed me on Sunday. I am so grateful to each of you for our loving inclusive community of equals. What a breath of fresh air in the church. We are living the change.
With gratitude and love,
Mary Theresa Streck

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rev. Helmut Schüller Concludes U.S. Tour, Bringing Reform Message to St. Patrick’s Cathedral including Women Priests

Fr. Helmut Schüller concluded his three-week, 15-city Catholic Tipping Point tour across America on Thursday, Aug. 8th, on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, delivering both a strong call for church reform and thousands of red ribbons signed by supportive Catholic laity and clergy during his tour to Cardinal Timothy Dolan as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Schüller is founder of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative that issued a global “Call to Disobedience” in 2011, calling for the admission of women and married people to the priesthood as well as greater lay leadership and transparency in Church governance. He visited the U.S. to share his experiences and to learn about conditions in the Catholic Church in America.

“I discovered many faithful Catholics working hard to change the church they love very much,” Schüller said. “I also spoke with many priests who see the need for change, but are afraid to raise their voices. There is no place for fear or intimidation in the Catholic Church. We all must speak out for our rights as Catholics.”
Janice Sevre-Duszysnska, ARCWP, Fr. Helmut Schueller, Donna Rougeux, ARCWP

“We are grateful to Fr. Schüller for advancing a much needed conversation among U.S. Catholics,” said Sr. Chris Schenk, CSJ, a coordinator of the tour. “This honest dialogue will continue and spread as we connect with Catholics in other countries. The People of God need to be fully represented in Church leadership and decision-making.”

Schüller began his U.S. tour in New York City on July 16th, and organizers estimate that he spoke to over 5,000 Catholics during his appearances. Many thousands more tuned in via live-streaming and online video. *

Throughout the tour, Fr. Schüller and attendees wore red ribbons symbolizing the spirit of Pentecost and calling for inclusion of the laity at every level of leadership and decision-making in the Church. It was these same ribbons that Schuller delivered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral today.

Schüller also met privately with U.S. priests in each city. These meetings called attention to the dilemma aging priests experience as they minister each day knowing there is no one to replace them when they die or retire. A National Federation of Priests’ Councils study found that for every 100 priests who retire, only 30 are available to replace them. Fr. Dan Hartnett in Cincinnati lauded Fr. Schüller for his “intellect, humility, and strategic mind… Instead of excluding him, we should be grateful for what he is trying to achieve.” Attempts by bishop-leaders in three U.S. dioceses to ban Catholics from hearing Fr. Schüller, backfired; in each city where he was banned, hundreds of Catholics turned out to welcome him and to hear his message.

The tour was sponsored by ten progressive Catholic organizations that support Schüller’s calls for inclusive and transparent changes to Church governance, including greater lay participation, married and women priests, and justice for LGBT persons within the Church. Groups sponsoring the tour are committed to advancing an international movement of Catholics working for fundamental rights in the Church.

Looking ahead, sponsoring groups of the Catholic Tipping Point coalition are committed to "supporting an international movement of priests and people working together for fundamental rights in the Church. We want the People of God to be included at every level of Church leadership and decision-making."

In a final interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Fr. Helmut praised our coalition saying he was impressed with the organization of Catholic reform movements in the U.S. and, praised the "splendid cooperation" among the groups, "sometimes without knowing one another."

Thanks to all who helped make this tour a success
For more information and press coverage of the tour, visit

Sponsored by: Call To Action, CORPUS, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, DignityUSA, FutureChurch, New Ways Ministry, National Coalition of American Nuns, Quixote Center - Catholics Speak Out!, Voice of the Faithful, and Women’s Ordination Conference

Bridget Mary's Response:
It was a joy that some of our Roman Catholic Women Priests were able to meet with and dialogue with Fr. Schuller about our movement. He praised our movement and called it prophetic at the gathering in New York. In Cincincati, Janice Sevre Duszynska and Donna Rougeux, both women priests from the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests had an opportunity to share our journey to a renewed priestly ministry in inclusive, egalitarian communities that are ready to embrace the changes we need in the church now.


"Who Am I To Judge?":A Roman Catholic Woman Responds to Pope Francis on Women's Ordination

"As a Roman Catholic WOMAN, I wait with profound sorrow for the Pope, the Catholic Hierarchy & Clergy to STOP JUDGING WOMEN! The Pope gives a "wink & a nod" to gay priests, while declaring any talk of ordaining women or heterosexual married men to ordination, even when "called by God" as a "closed matter". This is unjust & judgemental! We women know the horror & hypocracy of unmarried male clergy in the Catholic Church. The rape of children, fathering many children in Africa & elsewhere out of wedlock & turning their backs on these women & children, gay & lesbian priests & nuns "having their cake & eating it" while condemning homosexuality, two billion dollars just in the US for "hush" money to hide sex crimes; yet women are told we are unworthy! Pope Francis says nice things about the poor & now about the GLBT folks, while saying & doing nothing to eradicate the rampant misogyny, sex abuse & misuse of authority within the Catholic Church. Before sojourners sings the praises of this latest Pope too loudly, take a look at the "whited sepulchre"! NMH

"Worship, Blessings, Food, Fellowship and Fun-an evening with MMOJ" by Katy Zatsick, ARCWP

Members of Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic community gathered for our regularly scheduled liturgy at 4PM on Sat in Sarasota, FL. Our liturgy was led by Theresa and Roman Rodriquez who provided our homily starter-leading to a blessed sharing on division (Luke 12:49-53) and hope in the gospel.  During the liturgy we all raised our hands and blessed married priest partners Carol Ann and Lee Breyer on their 44th wedding anniversary.

We also blessed Silvia as she leaves our MMOJ community to study on a Fulbright scholarship in Sweden. After our liturgy 12 of us enjoyed a communal meal at a Sarasota restaurant to continue our fellowship.
"Mindy Simmons and the Hot Pockets"
To close off our evening we headed to Mindy our MMOJ music minister parent’s home for a wonderful time. Mindy and her trio the Hot Pockets performed songs that had us clapping our hands, smiling, laughing and slapping our foreheads, especially for Our favorite “Sweet Palmetto Pie” an ode to all things Florida including mosquitoes, fire ants and Palmetto bugs!  God has blessed us mightily at MMOJ, come join with us when you can.

MMOJ Community
We invite you to attend a ARCWP community near you.