Saturday, January 4, 2014

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Celebrates Feast of Epiphany with Married Priest Co-Presiders Lee and Carol Ann Breyer

Married Priest Couple Lee and Carol Ann Breyer co-preside at Epiphany liturgy
Lee Breyer shares homily starter/Background of Epiphany story in scripture and scholarship

During the dialogue homily, members of the community shared stories of "gift giving" in the Epiphany tradition and how this is a challenge in our culture today. 

How will we share our gifts with our faith community and the larger community during 2014?

Lee and Carol Ann Breyer bless their home
Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community celebrates "Three Wise Women Ritual and Celebration Supper"

Homily for Epiphany Jan 5, 2014- Finding Christ

We see the face of Christ Who Is for all of us  in our “Three Kings”
Sometimes the beauty and simplicity of the Holy Scriptures is both moving and confounding. Such is Matthew’s account of the visit of the Magi. (“Magoi” means wise or learned men, or scholars or astrologers or even magicians, some say kings or priests of another religion perhaps Zoroasterism.  Some see them as hailing from Persia (Iran), Babylonia or just “the East”. One later tradition has them coming from China and Africa). The writer of Matthew whose community is Jewish Christians, masterfully crafts a story that has the newborn king, Jesus, belonging to the Jewish tradition as fulfillment of Messianic prophecy (Isaiah 60; Psalm 72; Micah 5:2 ) and also bringing light to the gentiles (Isaiah 60). Through the journey and adoration of the Magi, the infant Christ also belongs to all the known world and all of creation.
The writer of Matthew crafts a story of inclusion, a both/and story that establishes Jesus as the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy and yet as belonging to strangers, outsiders as well-to those who seek the Christ. Indeed the rejection of the Jewish people is forecast as the news the Magi gave the insecure King Herod about the newborn king “greatly disturbed” Herod and “all of Jerusalem”. The Magi find the Christ child while following a star, or perhaps it was a comet, a great light in the sky. So Christ is revealed through nature and natural phenomena and to people very different than the religious Jews of the times who would not have approved of astrologers, or worshipers from neighboring countries who once ruled them, or representatives of other religions-all of which the Magi may have been. Probably the testimony of the poor shepherds who were Jesus’ first visitors also guided by a great light or star according to the writer of Luke,  would not have convinced the religious leaders either. But for Matthew, like Luke, the bottom line message is: this newborn king is here for everybody! Christ is for all people and for all nations. Now that is truly good news-no one will be left out.
The account raises the question how do we find Christ now?  What can guide us as we seek the Christ?
In our time when people struggle with historicity and scientific proofs we can hitch our wagons to the stars, speak in lovely abstractions and miss the wonderful messages of the Gospels about inclusion. Luke starts off with animals and poor shepherds as first visitors and first evangelists. Matthew has foreigners bearing the first news of the Christ to Herod and to the religious establishment who are very unhappy about the news. The Magi recognize the Christ and give gifts worthy of a King (gold and the expensive Myrrh and Frankincense), a Deity (Myrrh that also connects God and earth, and can accompany in death) and a Healer (Frankincense and Myrrh). (These are also used for healing today for everything from skin diseases to colitis and cancers to asthma, anxiety and stress).  These strangers are given a sign in the skies that they can understand as star gazers and they also understand who this baby is. Their gifts are prophetic and the gold was also just in time for a poorer family that has to flee into Egypt.
So how can we who seek Christ today find Christ? Perhaps first we have to allow ourselves to seek and to acknowledge that we are seeking. We are seeking love that is unconditional and all inclusive.  We are seeking true community. We are seeking justice especially for the poor and outcast of this world. We are seeking the reign of God characterized by love and justice when both are sometimes very hard to find. We are seeking peace in our hearts, in our families, in our communities and in the world. Each one of us is different. Some of us will find Christ through seeing and listening to the stories of others. Some of us will find Christ in the faces of the lowly shepherds of our times, the homeless and the hungry,the children and the elderly, those who share their gifts and the serially unemployed. Some of us will find Christ in serving with them and in listening to and responding to their stories.  That is how I find Christ. When my heart is moved I know Christ is speaking to me and asking me to help my fellow seekers.
But the Magi found Christ through natural phenomena, or even spectacular natural phenomena. Some of us will find Christ through our connections to the astounding beauty of the natural world-the sky, the mountains, the sea, the creatures of the earth and sea. That is another way I find Christ. Looking up at the night sky,  feeding the fish, turtles, ducks, ibis and coots on my little lake, watching a pod of dolphins play, witnessing a frightened person, dog or cat respond to loving ,patient feeding and talking, experiencing the loyalty of both human and furry friends, I experience awe and a quiet deep joyful belief in God’s love.
Experiencing the wisdom of others through their heartfelt stories, writings or film or art I find the living Christ. Some find Christ in grasping the discoveries of science. I am in awe of this.  In the love of friends and family I find Christ. In the eyes of one who was hungry and feels full, I find Christ. Watching others respond to love and grow in faith is clearly seeing the living Christ at work. When one of our teenagers reflected that she finds love at our church, I remembered when I first felt loved through the church of my youth.  I knew that Christ was with us and thanked God for the miracle of Christ with us in one another.
You may fix cars or computers, you may heal people or animals, you may write, you may sing, you may carve wood or make great works of art, you may sell commodities or stocks, and you may be in deep trouble and have nothing at all to give to the baby Jesus but your love. Christ will find you where you are, and in ways you can recognize, that make sense to you.  God will accept the wonderful gifts that only you can bring and, if you seek love and justice and peace, you will find it. You will find Christ.
Rev Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP

New Year's Resolutions: The Pope Francis List

Christmas In Playa Renaciente,Cali, With Pastor Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia Soon To Be Ordained a Roman Catholic Woman Priest

These pictures are sent by Pastor Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia(in Navy blouse at the feet of the infant Jesus being carried) who will be ordained a Roman Catholic Woman Priest in Sarasota, Florida on January 18,2013. She is experienced in ministry and theologically prepared.  She has been serving in this wonderful community since 2005. We received a letter from the community leaders recommending her to us for Ordination. In these pictures the children are in a Procession carrying the baby Jesus and singing Carols. They are also receiving gifts and celebrating.  This is also an Epiphany celebration as Jesus was given gifts by the Magi.
We in ARCWP, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests are delighted to have Pastor Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia ordained as a Roman Catholic Woman Priest on January 18,2014. She will be the third Colombiana to be ordained as a RC woman Priest.   This Ordination will be at 2PM hosted by the St Andrews United Church of Christ in Sarasota, Florida. ARCWP Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan will be presiding and all are welcome.
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,ARCWP and
Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea, ARCWP
Co_Coordinators of Hispano Parlantes

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Vatican Paper to Focus on Theology of Women/The full equality of women including women priests is the voice of God in our times!
Bridget Mary's Advice:
How about a theology of men? I hope this is not another attempt to sugar-coat the second-class citizenship of women in the church.  The full equality of women as the voice of God in our time. The Church cannot continue to discriminate against women and blame God for it! 
Consult with women priests and our communities who are living Gospel equality now.
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Roman Catholic Women to be Ordained Priests and Deacons in Sarasota on Saturday, Jan. 18th/ Media Release

From: Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP)
Release date: January 2, 2014

Women Priests Are Asking the Deep Questions Pope Francis Says Women Must Address

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

Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan,, 703-505-0004


Celebration of Priestly Ordination for:

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

Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Colombia, South America
(Spanish only) 315-534-8244

Celebration of Ordination to the Diaconate for:

Mary Bergan Blanchard of Albuquerque, New Mexico

Rita Lucey of Orlando, FL 407-690-3293

As Pope Francis said in a recent interview in La Civilita Catolica, “Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed.”

Our international Women Priests Movement is asking those deep questions. We are one of the contemporary prophetic movements of our time. We offer the church a renewed priestly ministry in union with the people we serve in inclusive, empowered communities.

As prophets in the community of the baptized, women priests today are prophets for justice. We are visible reminders that women are equal images of God. Our ordinations are acts of justice to move the church to live its mission of human equality as the Body of Christ on earth.

Churches that treat women as second-class citizens contradict the Bible that states in Genesis 1:27 “Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them female and male God made them.”

The Catholic Church must break free of machismo and affirm women’s sacredness and full participation as partners in ministry, including ordination.

On Saturday, January 18, 2014 at 2 p.m. Maureen McGill (St. Petersburg, FL) and Marina Teresa Sanchez Majia (Cali, Colombia, SA) will be ordained priests in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. Mary Bergan Blanchard (Albuquerque, NM) and Rita Lucey (Orlando, FL) will be ordained deacons. The presiding bishop will be Bridget Mary Meehan of Sarasota, FL. The ceremony will take place at St. Andrew United Church of Christ, 6908 Beneva Road, Sarasota, FL 34238.  Because Marina Teresa is from Colombia and speaks Spanish, part of the ordination rite will be in Spanish. All are welcome.

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

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

Maureen McGill is a wife, mother, grandmother and retired attorney in St. Petersburg. She spent most of her professional career advocating for abused and neglected children as Director of the Guardian ad Litem Program in Northwest Florida. “My call to priestly ministry arose from those years,” she said. “Women experience similar abuse and neglect in the church today. My call to priesthood will include advocacy to give women their rightful equality in the church. “ Maureen will lead inclusive liturgies at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota and provide pastoral care for residents of nursing homes in St. Petersburg.

Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia is a dynamic community activist and married woman with two sons and a granddaughter.  She has pursued the cause of human rights, justice for women and for Colombians of African descent her whole life. In the 1990s she participated in global women’s conferences in Brazil, Vienna and Beijing. She has worked with local priests in base communities and was a missionary to Ecuador for three years where she studied Theology and served women and children and the outcast. Since 2005, she has animated, represented and served the large community of Afro-Colombians near Playa Reciente, near the Cauco River in Cali.

"Mary Bergan Blanchard is a widow, mother, step-mother, grandmother, teacher, writer and a practicing Licensed Professional Counselor. Her early years were spent as a Sister of Mercy, where she taught in diocesan schools  and spent one year on mission in Lebanon working in a Palestinian camp. She left the Order to teach the disadvantaged in Boston where she wrote and received three federal grants promoting racial integration and began a neighborhood group in Roxbury involving teachers and parents desiring to promote social justice. As a special educator and school psychologist, she developed the first language curriculum for Early Childhood Education  in Boston. She married a widower with five children and had a son of her own. After retiring, Mary and her family moved to Albuquerque where she was employed for twenty years as an LPC by the Risen Savior Catholic Community. Her mission will be nurturing spiritual life by developing liturgies for inclusive home church celebrations. Mary sums it up: "I've led  a long and full life." 

Rita Lucey of Orlando, a member of Pax Christi, has been married for 61 years and is a human rights activist who spent six months in federal prison to close the U.S. Army School of the Americas. Because of her witness for justice issues and her experience in prison she has advocated for women in prison and has also served as a Hospice Volunteer for 25 years.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Solemnity of Mary Mother of Jesus- First Woman Who Could Say: "This is my body, This is my blood"

Bob Bowen and Bridget Mary and Peg Bowen Celebrate Home Liturgy

Peg and Bridget Mary 

Good Shepherd Women Priests Look Back on 2013 and Wish You a Happy New Year!

This has been a year of wonderful work and accomplishments in the face of some challenges and changes. The program was fully carried out with some modifications despite my sudden illness in late Dec. 2012 and January 2013 and major surgery for a GIST, a slow growing cancer totally removed on 2/28/13. While neither chemo nor radiation was necessary a period of recuperation was. Hence Pastor Judy Beaumont singlehandedly, with the help of volunteers guided the Ministry from March 1st through April, 2013.  Although I returned on Easter, it was quite a while before I was able to be back in full swing. Yet, with God’s help and that of our members and volunteers we were able to keep going. Now things are back to full strength and we are so thankful.
 Joshua House
An important change in the program was the closing of Joshua House Transitional Residence in April of 2013 when the last resident, Joe B. was able to get into Goodwill Housing at Ohio Place. This closing was planned before my illness and was unrelated to it. The co-Pastors and others in the Church community saw the need to expand the physical space for the church in order to attend to the expansion of the congregation and have room for youth to meet on Sundays, for a dining area, and for the “Store” where people get clothing and personal items without pay to expand into adequate space. The more spacious fellowship and living room/ dining room type atmosphere benefit our Tuesday people.
Joshua House served 23 people, 21 men and two women for periods of time ranging from two weeks to over three years.  Three of these had serious problems but twenty did very well in residence. Of these, seventeen moved out into affordable housing and one into regular housing. Sixteen of these were successfully helped to get incomes through SSDI or SSI. One was helped to complete a vocational program.The remaining five did not complete our program and continued in addictive behaviors although one was eventually housed and received his Social Security. We decided that we could offer hospitality to carefully selected individuals in need of brief respite and offered this to one man, Linuel, on two occasions in June and July, 2013, making 24 individuals who stayed at Joshua House. Our hospitality/brief respite function will continue on a selective basis.
We make many referrals to the Triage Center and other residential programs in the area.
We continue with our focus of housing the homeless and doubled and tripled up individuals and families by assisting people with applications, preparation and recommendations for affordable housing and with shepherding, funds, furniture and resources in setting up a home. The resources included rent and security and setting up an electric account with deposits. Four of our newly housed were formerly homeless and one lived unhappily with a family member. We also assisted others to obtain low income market level housing. One particularly rewarding example of housing assistance was helping a woman who was in and out of the mental hospital to obtain her own apartment by shepherding her in every aspect of becoming housed. Another was helping a woman unable to work and lacking an income who lived serially in abusive relationships in order to be housed to obtain her own place for the first time in her life.  Still another very rewarding example was helping a man who is mentally ill and homeless to obtain affordable housing and learn how to maintain it. With God’s help, we have helped over 75 individuals (and families) to obtain and maintain affordable housing in the past five years.
Dr. Teresa Sievers continues to see our affordable housing candidates pro bono for disability clearance.
We also helped Lili R. to reapply for Habitat for Humanity Housing and she was recently approved. We need help in obtaining volunteers to work on a house for her.
Avoiding Evictions    
While we cannot make a practice of this, we were able to pay electric bills for three families who would have been evicted for lack of payment. We also paid rent for two large families. For one family of four where the mother was unemployed and awaiting unemployment insurance we saved the day just in time. This woman was able to pay us back almost two thirds of the rent we paid. She has also started attending the church with her children and assisting us with tasks.
Incomes and Educational/Vocational Training
We helped this Mom to apply for a course in medical coding. We helped another young mother with expenses as she pursued a course in the medical field.
We successfully assisted three individuals to obtain SSI or SSDI this year. One, Lloyd, paid us back for his stay at Joshua House and an additional amount. Another is making good on a bill we paid for him and the other made a small donation to us.  It is very special when people are able to pay us back and they enjoy this very much. Several others are waiting SS hearings with a lawyer that we have referred them to.
We helped Joe B. complete his plumbing course and as he still has no work, we assist him with a small monthly stipend. We also assist Eddie F. and Lin J. with small stipends.
We also supplemented the cost of PSAT tutoring for a High School Senior and gave other assistance toward college applications.   We helped a College Junior with an increase in college tuition and we assisted her family with rent.  We assisted two college sophomores with incidental expenses. We assisted another HS senior in obtaining legal status with the Obama immigration plan.  She is now graduated and working and awaiting green card status which we also paid for.
Pastor Judy B. has been the Rep Payee for seven individuals this year and one has gone on his own recently. She now has six people, three women and three men whom she pays bills for and shepherds through many of the activities of living so that they maintain health and housing.
Priority on Young People
Our children’s and youth group has served seventeen young people this year ranging in age from 5-20.  I meet with the teens on Sundays and Pearl Cudjoe meets with the Juniors while Linda Maybin and Debbie Carey assists with the preschoolers. During the season Kathy Overby also works with the Juniors. (We baptized one eleven year old,one very ill young adult, and two infants this year as well.) We made special appeals for summer activities and also for our kids at the start of school. We were able to assist them with $800.00 to start school with books, supplies and clothing. They also took three trips this summer with the assistance of Judy Alves and Efe Cudjoe.  Pastor JudyB and I took them to see Shrek the Musical at the Dinner Theater and it was great for all ages. Judy A. and Efe took some of them to the Holocaust Museum and to the Movies. We also note a wonderful year end contribution by the Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community of New Jersey where Mary Ann Schoettly is a Roman Catholic Woman Priest. Their great generosity is earmarked to enrich the learning experiences of our young people throughout the coming year. We are so grateful.
Throughout the year we give incentives for good report cards and assistance with school related costs. We gift them on Birthdays and on Christmas. It is a great joy to see them grow in maturity and learning. As noted above, we have five of our young people currently in college. We are very proud of them. Three are at Edison in their second year and one is at FGCU in her Junior year. Efe Cudjoe is in her Junior year at Brown and continues to help is in the summer and on breaks.
Our High School students were asked to keep an Advent Journal. I am happy to share with you Jolinda’s entry as it moves me so much and is an example of what we are hoping to offer our young people:
“Coming to this church I have learned a lot. I have especially learned to love because that is what I feel when I am at church. So I thank my Pastors because you are both the best symbol of love! Coming to this church makes me happy because I am loved by the Pastors and other members. I thank you and I love you all.”
And, Natasha, our High School Senior reflected on her hopes and on the changes she was trying to make in her life:
“I need to change my mindset to become a Christian mindset so I am prepared to keep evolving and making myself better for God. (This includes growing in forgiving others because it is hard for me.) My hopes are to be graduated from college and become active in my career. I want to be able to help others. I want to be married and grounded in faith. I want to be financially stable and able to give back. I want to help my family in big ways and to be happy with family and with life”.
And the Junior Class with Mrs. Pearl Cudjoe made a group collage Thank You Card!
What wonderful hopes and prayers our children have expressed. How special it is to be part of their journey.
Our Beautiful Young People
We have served over 1200 meals this year. We served about two hundred on Tuesdays and a thousand on Sundays.  We do not keep track of take away meals and second helpings. The mean attendance on Sundays is 35 (up to 46) and on Tuesdays 17 (up to 23).
We have wonderful and faithful volunteers. Especially in the season members of the Lamb of God Church provide, cook and serve food for us. Monica Piccirillo and Eileen Wickeri and Ginny Beecroft and her community also provide and serve throughout the year.   For the rest of the year, Ellen and Jack McNally and their Country Creek community cook and serve on Tuesdays and our own members, especially the Cudjoes, the Rismays and Judy Alves provide food and cook and serve it on Sundays. We continue to be blessed with caring members and volunteers.
Hospital and Sick Call Ministry
We make many visits to serve hospitalized and sick members of our community. We pay special attention to the caretakers and families of our sick. We also visit one woman in a Nursing home and three individuals at home who battle with serious illnesses.
Christmas 2013
We are so grateful to The Orioles Club and Ginny Beecroft’s Breckinridge Community, Lamb of God and Gail Fleeman of the Salvation Army who generously gave our children Christmas gifts.  We were able to share this bounty with the Tropical Trailer Park as well where some of our Tuesday members live and many children received no gifts, and they were well received. Santa Clus also visited us after our Christmas Mass. Our Congregation was also able to give a good love offering to an orphanage in Ghana, Africa where one of our families is affiliated.
Kiah said to her sisters" This is the REAL Santa Claus!
Kiah said to her sisters” This is the REAL Santa Claus! 
Our St. Francis Ministry
It has also given us great joy to assist God’s other homeless creatures this year. When Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a feeding trough, the gentle animals were his first visitors and the poor shepherds and their sheep were next. Symbolically God’s love incarnate was joined with all of creation in the Christ child and the weakest became the first to know this miracle. We were so happy to place Bushy Tail, Farmer Joe, Tuxedo  and Potsy in loving  forever homes.  Seeing the joy of the people whose families were now complete was a special part of this miracle.
                                                                               This is Sherry and her new family member,Tuxedo-Joy for both!
In Conclusion
We have had a full year of service despite some part time hours. We are thankful to look forward to the future with our excellent Board and members and to continue to serve the low and lowest income community of Fort Myers. In this we get so much more than we are able to give. There is truly a united Good Shepherd community that welcomes and serves one another and the wider community.
Here is to a happy and healthy New Year for all!
Pastors Judy Lee and Judy Beaumont,ARCWP

Monday, December 30, 2013

"Emergence for Life", Not Fall from Grace" by Dr. Kevin Treston/ Recommend this Conversation and book

Some Important Points:
Provocative conversation on the meaning of Creation Story as sacred story told for theological reasons It is an allegory with many levels of meaning, not a historical narrative.
Promise of Judaism is " more life" example -Jacob wrestling with the angel was assured of more life. 
Need to rescue Jesus from biblical literalism.Yes to salvation as human need for healing and wholeness. 
Focus on Jesus story all to live the fullness of life.  John 10:10
Important to reclaim the feminine in God consciousness for healing of misogyny. 
Bridget Mary Meehan,

Link to Article about Pope Francis and Women's Ordination/Women Priests Growing