Saturday, January 25, 2014

'Knights of Columbus Redefine Charity by Giving to Bishops" K of C Coach Bishops to Work Against LGBT equality
 by Nicole Sotelo /National Catholic Reporter |  
"The fact that these "workshops for bishops" and supplementary resources are actually thinly veiled conservative political coachings shouldn't come as a surprise. The Knights of Columbus vice president for public policy sits on the board of the NCBC, which runs the workshops and resource distribution. Additionally, a large majority of the NCBC's board of directors reads like a who's who directory of bishops known for their political work against LGBT equality."

Pope Francis-Women Should Play Expanded Role in Church by Frances D' Emilio

..."Francis told his audience that he had stressed "the indispensable contribution of women in society, in particular with their sensitivity and intuition toward the other, the weak and the unprotected." He said he has been heartened that "many women share some pastoral responsibilities with priests in looking after persons, families and groups" and he said he had hoped that "the spaces for a more diffuse and incisive presence in the church be expanded..."These new spaces and responsibilities that have been opened, and I strongly hope that they can further be opened up to the presence and activity of women, both in the church environment as well that of the public and professional" spheres, Francis said, "cannot make us forget the irreplaceable role of the woman in a family..."

Bridget Mary's Response:
In this recent reflection, I am grateful that Pope Francis acknowledges the gifts of women in pastoral ministry, and opens the door to an expanded role for women in the church. However, this means that all roles including priestly ministry must be open to women. The author of this article states that the reason women cannot be ordained is that  "Jesus and his apostles were men."
First: It is likely that the apostles were also Jewish and married. The church today does not insist that priests be Jewish and married!  But it does insist that they be men. Could this be an example of sexism lurking in the hearts of the patriarchs? 
Second: There were more than 12 apostles and yes, according to the New Testament there were two women apostles.  In fact, one could make the case that Mary of Magdala was the primary apostle because the Risen Christ appeared first to her and  chose her as the apostle to the apostles, not Peter, to proclaim the Resurrection, the central message of Christianity. In Romans 16:7  Paul praised Junia and her husband Andronicus as outstanding apostles who were in Christ before he was and who were mentors to him.  "My greetings to Mary, who has worked hard for you to Andronicus and Junia, my kin and fellow prisoners;they are outstanding apostles and they were in Christ even before I was. "

Third: The twelve is a symbolic nunber and refers to the 12 tribes of Israel. 

Therefore, I conclude that the full equality of women in church and society including the ordination of women is the will of God in our times.  The Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement continues to grow as more and more women hear God's call and respond. What vocation shortage!? We are a holy shakeup whose time has come!
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

Cartoon featuring Pope Francis' reaction to 85 richest = 3. 5 billion poorest!

Three Women Priests Reflect on Miriam Dancing

Miriam Leading the Women Across the Sea/Exodus by Mary Therese Streck, ARCWP

Above  is an original painting of Miriam Leading the Women Across The Sea/Exodus  by Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP a gifted artist and priest. The energy, joy  and triumph and sense of women’s prophetic community in this painting is worth more than a thousand words. Yet, ARCWP Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan finds some of the right words to describe it: or maybe just a few words- words about the God’s endless love for us.
The prophet Miriam and her brothers Moses and Aaron lived in the terrible slavery and oppression imposed on the Israelites by Egypt. Their story is one of great faith,courage and triumph over the oppressors. As a girl Miriam helped save her baby brother Moses and her courage to speak up to the Egyptian princess who found him in a basket in the river and assured him of his own mother’s care and love (Exodus 2:7).  Moses became the leader of the Hebrews, his faith and courage were rooted in the love of his mother and his identity as  one of God’s people.  When Moses followed God’s promptings and led the people through the Sea of Reeds (“Red Sea) that swallowed up their oppressors, he and Miriam sang a song of praise and joy ” In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed…”(Ex 15:13). “Then…the prophet Miriam picked up a tambourine,and all the women followed her, dancing,with tambourines while Miriam sang…”(Ex 15:20-21). Miriam was a woman of great courage and never failed to speak up for what she saw as right . Contrary to popular Movies about Moses, the triumvirate of Moses, Aaron and Miriam were in their eighties at the height of their  leadership of God’s people. For us in the Roman Catholic women priest Movement the prophet Miriam is our Hebrew Scriptures heroine and we affirm the leadership God has given us in the renewal of the church.   Let us now affirm God’s call, God’s love for all and dance with Miriam as the church is renewed. Judy Lee, ARCWP

Like Prophet Miriam, the Communion of Saints Continues the Dance of Liberation Today

by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

A friend recently shared that a priest said something that deeply touched her:“there is nothing you can do to make God love you more, and there is nothing you can do to make God love you less.”Yes, this is true. The purpose of life is not to make “brownie points” with God.We are the beloved of God, each of us, is loved completely and totally as we are right now. Like Miriam and the Exodus women, the Spirit of God is with us, leading us, guiding us, renewing us. As we open ourselves to God’s indwelling presence liberating and healing us each and every day so, like Miriam, prophet and sister in the communion of saints, we too can dance and sing, live and love in the fullness of God’s love always with us in our loving care for each other and creation.

The Communion of Saints is a holy company of kindred spirits, who have gone before us and who continue to be with us.  They cheer  us on in our earthly journey and  one day we will meet them again because we all belong in God’s family. (on earth, in heaven, on the way to heaven) Let  us celebrate our mystical oneness in God and  dance the cosmic dance with our sisters and brothers on earth and in heaven.
Like Prophet Miriam, the Communion of  Saints Continues the Dance of Liberation in our Church and World Today

Friday, January 24, 2014

Rev. Bev Bingle and Rev. Judy Lee, Women Priests, Reflect on The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 1/26/14
Jesus says….. Follow Me and we will build the Beloved Community together…. Matthew 4:19 (Paraphrased)
Once again I am happy to present Rev. Bev’s Homily Reflections and share some of my own in a dialogue of sorts. Indeed Rev Bev is right on in saying that Jesus is asking us to change our ways of thinking and acting and thereby transform the darkness of this world with the light of love and justice.
See The Light-Change Your Hearts- Follow Me
In the readings for this week the writer of Matthew (in Matthew 4:12-23) is presenting Jesus as the light in darkness, the prophet of inclusion and justice, the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy who draws disciples to him from the poor and the outcast,from the backwater Gentile town, and teaches them how to reach others with the light. In Jesus’ language, Aramaic, NOOHRA means light, understanding, enlightenment, and true teaching. Ancient writers saw light as the source of all life. In the Gospel of John Jesus will refer to himself as the light of the world even as the writer of Mathew presents him as the light-the one with the true teachings that will dispel the darkness of ignorance, prejudice and hatred. Jesus also asks us to follow his teachings and BE the light of the world in John(8:12). Aramaic scholar Rocco Errico ( Let There Be Light, Noohra Foundation, 1994:184)  says that to be disciples of Jesus it is our job to let love, justice, compassion and goodness shine in our everyday world to change it.
Jesus, upon hearing of John’s imprisonment, courageously moves from Nazareth to Capernaum a lakeside town under Roman control in “the Galilee of the Gentiles”, a much maligned backwater town despised by the religious and political establishments.  The prophetic oracle of Isaiah (CH 8:23-9:3) says that “in the end” our God has glorified the district of the Gentiles because “anguish has taken wing,dispelled its darkness” by the shining of the light that turned gloom into great rejoicing and the yoke of oppression is smashed.  The 27th Psalm’s beautiful response is “O God, You are my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear”. And the Epistle (ICor 1:10-13) tells us that God has chosen “those whom the world considers foolish to shame the wise, and singled out the weak of the world to shame the strong”. Indeed the disciples Jesus called were not the scholarly and the religious leaders but the fishermen, two of whom were apparently too poor to have a boat as they fished with only a net and a despised tax collector and of course a woman healed of seven( or infinite) illnesses, Mary of Magdala,among others.  How is it that the broken and the simple folk were drawn to Jesus and his teachings? Or, indeed, how is it that this is whom Jesus chose to spread the good news of God’s love for all and justice for the oppressed? The individuals that Jesus called by the sea shore came immediately. They were ready for the light, for his light,his teachings and for him. They were ready for his healing touch, for his love and for his liberation. As Rev. Beverly Bingle said they were the underdogs and Jesus saw them as winners. They were ready for the glow of the home light shining steadily in Jesus’ heart.
I think of my communities-both the one I was raised in in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy and the one I serve now in central Fort Myers. Indeed I serve the latter because of the influence of the first. Both are characterized by caring plain folks that respond to the Gospel and to one another with love. They don’t overthink it- their theology is simple- God IS,and God is LOVE so love God, love Jesus, love one another,share what one has, and do this is without conditions. Both communities had a good measure of poverty balanced in a way by a good measure of communal caring. Both dealt with discrimination, prejudice, yes, oppression, violence,illness, and hard times. Yet the caring of the neighbors and friends,of the church, made all the difference.When a sense of community is missing there is profound darkness to dispel. Today we know that the homeless do not suffer from a lack of affiliation, but only a lack of income. For some this is complicated by addictions and mental and physical illness. But with an income and housing homelessness can be banished. How we, the people of God, continue to tolerate it in our midst is still a mystery to me. Economic inequality is a great sin and yet we tolerate a minimum wage so low and a welfare system so bankrupt that individuals and families pray not to get ill and need four jobs to just survive. And among the poor as among the well to do there is sometimes the pain of human isolation.There are many sectors of society where there are those who are alone and isolated and cast out. Jesus reached out to them and drew them into the beloved community. We have just celebrated the civil rights and human rights prophet, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday. May we join him following Jesus and building the beloved community. He too identified with the poor and outcast and that was the last straw for his detractors. May we join Jesus at the seashore in backwater Galilee and follow him in his work of love and justice. May we learn to draw all who need love and justice into Love.
Rev. Beverly Bingle Reflects:  
There is a light shining, a promise, coming out of Zebulun and
Naphtali, the north part of Galilee, the land dominated and destroyed
by the Assyrian army. It’s Jesus of Nazareth, rising up out of the
peasant population of that God-forsaken land, come to announce the
reign of God n the midst of a land oppressed by the Romans. Follow
me, he invites, Change your life! Adopt a new way of thinking, a new
way of acting. Make this world a place of justice and peace.
Transform it. By your love you can bring about fullness of life for
Super Bowl XLVIII is coming up, and the media is hyping the
vacillation of underdog status between the Broncos and the Seahawks.
Who expects underdogs to win? Jesus! He picked Galilean peasants.
He picked tax collectors. Samaritans! He also picked lawyers.
Centurions. Pharisees. Foreigners. And, goodness gracious, women!
And this Jesus of Nazareth is not calling only the best and the
brightest. He’s calling fishermen, farmers, parents, tax collectors,
Jeep workers, students, the unemployed, amputees, the poor,
politicians, the marginalized. He’s calling the bail bondsman, the
typist, the gay and lesbian, the divorced, the bereaved, the lost, the
forsaken, the waitress at the greasy spoon, the incarcerated. He’s
calling doctors, lawyers, CEOs. Everyone. Jesus had the wisdom and
heart to see the Divine Presence in everyone—the poor and the wealthy,
the educated and the illiterate.
We are called to follow Jesus—to fish for people—and today’s readings
give us guidelines for how to do that. In the first reading, Isaiah
tells us that God has smashed the yoke, the pole, the rod of our
taskmaster: we are free! We once walked in darkness, but the light
has come. Nothing can hold us back. Our second reading tells us that
we must be united, each of us holding the same mind and purpose. No
divisions among us. Each of us must focus on the message; each of us
must acknowledge the Divine Presence among us and in us and in each
other. In the gospel we hear Jesus preaching the good news: it’s
time to change, time to follow the Way, time to fish for people
instead of casting our nets in the waters of the world.
It’s pretty easy these days to get distracted by the flotsam and
jetsam of the world, all those trinkets and gewgaws held up for us by
TV commercials, the internet, our friends and co-workers, and even our
family members. We hear messages telling us to buy beer for a Super
Bowl party or a new car before the interest rates go up. We hear that
we will be worthless unless we wear a certain brand or eat at a
certain restaurant or buy the latest smartphone. We hear that we need
to get away from it all, that we deserve a break today, that we are
nobody unless we are spending money. When, bombarded with those
messages, we ask, “Who am I?” the answer is, loud and clear, “I am a
loser, a nobody unless I buy the right stuff.” If we are to be
fishers of people, we must speak Jesus’ message, just as loudly and
just as clearly as the commercial giants are doing.
We are doing that with our actions. With our prayer. With how we
treat people. With how we use our resources—our time and effort and
talent and money.
We are free, free to take action. Nothing can hold us back. We are
called to cast our nets by what we do and who we are. Called to
change minds and hearts: the kin-dom of God is at hand!

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Mass at 2086 Brookdale (Interfaith Chapel):
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 9 a.m.
Mass at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
Rev. Bev Bingle, Pastor
 A-men, A-men, A-men,A-men, A-men sing it over, A-men, A-men-A-me A-men, Amen!
Blessings and Light,
Rev. Judy Lee, Pastor

"The Luck of the Pontiff" by Gail Collins/New York Times

..."Without changing any of the Church’s reactionary rules on contraception, homosexuality or abortion, Francis changed the tone just by saying that Catholics should stop obsessing about sex. I cannot imagine what the nuns who ran my old high school would have thought about that theory. Really, it’s hard to overestimate what an incredible time-saver this is. And instead of just pleading for greater charity toward the poor, Francis decreed that the world needed to drop the idea that when the rich got richer, everybody eventually benefited. Trickle-down economics amounted to a “crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.” This would have been where he lost Rush Limbaugh..."

Legion of Christ Should be Investigated/National Catholic Reporter

By NCR Editorial Staff 
The Legion of Christ has been an agency of almost unimaginable fraud, and that reality alone should be reason for civil authorities to pursue a criminal investigation of its U.S. activities and for the church to proceed with extreme caution in considering allowing the group to continue.

Or paste this link into your browser:

"Ministering Priests with newly ordained Colombian Priest Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia"

When Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Cali, Colombia was ordained Priest in Sarasota Florida on January 18,2014 she made one request. She wanted Judy Beaumont and I to take her to see our people where they lived and worshiped. She said that the presence of our community of African Americans and others who participated in her Ordination procession and in blessing her made all the difference to her. She did not want to tour the tourist attractions of SW Florida and there are many,but she wanted to minister with us. So she and Rvda. Olga Lucia Alvarez went with us to visit a family in Tampa that we have ministered to and with for many years. And she visited two families with us in Fort Myers and visited our church. As she witnessed the joy and the pain seeing the hopes and the spirituality of our people she blessed them and brought great joy.
Here Rvda. Marina Teresa is in front of our Good Shepherd Church in Fort Myers,Florida 

Here we are with Miriam,89, who lost her daughter Nancy to a sudden diabetes related death almost two years ago.  Miriam has a very hard time living on without Nancy but loving visits sustain her. We have told part of Miriam’s story in this blog earlier when our other new priest Maureen McGill visited with her. We visited and prayed with Miriam and also took her out to a Spanish culinary feast. 
Here Rvda. Marina Teresa is singing Spanish folk tunes with Miriam along with a singer that came to our table and played requests. To see Miriam’s tears turn to singing and laughter was a great joy for all of us.

Then we took Miriam to visit her sister Gloria in the Nursing Home. Here Gloria is singing the 23rd Psalm with us.

And Gloria’s sadness also turned into joy and hope.
Rvda.Marina Teresa and Linda,mother of five of our children, felt connected immediatley.  They were drawn together by the Mothering Holy of Spirit of God. Here we enjoy a meal with Linda and her children.  When Rvda Marina visited Linda’s home she blessed and prayed for the family. She also encouraged the young women to find the call that God has for each of them, particularly the call to serve the community. 
 .  ImageImage


Rvdas. Mejia Sanchez and Alvarez with Keeron Jones, 16, Efe Jane Cudjoe 21, our Brown University Junior in Pre-Med, Natasha Terrell, High School Senior and Keeondra Terrell,13. Pearl Cudjoe in the background. 
The Good Shepherd Community and their priests were truly blessed by the visit of our priests from South America. Alegria-joy-was shared and experienced by all. The four ministering priests agreed: the reason for the priesthood is to serve the holy people of God, especially the African American and Afro Colombian Community and all who struggle for equality and dignity in their own lands and wherever they are immigrants and strangers.
Bendiciones, blessings, to Rvdas. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia and Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea as they return to their own full ministries in Colombia. We are all the better for your visit.
Love and prayers, 
Pastors Judy Lee,ARCWP and Judy Beaumont, ARCWP
And the Good Shepherd Community of Fort Myers, FLorida and Tampa, Florida

Thursday, January 23, 2014

An Open Letter to Pope Francis from Roy Bourgeois

January 19, 2014
Dear Pope Francis,
I have been inspired by your humility, love, and compassion. I was especially moved when you said, “I see the Church as a field hospital after a battle.”  You said the Church must “heal the wounds, heal the wounds.”
And so I ask that you reach out to the women and gay people in our Church who have been wounded by Church teachings that demean and discriminate against them. I ask this as someone who was expelled from the priesthood after 40 years because of my public support for the ordination of women in the Catholic Church (this happened just four months before you became pope).
You once said of your own priestly vocation: “God left the door open for me for a few years.”  Pope Francis, our Church teaches that God creates men and women as equals. Couldn’t God open the door to the priesthood for women, too? 
Isn’t our all-powerful God, who created the cosmos, capable of empowering a woman to be a priest?  Who are we, as men, to say that our call from God is authentic, but God’s call to women is not? 
Our last two popes, Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI, maintained that the all-male priesthood is “our tradition” and that men and women are equal but have different roles.  I believe that your predecessors were speaking from – and for – an all-male clerical culture that views women as lesser than men, as separate and not-really-equal. 
Our Church also teaches about the primacy and sacredness of conscience. Conscience is our lifeline to the Divine, always urging us to do what is right and just.  The consciences of many Catholic women have moved them to claim and act upon their vocations to the priesthood with active ministries. Similarly, I have been compelled by conscience to speak out in solidarity with them.    
My pain at having been kicked out of the priesthood has allowed me to glimpse the exclusion and discrimination that people of color, women, and gay people in our Church have experienced for centuries. I will never forget how Blacks were restricted to the back pews of my childhood church in Louisiana. While the Church has made great gains in valuing and respecting Catholics of all races, we continue – with flawed theology and dogma – to make God our unwilling partner in discriminating against women and gays.
Pope Francis, you famously said, “If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, who am I to judge?”  I appreciate that you do not judge people for being gay, but our Church certainly does judge them.  The official teaching of the Catholic Church states that gay people are “intrinsically disordered.”  This teaching is cruel and offensive, and it implies that, somehow, God has made many mistakes in Creation.
For many gay people, this teaching has instilled confusion and shame and caused grave harm.  Gay people have lost their homes and jobs. Just recently, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote members of Congress expressing opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill promoting LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) equality. 
Even worse, some LGBT people have been despised and murdered; others have despaired and committed suicide.
Pope Francis, I have some urgent requests.
First, talk and listen to the women who have been called. I’m confident you will understand that our loving God is indeed calling women to be priests.  Let us welcome them to the priesthood and give thanks to God for answering our prayers for more vocations.
Second, I ask that you declare that the Catholic Church will accept and value LGBT people as equal persons – made fully in the image of God – and recognize gay marriage.
Any movement rooted in love, justice, and equality is of the Divine and cannot be stopped. And so one day our Catholic Church will have women priests and marriage equality.  I do hope, Pope Francis, that you will implement these changes as soon as possible.
In your own words, “Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.”
In solidarity,
Roy Bourgeois

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Cali, Colombia and Three Other Women Ordained Roman Catholic Women Priests and Deacons on Jan 18,2014

Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Cali, Colombia came a long way to be ordained a Roman Catholic Woman Priest with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests on Saturday January 18 in Sarasota, Florida.   And although Maureen McGill came from nearby St Pete, Florida to be ordained a priest she too came a long way as did Rita Lucey of Orlando and Mary Bergan Blanchard of Albuquerque, New Mexico who were ordained deacons. It was a long journey because each had been preparing for this moment all of their lives. Marina Teresa,46 explains that she has been called from her baptism into priestly service. The others are in agreement.
Along with Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea of Envigado Antioqua, Colombia I am the Program Coordinator for Hispano Parlantes. We were delighted to present Marina Teresa for Priestly ordination. Her ministry in Cali, near the river Cauco, serves 173 families mostly of Afro-Colombian descent, representing over 700 people. The heads of this community wrote a letter of recommendation saying that she was ministering to and leading them and they would happily support her as their priest.  She also stands with them in their very real struggles to keep their riverfront land as there are interests who hope to take the lands and develop tourism there.
ARCWP Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan presided.  Our co-pastor Judy Beaumont assisted her with the altar book. St Andrew UCC Church on Beneva Road in Sarasota was nearly filled to capacity. The children of our Good Shepherd Church in Fort Myers led the procession with drumming, dancing with liturgical dancer Sheila Carey, and carrying the Book and candles and, later, the gifts. Keeron Jones was the drummer, Keeondra Terrell carried the Gospel Book, Natasha and Jolinda Terrell carried the candles and Jakeriya Maybin and Keion Lewis joined in the liturgical dancing with a tambourine and bells. Our Efe Jane Cudjoe, a Junior at Brown University read the first reading in English and Theresa Rodriguez read it in Spanish. Our Henry (Hank) Tessandori led the Psalm in English while we sang Alabare as the response. Elizabeth Lucey read the Epistle in English and Roman Rodriguez read in Spanish. Deacon Mary Weber read the Gospel, the Magnificat, and Olga Lucia Alvarez proclaimed it in Spanish. Bridget Mary’s spirited homily is below.  I  was pleased to be the MC for this Ordination that was conducted in Spanish and English. Univision TV will air an hour long special on Marina Teresa and Olga Lucia Alvarez and possibly our other priest in Bogota, Colombia, Martha Aida Soto Bernal on February 9,2014. Caracol TV in Colombia also covered this as did NBC and ABC News.  The beautiful pictures below are courtesy of Wanda Russell, ARCWP Priest.
This was a deeply moving Ordination where the Spirit of God was clearly present. The pictures and story below are wonderful but they cannot begin to convey the special meaning or beauty of this day to all concerned.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

ARCWP Ordination Photos – January 18, 2014 in Sarasota, Florida
Today justice is rising up for women in the Catholic Church in Colombia and in the United States.
Today the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests will ordain 4 women to serve inclusive Catholic communities where all are welcome to receive sacraments.  
Marina Teresa Sanchez is a 46 year old highly dynamic community activist and married woman who has 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. Her degrees are in early childhood and community education and theology. In the 1990′s she participated in global women’s conferences in Brazil, Vienna and Beijing, China. She worked with local priests in several base communities. She 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 very large community of Afro Colombians in Cali. As Marina Teresa gathers with this community around the Eucharistic table, they will reflect the liberating presence of God at work for justice on the altars of their lives.
Maureen McGill is a married woman with two daughters and 5 grandchildren. She is a retired lawyer who spent most of her practice advocating for abused and neglected children. She has served in almost every phase of church life including director of religious education, lector, and Eucharistic Minister.  Maureen will lead liturgies at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, provide pastoral care for residents of nursing homes in St. Petersburg and continue her advocacy role for those in need.
Like deacon Phoebe, whom St. Paul praised as an outstanding leader in Romans 16, our newly ordained deacons will continue to hear the cries of the vulnerable and work for justice for the marginalized.  
Rita Lucey of Orlando, a member of Pax Christi, has been married for 61 years. She is a mother of four and grandmother of nine.  As a human rights activist Rita 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. As a deacon, Rita will continue her witness for peace through prison ministry, and as a human rights activist in Amnesty International, Pax Christi, and the United Nations Association.
Mary Bergan Blanchard is a widow, mother, grandmother, 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 promoted racial integration and began a neighborhood group to promote social justice. After retiring, Mary and her family moved to Albuquerque where she served the Risen Savior Catholic community for twenty years as a Licensed Professional Counselor. As a deacon, Mary will develop liturgies for inclusive home church celebrations.”
In our Gospel today, Mary, mother of Jesus, proclaims that God raises up those who are exploited, the victims of poverty, discrimination and violence in church and society.
Mary’s prayer of praise, the Magnificat, reveals her solidarity with the lowliest and the hungriest. In this prayer, Mary is an apostle for justice, a symbol of strength, comfort and empowerment for the disinherited and marginalized of the world. Her prophetic message gives hope that the oppressed will triumph over poverty, abuse and domination and that they will experience the justice promised to them by God. The poor and marginalized are the blessed ones, not their oppressors. Award-winning theologian Elisabeth Johnson sums up God’s liberating action in these words: “God protects the poor, noticing their tears, while challenging the comfortable and the proud to conversion, to genuine discipleship, even at the loss of their own comfort. The divine intent is not to take revenge and so create a new order of injustice but to build up a community of sisters and brothers marked by human dignity and mutual regard…Imagine the world according to the defiant Mary’s Magnificat, invites African writer Peter Daino: a heavenly banquet and all the children fed”(Elizabeth Johnson,  Truly Our Sister, New York, Continuum, 2009, 269-271)
In the spirit of prophetic obedience we remember the words of Archbishop Oscar Romero who said in 1977: “Peace is the fruit of justice….(There will be peace when) there is no repression, when there is no segregation, when all people have legitimate rights, when there is freedom, when there is no fear”.  As validly ordained women priests we long for such peace and justice for the world and for ourselves in the church. 
Pope Francis reminds us that a prophet is someone who listens to the word of God and reads the sign of the times. He said: “When there is no prophecy amongst the people of God, the emptiness that is created gets filled by clericalism…All those who are baptized are prophets: let us not forget God’s promise, let us not tire of moving forward.”
I agree with our beloved Pope. The church must once again reclaim the prophetic voice of the people of God, the sense of the faithful.  
Our international Women Priests Movement is one of the contemporary prophetic movements of our time.  We are visible reminders that women are equal images of God. I believe that on a deep, mystical level women priests are beginning a healing process of centuries-old deep misogyny in which spiritual power was invested exclusively in men.  Churches that treat women as second-class citizens contradict the fundamental spiritual equality of women in the Bible: “Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them female and male God made them.” Genesis1:27
Our ordinations are acts of justice to move the church to live its mission of human equality as the Body of Christ on earth. The Catholic Church must break free of machismo and affirm women’s sacredness and full participation as equal partners in ministry including ordination.  As Pope Francis said in a recent interview in La Civilita Catolica, “Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed.”
The sad reality is that women are among the lowliest and poorest in our world.  The laws and policies of the Vatican have a major impact on women’s lives around the globe. If the church discriminates against women and excludes them from serving at the altar, then it perpetuates the abuse, rape and exploitation of women throughout the world.  We must make the connection between the denial of women’s decision-making authority in religion and the abuse and violence that millions of women suffer around the globe.
In solidarity with other church renewal organizations, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests challenges church laws that fail to value the experiences of women and  their full human rights. The Vatican fails to treat women as free moral agents who are fully capable of following their consciences in decisions that affect their lives.  One example is the ban on artificial birth control.  If the institutional church utilized the gifts of married priests and women priests, this rule put in place by celibate males would be quickly lifted!  
Yes, Pope Francis, we agree it is time to listen to the prophetic voices of the faithful in the church for liberation and justice, and move away from the domination of a deficient, patriarchial  hierarchy.  Mary’s Magnificat offers a stinging indictment of a powerful hierarchy that clings to outdated structures that keep women subordinate in our church. The full equality of women in church governance and ministry is the voice of God in our times!
Women priests, Pope Francis, are following your advice and moving forward in prophetic obedience to the Spirit calling us to live human equality in our church now! The Magnificat: Mary’s Prayer empowers us in our struggle against sexism.
Now we ordain our beloved Sisters: Marina Teresa, Maureen, Rita and Mary. The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests rejoices that 4 women , called by their communities, will be ordained today to serve God’s people.  May we be a “holy shakeup” that will bring justice, compassion and love to our church 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
Posted by Bridget Mary Meehan at 10:17 AM No comments: Links to this post

Saturday, January 18, 2014

4 Roman Catholic Women Ordained Female Priests and Deacons in Sarasota by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
On Jan. 18, 2014, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests ordained four women in Sarasota, Florida: Maureen McGill from St. Petersburg, Fl., Marina Teresa Sanches Mejia from Cali Colombia, Rita Lucey from Orlando, Florida and Mary Bergan Blanchard from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Approximately 140 enthusiastic supporters including Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida and a large group of children, teens and adults from Good Shepherd Inclusive Community from Ft. Myers, Florida attended. Sheila Carey led the youth and clergy in a processional and recessional joyous liturgical dance. Linda Lee Miska Michael Rigdon and Jack Duffy were our  music ministers and cantors.  Pastor Phil Garrison welcomed everyone in the name of St. Andrew United Church of Christ. He prayed that like the cloak of St. Brigit of Kildare, our women priests movement would spread throughout the world and embrace all. Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan presided at the 2 hour ordination which was in English and Spanish. The entire community raised hands in blessing and laid hands on each ordinand in a joyous affirmation of the newly ordained women deacons and priests. Several people said that they saw such love and affirmation on the faces of the people as they laid hands on the newly ordained women that they felt that the church had already changed! Yes, we are a “holy shakeup” of God’s justice and love for our church and beyond that welcomes all to the Banquet Table of the Eucharist.  NBC, ABC, Univision, Columbian TV and NPR covered this historic event of the ordination of the first Afro-Colombian woman Marina Teresa Sanches Mejia.
Bridget Mary Meehan,

 Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP