Saturday, August 2, 2014

Homily for 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time: “Called to be the Heart of Compassion” by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP and Terry Binder, Co-Presider

Did you ever say to yourself  ‘I’ve got too much on my plate! I need some peace and quiet.
I have no idea how it is all going to get done with my meager resources!’
In this Gospel, Jesus was dealing with the murder of John the Baptist his dearly loved mentor. He needed to retreat to a quiet place to grieve his friend’s loss.  But the crowds kept coming, and the disciples, tired and frustrated, were a cranky lot. It must have been one of those ‘Jesus, you have got to be kidding moments’ when Jesus told them to feed the people with five loaves and a couple of fish.  Say what! We don’t know how the multiplication of the loaves and fishes happened, we just know everyone was fed and there were left overs.
I had one of those kinds of moments on our Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests Retreat in Cincinnati two weeks ago.
I was so looking forward to a time of peace and quiet and sharing with my Sisters. However, on day one there was a crisis. Debra Meyers, one of our women priests, who was invited to pray at an opening ceremony at Lydia’s House, a Catholic Worker Home for homeless and abused women informed us that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati withdrew funds that had been previously been promised for a washer and dryer at the shelter.  Immediately we opened our purses and we came up with $1000! J anice Sevre-Duszynska and I who work on ARCWP media started work on the press release to spread the news. As a result NBC news covered and National Catholic Reporter published a story.  So much for peace and quiet on the retreat!  
However, as you know,   Lydia House was abundantly blessed with an outpouring of money ( $7000) They shared their excess with some to other ministry groups to benefit those in need. So once again, I can declare the hierarchy is the gift that keeps on giving and giving! It is a modern day multiplication of the loaves and fishes story!
We are the Body of Christ. Everyday, we are called to be  blessed, broken and shared. We are called to be the Heart of Compassion loving in our world!
Today, approximately one-third of Catholics have left the institutional church. Many are alienated or feel spiritually homeless. When they die, their relatives will have problems procuring a Catholic service or funeral. Sometimes, as one of our community recently learned, one has to go through a 20 questions drill; Did you go to Mass each Sunday? Did you receive Communion? Did you go to Confession? Etc.
I believe that inclusive Catholic communities are called to be the Heart of Compassion in our world. We are the bread blessed, broken and shared. As we give of ourselves, God will pour out abundance, making what we do more than enough to meet the needs of those who are grieving and in need of spiritual comfort.
 As an inclusive community, MOJO could provide a Memorial or Funeral Service to Catholics who are denied such a service by the Institutional Church. . I know that our married priests couples have presided at funerals, and last year that our MMOJ community celebrated a Memorial Service for a woman who died without resources.
Michele Birch-Conery and Barbara Billey, two of our Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests in Canada have designed a Heart of Compassion Memorial Ministry. I’d like to invite your comments on my proposal to offer this ministry in our local area.
Heart of Compassion Memorial Ministry

We are members of Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community
who serve persons who have died in
financial hardship and social isolation
as well as Roman Catholics who have not been
connected to the Church yet seek a
funeral rite within this tradition.

Often family members
or friends of the deceased
request a modified, affordable memorial
service tailored to their religious tradition
or a memorial ritual  that helps the family honor their loved one.

We consult with them
to fashion an inclusive liturgy or ritual
sensitive to their needs and preferences.
When there are no family or friends
we offer a memorial service
that brings dignity to and makes sacred
a person’s life and death, as a reflection of God’s presence in our world.

Open discussion with the community

Deacon Annie Watson, ARCWP Attends Conference Given By Bishop John Shelby Spong

Deacon Annie Watson and Bishop  John Shelby Spong
Jimmy & I attended a two day conference at Community Christian Church in Springfield, Missouri. Dr. Roger Ray a progressive speaker and author is the Pastor of the church (Roger is a good friend of ours). Bishop John Shelby Spong presented  several lectures from his book "The Fourth Gospel" tales of a Jewish Mystic. He was captivating as always. He talked about how to read the gospel of John from a Jewish perspective. Spong has read every major commentary on the gospel of John and has gained many great insights. I look forward to sharing more after I go through my notes. The day ended with a small dinner party at a church members house. I had the pleasure of sitting next to him and talking about the ARCWP! He is very supportive and called me a "troublemaker". Jimmy reacquainted with old friends, we made several new ones. I witness about our movement with a couple from Indy!
I feel blessed to be given such a wonderful new nickname by Bishop Spong. 

Come,Without Paying or Cost: Rev Judy’s Homily for the 18th Sunday in OT 8/3/14
The Scriptures for this week assure us that God loves us and will meet our needs on all levels of being.  Wow!
These are some of the most beautiful and meaningful messages in all of the Scriptures. We can take these Scriptures on two levels: with literal meaning, that is, God will indeed provide food and sustenance for the poor and hungry, and on the metaphoric level. God’s word is the living water and the bread of life. The teachings of Christ are the food that fills us with what we need to want no more.  God’s words from the prophet Isaiah(55:1-3) to the Psalmists refrain( Psalm 145) “The hand of our God feeds us; God answers all our needs”;  to the Epistle (Romans 8:35-39) and the Gospel (Matt 14:13-21) fill us with knowledge of a God who is mindful of our every human need, and responds accordingly whether our needs are for basic survival or for connection to God and peace in our spirits. Yet it is Jesus’ words in the Gospel (Matthew 14:16b) that teach us that God meets our human needs through the care we have for one another: “You give them something to eat!”.
It is of no use to those who are poor and in need of assistance to eat, and have clothing and shelter to say “God bless you” or “enjoy God’s word” and do nothing. Our Good Shepherd ministry in Fort Myers, Florida, like most of the Ecclesia Street Ministries throughout the USA and elsewhere and many churches who care for the poor and low income, is a literal feeding ministry. Every time we have church and break open the word, we also break open our storehouses and cook and serve nutritious meals, wholesome drinks and food to take away if it is needed.  We take literally the words of Isaiah 55:1-3 “You who have no money, come, buy and eat; Come… without paying and without cost….”Our faith-filled volunteers make this meal possible. And these include those with considerable means and those are those who were poor and homeless and now have the means to help others.
Roger was the first man we helped as we reached out to the homeless in 2007. When he comes to church now he brings an envelope upon which he has printed “Roger’s Foundation” and in it is ten -twenty dollars to share with someone else as we see fit. He also chooses people in his residential community to share with on a regular basis. He gets the meaning of today’s Scriptures. Lauretta lugs a heavy back pack full of produce from neighboring trees and farms on the bus to share with others. She gets it. Lauretta, Linda and others reach out and bring people to our church. Because Lauretta brought Diane, Diane, who was homeless in the park, now has a home.
This is Diane in her home with Pastor Judy Beaumont. She is telling us how she takes her shopping cart on the bus to go and buy food. 100_4020
Linda brings her own kids, her sister’s kids and a young Haitian teen who is sometimes ridiculed by other kids simply because he is Haitian. She sets the example, she goes and gets him and he is welcomed by all. He is one of our happiest teenagers now. Linda gets it.
Jerry with our Teen Class100_4038
After the meal we open our pantries and offer food to take home and also clothing and personal items at no cost.  After the meal we say “the store is open” and people go to the room where they shop for no money. People also see us for counseling and referral and prayer during that time. They also love sitting in the living room and socializing. So that which is not tangible is also given away freely. Our worship and study of the Scriptures is enthusiastically attended so the teachings that fill the inner spirit and soul are also available to those who want them. We say that in our church we have many preachers. I do a shorter version of the sermon matched to their needs on Sundays. Then I stop and ask for “their word upon the word”. Two or three may expound on the Scriptures and share their own experiences of God.  The meal becomes a feast.
This is Elder Gary who preaches by word and deed with Joelle, his God Child and Keke IMG_0102
Were the disciples guarding the purse strings when they tried to send the people away “to buy their own food”? Or were they just short of faith, feeling that they truly did not have enough to give? Did Jesus literally multiply their little food or did the people sit down and open up their own supplies and share with one another? I can accept it either way or both ways.  Either way it was a miracle. The Aramaic culture that Jesus came from may sometimes teach by metaphor and exaggeration. So was it really 5,000 families-or 500- or 50? It doesn’t matter because it means a LOT of families were fed and ALL present ate their fill. And, it was Jesus, the Christ, making that happenwith the help of the disciples.  
Let us remember that this whole section of Scripture is prefaced by Jesus withdrawing in grief over the loss of his cousin, John the Baptist and yet, not able to get away, he was still loving the crowd, with his heart being being moved by them to heal them and now to feed them (Matt 14:13-14). So  does it mean that they ate a good lunch and were full, or they ate of the bread of life, the word of God, the teachings of Christ, the love of Christ, and were full? I think it is clear that it means both-we are to “feed them” ourselves, we are to feed one another. When food is needed we provide food. When material help is needed we provide it-no strings attached. When we have two coats, we share one. When Christ’s teachings are needed, we teach them.  They are always needed and we can only teach them when we live them. Live what? Live love even when we are tired and want or need to get away.  And live justice and celebrate the love God has for ALL of God’s creatures.   
And finally, Romans 8: 35 asks: “What will separate us from the love of Christ” and verse 39 concludes NOTHING “will be able to separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus”.  For us as women priests that the Roman Church hierarchy thinks it can cut off from Christ, or for the divorced, those civilly married, the LGBTQ community and all who may be deemed or may therefore feel less than worthy,  these Scriptures provide the healing balm of Christ. Nothing and no one can cut us off from the love of God in Christ. And, my dear friends, no one can cut you off either so let us eat and be full of the love of God. Thanks be to God!
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers, Florida
This is Rvda. Marina Teresa Sanchez, RCWP, feeding the children the Bread of Life in Cali, Colombia Dando la Eucaristía a los niños de Colegio Educativo Navarro

My Precious Memories of the First U.S. Ordination of Roman Catholic Women Priests at Pittsburgh Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Happy 8th Anniversary!
I will always remember this historic day when I was ordained a Roman Catholic Woman Priest. The dream of a lifetime came true for me. 

 During the laying on of hands, my dear Dad, Jack, placed his hands on my shoulders connecting me to our entire Irish family ancestral line.
I felt such gratitude and  joy that he had lived to see this day and I knew my wonderful, devout Mother , Bridie, who had died 8 years before, was holding me too.  My brother Patrick and  some close friends from VA, MD, New York,  Kansas City and Colorado accompanied me on this momentous journey. Sister Regina Madonna Oliver and Peg Bowen, who had shared 15 years of pastoral ministry with me, played key roles in the Rite by presenting me for ordination and laying out the prostration cloth. Several Sisters for Christian Community were present to offer prayerful support and affirmation.  

  I sensed the Spirit moving within me and all around us, and felt like  I could almost float away. With my faith eyes, I could see the communion of saints cheering us on as the  beautiful Litany of the Saints was sung  Earth and heaven rejoiced on that great day. 

Bishops Patrica Fresen,, Gisela Forster and Ida Raming laid hands on us in silence in the solemn moment of ordination. Then, the entire assembly was invited to lay hands on the ordinands. The people stood in a long line that wound around the boat, waiting to place their hands on our heads. While soft liturgical music played in the background, some people quietly wept  as they prayed over us.  

We twelve women were  modern day gutsy disciples , disobeying an unjust man-made law so that justice and equality could  become a reality for women in our beloved Church. My  life has never been the same since  that day when  we sailed down the Three Rivers  on the beautiful riverboat Majestic.

The good news is that our Women Priests Movement continues to grow and to renew the church into a more open, inclusive, egalitarian community of believers in seven countries.  Indeed the Spirit is a'moving in this holy shakeup of the Catholic Church. Bridget Mary Meehan, 

On July 31, 2006, Eileen McCafferty DiFranco,  Olivia Doko, Joan Clark Houk, Kathleen Kunster, Bridget Mary Meehan, Roberta Meehan, Dana Reynolds, Kathy Sullivan Vandenberg were ordained as Roman Catholic priests.  Four deacons were also ordained at the ordination.  The ordination took place on a riverboat in Pittsburgh, PA.  

On the day of the ordination, Joan Houk said she hoped that as priest she would be able to  “Connect with people who are Catholic who have walked away or are not participating…”  Today there are approximately 180 RCWP members worldwide; more than 150 of these women are located in the United States.  Roman Catholic Womenpriests are ministering in house and parish communities, perform weddings, baptisms and funerals; are chaplains and offer sacraments to the sick and elderly, serve the homeless and provide spiritual direction and retreats.    

The movement within the Church began in Germany with the ordination of seven women on the Danube River in 2002, by male Roman Catholic Bishops and in 2003 two of the “Danube 7” were ordained Bishops. 

RCWP rejects Canon law that does not allow women to be ordained priest today.  Many historians and theologians can provide evidence that women were ordained Deacons, Priests, and Bishops in the early church.  In addition, in 1970, because of the Soviet Bloc, a Czech Bishop ordained women to serve in the women’s prisons where men could not go.

You can help us continue to prepare and ordain women by making a donation to RCWP-USA and to today. 

# # # # #
Read More about the Historic Day:

Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Group Ordains 8 women as Priests.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Good Shepherd Youth Explore Water Fun and Sea Treasures

Our Group of Seventeen at Tarpon Bay Nature Preserve on Sanibel Island100_4056

There is nothing like a dip in cool water on a hot day.  Our last two outings, on 7/24 and 8/1/2014 were to the water. We have some great water parks in the greater Fort Myers area, like Sunsplash where ten of our young people aged 7-22, spent the day floating in tubes and sliding through huge tubes into the water last Thursday, July 24th.
Jolinda, Keeondra, Marcella, Joelle and Keion at Sunsplash100_4029
And, learning about the other creatures who live in the water, in Tarpon Bay and in the Gulf of Mexico off of Sanibel Island makes for a thoroughly exciting day.

Keeron, Jerry,Marcella, Aleigha and Gaspare at Touch Tank

Today, August 1,2014, thirteen of our young people, from ages 7-26 and two parents and Good Shepherd’s two Pastors, Judy Beaumont and Judy Lee went to Tarpon Bay Preserve in Sanibel. First they attended a literal hands- on session where the young docent and guide taught us about oysters and shrimp, hermit crabs,horseshoe crabs and a variety of mollusks. The kids were able to gently lift these up and interact with them.  The awe and joy this produced no matter what age they were, was a moment with Creator God and we reflected on that.
Jakeriya, Keeondra, Jolinda, Jakein, Keion and Paarents, Linda and Debbie watch the crabs and shrimp

Marcella, Gaspare, Aleigha, Efe, Joelle, Keeondra, Keeron and Natasha

A Hermit Crab Emerging

Then we took a boat ride in the bay where we spotted manatees and dolphins. This pontoon boat ride was the first boat ride most of the kids ever had. They loved it. They saw pelican roosts and beautiful birds. Their eyes were glued to the water waiting to see dolphin and manatees. Keion, age 12, had the greatest widsom: “have patience” ,he said, “they are here and they will show themselves if you are patient!” And he was right. Who would have ever thought Keion would know this and guide us in this way. Keeron knew that Manatee were called sea cows and Natasha spotted the first dolphins. Jolinda wanted to see more than the big dorsal fin and back but we were happy to know they were circling us.
Pastor Judy Lee and Natasha, Keeondra and Jakeriya on the Boat100_4091100_4054
Debbie and her daughter Joelle and Jolinda and Keeondra
Keeron Spotting Manatee

Jakein Swimming to Shore 100_4106

Our Mermaids, Joelle Aleigha, Marcella and Jakeriya
After our time on the water in the boat we drove about ten minutes to the beach and several of the kids loved swimming in the gulf. The others looked for shells and waded in the water with Pastor Judy Lee. We were all happy with out day at the sea. Our adventure ended at McDonalds where we began to plan our next trip. Stay tuned for that one!
Pastor Judy Beaumont and Youth Leader Efe Jane CudjoeFor Pastor Judy Beaumont and I this was a wonderful way to spend our 25th Anniversary-with our children at the sea! Thanks be to God!Pastor Judy Lee,RCWP Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers,Florida

Bridget Mary's and John Chuchman's Take on Vatican Directives "for more restrained Sign of Peace at Mass"

 Bridget Mary's Response: Once again, the Vatican is the gift that keeps on giving! What's next air brushed waves or kisses tossed across the pews at the Sign of Peace! And just why can't Father leave the altar and share the Sign of Peace with the assembly?

Come on guys this stuff is over the top. What we need is more Jesus love, more giving, more blessing, and more sharing,.  We need to leave church fed ---filled with love, forgiveness, peace, and joy, ready to share so that all will be blessed. The last thing we need are rigid liturgical regulations that stifle our spontaneous gestures of peace to one one another in the Body of Christ. 

Really, we do not need a discourse from the Sacred Congregation of the Faith on appropriate gestures for the new approved Rite of Peace.  Can't you just see instructions like these coming to a parish near you:" Give one bow to the person on your right, then to your left, in front and back.  Do not leave your pew for any reason whatsoever" No hugs, kisses or embraces allowed. Priest Presiders found in violation of stepping off altar will have their pay docked!

In my view, the Vatican liturgy regulators  have too much time on their hands. They need a real job. Perhaps, Pope Francis could find a soup kitchen where they could serve the hungry. Guys, give the rule-making a rest and lighten up.

 Do you honestly think Jesus would stress over a sign of peace such as hug, and a kind word or two  Catholics believe God is love and that love is at the heart of our faith. What more appropriate time to share a gesture of God's infinite, boundless, extravagant love than at the Sign of Peace!  
I love to sing and do gestures to a beautiful Prayer of Peace as the community gathers in a circle around the altar to pray for world reconciliation!  So praise God that we worship in Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community where these new Vatican liturgical restrictions do not apply!  Bridget Mary Meehan,,

Vatican wants Sign of Peace abuses ended:
And, priests should do everything possible to end "abuses" such as:

  • "The introduction of a 'song for peace,' which is nonexistent in the Roman rite."    (Only approved ancient music)
  • "The movement of the faithful from their places to exchange the sign of peace amongst themselves."  (Stay Put)
  • "The departure of the priest from the altar in order to give the sign of peace to some of the faithful." (He Must Remain Elevated.)
  • People using the sign of peace at Christmas, Easter, baptisms, weddings, ordinations and funerals to offer holiday greetings, congratulations or condolences. (None of that mundane stuff. by John Chuchman

Its second recommendation was that as translations are made of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal, bishops' conference should consider “changing the way in which the exchange of peace is made.” It suggested in particular that “familiar and worldly gestures of greeting” should be substituted with “other, more appropriate gestures.”
The congregation for worship also noted that there are several abuses of the rite which are to be stopped: the introduction of a “song of peace,” which does not exist in the Roman rite; the faithful moving from their place to exchange the sign; the priest leaving the altar to exchange the sign with the faithful; and when, at occasions such as weddings or funerals, it becomes an occasion for congratulations or condolences..."
Vatican announces desire for more restrained sign of peace at Mass

Vatican City, Jul 31, 2014 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- 
"The Congregation for Divine Worship, in a recent circular letter, announced that the placement of the sign of peace within Mass will not change, though it suggested several ways the rite could be performed with greater dignity...
First, while confirming the importance of the rite, it emphasized that “it is completely legitimate to affirm that it is not necessary to invite 'mechanistically' to exchange (the sign of) peace.” The rite is optional, the congregation reminded, and there certainly are times and places where it is not fitting.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

8th Anniversary of Historic U.S. Roman Catholic Women Priests in Pittsburgh on July 31, 2006

Today we celebrate the eighth anniversary of the first U.S. ordination of Roman Catholic Women Priests.
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests gather for Ordination of six women in Cleveland, Ohio on May 24,2014

Now there are close to 200 in the international Roman Catholic Women Priests' Movement!
Amen to justice rising up for women in the church living our dreams of Gospel equality in grassroots inclusive Catholic communities in the Europe, Canada, Latin America, South Africa and the United States. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Nuns Build House of Straw/Showcasing Clean Energy

"First Woman Priest Ordained from New Jersey Dies"/ National Catholic Reporter