Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family

Maureen McGill and Michael Rigdon were co-presiders for our liturgy. Maureen provided the homily starter telling a story about a recent family illness. She shared that her daughter  provided a nurturing, compassionate and professional response that deeply blessed her and her husband. Michael provided the liturgy for Holy Family. 
In our dialogue homily, we noted that only 20 percent of families would fit the definition of a traditional family consisting of a mother, father, and child/children.   We named different types of families who are the norm today. Several members of our  community shared poignant and humorous stories about their nuclear families. One of our take home messages was that a "holy family" consists of two or more people who care for one another. So, we can be a "holy family" when we love and serve others in today's world. We affirmed that MMOJ Inclusive Catholic Community is an example of a "holy family." After liturgy some of our MMOJ family in photo below shared a meal. 

MMOJ Community: bottom row left to right
Pat, Bridget Mary, Silvia, Mary Al, Marie, Mary, Bob
Back row;
Bob, Kevin and Don

Final Blessing:
May God's Light encircle you
May God's love enfold you
May God's Peace encourage you
May God's Presence enrich you
At Christmas and always. Amen

"Silent on Acceptance" in Letters to the Editor/NCr by Deacon Clare Julian Carbone, ARCWP

Silent on acceptance
 Regarding the recent ecumenical conference held at the Vatican,(NCRonline.prg/node/89481) there was much to be praised in the recognition of the holiness of traditional marriage and family life. The synod, however, was silent on God’s acceptance of other forms of family life and intimacy. The exclusion of this topic left the impression that only traditional male-female marriage could be universally condoned by God and all the Churches
   As I make my home in SLC, home of the Mormon church, I am keenly aware, of the struggle being endured by many of our young people over their sexual identity. Their subsequent inner isolation, shame and self hatred all too often end in a suicidal solution. I was recently told, for instance, of a friend’s young teenage nephew who was found hung in his garage by his mother. Though we may never know the details of this young man’s anguish, my intuition fills in the blanks and I am heartbroken that so much aspiring life has fallen prey to the institutional Church’s ignorance and outright discrimination.
   It is urgent that we, as a Christian society, find a way to convey the message that God created, loves and sustains the innate beingness of each human person. We must feel compelled to present the clear message that Divine Blessing is inherent in all truly loving relationship, and especially in the sacred bonds entered into by our gay (as well as our straight) brothers and sisters and their families.
Clare Julian Carbone, ARCWP


"A Blessed Christmas with God- Nothing is Impossible" by Judy Lee RCWP

A Blessed Christmas-With God Nothing is Impossible! Rev. Judy and the Good Shepherd Community

Christmas is filled with seemingly impossible events-events that are, however, totally possible with God. The words of the prophet Isaiah, speaking almost 900 years before Jesus was to be born forecasts the coming of the greatest Light who would be born a baby and called “Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Protector Forever, Prince of Peace” (Is 91-6). God will come to us as a tiny baby. The Awesome and great God of the entire Cosmos will be born into human life to show us how to live, and die and rise again. He will show us how to welcome everyone to God and leave no one out in the cold,to bring peace in a troubled world. Like Mary, who is asked to be the God-bearer, we are told as we hear the Christmas story once again “With God nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37). Young Mary gets past her fears and is open to having this very special baby who will be called Yeshua, Jesus,  “Deliverance”. Joseph does not divorce her but embraces her and takes care of her. The baby is born in the space designed for animals, a most humble birth. The Shepherds are the first to be told about this event, and frightened though they are, they go and see the baby and go and tell the Good News of his birth. Along with Mary who said that the hungry will now be filled and the rich will go away empty, they, the lowly and often untrusted outsiders, the shepherds, are the first evangelists.(Luke 1 and 2). Later, the magi, astronomers, learned individuals, or kings, will follow their bright star and find him. And they will not tell the wicked and jealous king Herod about this newborn king so Joseph and Mary will flee to Egypt until it is safe to come back(Matthew 2).  How could these humble parents afford the trip to Egypt, perhaps with the gold and gifts that the Magi brought-or simply because “with God, nothing is impossible”. Christmas at its root is the impossible made possible, God made flesh and dwelling among us.
How do we enact Christmas this year with the deluge of human need and troubles ever increasing before us? We do it with faith, faith that embraces even the impossible. Faith that doesn’t need proofs for everything, faith that includes feelings of reverence and deep love. For me, that is a faith that makes me want to bow down on my knees and say “thank you God!”  and it is now and always has been the people of God that have taught me this faith.  Fourteen year old Keeondra saved her money and bought her Pastors two little ceramic snowmen this Christmas, one had the word “faith” on it, the other “peace” She explained in her hand-made card that “the church was where people found peace” and that the faith of the pastors grows faith in the people “who may not know God without it”, and that is how she chose those snowmen for us.   Keeondra is on the right in the picture on the right below. She is with her youngest sister Jakeriya and her brother Quay who nearly died of an opportunistic infection in November 2013, and who renewed his faith in reaffirming his hospital bed baptism just a few weeks ago. His life and affirmation of Life is one of the impossible events made possible by the faith that Keeondra is referring to as she affirms the miracle of faith. Also, several of our formerly homeless people have called and let us know how grateful they are to be enjoying their homes this Christmas. One man, Lloyd has now moved to Maine and married his High School sweetheart and he was able to get HUD housing in Maine after having it here as well.  Roger, our first housed person brought a donation to the church as he often does and prayed a prayer of thanks long with Lauretta and Nathaniel during our Prayers of the Faithful. Gary also spoke of the Peace of Christ at Christmas. And the “peace in the church” that young Keeondra was referring to in her card includes having a place to live in the rear of the church for her family of seven as they get back on their feet once again. Theirs is a faith of new life and second and third chances, a faith of the possibility of new things happening. A faith that includes her older sister being the first generation of their family members to be in college and doing well as of this September (on the right in the picture on the left below) .
And so this Christmas-tide we are asked to have the kind of faith that embraces what may be or seem to be impossible. The kind of faith that can see the great Light still among us, that can affirm the coming of the Christ who is with us still, the kind of faith that is for all people and welcomes everyone to the Table. The faith that can take the hopes and dreams of our lives, however impossible or broken they may be and breathe them into live reality. This is the faith that gives birth to love,no matter what.
In our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community the possibly impossible has been possible this Christmas. Due to the generosity of individuals,like Mary Pautz, Ellen and Jack McNally, Peter Lee, Ellie VerNooy, Danielle Nisivoccia, Jean Bauer, Pearl Cudjoe and Judy Alves, Rudy Elder, Monica Piccirillo, Evelyn Touhsaent and her husband Cliff, and Joan B. Volkmuth and Klaus Helf, Katy Zatsick and Bridget Mary Meehan, Phyllis Owen and Michele Nowosad, Stella Odie-Ali and Hank and Claire Tessandori,  and special organizations, like the Orioles, a local Social Club pictured below on left, and Gini Beecroft,Tom Rutkowski and the Breckinridge Community and Red Thread Group, Lisa Munklewitz and the Lamb of God Church and Thrift Store, below on right, we were able to give meaningful Christmas gifts to over thirty-five children and young people and over twenty-five adults,and also to serve wonderful Christmas meals all during advent. What a joy this is!
IMG_0156   IMG_0066
Our Sunday school has increased by six young people most of whom participated in our Christmas Pageant. It was great joy to see them learning the Gospel by acting it out. Here are some of them at rehearsal. After the rehearsal, Niyah,6, went outside by herself and knelt down at the Nativity scene, placing her hands over her heart as Mary did. We caught her there praying and she smiled for the camera. She has been doing this quietly and spontaneously since she was three years old,somehow drawn to Mary. We especially thank our Junior and Little Lambs teachers, Pearl Cudjoe and Linda Maybin for their year long assistance, and Efe Jane Cudjoe for her youth leadership.
One of the miracles of Christmas was that Niyah’s Mom, who has sent her since she was two without accompanying her and her sisters and brothers, came to church to see the Pageant.
The joy and laughter as the congregation watched the Pageant was overwhelming. Joelle white was Mary and Keion Lewis, Joseph. The part of Mary’s donkey was played by Jakeriya Maybin and the Angel by Arnya Jackson. The reverence of the children was most moving. And Santa Claus, (Hank Tessandori) paid us a visit that caused squeals of delight.
These young girls are holding “the Baby Jesus” and his “sisters” , dolls lovingly made for them by Helen Hearn, a compassionate and highly skilled octogenarian, who also makes extensive wardrobes for each doll.
IMG_0251Arnya,7, just loves her new doll. Her face says it all for the joy of Christmas at the Good shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in fort Myers. Thanks be to God! To quote our wise Keeondra, “MERRY CHRISTMAS-HAVE FAITH !”
Love and Christmas Blessings throughout the New Year,
Pastor Judy Lee,RCWP
Pastor Judy Beaumont, RCWP

"Can Pope Francis Still Save the Vatican?"

Bridget Mary's Response: I support Pope Francis' efforts to reform  the Vatican Curia.
His scolding of the cardinals the week before Christmas is a hopeful sign. He understands that spiritual renewal and living the Gospel joyfully is the main job of  church's leaders. If the Pope had been Santa, the Vatican Curia would have received coal in their stockings for Christmas! Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,
Another view by Jerry Slevin:
" Can Pope Francis Still Save the Vatican ? Probably Not ! "

"We are all meant to be mothers of God"

“What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the Son of God 1400 years ago
and I do not give birth to the Son of God in my own person and time
and culture?…We are all meant to be mothers of God."

                                — Meister Eckhart

Friday, December 26, 2014

"Woman intends to be Kansas City’s first female Catholic Priest" BY MATT CAMPBELL,THE KANSAS CITY STAR 12/25/2014

Kathy Kelly and Deacon Georgia Walker, ARCWP- Peace and Justice Activists

"In a few days Georgia Walker, at age 67, intends to become a priest, at which point she 
will be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.
That doesn’t faze her.
“I don’t accept the legitimacy of that excommunication,” said Walker, 
who will be the first woman in Kansas City to defy the church and be ordained a priest.
The church in turn will not accept the legitimacy of her ordination because, 
under canon law, only men can be priests.
“That’s their problem,” Walker said of the church.
That steadfastness is a trait of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests,
 a growing movement of people who see the church as too
 authoritarian and unwilling to be inclusive. But instead of leaving the church, they hope to change it from within.
At other stages of her life, Walker has been a sociology professor at the 
University of Missouri, a financial officer and a hospital manager.
 In midlife she converted to Catholicism and became a Sister of St. Joseph,
 although she did not take final vows. 
She is working on a graduate degree in theology.
Walker also is a peace activist who has been convicted of trespassing 
at the Bannister Federal Complex in south Kansas City and at 
Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster, Mo.
She now works with men and women coming out of prison to
 help them reintegrate with society.
As a priest, Walker wants to establish a regular schedule to visit prisons in the 
Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to bring the sacrament to inmates. 
She also wants to build a small community of worshipers 
while remaining a member of St. James Parish in Kansas City.
The church says no.
Canon Law 1024 of the Roman Catholic Church says that only 
baptized men may be ordained as priests. That is based on Jesus calling only 
men to be his disciples.
In 2004, Pope John Paul II issued an apostolic letter affirming that the priesthood was 
for men only.
Pope Francis had raised hopes that he would bring more flexibility to the church. 
But in July 2013, at a surprise news conference on the plane back to Rome 
after a visit to Brazil, he made clear that women cannot be priests.
“That door is closed,” he said.
Walker said those rules “have been made by men who seemingly forget that the 
first person that Jesus appeared to after his resurrection was a woman. 
Did he make a mistake? Mary Magdalene was the first one to see him. 
She was the first one to start spreading the good news of his resurrection.”
Women priests claim legitimacy through “apostolic succession,” which says 
the authority to ordain was passed from bishop to bishop going back to Peter. 
Proponents say the early church had many women priests and bishops, 
and only later did church leaders quash the practice.
The modern movement began with the ordination of seven women in 2002
 on a boat in the Danube River. In 2008, the Vatican said any woman attempting 
to be ordained and anyone attempting to ordain a woman would be automatically 
excommunicated and could not receive the sacrament.
The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph issued this statement:
 “Since this ‘ordination’ does not involve the participation of any validly ordained Catholic clergy, the diocese does not see a reason to comment any further.”
Walker said the diocese explicitly warned her she would be 
excommunicated if she continued with her plan. She said she was not dissuaded.
Walker’s ordination, scheduled for Jan. 3, will be performed by 
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, who travels the country 
ordaining women priests and deacons — 25 of them in 2014.
Walker’s ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. at St. Mark Hope 
and Peace Lutheran Church, 
3800 Troost Ave.
Donna Simon, pastor at St. Mark, has no patience for the view that women 
cannot be priests.
“The logic for male (only) ordination is spurious,” she said.
 “Nowhere in the Bible does it say you may not ordain women. 
But because Jesus only called men, the church has leaned into this tradition 
that you can only call men. It hasn’t leaned into a tradition that you can only call 
Jewish men because all the men that Jesus called were Jewish. They just picked 
that one thing.”
Polls have shown that a majority of American Catholics support women as priests.
There are now nearly 200 women priests, with more than 150 in the United States.
The National Catholic Reporter said a survey by the Pew Research Center 
found that one in every 10 Americans is an ex-Catholic. Meehan says church 
doctrine is driving people away.
“There is a big spiritual chasm in the heart of the church that does not 
reflect the love and compassion of God,” she said. 
“Women priests are saying everyone is welcome. 
There are no outsiders in God’s family.”"
To reach Matt Campbell call 816-234-4902 or send email to Follow on Twitter @MattCampbellKC

Read more here:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community 2014 Celebrates Christmas/Homily by Sally Brochu, Deacon ARCWP/With Photos of Community

Bridget Mary Meehan and Lee Breyer co-preside at Christmas Liturgy
Bridget Mary Meehan and Lee Breyer Co-Presiders with Community Pray Epiclesis/ Invocation of Holy Spirit on Bread and Wine/Community is the Celebrant of Eucharist

Deacon Sally Brochu ARCWP proclaims Gospel, preaches homily and leads dialogue community homily
As we gather today on this wonder-filled feast of Christmas, we each come with our memories of days gone by, of children and their excitement, of parents or grandparents, of other loved ones - some still with us, some not – but all brought close to heart as we remember how they may have touched our lives and enriched them. Some of us may not have cherished memories of earlier days because they were so difficult. Yet, this day is a day of celebration, of hope and thankfulness for the magnificent gift that God gave humanity. It’s etched in our hearts and it so good. It is an event that gives us hope when times are difficult and we are reminded of the incredible love of God for us.
The Gospel story that we heard proclaimed, is the familiar story of Jesus birth and we have all heard Luke’s Gospel many times. This week I saw this Gospel in a new way when I read an editorial in America Magazine that brought me a new understanding of this story. This editorial says “In a sense the Christmas story is one of borders. The Gospel of Luke tells us that the Holy Family’s journey begins with a population divided, a census of the whole world…each to his own town.  In Matthew’s Gospel, Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem, then flee to Egypt, then settle in Nazareth….crossing border after border so that the Son of God might one day break them down.”   
Jesus did just that in his adult years. He crossed borders both literally and figuratively. One major boundary was that “Christ entered fully into our humanity”. He came to us born of a woman. He also crossed from death into new life on our behalf. He lived fully among us during which time he broke rules, laws, always siding with the poor and those struggling. He fought for justice in a society that had as many challenges as we have in today’s societies and cultures. He advocated for peace in people’s hearts and peace among people. He was a shining example of one who works to break down obstacles that separate us from each other. His life then is a challenge to us. I think each of us here at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community and also the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests know this and are trying to live this challenge of breaking down unjust borders. I would also say that each of us here are in some way or another are involved personally in breaking down boundaries that disallows people to be fully who God called them to be.
By the same token we know that we may have to overcome our fear of taking these stands for justice and required change. We have to keep reminding ourselves of Jesus words “Do not be afraid, I am with you”. And Jesus is! This Cosmic Christ holds no divisions, no boundaries, just an openness and desire that we will become fully who we are and meant to be and take up the work of Jesus in our world. Over and over at Eucharist we say, “You are the Body of Christ, We are the Body of Christ, I am the Body of Christ”, then we really have to believe it. Let this beautiful child whose birth we celebrate today and whose life was one where new light came into the world and touched our hearts and souls and our world with God’s love. Let this child fill your heart with peace and purpose. Let me say this again, God’s boundless, unconditional love came to us as Jesus came into the world to tell us so. Even when life is tough and our life seems to be or is in chaos, remember God’s love for you, just as you are. This is the meaning of Christmas. Once we know of and experience God’s love we experience a peace within that is so profound that it will give us the courage to move to eliminate borders, or boundaries or divisions or unjust laws. The Spirit is calling us to do this. So allow this little one, this Christ Child, to give you hope.
“Today we celebrate the God of the past who loves us in the now and is the power of our future”.    
Merry Christmas everyone!
Shared Homily questions:
As you have aged, do you see Christmas in a new way?

For you, what does Christmas say about God’s love?
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP and Priest Lee Breyer Co-Presided at Christmas Liturgy

Bridget Mary Meehan and Lee Breyer break the bread as community prays

Kevin and Judy Connelly

Brunch after liturgy coordinated by Mary Al Gagnon on left in white

left to right; Mark Binder, Mary Al Gagnon, Pat MacMillian Bob MacMillian, Ford Englerth, Lee Breyer
Left to right:Janet Blakeley, Sally Brochu, Bridget Mary Meehan
Add caption
Demetre and Mindy Lou Simmons
Left to right,  Eileen Miller with back to camera, Russ Banner, Michael Rigdon, Imogene Rigdon, Bob Murray, Mary Murray, Debbie Hanson

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

ARCWP Deacon Georgia Walker Shares Her Call to Priesthood in a Letter to Fr. Rowe, Vicar General of Kansas City Diocese

           Georgia Walker ARCWP shares the reasons she will be ordained a  Jan. 3rd,  2015  in Kansas City, Missouri with Fr. Rowe, Vicar General of Diocese of KC. (email)

  Deacon Georgia Walker at a  Peace and Justice Witness Event 
        December 23, 2014

 Re:  Your phone call to me on December 11, 2014
 Dear Fr. Rowe,
 I have tried to reach you at your office to see if I could come in to speak with you about your  phone call to me regarding ordination to the priesthood.  Perhaps because of the holidays, I  have been unable to reach you.  So I am sending this message to you by email prior to a story  appearing in the Kansas City Star about the ordination of women.

 First, I want to thank you for contacting me by telephone to give me a warning about the gravity of my plans to be ordained to the priesthood.  It was very considerate of you to inform me of the potential consequences of my course of action.  I appreciate it and I have carefully considered what you had to say.  I have taken this to prayer over the last ten days and have consulted with many other priests in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and discerned with several close spiritual advisors.  As a result of that discernment, I have decided to continue with my plans to be ordained on January 3rd.

 Since I have been unable to reach you to obtain a possible appointment and the short time frame, I have decided to send you a brief overview of my position on this subject of ordination (see attached note).  Of course, many of the ideas which I have set to paper are thoughts and opinions which are shared by others in my Association and/or other writers. 

 If you have any questions of me after you have read my paper, please contact me at 816.572-3453 or by email at
Georgia K. Walker
1      1. What is the reason that women are seeking ordination despite the threat of excommunication?

The Spirit’s call is strong and we are responding, “Yes.”

Ours is a prophetic witness for justice. God is a God of justice.

We are choosing not to continue in our own oppression by denying our call.

Joan of Arc was declared a heretic, burned at the stake, and later declared a saint by the church. Pope Benedict canonized two formerly excommunicated nuns, Mother Theodore Guerin from the United States and Mother Mary MacKillop from Australia. Therefore, you could say excommunication has become a new fast track to canonization!

The treatment of women in the Roman Catholic Church directly influences the treatment of women everywhere. By answering God’s call to ordination even when the Church has a law against women being ordained, we are empowering women everywhere to follow their conscience by speaking truth to power and acting upon it.

We love the church, we are dedicated to serving the people of God, and we preside at sacraments within inclusive communities.

Jesus never ordained anyone but did travel with men and women who listened carefully to his life-giving message. These men and women went to cities, towns and villages to bring the Gospel message to all who would hear it, and the story continues to the present day.  We are from the line of Gospel bearers, and as ordained women we are part of a long history of men and women who were ordained to ministry in the early Church.  We encourage our church leaders to read the theologians of the 21st Century and open the door to dialogue for a new model of church.

As we looked back on our lives, this step into ordained priesthood was our response to the Lover God who has been beckoning us into ever and deeper relationship.

When we realized that some close friends were recognizing our priestly vocation, we also realized that this woman priest movement at this particular point in history was carved out especially for us. The calling for us was twofold: the priestly part and the justice part.

We do not accept the legitimacy of excommunication of women priests.  God does not practice the art of patriarchy. 

Why would the hierarchy excommunicate priests who are following their call from God to priesthood, while the hierarchy does not excommunicate bishops who protect pedophile priests or priests who are pedophiles?

       2. What would the benefits to the Church (people of God) be if the hierarchy accepted women’s ordination?

We would bring forth and take forward our model of priesthood: non-clerical, inclusive communities where all will be welcome and all will be co-equal in their participation in liturgy, service and governance.

Inclusive liturgies with feminine as well as masculine images of God (who is beyond gender) would support girls’ and women’s images of themselves as being created in God’s image, thus strengthening their psyches and souls. The benefits to men’s souls and psyches would be that they would be more in touch with their own feminine and be inclined to be more cooperative and less inclined to hubris, competition and violence.

Women at the table imaging the imago dei in our sacred bodies would strengthen women’s images of themselves as coming from the Divine and perhaps lessen femicide and the murder and violence toward girls and women. Perhaps seeing women at the table would help men to reinforce their respect for women and our sacred bodies.

The people of God need to hear the Gospels interpreted from our (women’s) living and dying.  The Gospels are grounded in social justice. Men and other women need to hear our stories of how justice-making heals and how injustice causes suffering.  Women’s voices need to be heard in our families, local communities and our world community.

We as women priests want to bring new life into a dying Church by making it a place where diversity is welcome and all people have an equal voice.

There is a connection between the oppression of women in religion and violence done to women (and their children of all ages) in the world. We must see the connections among sexism, racism, militarism, nationalism and capitalism.

God does not practice patriarchy. Jesus teaches us liberation from the domination/subordination pattern in any relationship. We are to empower each other in healthy relationships.

The Church could relieve male priests from their service overload to parishioners so they would not have to serve multiple parishes simultaneously.

Fewer local parishes would have to close when female priests and deacons could share the service.

Sacraments could be made available to more people on a more regular basis in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes and other group living situations.

Maybe many of the 33 million ex-Catholics in the United States would return to a more inclusive and co-equal Church that empowers and liberates the people of God.

It is time to open all the windows!

3. What is it about the hierarchy (Church) that upsets women?

Women have been caring for people in their families, in society and in their parish without due equality in power (say-so) and wages.

We are saddened and scandalized by doctrines and teachings that oppress, exclude and diminish the lives of anyone. We are ashamed of a Church that is unwelcoming to women, LGBTQ, divorced or anyone else who is living life in dignity and love. We do not find Jesus in such exclusions.

When the priesthood of women is rejected, the Church suggests that our God does not want what we are longing to give, thereby warping the image of God for all who accept that teaching, in a particularly pernicious way.
We cannot believe that it is women priests who must be reconciled to the Church, rather it is hierarchs who need to be reconciled to the people of God (the Church).

We are embarrassed by collectivities of men who meet behind closed doors and develop positions and edicts that have devastating effects on the lives of women, children and families without having women present to represent their experience.
We as women priests want to bring new life into a dying Church by making it a place where diversity is welcome and all people have an equal voice.

The Christmas Story/According to Children!/Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, Holy Family B, Dec. 28, 2014 Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Many times over the past few weeks
I’ve been asked where I was going to
“have Thanksgiving” or “have Christmas.”
People care about whether or not I’ll have a place to go.
Maybe I get more of it
because people know I’m single and live alone.
But maybe I don’t.
I overhear lots of others getting that same question asked of them,
so maybe it’s a sign of the many hearts
overflowing with loving concern, especially this time of year.
My dad died in 1981 and my mom in 1997;
my older brother is 1500 miles south of here,
and my younger brother is 2400 miles west.
But I’m blessed to have cousins here in town,
so I always get invited to their holiday feasts.
On the few years when they’ve been visiting out-of-town relatives,
I’ve been equally blessed
with friends who invited me to share the holidays with them.
Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family
of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
When I was a youngster back in Fremont,
the Sisters at St. Ann’s School
and the Pastor in his sermons
and the pictures in our religion books
all depicted the Holy Family
as what sociologists called the “nuclear family”—
the paradigm of a married Mom and Dad
with their biological children.
That was presented as the norm,
but even then it didn’t include every family
and certainly didn’t include every person.
Still, it was presented as the “holy” family,
and the rest, by implication, were somehow not so holy.
In grade school there were Judy and Ron,
who lived with their divorced and remarried mother
and stepfather.
There was Grady, who lived with his grandmother.
There was Norma, whose parents looked so different from her
that we all knew she had to have been adopted.
The grown-ups would whisper about them,
but when we kids came into the room Grandma would say,
“Little pitchers have big ears,”
and they’d change the subject.
American society has changed in the last 60 years,
and one of the very good changes
is that we no longer shun people
whose family configurations are not
what we were taught to think of as “normal.”
The census data tells us that the model nuclear family
was not a majority, even in 1970.
Today fewer than 20% of U.S. households
fit that “nuclear” family model.
What kind of family do the other 80% of the households have?
The greatest number—60% of the population—
live either alone or in a household with one other person.
Nearly three million households
are grandparents raising grandchildren.
Two million children live in a family formed by adoption.
Over four million children
live with one biological parent
and one nurturing parent to whom they are not related.
More married couples now live without children
than live with children.
So it’s heartening for us to look more closely
at the real Holy Family of Nazareth.
They don’t fit the “model nuclear family”
that we had held up to us in our youth, either.
As our tradition has it,
we see a mother pregnant out of wedlock,
with her baby being tended by an older man
who married her
even though he knew he wasn’t the baby’s biological father.
So what’s a family?
One definition is a group consisting of parents and children
living together in a household.
Another definition is all the descendants of a common ancestor.
Or a social unit that operates as a family.
So it could be a traditional family, a single-parent family,
a blended family, an extended family, an adoptive family,
a nurturing family, a multi-generational family.
A holy family is easier to define.
It’s two or more people who care deeply for one another.
That includes our human family.
That includes our church family.
On Thanksgiving Day—
before feasting with my cousins
and their extended family and friends—
I went over to Christ the King Parish,
where I feasted with some of my Claver House family,
among them George and his grandson Lamar, Rob,
and Sherri and Dick.
Then we had our Community family’s Christmas Party
over at Bravo!, thanks to Suzy and Lou for organizing it..
Then Christmas Eve, again with my Claver House family,
for beef roast and mashed potatoes and all the trimmings,
and plenty of choices even for a “non-carnivore” like me.
And then the Christmas feast.
And next Sunday there’ll be the annual Epiphany Dinner,
again with my Claver House family.
And the almost daily gatherings in between,
all celebrated with members of the holy family of humankind.
Breaking bread and sharing life—that’s family.
So where did I “have” Christmas this year?
Everywhere I went,
wherever people gathered in friendship and peace,
whether it was over a grilled cheese and fries at the Big Boy
or stuffed grape leaves and feta salad at Tony’s,
or here in our Holy Spirit Community Chapel.
So let’s prepare once again to break bread together,
our one family,
this holy people of God.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor