Saturday, May 23, 2015

"A HOLY SHAKEUP" Homily for Ordination of 4 Women in Sarasota on Pentecost by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Today the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and the Community of Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community rejoices because we are ordaining 2 women, Sally Brochu and Kathryn Shea as priests, and Lorraine Sharpe Meyer and Renee Dubignon as deacons.

The God who is revealed at Pentecost is a Holy Shakeup God  who will not be kept in a box either by religious or political authorities.  On Pentecost, we meet a God of many tongues who  breaks through barriers and empowers all.  As David Henson writes:
(David Henson, “The Divine Protest of Pentecost: The Politics of  Language and Respectability”)

 Like the early followers of Jesus, we, in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and in Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community, are experiencing the unleashing of spiritual energy and power, a “Holy Shakeup.
 Here we are giving birth to inclusive faith communities in the Catholic Church today.
Here we welcome all including the marginalized and excluded to receive sacraments.
In this “Holy Shakeup, we are creating a new model of church, a non-clerical, egalitarian community of the baptized.

Here we encounter a liberating God who is definitely out of the box!
“As one of my favorite nuns, Sister Joan Chittister, reflects: “The Holy Spirit is a wild thing breathing where it will, moving as it pleases, settling on women and men alike”
In the Gospel, Jesus said: “Any who are thirsty, let them come to me and drink. Those who believe in me… from their innermost being will flow rivers of living waters. “
Let these words sink into your soul. What Jesus is saying is that each of us is a fountain of life, filled with abundant gifts of the Spirit. Each of us is empowered to be channels of God’s peace, compassion and justice that will transform our world.

 Thomas Merton said in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander: “At the center of our being is a point or spark which belongs entirely to God. This is the pure glory of God in us” and “the gate of heaven is everywhere.”
Now I will share with you the stories of 4 “Holy Shakeup” women, on fire with Spirit energy and Pentecost exuberance to transform our church and world.

Kathryn Shea:

I now realize “Holy Shake Ups” can come at any point in life.  I never called them by this name, but looking back, this is clearly what took place.  Holy Shake Ups are when the Spirit speaks to you and tells you to speak out, sometimes against great power, against injustice.  This might be for just one child, one family, one community, one nation, one world.
 I felt the Spirit working through me as a source of healing power as a very young woman.  Shortly after giving birth to my beautiful daughter, Melanie, I became a Lamaze teacher and established a “birth coaching service” in Lexington, KY for women who had no one to be with them during labor and delivery.  These were primarily poor, single, young, and sometimes sexually molested girls and women.   The women did well, were grateful, bonded better with their babies, and ultimately the hospital was forced to change their policies about how they treated these women.

 I am especially committed to young children with mental health and behavioral disorders and those prenatally exposed to alcohol.  I challenged state governments in both New York and Florida to establish a diagnostic and intervention clinic for this vulnerable population and was awarded funding to establish a fetal alcohol clinic in both New York and Florida. 
I consider myself a Spirit-filled, social justice,  Holy Shake up woman.The Spirit of the Holy One led me on paths of resistance to our country’s immoral stockpiling of nuclear arms and immoral invasion of Central America​ in the 1980’s.  The Spirit shook me up a bit when I landed in jail a few times for civil disobedience, or what I prefer to call “divine obedience”. 
I embrace Holy Shake-ups and have learned they are part of the fiber of my being.  ​ ​And now, I continue this life-long passion to serve as a Roman Catholic Woman Priest where I commit to working for social justice as long as I have breath left in me.   

Sally Brochu:

As I answer my call as validly ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church and within the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, I want to be an active part in this Holy Shakeup! My role is not one of visible protest but of a quiet presence that prayerfully holds all who are called to this ministry of afflicting the comfortable.
My call to this ministry of presence and empowerment began first as a mother, then grandmother and now great-grandmother. I was not a perfect mother but I tried to provide each of my precious ones with roots and wings, to acknowledge their goodness, to encourage their growth in becoming fully who they are meant to be. They in turn went out to live their lives with purpose and in service to others in our broken world. This presence extended to 4 more grandchildren who came into my life in my 60’s and whom I helped raise for 10 years.
For 15 years in the 70’s & 80’s, I was a co-owner and treasurer of a mid-size construction corporation. My responsibilities included overseeing all financial matters but also included setting salaries and wages and benefits for our employees. I insisted on equal pay for equal work which I saw as a matter of justice.   

After the sale of the company, my ministry of presence was lived out professionally as a Certified Chaplain. Over 23 years I walked with people who were suffering and struggling with life’s challenges. These became moments of grace and mutual blessing. Being invited into this sacred space by another human being is pure gift and an opportunity to remind them of their goodness and God’s unconditional love for them, from which they can draw strength.
As I live out my call to priesthood, my ministry of presence and affirmation extends to all whom I meet - with no exceptions - and I see the Face of God in them.
In Florida, marriage is now legal and can be celebrated by all couples whose great gift from God of mutual love and commitment to one another needs to be celebrated. I have officiated at many weddings over the years, and recently, I was asked to officiate at a wedding of a gay couple who have lived their faithful commitment to one another for 35 years. I accepted with great joy and told them I would be honored to officiate. 
My ministry of faithful presence extends also to my partner in life, Janet, where we as individuals and family are sacrament to one another. Our hearts and our home are open to all who enter.

Lorraine Sharpe Meyer descibes her Holy Shakeup in the following words: During my early life I followed the rules, stayed within the lines of my family, my church and religious community. But the Holy Spirit was always pushing. Each time I hugged a person with leprosy, or kissed one dying with AIDS or dementia, another of my walls came down. I found in these beloved of God, my moments of greatest happiness. I discovered I was no longer in a fortress but in a ballroom. I had learned the two-step and was now working on the waltz.  Then suddenly I discovered the possibility of woman priesthood.  The cha cha cha, for me?

As an ordained woman, I don’t know where the ballroom will be but I think I know what my dance partners will be like.  A few months ago when I was visiting the Center of Hope in Venice, Pastor Jim McClelland said to the homeless and volunteers who were gathered, “Look at the person next to you and say ‘You are called to be Christ for me.’” I turned to my left to see a young man, unshaven, unbathed, raggedly dressed with few teeth and matted hair. He looked up from his downcast eyes to search mine when I said to him, “You are called to be Christ for me.” A tear fell on his cheek.  He soon disappeared from my sight into the gathering, but my soul danced. I know where I’ll find Christ, my dance partner. She and he will be dancing on this green earth, God’s ballroom.  May my partners and I always help each other find the rhythm, not be embarrassed by our cha cha cha, feel esteemed and welcome.

Renee Dubignon, has a background in law enforcement and worked as a detective with the New York City Police Department. Renee,  also known as Ronnie, lives in Holiday, Florida.  She attended NYU and Hunter Graduate School. Ronnie worked in Harlem for youth services to develop a youth action unit.  Her primary ministry was working with the New York City Police Department to overcome bigoted behaviors. She designed and implemented a citywide cultural diversity program tailored for each community. Ronnie counselled city officials and police officers who faced emotional challenges including paranoia and suicide. Ronnie testifies that it was her deep faith in God’s love that guided her in her pastoral care of those in need of liberation from the negative effects of crime and evil.
She describes her relationship with Mary and the centering presence of Spirit love that comes from the Rosary. “I have a calming spirit that aids me in helping others heal. God uses me as a vessel to heal physical and psychological problems,” she writes  “This is my calling.” 
She envisions her diaconate ministry as building a deeply spiritual diverse community of compassionate loving multi-cultural congregants. Her vision of the holy shake up is  to serve people who are seeking a universal understanding of God and humanity and to carry out the missions of Christ through the healing of all.   

As we ordain Sally, Kathryn, Lorraine and Renee today, we rejoice our call to be “Holy Shakeups” for justice and equality in our church and world every day of our lives!

Happy Pentecost!
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

Friday, May 22, 2015

"The Spirit of God is a Wild Thing" by Sister Joan Chittister

"The Holy Spirit was not a disembodied ghost, not an immaterial being. On the contrary. The Spirit embodied the life force of the universe, the power of God, the animating energy present in all things and captured by none. Because of the Spirit, Jesus was not gone and God was not distant, and the life force around us bore it proof. The Spirit was the restless urge to life in us leading life on to its ultimate.

The Spirit of God moves us to new heights of understanding, to new types of witness, to new dimensions of life needed in the here and now... There is a magnet in each of us, a gift for God that repels deceit and impels us toward good. The gifts are mutual, mitered to fit into one another for strength and surety....We are...equally adult, equally full members, equally responsible for the Church. Nor does any one dimension of the Church, then, have a monopoly on insight, on grace, on the promptings of God in this place at this time. The Spirit of God is a wild thing, breathing where it will, moving as it pleases, settling on women and men alike."  Joan Chittister: Essential Writings


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Woman Priest Invited to Papal Mass in Philadelphia: A Comedy in One Act by Janice Sevre-Duszynska ARCWP and Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Janice:  What is it, Bridget Mary? You look shocked! What did you get in the mail?

Bridget Mary: (holding the letter in her hand) It’s an invitation to attend the Papal Mass in Philadelphia in September. I wonder if all the women priests received one?
 Wouldn’t that be wonderful!

Janice: Philadelphia! Has Francis heard we’re ordaining women bishops there 
September 24th?

Bridget Mary:  I doubt it, but he will now!

Janice: Maybe there’s one waiting for me at home… Is the Vatican sending us a signal that they’re going to lift our excommunications?

Bridget Mary:   There’s more. They’re also asking me to contribute money 
for the Pope’s visit.

Janice: When you were ordained, Catholic publishers returned your books to you. 
Surely Francis has heard about our excommunications. I just received the Inquisition’s stamped version of mine from the Lexington diocese seven years after my ordination.

Bridget Mary (reading the letter): They need “to raise tens of millions of dollars to plan the meeting and prepare for the Pope’s arrival at one of the largest gatherings of people of faith ever to take place in America.”

Janice: That needs editing. Maybe we could use some of their marketing ideas for our fundraising. (pause) Somebody should tell them you’re still on “The List of the Excommunicated.” And, we will have  ordained 22 deacons and priests plus three women bishops by the time Francis gets to Philly.

Bridget Mary: It’s a win-win…
Oh, here’s that gorgeous picture the Pope sent me of him smiling…

Janice: Yes, he’s sure lovable… We should invite him to our women bishops' ordinations.

Bridget Mary: (nodding) The Holy Year of Mercy is right around the corner. May the Liberty Bell ring out freedom for primacy of conscience. 

Janice: The other holy card is a young Mary.
Bridget Mary: We know how Francis feels about us infertile older women.

Janice:  She’s surrounded by angels with a dove above her head.  (She turns it over). It’s “Mary, Undoer of Knots!”

 Bridget Mary "Undoer of Knots?"That should read N-O-T-S... beginning with women priests.

Janice: For a moment I thought it was a shrine in Ireland! It’s from a painting. At least it is not the bound woman like the Vatican just featured in its conference on women's equality and difference.  
Look at the prayer Pope Francis wrote. He refers to God again as only  “Him,” one, two, three times…

Bridget Mary and Janice: That’s Knot #1, Francis. A good place to begin the undoing of sexism in the Church!

Update: I have heard from a number of women priests who have also been invited to the Papal Mass in Phildelphia!
Authors Janice Sevre Duszynska, priest, and Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan often collaborate on media for the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community, Pentecost Sunday, May 24th by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

It’s been circulated widely,
on EWTN and in various print and internet versions.
It makes a claim
that we who are cradle Catholics have heard since childhood—
that Jesus founded the Catholic Church
and it’s still the same church it was in the year 33.
But that’s not true.
Jesus was a Jew, faithful to the end.
His apostles and his disciples, all Jewish,
continued gathering as Jews who followed the Way of Jesus,
in an ecclesia, a Greek word that means assembly.
Both Peter and Paul died in the mid- to late-60s,
before the Romans leveled the temple in Jerusalem
and before the split of Christian Jews from other Jews.
It was the inability of those disparate communities of Jews
to dialogue that led to the split
and the eventual consideration of Jewish Christians
as separate “ecclesia.”
Eventually that ecclesia came to be translated
not as assembly but as church.
The statement in Acts 11
about first being called “Christians” in Antioch
was written no earlier than the last decade of the first century,
more than 20 years after the destruction of the temple
and subsequent splitting off of the Christian Jews.
All four of the Gospels were written
after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem,
that is, after the year 70 AD.
What that means is that the scriptural references
that present Jesus as founding a church
came about because the writers
interpreted their own experience
of the dissension and the split
as they imagined Jesus would have responded to it.
What was it that Jesus did, if he didn’t “found a church?”
We can be certain that he called his Jewish brothers and sisters
to take the Jewish tradition seriously.
The shema was the prayer that guided his life:
Hear, O Israel! God is God, and God alone.
And you shall love God with all your heart, mind, and soul.
For Jesus, the exodus out of slavery
and the release from exile
framed the covenant relationship:
God is faithful and does not abandon us.
We are therefore called to be faithful to God.
And we can be certain that he pointed out the failure of leaders,
both political and religious,
to live in right relationship to God and each other,
and that he called them to repent
and believe the good news
that God loves and forgives everyone.
Our lectionary gives us a wide choice of readings
for this Pentecost feast,
all of them having to do
with the action of God’s Spirit among us.
In our first reading from the prophet Ezekiel,
we are uplifted by the vivid image of those dry bones rising up
and God’s promise to put the Spirit in us that we may live.
Then the passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans
assures us that the Spirit helps us
when we don’t know how to pray,
interceding with those inexpressible groanings
that we’re all familiar with.
And the pericope from John’s Gospel,
high Christology that it is with its metaphor of living water,
tells us not about a claim that Jesus made
but of the impact Jesus has
on the community that is trying to follow his Way.
Whether we ponder the usual readings
about the Pentecost experience in the Upper Room
or the call to peace and forgiveness
or the readings we heard at this Mass,
we have to ask ourselves what this ecclesia,
this assembly of God’s holy people,
means for us?
For many of us,
it’s easier to point to things that our church is NOT:
not the church of child sex abuse and cover-up,
not the church of pelvic theology,
not the church of exclusion,
not the church of a salvation
that’s limited to a few perfect people.
When we started to gather as an intentional Eucharistic community
more than two years ago,
we named our ecclesia in honor of the Holy Spirit,
the breath of God
that we have each experienced in our own way
as we stumble and struggle along the path.
In our church of the Holy Spirit,
we know the power of the Spirit
that breathed over the waters in Genesis,
the rejuvenation of the Spirit
that enlivened the dry bones of Ezekiel’s Israel.
We know the presence of the Spirit
that filled Jesus of Nazareth
with wisdom and grace and integrity and fidelity,
the courage of the Spirit
that emboldened Jesus’ followers
to continue in the Way he taught them.
That same Spirit remains with us,
quickening us with the gifts and fruits of peace and love.
I regularly experience that Spirit down at Claver House.
After I missed a few days there last week,
John, one of the guests who struggles with COPD,
phoned to find out if I was okay.
This week George,
that wonderfully witty octogenarian Korean War vet,
brought me one of his canes to use until my knee gets better.
I experience that same Spirit here,
in the phone calls and emails asking how I’m doing
and if I need help with anything,
and the homemade vegetarian soup
sent home with me after Mass,
and the new scheduling of Mass setup volunteers.
Most of all, I see and hear that same Spirit
in your generosity to your families and friends and neighbors,
in your calls to one another through the week,
in your self-giving choices on the job
and in Tree Toledo
and the trunk-full of donations
that you give me to deliver around town on Mondays
and a virtually limitless number
of other good works that you do.
At a Call to Action meeting last Monday one of the participants
wondered how Dorothy Day had ended up
being the holy person she was,
and I found great affirmation in the answer.
She struggled and made mistakes and learned from them;
she prayed and reflected and tried to do what was right;
she listened to the Spirit
and grew stronger through the process.
She ended up becoming a remarkably whole human being.
What I see when I look out over this community
is a holy people
following the Way of Jesus—
seriously concentrating
time and energy and talent and resources
on serving the one God of us all,
fully alive in the Spirit.
I can read a book about Dorothy Day,
but I see the Spirit alive in you.
Glory be to God!
And thank you.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Pope to Bishops: Stop Ordering!

ARCWP Ordination of Five Women - Tampa Florida - May 15, 2015

On May 15, 2015, Annie Watson, Patty Zorn, Catherine Aquinas (catacomb name) were ordained priests and Jennifer Marcus and Silvia Brandon Perez were ordained deacons by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.