Thursday, August 6, 2015

"The Papacy" by John Chuchman, History Most Catholics Don't Know

The Papacy

with its claim that
the Pope is the vicar of Christ
was not original to
the early Jesus movement
that was morphed into church.
The belief that
Peter the Apostle
was the first Pope
is wrong.
The Papacy
took form
in the fifth century
under Leo I,
Bishop of Rome,
trained in Roman Law,
who simply took
the titles and majestic claims
developed by Emperor Augustus
and applied them
to himself in Peter’s name.
Peter had nothing to do with it.
and others
simply transferred Roman ideas
of imperial power
to the function of Pope.
Popes still claim the title
Supreme Pontiff.
The monarchical papacy
that resulted from the expropriation of
Roman Imperial pomp
is heretical
to the Jesus story.

Evening of Retreat: The Sisters of Belle Cœur:
 A Medieval Sisterhood for Contemporary Times Presented by Sibyl Dana Reynolds Tuesday, September 22, 2015 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Pendle Hill Retreat Center…Reading Room in the Main House
338 Plush Mill Rd, Wallingford, PA 19086

Many women today express a common desire and mutual longing for spiritual sisterhood, to explore the questions and creative stirrings we carry within our hearts and souls. Join Sibyl Dana Reynolds for a meditative and prayerful evening as she shares the cosmological template for Belle Cœur (Beautiful Heart) Sisterhood. We will explore the way of Belle Cœur’s four pathways including: Spirit, Sacrament, Sisterhood and Service and the four Belle Cœur sacred practices including Devotion, Craft, Study, and Story.
Belle Cœur sisterhood is a Christ-centered, contemplative, monastic community that draws inspiration from Sophia Wisdom, the medieval Beguine movement, and the natural world. The way of Belle Cœur can be a solo experience to deepen one’s spiritual journey. Additionally, this sacred template of formation may be shared collectively ( in sisterhood) by small groups and communities seeking a deeper spiritual and creative connection.
This evening’s presentation will be a prayerful, reflective, shared experience. Please bring your journal. A donation to benefit the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests will be appreciated for this event. Thank you.

Sibyl Dana Reynolds

Sibyl is author of the novel, Ink and Honey, and spiritual guidebook, The Way of Belle Cœur: A Woman’s Vade Mecum (Fall 2015). Sibyl is a spiritual director and retired bishop (RCWP). She is the founder of the contemplative spiritual community,The Sisters of Belle Cœur. 

For thirty years Sibyl has been a facilitator for the feminine spiritual/creative process. She is passionate about the concepts of the sacred imagination and the six senses as conduits to the Divine Presence. She is a mother and grandmother and she lives with her husband in Texas.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Inclusive Liturgy for Anointing of the Sick Donnieau Snyder TH565 Feminist Sacramental Theology and Inclusive Liturgies Bridget Mary Meehan, D. Min

Inclusive Liturgy for Anointing of the Sick
            New Spirit Rising, a small inclusive Catholic faith community located in Fresno, California is the faith community where I serve as a Roman Catholic woman deacon. The community has evolved over the course of several years. The community is an active community with a mission for outreach to those infirmed. New Spirit Rising recently requested to celebrate the sacrament of the anointing of the sick as an entire community. As part of an inclusive Catholic faith community, I shared in the planning stages of the liturgy. Some of the community members forwarded some scriptural readings and the leadership group prayed over the readings and selected in unison the readings that were to be used in what was now labeled a healing service. The prayers, blessings, responsorial and ritual were developed once I was able to meet with the community on several occasions to ensure the liturgy is inclusive, provides active participation from all those who wished to participate in the various elements of the liturgy but most of all met the needs of the community. For the ritual, the leadership group impressed upon me that it was very important for the community to feel of sense of connectedness to each other during the ritual to instill a sense of connection and the power love can bring forth when healing wounded hearts, minds and spirits. I listened very carefully to the needs of the community, developed the ritual, and asked for continual feedback until the leadership group to ensure this was an inclusive process. The language used was inclusive to ensure an inclusive nature resounded throughout the liturgy. It is important for the needs of the community that a liturgy and any celebrated sacraments use inclusive language. The community is a very thoughtful and determined group that wishes to define their needs and how the sacraments can be celebrated to meet the needs of the community and all those wishing to partake in sacramental celebration. The healing service was active and inclusive with a great deal of participation from all those in attendance. As noted by Susan Ross (1998), “Since the church’s official liturgical celebrations have been so exclusive of women, women have turned to ‘unofficial’ religious practices, to ways of celebrating, mourning, and remembering significant events in their lives that are on no liturgical calendar” (p. 27).  The following pages provide the liturgy, presider’s reflection and ritual that were developed to meet the sacramental need for the anointing of the sick for New Spirit Rising.
New Spirit Rising Welcomes You!
Healing Service
Fresno, California
Opening Prayer 

Beloved Holy One, along this journey of healing may your loving compassion break through the darkness and shine through onto the road that lies ahead. Thank you for the gift of sight planted deep within our hearts so that we may see in others the comfort you send each of us along our journeys of healing. Thank you for protecting each of us from the destruction of our brokenness. Through your grace and mercy, grant us wisdom to persevere.

Opening Responses:

PRESIDER:  We gather together embracing the healing presence of God. 

ALL:  In our need, and bringing with us the needs of the world.

PRESIDER:  We gather together in service to one another as Jesus serves.

ALL:  And who walks with us the road of the world’s suffering.

PRESIDER:  We come with our faith and with our doubts.

ALL:  We come with our hopes and with our fears.

PRESIDER:  We come as we are because it is God inviting us to come.

ALL:  And God has promised never to turn us away.

Gospel Reading:  Matthew 26:6-13
Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head, as he sat at table. But when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for a large sum, and given to the poor.” But when Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing for me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Presider’s Reflection is shared at this time

Reflection of Matthew 26:6-12

In the Gospel of Matthew this passage of the woman anointing Jesus is a short passage and even though this is a short passage; in these few sentences; what had happened; what was created was such a profound experience. There are several things unfolding in this moment of anointing. Even though the apostles were present they couldn’t truly see what was actually taking place. What the apostles had seen was only through their eyes. They saw the woman pour a jar of expensive oil over the head of Jesus. The saw the superficial; they saw the materialistic nature of the act and complained about the use of the oil as a waste of money. The profound experience between Jesus and the woman with the alabaster jar was beyond what the apostles could see.
As this woman anoints Jesus, she is ministering to him in a way that extends far beyond what only the eyes could see. Jesus recognizing what the woman had done says, “she has done a beautiful thing for me.”

In this profound moment compassion, love, and comfort pours out from this woman to Jesus. This powerful extension of compassion, love, and comfort was such a profound moment Jesus said, “what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Jesus and the woman with the alabaster jar share a moment of comfort, a moment away from any fears for what might happen to Jesus. The woman did not know what was to come but she offered healing comfort to Jesus through her loving and compassionate act.

There is such power in compassion, love, and comfort which can be healing.
Much like the woman with the alabaster jar she was not truly aware of what was going to happen to Jesus we too cannot predict the future. In our daily lives we prepare for the worst and hope and pray for the best. We are truly not able to ever fully prepare for any type of brokenness that comes into our lives. The brokenness that enters into our lives can and does take many forms whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual the depth of the experience can leave us with wounds deeper than what the physical world can see, sometimes deeper than what our own loved ones can see. It is in our brokenness that we seek healing, we seek to become whole once again.
The word healing in its most basic definition means to restore, to repair, to set right. Though we don’t have the opportunities to foresee the brokenness of what is yet to come in life we do possess the same gifts the woman with the alabaster jar possessed which can be extended and shared with others. We too carry in us the gifts of compassion, love, and comfort.
We often look at the fact finding evidence of healing and have at times discarded our own gifts of healing comfort. For those that have ever cared for a child and that child hurts for example got scraped up and is truly feeling the physical pain of those injuries it is amazing what your hug and kiss gave to that child in the moment of love, compassion, and comfort. For those us that have ever hugged to ease another’s suffering how amazing was that gift in that moment? Our gifts of healing are not just relegated to hugs and kisses as we have seen throughout history we have been witness to the healing of nations. We have witnessed the death of injustice and the birth of human rights for so many people throughout the world. The gifts we have been endowed with can have the strength to heal nations yet gentle enough to comfort the most fragile of moments of personal one to one interactions. In our own healing whether it is from the visible or invisible brokenness it can at first have an ugly appearance; much like a scab on a wound. Some of us may show anger, some despair, fear, some hopelessness yet when we go beyond looking at the superficial level of one’s pain we can anoint the brokenness of that other person with compassion, love, mercy, truth, and justice what begins to happen is the healing the restoration, the repair, the setting right, the movement from brokenness to wholeness. 

When we stand up for what is right we anoint with the healing gifts of truth and justice
When we unconditionally care for those not able to care for themselves we anoint with the healing gift of love
When we show kindness to the stranger and to our enemy we anoint with the healing gift of mercy and when we use the gifts of God’s love as modeled through the woman with the alabaster jar Jesus reminds us that what we have done will be remembered.

Shared reflections are invited at this time from the community

[A moment of silence is shared as the oil is brought forward for the communal blessing]

Blessing of the Oil - All are invited to extend their hands over the oil

Presider welcomes everyone to extend their hands for blessing the oil:

[Prayer for blessing oil]

With hands extended over the oil, we pray:

In your name Merciful Creator may it please you to regard favorably, to bless, and make sacred this oil, which earth has given and has been prepared from your fruitful gift of olives. We pray that by the power of the Holy Spirit, those whose hands come upon this oil are blessed in your name, and continue to receive your loving healing of heart, mind, body, and spirit. - ALL: Amen


Rite of Healing (everyone is invited to come forward)

Healing Ritual – people have come forward and one by the one the presider faces each person that has come forward and completes the following:

The presider pours water from a water jug onto the person’s hands then dries them. The person then turns to the person behind them and proceeds to repeat the hand washing.

The presider now begins to place oil in the hands of the person whose   hands were cleansed and dried

The presider proceeds to take one hand at a time and recites the words while placing the oil in each hand.

As oil is placed in the right hand.
Presider: “From the hands that long to be healed.”

As oil is placed in the left hand:
Presider: “to the hands that lovingly heal”

The presider places a small stone into the oiled hands, presses them together saying:

May the light of Christ shine in you and strengthen the healing gifts of love, compassion & comfort that is poured out from you to others & may you also continue to experience the strength of God’s healing Grace.

The presider repeats this ritual with each person and the last person proceeds to wash and cleanse the hands the presider’s hands and completes the ritual for the presider.

Musical Accompaniment – “See Me, Heal Me”
See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.

Silent Prayer and Meditation

Musical Accompaniment – “Wash Me”

Participation: Invitation to all for testimonies and sharing (this is the time the presider welcomes everyone to share in their testimonies, stories, thoughts of healing)

Final Blessing
PRESIDER: In mercy and in love may we go forth to receive and become the healing hands of the body of Christ for our sisters and brothers and the whole world.

ALL: Amen

Closing Prayer
PRESIDER: Loving Creator, we give you thanks for the continuous healing of mind, body, and spirit. We give you praise for the healing hands you send to us in the form of our brothers and sisters through your works of healing, and we also give you thanks as we become the merciful, loving, compassionate, and healing hands which we hope to share with others, and we ask this in the name of Jesus your son, our beloved brother.

ALL: Amen

Music – “Go In Beauty”
O, God is beauty. Peace be with you.
Til we meet again in the light.

            The healing service was very powerful and received wonderfully positive feedback. Because of the communal nature of New Spirit Rising, I always enjoy asking the community how they feel about the celebration services so that I can continue to understand how to meet the sacramental needs of the community. As noted by Susan Ross (1998), because “women’s experiences of the sacraments are ambiguous and ambivalent…these ambiguities and ambivalences are not entirely negative and have the potential to refocus and redefine the nature and experience of sacramentality itself” (p. 204). This liturgical celebration and several others have been offered at New Spirit Rising. As a deacon I am not able to offer Eucharist however, New Spirit Rising has invited Roman Catholic women priests to preside and I have been able to serve as deacon during Mass. The celebrations offered at this time are prayer services and other types of services celebrating the community while meeting their spiritual, ministerial and sacramental needs. It is the hope of the community and mine that someday I will be ordained a priest so that I may offer Eucharist using inclusive liturgy while ensuring a feminist theological approach to the sacrament of Eucharist. 

Ross, S. (1998). Extravagant affection: A feminist sacramental theology. New York, NY: Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc. 
This Inclusive Liturgy for Anointing of the Sick is shared with permission of Author ,Donnieau Snyder as an assignment for Course TH565 Feminist Sacramental Theology at Global Ministries University Course.  Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan, D. Min. is  Dean of Doctor of Ministry Program

Homily:“Soggy Bread” by Annie Watson ARCWP, Mary Magdala Community, Indianapolis,

Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15; John 6:24-35
August 2, 2015
Annie Watson, ARCWP

Apparently, God is a fan of bread. No low-carb diets for the Creator! If God didn’t like bread, God wouldn’t have created so many different types of bread. It is the most basic food staple there is.
Bread is a common food item in the biblical writings, from the unleavened bread that the Israelites ate on Passover to the bread Jesus broke with his disciples claiming it was his “body.”
One of the interesting things about the Bible is that it will often take something very common and mundane, like bread, and elevate it by attributing spiritual qualities to it. Our two readings from Exodus and John highlight the “spirituality of bread.”
In the first story from the book of Exodus we read about a bread-like substance called “manna.” The Israelites had escaped from Egyptian slavery and now they find themselves in a desert with little or no food. They complain to their leader, Moses, that as slaves in Egypt they fared better. They would prefer to go back to Egypt.
Who wouldn’t? Have you ever been hungry? Of course you have, and yet few of us have missed many meals due to a lack of food. We’re talking about real hunger here, that which is experienced these days by nearly 15% of the people who live in developing nations.
According to the story in Exodus, God supplied the stomach-grumbling Israelites with manna in the morning and quail in the evening. If we were dieticians we might call this carb/protein combination the Wilderness Wandering Diet. Probably not highly recommended!
What was the manna? We don’t know. The writer introduces it by claiming that God said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you.” A few verses later we discover a few more details about it: “In the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground.” Sounds yummy . . . and soggy.
We don’t know what the manna was, but we know what the writer is trying to say: Something needed was supplied unexpectedly. In fact, the word “manna” is occasionally used for anything that is needed and supplied unexpectedly. Have you ever received a monetary gift from someone at just the right time? Have you ever received a kind or encouraging word from someone at the moment it was needed most? Manna from heaven.
Before you start thinking that the Israelites got a raw deal with soggy bread in the morning, have you ever had an Italian beef sandwich dipped in au jus sauce or a French Dip roast beef sandwich? Soggy bread can be a spiritual experience!
Our second “bread” story is found in John 6, which comes on the heels of the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand, which featured fish and bread on the menu (there’s that protein/carb diet again!).
The people know a good thing when they see it (or eat it) so they go looking for Jesus again. They even go so far as to get in boats and sail across the Sea of Galilee looking for him. Full stomachs don’t stay full for long.
When they find Jesus, he quickly understands their motive for finding him, and says to them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” In other words, you are missing the point, which is bigger than your stomachs. He then tells them, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life.”
Those are nice words, but I imagine they fell on hollow ears with people who had hollow stomachs. We should never use this passage to tell hungry people, “All you really need is Jesus,” or “Man cannot live by bread alone.” That would be cruel.
Nevertheless, John’s Gospel is trying to prod us to think beyond our physical stomachs, to think about how we might nourish our spiritual stomachs. We are spiritual beings, which means that it is possible for us to focus on things other than our material and physical needs. John’s Jesus reflects our spiritual needs where he says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry” (or thirsty).
What we find in both the manna in the Exodus story and the “bread of life” in John’s Gospel is the notion that something needed is received unexpectedly. No one can claim that this is always true, and yet I don’t think many of us would be here today if our spiritual needs were not being met on some level.
Both stories have something else in common: soggy bread. We understand the sogginess of the manna in the book of Exodus, but where do we find soggy bread in John’s account?
The answer is: In Jesus himself. The late Marcus Borg refers to Jesus as a “God-intoxicated” person. This is Borg’s way of saying Jesus was “Spirit-filled.” Jesus, the bread of life, was soggy. He was drenched in the Spirit. He spent so much time swimming in the “living water” that he started to resemble a big prune (spiritually speaking of course).
Sogginess is a great metaphor for the God-soaked life. As Christians, we begin our journeys with a ritual bath called “baptism,” and although most of us are not fully immersed in the water, it does serve as a wonderful sign about life in the Spirit. As Christ followers we should be bathed in the waters of baptism, soaked in scripture, and saturated in the Spirit.
Maybe it’s time for the inauguration of a new Christian symbol: soggy bread. Reflect on these words:

Soggy bread is a symbol of God’s grace, dripping in unconditional love. Soggy bread represents the peace of God which spills over in terms of our ability to understand it. Soggy bread is served alongside the overflowing cup of goodness and mercy that follows us all the days of our lives. Soggy bread points to the justice that rolls down like waters—an ever-flowing stream of righteousness. Soggy bread is a picture of those who have been anointed—drenched in the spirit—to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of God’s favor. Soggy bread is a metaphor for the fullness of God, filled to overflowing, soaked to saturation. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community on 19th Ordinary Time, Aug. 9, 2015 by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

We started reading this long “bread of life” discourse
in Chapter 6 of John's Gospel the last week of July,
and we'll continue reading from it through the end of August.
Each piece of it is full of theology and spirituality for us to consider.
This week John puts words in Jesus' mouth to tell us
that we have to go through Jesus to get to God.
We can't get to God any other way.
Later, in Chapter 14, verse 6, John has Jesus saying it straight out,
“No one comes to the Father except through me.”
But we all know people who are not Christians
who are good people, following their conscience,
some of them followers of religions like Islam or Hinduism,
some of them following no religion at all.
If we believe the Gospel of John, they cannot get to God.
The German theologian Karl Rahner tried to solve the problem
with the notion of “anonymous Christianity.”
Here's how he put it:
"Anonymous Christianity means that a person
lives in the grace of God and attains salvation
outside of explicitly constituted Christianity…
Let us say, a Buddhist monk…
who, because he follows his conscience,
attains salvation and lives in the grace of God;
of him I must say that he is an anonymous Christian.”
The way Rahner sees it is that,
if he did not call this good Buddhist an “anonymous Christian,
he would have to say that there is a path to salvation
that has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.
But, Rahner writes, “I cannot do that.”
So he ends up defending the proposition that
“outside the Church there is no salvation.”
Not only is Jesus the only way to God in this theology,
but the Roman Catholic Jesus is the only way.
On the other hand, the Swiss theologian Hans Küng
has a problem with the idea of “anonymous Christians.”
He says, "It would be impossible to find anywhere in the world
a sincere Jew, Muslim, or atheist
who would not regard the assertion
that he is an 'anonymous Christian' as presumptuous."
Other theologians have called
Rahner's “anonymous Christian” notion
paternalistic and denigrating.
A look at history shows
how this kind of presumptive self-righteousness
has provided fuel for the slaughter of innocents—
the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisitions,
conquest of the Americas, the pogroms, the Holocaust.
Even though we know
that wars are mainly about power and money,
we also know that fanning the flames of religious hatred
has been used as a tactic, a weapon of war,
a way to fire up a population for political or cultural goals.
Globally we're very much aware of various followers of religions
who claim that their way is the only way.
We know about the Sunnis and the Shias.
We know about ISIL
and their massacre of both Christians and Muslims.
Here in the USA we notice some people
reacting with suspicion of people who are Muslims
or look like Middle Easterners.
Since 9/11 our own government's security forces
have practiced profiling, to the extent that
people are stopped, questioned, and detained
because they “look like” Muslims.
We have to read the scriptures carefully and with a loving heart,
so we will notice that, while John's Gospel
sows the seed for holy wars,
the other three canonical Gospels sow seeds of cooperation,
with Jesus teaching the exact opposite
of this passage from John.
Jesus' message is inclusive in Matthew, Mark, and Luke:
everyone can get to God;
you don't need a priest or a religious authority at all.
What this theological-scriptural discussion has to do with us
becomes clear when we look at our own community.
Some Christians continue to select and interpret scripture passages
in a way that condemns or excludes,
setting up excuses for them to discriminate
or, in the extreme, do harm to others.
Three years ago a man set fire to the mosque here
out of hatred for Muslims,
saying he was upset because Muslims are terrorists.
Some who purport to be Christians find grounds for hatred
on the basis of race, or gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Our scriptures can be read to call for much violence
or much love.
In every generation we are challenged to live
by the best and highest principles.
For today's Gospel passage,
we can embrace, as we did last week,
the “bread of life”
as John's way of expressing the impact
of Jesus' teaching and his inclusive table fellowship
on his followers.
We must be careful, though,
not to fall into taking literally the exclusion from Godliness
of people who find another path to God.
For us, Paul's advice to the Ephesians has a clear message,
echoing the best of our Christian tradition.
He says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.”
Put away bitterness and wrath and anger
and clamor and slander and malice.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted and forgiving.
Walk in love.”

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006


Monday, August 3, 2015

Sign Up Now for Retreat on Sophia Wisdom: Rediscovering the Feminine Face of the Divine, Led by Roman Catholic Women Priests: Mary Sue Barnett ARCWP and Debra Meyers, ARCWP at Transfiguration Spirituality Center, Cincinnati, May 13-15, 2016

Poem in response to Ordination of Barbara Billey ARCWP written by Suzanne Woitowich, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

I am the cloud
I am floating with the wind with my feet bare in the wet grass of the morning
my eyes dazzled by sunlight on the glimmering tips of leaves holding pools
and droplets in the eyes of flowers...
moved by the sound of God in the visions seen on the screen of my minds garden
moved by song, in the voices, in the smiling eyes seen in singing songs and chants
drumming drums and dancing dances-
In the chapel for the ordination of the first woman Catholic priest in our town.
What a momentous occasion with reverberations of hope
 in this morning of beginnings and letting go of endings-
to be a part of ---in unison with other grateful souls- dressed for the occasion.
You and I make the same note, but who is louder and who has the purest tone
the bass or the soprano, the alto or the tenor
the ego rears its ugly head of arrogance and is satisfied by the disruption!
Our need to compete --men and women-
Who is louder and who has the clearest tone,
reveals your fear and my fear and our vulnerabilities and sameness!
My desire for the soft note the reverent harmony is also your desire
I yearn for the awe that comes when brought to our knees in prayer-
an old sound that rattles in my heart breaking open in reverence.
The crack of tears that cry out from me to God
opening my heart of hearts just like yours,
erupting spontaneously with cascades of warm chills
that rattles cages long locked in chains of hurt against dangers,
the crust fragmenting now by trust in love and hope in justice
the earth of my heart quakes
and I let go momentarily in the moment
adoring the disarming- the laying bare of the clear ringing crystal bowl
the balanced note of equality rising to meet the day
my beating heart sings a song of celebration
clear and clean as the bell in the steeple of my church.
Can you hear the sound of the church bells ringing there?
The birds singing in the voices?
The waves washing through our minds in rhythmic breath?
carrying all the debris away away
healing the struggles of yesterday
clearing the way for the morrow
when women walk as Catholic priests!
The bass tenor alto and soprano brought into balanced harmony
and now our voices lighten as we listen to each other...
as we sing
I know when you are softening and when you rise
I hear your bass bravado
mixing with my soprano
sweet balance and harmony is heard and known
my voice lost in yours
dissolving into spirit
resolving the illusion of separation
resolving the illusion of our outward appearances
as men and women
the loudness of the masculine decreases to include the softness of the feminine
and the chorus repeats
All our hearts are heard by God
All our hearts are heard by God
and for today
Grace descends upon the one in our focus
The woman who receives the challenge and chalice
to stand alongside the men in robes
and minister in love and in confidence
with God's blessing...
and now with man's blessing... as well!!!

Poem 7/18/2015 by Suzanne Woitowich, a member of the choir
at Barbara Billey’s Ordination, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Member of the choir at Barbara Billey’s Ordination, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Sunday, August 2, 2015

In 1979 Sister Theresa Kane Invited Pope John Paul 11 to Open All Ministries to Women, In 2015 Women Priests Lead the Church in Inclusive, Egalitarian, Empowered Communities

Women Priests Co Presiders: Kathryn Shea, ARCWP, Sally Brochu, ARCWP, and Pastor Phil Garrison St. Andrew UCC
Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Liturgy on Aug. 1, 2015  at St. Andrew UCC in Sarasota Florida

Advocacy for women's equality existed before Kane gave her address at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. At the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) meeting in 1975, a resolution for women to be in all ministries passed almost unanimously, and two years later, the Sisters of Mercy of the Union endorsed a similar statement.
By the time Kane, as LCWR's president, welcomed the pope, she knew what she would say. Visible glints of support were present in the crowds that day; a group of sisters wore blue armbands to signify advocacy for women's ordination.

Bridget Mary Meehan:  I was there and witnessed Sister Theresa Kane's unforgettable address. The atmosphere was electric, filled with Spirit energy and anticipation. On that day, new hope for gender equality filled my soul  when I heard Sister Kane's prophetic words, and saw nuns wearing the blue armbands promoting women's ordination. Wow, talking about being outside my comfort zone, and challenged to move in a different direction than anything I had known as an IHM Sister.  Some of the nuns even stood on the pews to get a better view of the Pope as he processed in to the Shrine. 

"That's where I became alive," Kane said. "It has become a vision, a passion, a focus for my life, and a priority. My greeting was considered a commencement. It was not the end of my responsibilities. ... For me, it has been a lifelong journey."

Bridget Mary Meehan:  In 1979, I was on a leave of absence from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters in Philadelphia. My dear friend, Sister Regina Madonna, a nun also on leave of absence and I went early to the Shrine to secure seats, never dreaming of the seismic shift we were going to become part of as Sister Kane addressed the pontiff. 

As the spokeswoman for LCWR, Kane was also conscious of herself as "a voice in the desert," she said. "I needed to speak not just for women religious, but for all women. That particular moment was somewhat of an inclusive mindset that deepened solidarity."

Bridget Mary Meehan: On July 31, 2006, I was ordained a priest in the first U.S. ordination. When I returned to Florida, a group gathered with my Dad and me for house church liturgies. Our close-knit community grew and flourished and became known as Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community. Now we are a dynamic community with presiders that include married priests, women priests and  community members. Each week we celebrate liturgies where all are welcome to receive sacraments on Sat. at 4 PM at St. Andrew UCC.

When LCWR gave Kane the Outstanding Leadership Award in 2004, her speech at the ceremony mentioned what she calls the "colonizing spirit" -- the idea that as long as there is no gender equality, women, without meaning to, take a secondary role and fail to recognize their own power.

Bridget Mary Meehan: The Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is a holy shakeup! We are no longer asking for permission from the institutional church. We are leading the way, united with all the baptized as a companionship of empowerment.  

It is Kane's belief that until the church achieves radical equality, "we have a sacred responsibility as women to pursue this vision. We really can stand strong and stand firm and say gender equality is a gift from God. As martyrs of old, we're willing to die for it, but more importantly, I'm willing to live for it."...

Bridget Mary Meehan:While Pope Francis promotes an economy of inclusion, the entire church must promote a church of inclusion with the full equality of women in all areas of ministry including ordination.  Woman Spirit is rising up in love for justice now!

Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, (ARCWP) will ordain 3 women bishops on Sept. 24, 2015 in Pendle Hill to grow our movement. Communities are calling forth women as deacons and priests. We need more bishops to keep up with our growth. The primary mission of our bishops is to ordain women to serve inclusive Catholic Communities in a discipleship of equals. Our new bishops-elect are Olga Lucia Alvarez of Colombia, South America, Mary Collingwood of Hudson, Ohio, USA, Michele Birch Conery of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.  I am a bishop in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. I was ordained a bishop in 2009.