Sunday, January 31, 2016

HOMILY by Bridget Mary Meehan: Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests Ordination of 3 Priests in Orlando Area, Florida on January 30, 2016

ARCWP Ordination in Altamonte Florida on January 30, 2016

Today the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests rejoices as we ordain three women priests: Lorraine Sharpe Meyer, Renee (Ronnie) Dubignon, and Joan Throm. 
Lorraine Sharpe Meyer, Bridget Mary Meehan and Joan Trom celebrating liturgy

Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP
Bridget Mary Meehan ordains Ronnie Dubignon at Ordination 

Bridget Mary Meehan ordains Lorraine Sharpe Meyer
Bridget Mary Meehan ordains Joan Throm

Sheila Carey::Liturgical Dance to Ave Maria

Ronnie Dubignon, Lorraine Sharpe Meyer, and Joan Throm
As modern day apostles and midwives of grace, they will preside at liturgies in inclusive communities. They will be instruments of healing and justice-making, reflections of God's extravagant love for all. Like Mary Mother of Jesus, their lives loudly proclaim spiritual empowerment for the excluded and marginalized, including women in the Roman Catholic Church.

Left to right: Ronnie Dubignon, Lorraine Sharpe Meyer, Joan Thro
In her teen years, Lorraine Sharpe Meyer worked as a nurses' aide, caring mostly for poor and sometimes demented patients where she first experienced God's unbridled love for "the least of these." As a Daughter of Charity she continued to experience that love as it was given to people with leprosy and to the villagers in poor rural towns of Tennessee, Louisiana and Thailand. In the following years she found that love in people With AIDS, with dementia and even in other critters, the horses and dogs who needed help. "What I hope for as a Catholic priest," writes Lorraine "is to gather a community of equals of any and all faith traditions or no faith, around a eucharistic table and a eucharistic life, in which we are all open to the divine in the world that is gifted to us "

Renee Ronnie Dubignon ministers at the Spirit of Life Metropolitan Community Church in New Port Richey, Florida. The church members have a long history of serving the LGBTQI community. As a contemporary mystic, Ronnie Sees her ministry as a priest within a vibrant, inclusive community which incorporates contemplative prayer and spiritual development-through music, prayer and healing. Ronnie said: "We believe God is calling us to continue to be a place where all are welcome and to engage in spiritual connectedness with our creator as we move forward on our journey."

Joan Throm is a grief support minister in an independent living facility in Merritt Island Florida where she facilitates grief support groups for those who have suffered loss. Joan leads an ecumenical service every Sunday morning at Courtney Springs for those who are unable to attend a church of choice because they are too ill to travel, or are unable to drive. As a priest she plans to preside at a Catholic liturgy and minister to the spiritual needs of elders in this area.

Even though, scholars conclude that the story of the Visitation and Mary's prayer, the Magnificat was a later addition to Luke's Gospel, the deeper truth is that in Luke chapter 1 and 2 we meet our sister Mary, who shows us how to be a passionate mystic of God's boundless love, a courageous prophet for justice and a disciple, serving the needs of others.

In Luke's story we encounter Mary as a woman of faith, a real person with a loving heart, a listening ear and a helping hand who cares for her pregnant cousin, Elizabeth. Many of us, including our ordinands, have been care-givers to the older or younger generation. Like Mary, we live compassionate love every time we serve those in need.

In her prayer of praise, the Magnificat, divine love and joy flows from Mary's lips: "My soul rejoices in God." Here we meet a mystic, filled with the Spirit, who has first- hand experience of Holy Mystery as overflowing joy and abundant hospitality. The Holy One has done great things for her. The Holy One is doing great things for us.

Award-winning theologian Elizabeth Johnson shares that Mary's prayer, the Magnificat, proclaims God's liberating action as an extravagant feast where all are welcome: "God Protects the poor, noticing their tears, while challenging the comfortable and the proud to conversion, to genuine discipleship, even at the loss of their own comfort. The divine intent is not to take revenge and so create a new order of injustice but to build up a community of sisters and brothers marked by human dignity and mutual regard ... Imagine the world according to the defiant Mary's Magnificat, invites African writer Peter Daino, 'a heavenly banquet and all the children fed.' "(Elizabeth Johnson, Truly Our Sister , New York, Continuum, 2009, 269-271)

Like the prophets of old, Deborah, Hannah, Isaiah and Jeremiah, Mary is enflamed with divine love and passion for justice. Out of her mouth comes a holy shakeup that echoes through the centuries down to our times. No more domination, no more oppression!

So too, the international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is a holy shakeup, a prophetic movement for justice and equality today!

The laws and policies of the Vatican have a devastating impact on women's lives around the globe. One example is the interconnection between the Roman Catholic Church's prohibition of artificial birth control, overpopulation and environmental destruction in developing nations.

If the church discriminates against women and excludes them from serving at the altar and in decision making in the governance structures of the church, then a it perpetuates the abuse, rape and exploitation of women throughout the world.

Over two-thirds of the world's poor are marginalized women Who struggle to feed, house and clothe their children in desperate situations. Our sisters face pregnancy crises alone or with little support, sometimes in war torn areas, Often without a partner, without medical, housing or food. Our sisters need food, clean water, education, housing, medical care, the basic necessities of life.

Sexist beliefs and teachings that state that men are more like God than women are idolatry and violate the integrity of women as equal spiritual images of God. The current argument Vatican against women's ordination is rooted in the biased teaching that men resemble the image of Christ more than women. A priest must bear a physical resemblance to Jesus, Therefore, only men can be priests! Really !!

The bottom line is men are not superior and women are not inferior. Both women and men are created in God's image as spiritual equals. In Galations 3:28 we read that in Christ, there is neither male nor female, all are one. So, all ministries should be open to women, including priesthood, in an empowered community of equals and partners in the Gospel.

Jesus did not ordain anyone at the Last Supper. It was the women who were the faithful disciples at the cross and the first witnesses to encounter the Risen Christ. According to all four Gospels, Mary of Magdala was the only person present at both the cross and tomb. The Risen Christ appeared to Mary of Magdala first and called her to be the apostle to the apostles, to go and tell the good news of the resurrection.

The good news is that today our movement is working to develop a more inclusive church where all are welcome in grassroots faith communities. No one is excluded from reception of Sacraments including the divorced and remarried, LGBT, and all those who have been alienated or hurt by the institutional church.

In contrast to your local Catholic parish, in our liturgies, we often invite the community to share in dialogue homilies. I have often been inspired and challenged by the Spirit of God speaking through the people of God in my MMOJ local community in Sarasota. When was the last time you were asked your perspective on the Gospel at Mass?

In our liturgies, we invite everyone to pray the words of Jesus at the Consecration.

In our liturgies, we use a variety of images to refer to God that come from the Bible including masculine and feminine metaphors. For example, God is like a loving Father and a nurturing mother, but God is incomprehensible Mystery beyond all images.

In our liturgies, we invite everyone to receive Communion at the Banquet Table of God's love. Who ever heard of inviting people to a dinner party and refusing to serve them food? The word Catholic Irish writer James Joyce once said, means, "here comes everybody!"

Our international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement began in July 2002 When 7 women were ordained as priests on the Danube River. Our Holy Orders are valid because our first women bishops, Christine Mayr Were Lumetzberger and Gisela Forster were ordained by a male bishop with apostolic succession in the Roman Catholic Church.

Even though the Vatican tried everything to stop us including the penalty of automatic excommunication, we persisted and flourished.

Our movement spread to North America in 2005 with the ordination of nine women on the St. Lawrence River and in 2006 with the ordination of twelve women in Pittsburgh, PA.

In 2016 our international movement has grown to 215, in 13 Countries around the world.

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, one of two branches in the United States, ordained 25 in 2014 and 30 in 2015. There is no shortage of vocations. Women are being called and they are here with us today!

Like the suffragettes in the 20th century, the Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement in the 21 st century is paving the way toward women's equality in spite of the resistance of the hierarchy.

The Vatican's official position is that by our choice of ordination we have separated ourselves from the church. On the contrary, we are not leaving the church, we are leading the church !!

I have received so many excommunications from bishops that I lost count! They are badges of honor.

In my view, When Pope Benedict canonized two formerly excommunicated nuns, Mother Theodore Guerin and Mother Mary Mackillop, he made excommunication the new fast track to canonization!

On Dec. 8, 2015, Pope Francis formally swung open the holy door in St. Peter's Basilica, launching the Jubilee Year of Mercy. In His overall weekly audience in St. Peter's Square the next day, Francis warned that if the church forgets mercy , it would become slaves to the church's institutions and structures. He said:

"If we were to forget, even just for a moment, that mercy is 'that which God likes most,' every one of our labors would be useless because we would become slaves of our institutions and our structures, however renewed they might be, we would always be slaves.."

In this Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has a major opportunity to apologize to all who have suffered spiritual or physical violence at the hands of the institutional church. He can help free the institutional church (the Vatican and hierarchy) from the grip of domination, intimidation and cruel penalites, and extreme punishments like excommunications.

It is a sad reality that bishops have refused sacraments to Catholics who dissent from church teaching. Theologians have been fired for positions that contradict church teaching. Fr. Roy Bourgeois was forced out of Maryknoll, his religious order for His attendance at one of our women priests , Janice Sevre Duszynska's ordination.

I pray that Pope Francis affirms primacy of conscience for all Catholics and lifts all punishments including excommunication against women priests and our supporters. This action would honor the Spirit of God moving in diverse ways to birth a renewed church of partnership and empowerment in the 21 st century.

The heart of God is mercy, compassion and love. This is who we are and who the church must always be!

I believe that nothing will stop our movement for the full equality of women in the Roman Catholic Church because nothing is impossible with God. Like our sister Mary, mother of Jesus, we can do all things in the Living God Who is speaking, acting and loving through us!

Now we ordain our beloved Sisters. Lorraine, Ronnie and Joan. May they be mystics, prophets and presiders at sacramental liturgical celebrations that create a more compassionate and just church. Like Mary Mother of Jesus and Elizabeth, may they be midwives of grace bringing new life to our church in Florida and beyond.

Bridget Mary Meehan, D. Min., For Sister Christian Community, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 31, 2006. She was ordained a bishop on April 19, 2009. Currently Dr. Meehan is Dean of the Doctor of Ministry Program for Global Ministries University, and is the author of 20 books, Including Living Gospel Equality Now: Loving in the Heart of God, The Healing Power of Prayer and Praying with Women of the Bible . She preside at liturgies in Mary, Mother of Jesus even Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida. Dr. Meehan Can Be Reached at and

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