Saturday, September 7, 2019

Homily - Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) Ordination of Julie Corron and Denise Hackert-Stoner as Deacons on Sept. 7, 2019 in Albany, New York

Ordination of Julie Corron as deacon on right and Denise Hackert-Stoner as deacon on left, Albany, New York

Bridget Mary: Today we rejoice as we celebrate the ordination of Julie Corron and Denise Hackert- Stoner as deacons in the Upper Room Community in Albany, New York. This is our 8th ordination here in this sanctuary with 10 ordained members in the Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Communiy!

Even though the ordination of women was one of the things that Julie found most exciting when she was introduced to the Upper Room, she did not immediately feel called herself. It took a trip to the Holy Land, walking where Jesus walked and connecting to his message of love in a new and deeper way, for her to hear the call. She steps forward today in prophetic obedience to the Spirit’s call to live gospel equality in all areas of our lives, including all ministries of the Roman Catholic Church. Julie doesn’t consider herself much of an activist but she fervently agrees with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” That’s why, as members of the baptized in a discipleship of equals, ARCWP serves God’s people in ordained ministry in communities of faith like the Upper Room, leading the way toward a new paradigm of inclusivity and partnership today.

As a nature photographer, who enjoys extreme closeup, the picturing of small things, Denise is accustomed to looking at the world in detail.  Butterfly wings, Dragonfly faces, Hoverflies—the tiny stitches in the quilt of creation get her attention.  "So it was quite surprising to her that her call came large, in a loving, human voice that simply asked if she felt called to walk the road to priesthood. After a brief period of resistance, Denise took the first steps, and has not looked back.  

In our second reading St. Paul in Romans 16 commends deacon Phoebe and greets prominent woman apostle Junia as well as a list of women ecclesial leaders including, Julia. Women leaders like Phoebe, were not assistants to the apostles, but rather were apostles, missionaries and leaders of communities equal to and independent of Paul.  

Contemporary scholarship today reveals a treasure trove of evidence of women in inclusive church ministry.  Ally Kateusz, in her new book, Mary and the Early Christian Women: Hidden Leadership offers a long list of women apostles, baptizers and preachers. From the beginning of the Jesus movement texts and images show women functioning as priests and bishops. For example, two ancient artifacts depict women and men at an altar table presiding at a gender parallel liturgy inside Old Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome and Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.  

The bottom line is that women did what men did in the early church even though this evidence has been hidden through centuries of censorship. Today we are reclaiming the original spirit of the followers of Jesus as we live inclusivity and partnership in a community of beloved disciples!

Julie’s reflection:
In the gospel, Jesus prays for those he is sending out into the world, “Protect those whom you have given me—Consecrate them….” Today Denise and I officially join that group. And while I can’t speak for Denise, I for one am very glad of the prayers. And yet you don’t need to be ordained to share the message of Jesus with the world, the message of love, the message of peace, the message of justice. That’s one of the first things I learned from the Upper Room community, that we are all consecrated, we are all holy, we are all tasked with carrying Jesus’ message. This life of faith in the world is not a spectator sport. 

How each of us carries that message is as unique as we are. Whether you distribute lawn signs welcoming immigrants; feed the hungry; or sit with those who are learning to hear the still, small voice within, you are all messengers of Jesus’ love. You are the Face of God. And I am so very blessed to know you and witness your good works in the world.

Denise’s Reflection:
In today’s first reading, Mary Oliver asks “Who made the world?” and opens a winding, grassy, meadow trail that eventually leads to the Divine.  The only required skill for following that trail is the ability to pay attention, to really look at things, to take them in, and to see the Holy in them.

In his book “The Universal Christ,” Franciscan theologian Richard Rohr says, “God loves things by becoming them.”  In these six words, he opens our eyes to the Holy all around us. The people we meet, the ones we will never meet.  The grizzly bear lumbering its way through the tundra, the hummingbird sipping nectar in the garden.  The earth beneath our feet today, the cosmos spinning out of the past into the future.  We are all of us at our core, sprung from Divinity. 
The Holy One is here.  The Kin-dom is now.  This is the good news.  The grasshopper eating sugar out of the poet’s hand may or may not have realized it, but she was a full participant.  The first-century Rabbi named Jesus did realize it, and used up every drop of his wild and precious life proclaiming it. 

Bridget Mary Meehan: Let us rejoice that we are recreating a more open, vibrant and  inclusive Roman Catholic Church in Albany, New York as we ordain Julie and Denise women deacons called to serve the community of faith here. Walking with Phoebe and the thousands of women deacons who have gone before us, we proclaim the kindom is now right before our eyes as  justice flows like a river and we rise up to live Gospel equality. Amen Alleluia!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Catholics Demonstrate Against ICE and Immigration Policies in Newark, New Jersey- Our Experience by Janice Sevre Duszynska ARCWP and Max Obuszewski

Max Obuszewski and Janice Sevre Duszynska ARCWP 

On the evening of September 3, we left Baltimore, a city with major problems, to travel to Newark, New Jersey.  As we tried to find our hotel, it became obvious that this city on the outskirts of New York City also had major problems.  It seemed  appropriate to stay in a ramshackle hotel across from the Newark Airport.

  The next morning, we found St. Mary's Roman Catholic Newark Abbey Church where several hundred people, mostly Catholic, including nuns and priests, gathered for a prayer service. It was an Old World church rebuilt by immigrants after the original structure was torched by the American Protestant Association Lodge of New Jersey in 1854.  Originally, it was there for German immigrants, and then Irish immigrants made it a mixed community. Today, many of the parishioners came from Africa.

 It was appropriate to start a rally and march at a welcoming place of worship.  During the prayer service, we learned the history of this parish and found out that so many prominent people in the past, including Benjamin Franklin, were virulently anti-immigrant.  Abe Lincoln, though, respected immigrants. One point made seemed humorous today, such as a German-American marrying a Polish-American. We heard from religious leaders who spoke about Jesus the Immigrant. Some of the speakers had worked with the poor in Central America, and addressed our government’s complicity in supporting death-squad governments there. They made clear that the roots of violence to the indigenous and their homelands was US capitalism and militarism. As such, the people of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are seeking asylum from these countries which are victims U.S. military and corporate intervention. 

  Cardinal Joseph Tobin was introduced, and to our surprise, he was sitting in back of us. Janice turned to acknowledge him, and he responded with a smile.  Possibly, he remembered some previous encounters which took place in Baltimore during the annual US Bishops Conference. Some years ago, Janice and Bishop Tobin had conversed during a bread and soup dinner in the basement of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.  And more recently, he called out Janice’s name as he entered St. Peter Claver Catholic Church to participate in a gathering Mass for the bishops. We were there to urge the church to end its history of sexism by allowing women to become part of the clergy.  The church is in a very poor part of Baltimore, and Philip Berrigan was an associate pastor there in the 1960s. 

 As we left the church, by happenstance, we were first in line right behind a memorial display of immigrants who died trying to reach the promised land. 

It was wonderful to see other resisters we knew from New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C. Some four hundred of us arrived at the federal building on Broad Street for a protest and a litany of speakers who detailed the history of resistance to the federal government’s anti-immigrant fervor.  This part of the day’s events was a bit too long as there was no shade from a very hot sun, and many of the participants were elderly.  There were two highlights, however, to the program.  

  The first was an impromptu address by a Hispanic woman with three grandchildren.  The mother of the children was inside the federal building being prepared for deportation.

  The second was the closing speaker Joseph Tobin, Newark’s archbishop, who admonished our government for its inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. He ended his comments with “End the inhumanity.” We chanted this refrain several times.

  Finally, some fifty of us who were risking arrest spread across Broad Street, and soon thereafter the police closed off traffic to the area. Five of the protesters laid down on the street in the form of a cross.  A passerby asked why they formed a cross, and we explained that Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross.  Later Janice replaced one those on the ground.

A small group of musicians on the sidewalk began with AMAZING GRACE, and we all joined in the singing.  Another song we really dug into was THIS LAND IS MY LAND.  The sidewalk troubadours sprinkled among Woody Guthrie’s lyrics some new lines.  We loved hearing that the Kings Bay Plowshares were part of this land.

Though the police lined up five buses to whisk us away after the arrests, it became apparent that there was no interest in taking us into custody.  So the protest against ICE and the government’s mistreatment of immigrants, including the separation of children from parents, morphed into a festival on the street.  After about an hour of negotiations, it was decided to declare victory and end with a closing circle.  As one police officer said, “Newark is a Sanctuary City, and you made your point.”  Another officer remarked that our demonstration was all over the news.

  Six of the protesters volunteered to be arrested, and they were soon released with tickets. Charges were dismissed after our July 18 protest in Washington, D.C.  In the second phase of this Catholic-organized resistance to government mistreatment of migrants on the Southern Border, the police probably recognized how ridiculous it would be to arrest people on the right side of the law.  Phase Three will take place in El Paso in October.  It is a blessing that so many good people are moved to say no to inhumanity directed at the poorest of the poor and the voiceless.

   As we said our good-byes to the other resisters, we felt some fulfillment in our meager attempt at challenging our government’s inhumane practices.  We also noted in our decades of protesting injustice, this was the first time a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church joined us.  

Janice Sevre-Duszynska ARCWP and Max Obuszewski

Cardinal Tobin leads Protest of U.S Detention Of Children At Border

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY — Over 400 participants — priests, nuns, activists, students and laypeople — on Sept 4 in Newark, New Jersey, protested the "inhumane treatment" and detention of children and families at immigration centers across the country. Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark led hundreds of Catholics in a demonstration against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Federal Building in Newark as the crowd chanted, "Stop the inhumanity."

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Marie Collins -Irish Advocate for Justice and Accountability in the Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Roman Catholic Church to Speak in 5 Cities in U.S. , Sponsored by Women's Ordination Conference

Marie Collins, one of the foremost advocates for justice for survivors of clergy sexual abuse and accountability in the Roman Catholic Church, will speak in 5 U.S. cities from September 10-20, 2019, stopping in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans, and Los Angeles.

Collins, a survivor of clergy abuse as a child in Dublin, Ireland, and former member of the Vatican's Commission on the Protection of Minors, will offer her unique diagnosis of the Catholic Church's culture of abuse and cover-up and concrete actions Catholics can take to demand reform. These events are free.

September 10: Baltimore,, First Unitarian Church of 
Baltimore, 1 W Franklin St. 

September 12: Philadelphia, PA, 6:30 p.m., Commonwealth 
Chateau at SugarLoaf, 9220 Germantown Avenue
See flyer for more info (PDF)
September 14: Chicago, IL, 7 p.m., First United Church of 
Oak Park, 848 Lake St, Oak Park

September 17: New Orleans, LA, Community Church UU, 6690 
Fleur De Lis Dr, New Orleans, LA 70124 - 
with Jason Berry; 6:30 p.m.

September 20: Los Angeles, CA, 6:30 p.m., IMAM 
Cultural Center, 3376 Motor Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

Find more information at

Marie Collins is a woman of immense integrity and courage; her relentless pursuit for safety and institutional reforms challenges not only clerics at the Vatican, including Pope Francis, but all Catholics to demand civil and spiritual justice. Her voice needs to be heard now more than ever.

Media Release: Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests Calls for Compassion and Justice for Migrant Children Suffering from Inhumane and Cruel Treatment

Janice Sevre Duszynska ARCWP

Bridget Mary Meehan: ARCWP, 

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) calls for adequate food, water, shelter for all migrant children and for immediate reunification with their families as a humanitarian act of compassion and justice. We oppose all acts of violence and cruelty against our sisters and brothers detained at  U.S. detention camps where children sleep in cold cells and are separated from their loving parents. A  child held in one of these facilities is reported to have said: "I cannot feel my heart."   

People throughout our country are challenging the failure of our present U.S. policy on immigration that separates children from their parents and incarcerates them in horrific conditions. "Bleak scenes of tearful, malnourished children reeking of filth and jammed into frigid, overcrowded quarters have emerged in new accounts from immigrant rights lawyers, who conducted dozens of interviews with children inside Border Patrol stations across Texas."

ARCWP follows the inclusive teachings of Jesus that "whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do to me."We stand with  all those who are working tirelessly to end this crisis. We will not be silent. 

Janice Sevre Duszynska ARCWP at Demonstration for  Compassionate Care of Migrant Children in Detention Camps ( Sept.4, 2019, Newark, NJ)

Lean in Toward the Light by Carrie Newcomer

"I believe longing toward something that as sacred and whole is part of the human condition. To lean into the light and into hope is not about wishful or positive thinking. Hope is about doing the heart opening and gritty daily work of getting up each morning and trying again (each in our own way) to make the world just a little kinder place. To be cynical is so easy. When you are cynical, you are never disappointed. But when you choose to hope, to take the risk that eventually your heart will be broken- and then to get up the next morning and try again. Hope is the conscious choice to live leaning into something of reason and light." Carrie Newcomer

The Gathering of Spirits by Carrie Newcomer

The Gathering of Spirits- Opening

The Gathering of Spirits 
by Carrie Newcomber
Let it go my love my truest, 
Let it sail on silver wings
Life's a twinkling that's for certain, 
But it's such a fine thing
There's a gathering of spirits 
There's a festival of friends
And we'll take up where we left off
When we all meet again.
I can't explain it. 
I couldn't if I tried
How the only things we carry 
Are the things we hold inside
Like a day in the open,
Like the love we won't forget
Like the laughter that we started
And it hasn't died down yet
Let it go my love my truest, 
Let it sail on silver wings
Life's a twinkling that's for certain, 
But it's such a fine thing
There's a gathering of spirits 
There's a festival of friends
And we'll take up where we left off
When we all meet again.
Oh yeah, now didn't we
And don't we make it shine
Aren't we standing in the center of 
Something rare and fine
Some glow like embers
Like a light through colored glass
Some give it all in one great flame
Throwing kisses as they pass
Let it go my love my truest, 
Let it sail on silver wings
Life's a twinkling that's for certain, 
But it's such a fine thing
There's a gathering of spirits 
There's a festival of friends
And we'll take up where we left off
When we all meet again.
Just east of Eden
But there's heaven in our midst
And we're never really all that far
From those we love and miss
Wade out in the water
There's a glory all around 
And the wisest say there's a 1000 ways 
To kneel and kiss the ground
Let it go my love my truest, 
Let it sail on silver wings
Life's a twinkling that's for certain, 
But it's such a fine thing
There's a gathering of spirits 
There's a festival of friends
And we'll take up where we left off
When we all meet again.
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Carrie Ann Newcomer