Friday, August 6, 2021

CELEBRATION OF LIFE FOR SALLY ANN BROCHU, ARCWP, Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community, St. Andrew’s Church, Sarasota, Florida, AUGUST 7, 2021, 4:00 PM

Janet Blakeley ARCWP holding cup, Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, Michael Rigdon: co-presiders at Sally Brochu ARCWP Celebration of Life at St. Andrew UCC, Aug. 7, 2021

Sally Brochu ARCWP

ARCWP's Zoom Meeting Link: 4:00 PM, August 7.

Meeting ID: 820 3721 8868

Passcode: 112349

Call in:  +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)

Music beginning at 3:45 

Prelude: Morning Has Broken, David Phillips

Welcome: Bridget Mary 

Gathering Song: On Eagle’s Wings, John Michael Talbot

Opening Prayer

Bridget Mary:

Holy One, we gather today to celebrate Sally’s life. We are grateful for her joy, her smile and deep faith. She called us to be faithful followers of Jesus, our brother as a spiritual leader and priest serving our Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community.  She led us by her example; as she lived justly, loved tenderly, and walked humbly with our God. We rejoice now that Sally continues to be present to us in the Communion of the Saints, accompanying us on our journey to the fullness of love in the Holy One’s embrace.   And to this we say: 

ALL:  Amen and Alleluia! 


ALL:  Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth.  Creator God, heart of the universe, we thank you for the breath of the Spirit at work in everything that exists, everywhere in this ever-expanding cosmos.  Jesus, you have taught us, by your example, how to love, forgive and heal one another. Your grace strengthens us each day to live as the presence of Christ in our world.  For this, we give thanks and rejoice. 

Liturgy of the Word

Mary Al Gagnon

First Reading:  from The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr

READER:  MaryAl Gagnon

Our first reading is taken from a meditation by Richard Rohr.   It reflects Sally’s firm belief that something of the Creator God lives within every particle of creation, and that all of creation – every thing, every person – is loved by God in every way.

Reading by Richard Rohr:

God is a mirror big enough to receive everything, and every single part of you, just as it is, rejecting nothing, adjusting nothing, often for the sake of an even deeper love.  We will experience a kind of Universal Forgiveness, a Divine Sympathy for all of Reality.  ….. Whatever is fully received in the Mirror is by that very fact “redeemed.”  And all is received whether we believe it or not….

If your Divine Mirror cannot fully receive you in this way, then it is certainly not God.  Remember that regret profits nobody.  Shame is useless.  Blame is surely a waste of time.  All hatred is a diversionary tactic, a dead end.  God always sees and loves God in you.  It seems like God has no choice: This is God’s eternal and unilateral contract with the soul.  If you cannot allow yourself to be fully mirrored in this way, you will never fully know who you are, much less enjoy who you are.  Nor will you know the heart of God.

These are the inspired words of Richard Rohr and we affirm them by saying

ALL: Amen

Responsorial Psalm 139:  Oh God, You Search Me, Bernadette Farrell

O God, You search me and you know me

All my thoughts lie open to your gaze.

When I walk or lie down you are before me:

Ever the maker and keeper of my days. 

You know my resting and my rising.

You discern my purpose from afar,

And with love everlasting you besiege me:

In er-‘ry moment of life or death, you are.

Before a word is on my tongue, Lord

You have known its meaning through and through.

You are with me beyond my understanding; 

God of my present, my past and future, too. 

Although your spirit is upon me, 

Still I search for shelter from your light. 

There is no where on earth I can escape you:

Even darkness is radiant in your sight. 

For you created me and shaped me,

Gave me life with-in my mother’s womb. 

For the wonder of who I am, I praise you:

Safe in your hands, all creation is made new. 

ALL:  Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

                         Holding Gospel Book: Elena Garcia ARCWP

GOSPEL:  John 14:1-2

READER:  Anna Davis


As Jesus approached Jerusalem, his followers became more and more agitated and afraid for him.  He reassured them with these words.

Anna Davis

A reading from the Gospel of John, chapter 14.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, still, and trust in me.  There are many rooms in my Father’s house; if there were not, I should have told you.  I am going now to prepare you a place, so that where I am you may be too. 

(trans. Jerusalem Bible)     

These are the inspired words found in the Gospel of John and we affirm them by saying:  ALL: Amen and Alleluia!

Homily:  Janet Blakeley

Janet Blakeley ARCWP

This Gospel reading was the only one Sally requested.   It is reassuring to hear  Jesus say there are many rooms in his Father’s house – presumably for everybody – and that He goes before us to prepare a place.    

Sally may or may not have read those lines.   I know for sure,  however, that she read the first three lines and from then on lived her life according to them.   This is how I know.

Sally and I met nearly thirty years ago at graduate school in Boston.  We were middle aged women ready to change direction, to have a new focus.   We began sharing rides and leftovers for dinner, studying together and taking long walks on the beach.   There we found that the thing we both valued most in a friendship was honesty, and that the foundation of our lives was God.     

Sally was the first to become aware that we were falling in love.   She had the advantage of being in therapy then, but I was oblivious!   When she risked everything to ask me if I thought we could ever be more than friends, I was simply stunned and incapable of answering.   After 24 hours, all I could say was “I only know that I don’t want any relationship that will take me away from God.”   To which she replied, “well OF COURSE!”    She returned to therapy, and I went home and cried for 10 days.   I was experiencing an inner upheaval, and – honestly – didn’t understand what it was all about.  

At last a dear friend suggested it might be time to look at John 14 – the Gospel we’ve just read.   First line: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”    That Jesus cared that our hearts were troubled was deeply comforting.   “Trust in God, still, and trust in me.”   I interpreted that as “You’re wasting your time trying to figure this out in your head.   Turn to me!”    “There are many rooms in my Father’s house.”   That was the clincher.   Suddenly all the upset was clear.   Of course the obvious issue was acknowledging that I was looking at loving a woman, and that made me look at how much abuse might be coming my way because of that.   But more than that, I looked inside and asked myself, “Well - who are you then?   Not the person you have thought yourself to be for the last 50 years!”   but I was not yet willing to ask God about that.   Family, society, and Church all taught that this wasn’t even something you would ask God.   It was off limits.   But here it was, and Jesus was saying “there are many rooms in my Father’s house.”   Room for me.   Room for Sally and me.   Room to be who we were.   Sally had been talking to God all along, but was glad to hear me say I did believe that God welcomed us as we were.   

From then on, this friendship became a love story.   Having tasted the generosity of God, however, we understood that if God has room, we too must make room - room for everybody – and that was the beginning of the way we tried to live our lives together.    


God’s generosity becomes complete when we exercise it, so we began by inviting  lots of friends for dinner.   That was all very pleasant, but seemed to be not asking much of ourselves.   At a deeper level, we became conscious of making more room in our hearts, especially in our ministries of hospital chaplaincy and spiritual direction.   We focused our listening – really listening – to voices needing to be heard.   With that, the ministries seeped into our home as neighbors came just to chat and ended up sharing heartaches.    

All this was easier for me than for Sally.   I was an extrovert and accustomed to being around lots of people.   Sally was an introvert and accustomed to living her life within herself, keeping her own counsel, and living in quiet.   She welcomed people and truly gave them her heart, but often it exhausted her, and she would crave aloneness.   Once she said “I have  been talking all day long, and it feels as if all my words are spilled all over the table!   I wish it could gather them up and put them back inside me!”   That graphic image shows just how much of an effort this “making room for others” demanded of her.  As we grew older, it demanded much from both of us, even though we were happiest opening ourselves to this kind of “hospitality of the heart”.   Years later, the restrictions of Covid almost seemed like a blessing.   There were fewer opportunities to interact with others, and our open house quieted down, as it did for everyone.   Covid also gave us a year in which to listen to each other and to discover our hearts expanding even more to know and accept the person we loved most of all. 

In the relative quiet of the last year or so, we came to know that having many rooms meant not just for people but for everything.   It meant embracing what is, even that which – at face value – seems unwelcome.   I can’t count the many times one of us would say “How will I ever live without you?”   But that day came, and we live.         

One of the highlights of Sally’s life was reaching her 80th birthday.   Her granddaughter, Missy, arranged a surprise birthday party on Zoom that Sally thought topped everything!   There were all of her children and their spouses, grandchildren, and GREAT grandchildren plus her additional grandchildren (those we had raised) and their partners and children – all mixed up together on the screen and all smiling and wishing her a happy birthday!   For some time, Sally simply stared in amazement.   Afterwards, she marveled that we had started out as a couple and ended up with a diverse family of more than thirty people!   To paraphrase Jesus, God’s love is like a mustard seed.   It starts out small but grows to become a bush.   In this case, it became a huge tree!    All because of making room.

Sally’s passing came much sooner than anticipated, but many members of the family dropped whatever they were doing  to come and say goodbye.   She was thrilled to see the newest babies, and waited until the last person arrived safely, before beginning her process of passing from this way of living life to the next.   She was present to all of us through that process, even laughing at the 10 month-old grandson as he started babbling loudly, and taking time to reassure grandchildren that dying is not scary!   For her it was not.   She had lived her life as an open book before God, she knew and trusted that God, and had no fear whatsoever.    We did see that, for her, death was hard work.   But when she breathed her last breath, all the effort and strain flowed out of her face until she was peaceful and beautiful again.   Then she began to glow with a light from within.   It was wondrous!   

I could not let things proceed as it seems they usually do: People appear from the funeral home and remove “the body.”   But this wasn’t just “a body.”   It was Sally’s body which we had just seen accomplish a great work, and it was now radiantly beautiful.   More than that, something of her still hovered around that space.   So we kept her body overnight, the older children came to hold her hand and tell her a few more things,  they kissed her on the forehead as she had kissed them goodnight as children.   It was peaceful and seemingly very right.   The next day we let her body leave us.    A week later we viewed a body that was hers - but clearly - she was no longer associated with it.   With that, we could allow her to be cremated and we will bury her ashes today.

I hope your memories of her are like mine: open welcoming arms, radiant face, and a smile that says “Welcome home!”


Usually, after the homily, we listen to reflections on the Gospel or the Homily from members of the community.  Today a reflection will be made by Sally’s nephew, Louis Gervais.*  Louis will dance his composition about unconditional love entitled “My Sister Sally.” 

Response to Homily:  Louis Gervais dances and narrates “My Sister Sally.”

Louie Gervais dances and narrates "My Sister Sally"

*Louis Gervais grew up in Lewiston, ME.  Currently, living in Dallas, TX.    He has had a rich career in performing, teaching, and composing dance, and has explored many other aspects of the arts as well.  Of Sally he wrote, “As a kid I always marveled at how joyful she was.  And how much she laughed!  An adult who laughed!   I remember as a kid wanting her to be my mom…”  

Statement of Faith

ALL: We believe that we live and move and have our being in Holy Mystery – Infinite Love – beyond all imagination.  

We believe that through his teachings and example, Jesus of Nazareth carried the message of Divine Compassion to the world.  Jesus welcomed everyone to share meals with him including the sick and needy, women, and other marginalized peoples of his times. 

We believe that the Spirit connects us with each other and energizes us to be the hands and feet of Christ in loving service to everyone we meet. 

Prayers of Community


Let us bring the needs of our friends and family members to our Loving God.  

After each prayer, all respond:  Loving God you hear us.

For comfort and peace for Janet, Sally’s daughter Gail, and sons Michael and Brian, her grandchildren, great grandchildren, for all Sally’s friends and our MMOJ Community, we pray.

ALL:  Loving God, you hear us.

For healing and strength for the sick and all those in our MMOJ Community who have asked for prayers,

ALL:  Loving God, you hear us.

For justice and equality for all people especially those who are on the margins of Church and society,

ALL:  Loving God, you hear us.

For the growth of the women priest movement and blessings on our Mary Mother of Jesus Community,

ALL:  Loving God, you hear us.

For whomever and what else shall we pray…..

Holy One, we trust that your infinite love is with us and with our loved ones every day. We give thanks for our sister Sally who reflected Christ’s joyful presence in our world.  

ALL:  Amen


Offering of the Gifts

Janet Blakeley ARCWP, Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, Michael Rigdon

Bridget Mary:  (lifting the bread) 

Blessed are You, God of all creation. Through Your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made.  It will become for us the bread of life.

ALL:  Blessed be God forever.

Janet:    (lifting the wine) 

Blessed are You, God of all creation. Through Your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.

ALL:   Blessed be God forever.

Eucharistic Prayer

Michael:  Our God is with you.

ALL:  And also with you. 

Michael: Lift up your hearts.

ALL: We lift them up to our God.

Michael: Let us give thanks to our loving God.

ALL: It is right to give God thanks and praise.

Janet:  You express yourself in human life and through us you sing and dance, speak and write, love and create.  In this we never cease to hope, and for this we always thank and praise You.  We join with the saints of all times and places as they sing forever to Your glory: 

ALL: Holy, Holy, Holy One, God of Justice, God of Light,

All of Creation is filled with your glory.

Hosanna in the Highest.

Blessed are we who come in Your Holy Name. 

Hosanna in the highest, hosanna in the highest.

Elena:  Loving God, we live and move and have our being in You. We give thanks for those throughout history who have affirmed your loving presence and moved your people to give witness.  They have witnessed to your presence in lives characterized by love, compassion, generosity and forgiveness.

Jack D:  We thank you for Jesus, who loved so greatly, taught so clearly, and proclaimed so courageously.  He set people free from images, ideas and religious practices that bound them in fear and a false sense of separation from you. Through Jesus, we know our loving actions become a share in your life.  In Jesus, we see your Spirit challenging us to make your presence more visible on earth.

Bridget Mary: (addressing the assembly) 

It is the whole Church, the people of God who celebrate Eucharist. I invite you to extend your hands over the bread and wine and pray the words of consecration with me:

ALL: Loving God, intensify the presence of Your Spirit in these our gifts, as they, and we, become the Body and Blood of Jesus the Christ for our wholeness and the wholeness of all creation.  


ALL:  We remember that on the night before he died, while at supper with his friends, Jesus took the Bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying: Take and eat, this is my body. 

(Bridget Mary holds plate)

ALL:  When supper was ended, Jesus took the cup of wine, spoke the blessing and offered it to them saying: Take and drink of the covenant made new again through my life in you. Do this in memory of me.

(Janet holds cup)


Mary Al:  Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.

ALL:  Nurtured by your Word, nourished by your food, called anew to be your people, we acclaim your praise.

Mary Al:  You fill us with Your Spirit in the sharing of this meal. Your Spirit makes us a sign of unity, a model of equality and instruments of Your peace. Inspire our leaders, both religious and political, so that they act without fear to bring your justice. May they become peacemakers who transform your church and society so that all living beings and our planet may thrive.

Kathryn:  You have gathered us around this table in friendship, with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the apostles, and the entire Communion of Saints especially our dear Sally. You bless all who have gone before us and bring them into the lasting joy and peace of your presence.


Lee:  You gather together women, men and children of every race, language, religion and way of life to share in your one, eternal banquet.  In your presence, we give you glory with all creation and with Jesus through whom your goodness flows.


(Presiders hold up the bread and wine.)

ALL: Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, may all glory and honor be Yours, all-loving God, forever and ever. 

ALL: Amen

Bridget Mary: Let us pray together as Jesus taught us:

Our Father and Mother….

Sign of Peace

Janet: The peace of Christ be with you always.

ALL: And also with you. 

As we share our joy, let us share God’s abundant peace. Please share a sign of peace.


Mary and Jack:  Please join in praying the prayer for the breaking of the bread:

Loving God, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. 

ALL: We will live justly.   

Loving God, You call us to be Your presence in the world.  

ALL: We will love tenderly. 

Loving God, You call us to speak truth to power.  

ALL: We will walk with integrity. 

(Presiders hold up the bread and wine.)

Michael: This is the Bread of Life and the Cup of Blessing.  How blessed are we who are called to this table.

ALL: Jesus, you affirm our worthiness and with your love, we will help heal the world. 

Communion Song:  Gift of Finest Wheat, Cathedral Singers and Richard Proulx

Janet offering Communion to Family

Prayer After Communion

Bridget Mary:  Let us pray.  Loving God, You renew us with spiritual nourishment in this bread and wine as we gather in love today for the celebration of life for Sally. We ask you to comfort us and help us comfort one another with the awareness that Sally is one with us, the newest member, in our MMOJ Communion of Saints. In the thin place where earth and heaven kiss, we can see Sally smile and bless us.  We pray this prayer in the name of Jesus, our brother.    ALL:  Amen.


Bridget Mary:  Please stand and extend your hands in blessing.

Loving God, in this moment, You draw us to you and make us aware, not so much of what we've given but of all that we have received and have to share.

ALL: Amen.

Janet:  You bless us as we move Sally’s earthly remains to our Memorial Garden where our beloved sisters and brothers, Carol Ann, Imogene, Bob MacMillan and Ford are interred.  We give thanks that they are part of our MMOJ Communion of Saints who remain close to us each day, always ready to help us when we call their name. 

ALL: Amen.  Alleluia. 

RECESSIONAL:  Blest Be The Lord, Dan Shutte

Procession to Memorial Garden

Sally's daughter and son, Gail and Michael procession out of Church with Sally's Ashes

Bridget Mary, Janet, Michael and Community praying at Interment in Memorial Garden, St. Andrew UCC, Sarasota

Sally's daughter and son, Gail and Michael holding Ashes, Bridget Mary blessing Ashes before interment in  St. Andrew Memorial Garden

Gail , with brother Michael by her side, placing Sally's Ashes in the Memorial Garden, St. Andrew UCC

Gail and Michael embrace