Translate

Friday, June 17, 2022

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy, MMOJ Community Presiding, Readers: Jim Brandi & Suzanne Bires, Music by Linda Lee Miller, IT by Cheryl Brandi, June 18, 2022

Zoom link for video - 4:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81534075389?pwd=TTdGY2NxS3AzTW13ODJESkdYME9aUT09

 

Meeting ID: 815 3407 5389

Passcode: 803326

(Note -- if you have a problem with the above link, open your ZOOM app and insert the Meeting ID number and Passcode)



 

Welcome! Michael. We warmly welcome you to the inclusive Catholic community of Mary Mother of Jesus in Sarasota, Florida. All are welcome here.


Theme: The body of Christ on the table, 

The body of Christ at the table,

 The body of Christ around the table.


We celebrate together ✝️ in the name of God our creator, Jesus the Christ, and the Spirit our wisdom within. Amen. 

Please welcome each other with a sign of Christ’s peace:

☮️ Namaste! The peace of Christ be with us! ☮️ 


Gathering 🎶 (Intro-Mike) Everyday God:



https://youtu.be/F1oNP4vaW_c
(4:48)


Reconciliation Rite. Voice1 & All: 

We pause now to remember times when messages of our unworthiness have clouded our vision of the infinite love within us. Let us imagine our imperfections, the chaos and messes of our lives, all brightly lit by a love that heals and transforms us as we evolve and grow in awareness of our divinity and our humanity. 

(Pause for several moments. Then extend arm over your heart.) 

All: I’m sorry. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you. 


Opening Prayer. Voice2 & All: 

Spirit of the Holy One, we gratefully acknowledge your presence among us and within us. You have transformed us into the one Body of Christ, making us the face of Christ’s love in the world. Guide us to be present to those who continue to suffer from the three pandemics afflicting our country—covid, racism, and gun violence. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen


Voice3 & All: 

Glory to the Spirit of Life, to the Holy One who surrounds us, who lives within us, whose Sacred Word is shared by us in our world.


Glory to the Spirit of Life, who offers us peace; peace in our hearts, peace in our thoughts, peace with one another as we reach out to one another and ask for blessing. 


Glory to the Spirit of Life, who cares for the health workers, postal workers, store clerks, garbage collectors and all those who those who serve our special needs in numerous ways.


Glory to the Spirit of Life, who sent Jesus who teaches us how to live the Gospel, who brings hope and healing to all those in need. 



O Holy One, you are one with us.  We are strong in our faith and will live life in hope and faithfulness to you, to be Church committed to the message of the Gospels.

We depend upon the ever-present Spirit to walk with us as we journey in the present and rejoice in the life before us.  Amen


Liturgy of the Word (Please pause in a moment of silence)


1st Reading Jim B. 

A reading from Bridget Mary’s Blog.


During this time of pandemic, women priests and inclusive Catholic communities are walking toward the future as we celebrate Eucharistic liturgies on Zoom. Our ordained presiders at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community, my faith community, invite those who gather each week with us on Zoom to have bread and wine/juice in front of them. We invite everyone to pray the words of consecration and to receive Communion. 


After participants have received Communion at their own tables, they share their experiences of thanksgiving. I often hear the Christ Presence speaking through them, offering words of comfort, strength and blessing.


In his book The Future Of Eucharist, Bernard Cooke observes that a new understanding of the resurrection in the Vatican II church has broadened the church's understanding of "real presence" and helped people to appreciate Christ's loving presence in the believing community. According to Cooke, while individuals may have specific functions within the gathered assembly, the entire community performs the eucharistic action (p. 32).  


If this is so, then the gathered assembly is the celebrant of Eucharist. It is the community that "does" the Eucharist, not the presider alone. A community encamps, wherever it happens to rest for this moment in time, around the Christ Presence that infuses our communion, vivifying our One Body. Some apply a “both/and” theology and say that the Body of Christ is on the table, at the table and around the table.


Historical scholarship supports this conclusion and goes even farther. Gary Macy, chairperson of the Theology and Religious Studies Department at the University of San Diego, concludes from his research in Middle Ages manuscripts that, in the understanding of the medieval mind, regardless of who spoke the words of consecration—man or woman, ordained or community—the Christ Presence became reality in the midst of the assembly.

 

(Adapted from Walking the Prophetic Journey, Introduction, by Bridget Mary Meehan & Mary Beben.)


These are the Spirit’s words to us through Bridget Mary, and we all respond: Thanks be to God!



🎶 (Please pause for a moment) Alleluia:



https://youtu.be/gIHnZn3JjcM


2nd Reading Suzanne B 

Continuation of a reading from Bridget Mary’s Blog.


As groups like women priests' inclusive communities gather during this time of pandemic for the sacred meal, they celebrate a vision of faith, share joys and tears, acknowledge a cosmic citizenship as people of God, and model the equal ministry of women and men. They believe, as Paul did, that in the body of Christ there is no Jew, Greek, slave, citizen, male or female. (Gal.3:20). All are welcome at the eucharistic celebrations, not only families, but single parents and children, the divorced and remarried, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people. Roman Catholic Women Priests and all those who find themselves on the fringes of the institutional church for whatever reason are walking toward a future of embracing the Christ Presence everywhere in all people, beyond all limitations and imagination. 

We are, like a pillar of fire guiding the people of the covenant, the Way of love and justice, and we know that our lives are holy; our lives are blessed and broken in the mystery of God's transforming love in service of others, especially to the poor and marginalized and to all those in need. As a community of believers embraced in love and filled with love, we are walking toward the future that brings us across thousands of miles into one community in a digital age.

(Adapted from Walking the Prophetic Journey, Introduction, Bridget Mary Meehan and Mary Beben)

These are the Spirit’s words to us through Bridget Mary, and we all respond: Thanks be to God! 


 🎶 (Please pause for a moment) Alleluia:



https://youtu.be/gIHnZn3JjcM


Shared homily. Michael 

As the Spirit moves you, now is your opportunity to share your thoughts about the readings, the liturgy, or something else. Please turn your microphone on to share, then off when you’re finished. 


Profession of Faith. Voice4 & All:

We believe in the creator of all whose divinity infuses life with the sacred. 

We believe in Jesus the Christ who leads us to the fullness of humanity. 

We believe in the Spirit of wisdom, the divine breath in the cosmos,

who enlightens those living in darkness. 

Amen to courage, to hope, to the spirit of truth, to wholeness,

to the partnership of all women and men in the divine plan. 

We believe in justice and peace for all. We surely believe in all this!


Prayers of the Community Voice5 & All: 

We bring to the table prayers for our community and the world.


We bring to the table the more than one million Americans who have died from covid, as well as their family and friends who bear an enormous burden of grief. 


We bring to the table those who continue to suffer from “long covid” with a variety of symptoms that disrupt their lives.


We bring to the table our Congress and our Local Leaders. May they do the will of the people and pass gun laws that will save lives.


We bring to the table the people of Ukraine that they will have their country returned to them and we pray for strength as they struggle for their survival.


We bring to the table Mary Kay, Diane Burroughs, and all of our community members, family members and friends who need healing, comfort, and strength in their illness.


We bring to the table the intercessions in our Community Prayer Book, as presented by Joan Meehan.


What else shall we bring to the table today? 

(Please turn your microphone on to offer a prayer, then mic off.) 

 O Christ, we will be your love in the world today and every day. Amen


We offer our gifts. Voice6 & All: We invite everyone to place their plate of bread and cup of wine on their table of plenty. (Pause) Ever present Sacred Spirit, you who hold us in your loving hands, we offer these gifts of bread and wine as we celebrate your life with us. These gifts are made sacred through our faith. We ask this in the name of Jesus our brother.  Amen


Eucharistic Prayer.  (Pause for a moment of silence before we begin)

 

🎶 We are Holy,


https://youtu.be/orKBBIj5LZA
(1:32)


Voice7 & All: 

Jesus was always the guest.

In the homes of Peter and Jairus,

Martha and Mary, Joanna and Susanna,

he was always the guest. 

At the meal tables of the wealthy

where he pled the case of the poor,

he was always the guest. 

Upsetting polite company,

Befriending isolated people,

welcoming the stranger,

he was always the guest. 


Voice8 & All: 

But here 

at this table,

Jesus is the host.

Those who wish to serve him

must first be served by him,

Those who want to follow him 

must first be fed by him,

Those who would wash his feet 

must first let him make them clean.


Voice9 & All: 

For this is the table 

where God intends to nourish us;

this is the time when Christ can make us new.

So come, you who hunger and thirst 

for a deeper faith, 

for a better life, 

for a fairer world.

Jesus Christ, 

who has sat at our table, 

now invites us to be guests at his.


Voice10 & All: 

For us you were born, 

for us you healed, 

preached, taught 

and showed your way.

You died and rose

to show us the path of transformation. 

Jesus Christ, present with us now, 

for all that you have done 

and all that you have promised, 

what have we to offer?


Voice11 & All: 

Our hands are empty, 

our hearts are sometimes full of doubt and fear. 

But with you is mercy 

and the power to change.


Voice12 & All: 

So as we do in this place 

what you did in an upstairs room,

send down your Spirit 

on us 

and on these gifts of bread and wine 

that they may become for us your body,

healing, forgiving 

and making us whole;

and that we may become, 

for you, 

your body, 

loving and caring in the world 

until your kindom comes. Amen


(Taking and breaking the bread) 

Voice13 & All: 

Among friends, gathered around the table, 

Jesus took bread, broke it and said,

‘This is my body,

It is broken for you.’


(Taking the cup of wine)

Voice14 & All: 

Later, after they had eaten, 

Jesus took a cup of wine and said,

‘This is the new relationship with God, 

made possible because of my life and death. 

Drink this, all of you, to remember me.’


Prayer of Jesus

Voice15 & All: 

Let us pray as Jesus taught his companions to pray:

O Holy One, you are within, around, and among us.

We celebrate your many names. 

Your wisdom come, your will be done, unfolding from the depths within us.

Each day you give us all we need. 

You remind us of our limits, and we let go. 

You support us in your power, and we act with courage. 

For you are the dwelling place within us, the empowerment around us,

And the celebration among us, now and forever. Amen

(Adapted from Miriam Therese Winter, MMS)


Communion. 

Voice16 & All: 

Look: here is Christ coming to us in bread and wine. 

These are the gifts of God for the people of God.

We are the Body of Christ. 

(All receive Communion)

🎶 We Are Called:


https://youtu.be/DpNnzc18eFQ
(2:08, Please sing along!) 


V1. Come! Live in the light!

Shine your joy and the love of our God

We are called to be light for the kindom, 

To live in the freedom of the city of God! 


Refrain. We are called to act with justice,

We are called to love tenderly,

We are called to serve one another;

To walk humbly with God. 


V3. Sing, Sing a new song!

Sing of that great day when all will be one!

God will reign, and we’ll walk with each other

As sisters and brothers united in love! Refrain


Final prayer. Voice17 & All: Full of Christ’s peace, may we go out to love and serve one another in our community and in our wider world. Remember: We are the face of Christ to the world!  Amen


Thanksgiving. Introductions. Announcements. (Michael)


Mutual blessing Voice18: 

Please raise your hand in blessing:

All: May the blessing of the Holy One hold us on our journey.

May the blessing of the Christ give us strength and vision. 

May the blessing of the Spirit of Life give all families peace.

Let us go in peace. May we be the face of Christ to those we meet. Alleluia!


🎶 All Sing: Alle, Alle, Alleluia.


https://youtu.be/sFBMBkmGPXo
(2:26)

________________________________________________________________


If you want to add an intercession to our MMOJ Community Prayer Book, please send an email to Joan Meehan: jmeehan515@aol.com 


If you want to invite someone to attend our liturgy, please refer them to the day’s liturgy at MaryMotherofJesus.org      


To support our community, please send your check to:

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community

          St Andrew UCC, 6908 Beneva Rd, Sarasota, FL 34238

Dismantle Male Supremacy in the Catholic Church by Ann Harrington ARCWP, June 13, 2022


Ann Harrington serves Free Spirit Catholic Community in Greenville, North Carolina, all826@suddenlink.net



Article in Daily Reflector

For many years I was a faithful reader of Maryknoll magazine and in its pages, I met a dynamic Catholic priest and Navy veteran, Roy Bourgeois.  He exuded the love and compassion of Jesus. In 2013 when I learned he was coming to Raleigh, I found myself much like the woman in Jesus parable who only wants to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.  


Much to my delight I was asked to be Roy’s driver and take him to Pullen Church where he was going to tell the assembled of his work as a Maryknoll missionary for 40 years, how he became a human right’s activist and how following his conscience led to his excommunication and his dismissal from the priesthood.  If you are wondering what his crime was, it was his support of women’s ordination.


Roy has recently written an excellent memoir, “Male Supremacy in the Catholic Church” that I highly recommend.  Roy paid a high price in following the teachings of Jesus.  A price he was willing to pay.  He is a rare man and I know you will be enriched by reading his story.  I agree completely with these words of his: “This crisis in the Catholic Church is not complicated.  If the patriarchy that dominates the church is not dismantled and women are not treated as equals, the church will continue to diminish and, eventually die.”


I am an ordained Roman Catholic priest and founding pastor of Free Spirit Inclusive Catholic Community in Greenville.  If you would like to be part of the reformof the Church, consider visiting us. All are welcome to participate fully in our services.  Email me for more information, all826@suddenlink.net

Historic Videos about early years of RCWP Movement

 http://bridgetmarys.blogspot.com/2022/06/changing-church-article-about-bridget.html?m=1

Chapter in Jann Aldridge- -Clinton’s book Changing Church

Highlights of first U.S. Ordination of Roman Catholic Women Priests in Pittsburg in 2006



First North American Ordination in Canada 2005

Articles archives of first U.S. Ordination in Pittsburg on RCWP website 

My early days of being a priest in MMOJ house church in Sarasota. Fl
 
A long list of my YouTube videos( 1000 Videos!)

Changing Church: Article about Bridget Mary Meehan by Jann Aldridge -Clinton

https://jannaldredgeclanton.com/157/

Changing Church: Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan, Priest, Mary Mother of Jesus Catholic Community, Sarasota, Florida; Bishop, Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests Posted on December 7, 2011

 

Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan


 Womb of Creation,

       Shekinah, She-Who-Dwells Within

            God, the breasted One

                    Woman Mentor

                           Sophia, Holy Wisdom,

Help women to delight in their identity as imago Dei (images of God).

    Angry Woman Preacher

             Liberator of the Oppressed

                       Welcoming Hostess

                                Washerwoman God

                                        Seamstress Elegant

Transform patriarchal structures and sexist attitudes that prevent us from acknowledging women as imago Dei.

      Jesus-Sophia, the Crucified One

               Mother Jesus, birthing the world

                             Merciful Mother Jesus,

                                      Jesus-Sophia, Healer of our Stress

                                              Jesus, Mirror of Sophia

Reveal your saving power through women, imago Dei.

This prayer is included in Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan’s book Delighting in the Feminine Divine. With passion, Bridget Mary expresses and lives her belief that the Feminine Divine and women priests are transforming church and society.

As a Roman Catholic priest and bishop, Bridget Mary challenges the all-male priesthood, bringing dramatic change to the church. She and others in the Women Priests movement are prophetic also in changing the hierarchical church back to the early church model of a discipleship of equals. Bridget Mary explains: “Women priests call forth the gifts of the people in a circle of equals. The Eucharist belongs to the believing community. Therefore, when we celebrate Eucharist, we call people to join around the altar to pray the Eucharistic prayer, to say the words of consecration together with the presiders because the Body of Christ is the whole people together. We have a dialogue homily that reflects that the Spirit is in the people. At the liturgy of the Word, we need to hear different voices of how the Spirit is calling people to live the Word today in their real lives. It’s not just one person’s take on what it means to live the Word of God in the world, such as the preacher or presider or priest. We trust the Wisdom of the Spirit in the people gathered in the assembly.”

For many years Wisdom has been a significant divine image for Bridget Mary. She has been in the Sophia Holy Wisdom region of a religious order, Sisters for Christian Community. “This is not a geographical region but a spiritual focus,” she explains. “The region is reflective of the Wisdom of the Sacred Feminine, unfolding the Sophia feminine Wisdom. Our focus is on fostering the Divine Feminine in life, in our relationships, in our spirituality, in being women who reflect Wisdom Sophia and who join Her in working for justice and peace.”

Sophia has inspired Bridget Mary to write twenty books: “My ministry of book writing comes from Sophia to foster the Sacred Feminine. I always felt called to be a passionate reflection of the feminine face of God. That reflection is healing, reconciling, transformative, empowering, and co-creative of community, inclusive of all.”

Born in Ireland, Bridget Mary Meehan was named for St. Brigit of Kildare, bishop and abbess of Ireland, who was named for Mother Goddess, Brigit. With her parents and two younger brothers, Patrick and Sean, Bridget Mary lived in “a lovely little gray cottage” across from the Erkina River in County Laois, Ireland. “It was a rural, rustic, very beautiful countryside with sheep and cows and beautiful gardens and wildlife,” she recalls.

Bridget Mary describes her family as “very loving and earth-centered.” Her “close-knit” family prayed the rosary together every night. Her mom, whom Bridget Mary describes as having “mountain-moving faith,” always led the rosary. Her dad filled the house with music of saxophone and trumpet. Her maternal grandfather also provided a “very loving, nurturing presence” in the home.

Bridget Mary flourished in the spiritual environment of her home. “After the family rosary each evening, I’d have heart to heart talks with Mary,” she recalls. “We grew up in the kind of household in Ireland where you always felt that the saints and angels and Jesus and Mary were like extended family. We had this prayerful atmosphere and this sense that all of life was encompassed by the Holy—the storytelling, the music.”

In 1955, at the age of seven, Bridget Mary made her first communion at Church of the Holy Trinity in Rathdowney, where there is a stained-glass window of St. Brigit. “Eucharist always drew me,” she says. “I would go to Mass more times than we needed to. I didn’t just go once a week with my family. Even as a child, I had that sense of connecting with the Holy in the Eucharist, that it was a source of power, a source of being loved, and a source of energy.”

In 1956, the Meehan family immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Arlington, Virginia. Here Bridget Mary attended Catholic schools. When she was eighteen years old, Bridget Mary entered a convent. “I loved my religious life,” she says. “I always felt called to consecrate my life to God. I felt this amazing Love always enveloping me and calling me to be that Love, and to form relationships of love and kindness and service to other people.”

After three years of formation Bridget Mary made her profession of vows to become an Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) sister. During these years of formation she also worked toward her undergraduate degree. In 1969, she began teaching in Catholic schools.

While teaching and living near Atlanta, Georgia, Bridget Mary became a member of an ecumenical, charismatic prayer group, a major influence on her spiritual journey and her pastoral ministry. “It broke my Catholic mentality and opened me up to see that the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit are present in all of us, that together we journey toward God and service to one another,” she says.

In 1980, Bridget Mary felt called to join the Society of Sisters for the Church (SSC), staying in that religious order for fifteen years. When SSC began considering a more structured canonical status, she left to join Sisters for Christian Community (SFCC), independent of the Catholic Church hierarchy. “This community has the vision of global interconnectedness of all life and of all people,” Bridget Mary says. “Sisters for Christian Community work for earth transformation, fostering relationships that support justice, harmony, peace, and equality for all people.

After earning an M.A. in religious education at Catholic University of America, Bridget Mary served as pastoral associate at Fort Myer Chapel in Arlington, Virginia, for fifteen years. During this time Bridget Mary also worked toward the Doctor of Ministry degree at Virginia Theological Seminary. In 1987, she was the first woman and the first Roman Catholic at this seminary to graduate with the D.Min. degree. There was only one other woman, an Episcopal priest, in the D.Min. program at that time.  Bridget Mary recalls: “She celebrated the first Mass I attended at the seminary. It was the first time I’d ever experienced a woman priest. I thought the ground would swallow me up; it was absolutely awesome! At the seminary I had once again that great experience of stretching through ecumenical dialogue. Also, I was reading more and more feminist theology by women like Rosemary Radford Ruether, Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, and Elizabeth Johnson.”

Then Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan began writing about female imagery for God. “I felt that if we were to grow in partnership as men and women in equality in the church, we needed to restore the feminine dimension of the Divine,” she says. Bridget Mary describes a mystical experience she had before writing her first book, Exploring the Feminine Face of God. “I prayed about writing that book.” she says. “In my prayer I felt Mary, Mother of Jesus, saying to me, ‘Yes, you need to do this. Just do it, and it will be blessed.’” So she wrote this meditation book based on female imagery from Scripture, the mystics, the Sophia tradition, and contemporary works. The book was so successful that as soon as it was published, it immediately sold out.

Believing in the importance of teaching biblical female divine images to children, Bridget Mary co-authored with her friend Regina Madonna Oliver a children’s book, Heart Talks with Mother God. One of the bright-colored pictures in the book, by artist Susan Sawyer, is of a woman tenderly holding a child close to her face. On the page opposite this picture is a meditation entitled “God, a Nurturing Mother”:

Listen my child as your Mother God describes herself to you. . . .

“I am like a tender mother who cuddles, kisses, and holds you in her arms.

I am like a caring mother who provides for your needs.

I am like a comforting mother who dries your tears when you are sad.

I am like a kind mother who always tells you how special you are.

I am like a wise mother who teaches and guides you.

I am like a happy mother who smiles, sings, plays, and dances with you.

I am like a loving mother who tells you lots of times: ‘I love you. . . . I believe in you. . . . Keep on trying. . . . I am proud of you. . . . I will always love you no matter what happens.’”

Bridget Mary believes that the Spirit prepared her for the priesthood through the many years of her pastoral ministry at Fort Myer Chapel and then through her leadership of small faith communities, meeting in her homes in Virginia and Florida.

On July 31, 2006, Bridget Mary was among the first eight women in the U.S. to be ordained Roman Catholic priests. The ordination ceremony took place aboard the riverboat “Majestic” at the confluence of the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny rivers in Pittsburgh. Officiating at the ceremony were Bishop Patricia Fresen, Bishop Gisela Forster, and Bishop Ida Raming, all validly ordained by bishops in full apostolic succession. Bridget Mary recalls: “My image as we were ordained on the boat was of Jesus calling us to get out of the boat and walk on water to a new model of justice and equality for women as disciples and equals. The only way to keep from sinking in the waves and storms that life would bring was to keep our eyes on Christ-Sophia and trust in her wisdom and compassionate care.”

https://youtu.be/u8mZYhWN0Gc



The storms did come. Bridget Mary was excommunicated after being ordained, and a Catholic Press discontinued five of her books. The bishop of the diocese where she began a church in her mobile home in Sarasota, Florida, told the local paper to pull an announcement about this weekly Mass. The paper refused, and printed an article about the bishop’s opposition, drawing ABC news to do a story on the church. Then the church drew triple the number of people, and began renting space at St. Andrew United Church of Christ. Bridget Mary comments: “Opposition has always proved a blessing to us.”

On April 19, 2009, Bridget Mary was among the first four American Roman Catholic women bishops to be ordained. One of the functions of women bishops is to ordain other qualified candidates as deacons, priests, and bishops without having to depend on male bishops who must hide their identities from the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

On February 6, 2010, Bishop Bridget Mary participated in the ordination of the first women priests in Florida. The bishop of that diocese threatened to excommunicate not only Bishop Bridget Mary and others who officiated, but everyone who attended. “I don’t know how many excommunications I’ve had; I haven’t counted them all,” she says. “I think they’re badges of honor actually, blessings. When the bishop threatened to excommunicate everyone, we held our breath, wondering who would come to the ordination. We had over 200 people come! And the media were all there to chart the story. My experience is that opposition can really be the source of growth and blessing.”

Although Pope Benedict has excommunicated all the women who have been ordained, the women priests reject the excommunication. “The Catholic Church teaches that a law must be received by the faithful,” Bishop Bridget Mary explains. “Seventy percent of Catholics in the U.S. support women’s ordination. Therefore, canon 1024, which states that only a baptized male may receive Holy Orders, does not have the force of law because it has not been accepted by the community. In fact, we have a moral obligation to disobey this unjust law. We also reject the excommunication because we are validly ordained; the male bishop who ordained our first women bishops is in full apostolic succession.”

“We are not leaving the church; we are leading the church,” Bridget Mary says over and over. “Roman Catholic women priests are prophetic because we are a movement that restores justice for women in the church, rooted in the example of Jesus who called women and men to be equal disciples and rooted in the early tradition of the church where women were deacons, priests, and bishops. Women priests in partnership with married priests and others are already positioned to reform the church, to move it from hierarchical and misogynist to egalitarian. There’s a new partnership between women and men in grassroots communities, empowering and welcoming to all. People are now more open and ready. I think there’s a tipping point coming in Catholicism. The largest religious group in the U.S. is Catholics, and the second largest is Catholics who’ve left because they’ve been turned off or rejected.”

There is a great need for inclusive, egalitarian faith communities, Bridget Mary declares: “So many people are adrift and looking for spiritual resources, for community. Many have been alienated by the institutional church, including the divorced and separated, gays and lesbians, and women who feel like second-class citizens in their own church. We need to open our hearts, our homes, our churches to provide inclusive, welcoming, loving places of spiritual nurturance and spiritual challenge to live the vision of Jesus, the prophetic Gospel of justice and love and peace in our world, which embraces equality at its heart because all are in the image of God, male and female, Jew and Greek, every race. We are all one in the Divine. And that Divine has a female face.”

Bishop Bridget Mary says that she stays in the church to reform and renew and transform it. “I want to be an agent of change in solidarity with a vast group of sisters and brothers who are reformers and who love the church and want to restore it to its mystical, Christ-centered, justice-doing focus. We want to transform it from its hierarchical, male-dominated, insular view of the world to an open, democratic, participatory, people-empowered model of church. For now the institutional church has strayed. The Vatican is at the heart of global destructiveness. The institution has strayed because of the teaching on homosexuality as a disorder, the teaching on annulment, the ban on artificial birth control, the oppression of women—these are some ways the institutional church has alienated Catholics.”

Although Bridget Mary and other Catholic women priests envision an ideal church without distinctions between clergy and laity, they believe that women need to be ordained now to bring justice for women in the church. “Women priests remind us that women are equal symbols of the Holy,” she says. “Women and men are created in God’s image, and both may represent Christ as priests. Until we integrate the Divine Feminine in our religious systems, in our governance, in our structures, and in our whole approach to life, we will be flying on one wing. We will not be whole. We will have the patriarchal domination continuing, and that obviously is leading the world and religion to destruction. We’re experiencing the destructiveness of the all-male dominator model in Roman Catholicism with the global sex abuse scandal. The patriarchal model is not working for people. It’s not going to work. It’s not of the Spirit.”

A growing number of Catholics and people of other faith traditions are supporting the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement. “The most wonderful thing is that Catholic people and Christians of other denominations and Jewish people are more and more supportive as they hear the stories of our call to be like Rosa Parks, refusing to sit in the back of the bus, and to lead the church into a new era of justice,” Bishop Bridget Mary says. “We are no longer willing to sit in the back of the Catholic bus and be subordinated, mainly because Jesus called women to be disciples and equals. Mary Magdalene was the first witness of the resurrection, and she was called to be an apostle.”

In her vision for the future, Bishop Bridget Mary sees women priests and the Divine Feminine as closely linked. She expresses hope for the future not only of churches, but of the world through including women as representatives of the Divine and through including Feminine Divine language and images in worship. “If the symbol system that patriarchy has given us of a male God is changed, our worldview could be radically altered. As we re-imagine our divine beginning, we can incorporate a symbol system that reflects the Feminine Divine and the experience of women as images of the Divine Presence.”

For more of Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan’s story, see: https://wipfandstock.com/store/Changing_Church_Stories_of_Liberating_Ministers

 

Bishop Bridget Mary is currently a leader in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests: www.associationofromancatholicwomenpriests.org  She writes: “Our specific charism within the broader global Roman Catholic Women Priests initiative is to live Gospel equality and justice for women in the church and in society now. We work in solidarity with the poor and marginalized for transformative justice in partnership with all believers. Our vision is to live as a community of equals in decision making both as an organization and within all our faith communities. We advocate the renewal of the vision of Jesus in the Gospel in our church and world.”

The Roman Catholic Women Priests initiative began in 2002 as a renewal movement within the Roman Catholic Church whose goal is to achieve full equality for women and men within the Church.  The common purpose of Roman Catholic Women Priests is to promote the ordination of women in Apostolic Succession as a matter of justice and faithfulness to the Gospel. There are currently women priests’ communities in Germany, Austria, France, Scotland, Canada, the United States, and South America.

“The unique focus of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests is on justice and equality: 1. We seek equality for women in the church including ordination, and justice for all; 2. We serve the poor and marginalized; 3. We live the spiritual and social justice tradition of the church in inclusive communities of equals.”

 

I highly recommend Bridget Mary’s popular blog for exciting news on justice and equality in the Roman Catholic Church, other religious institutions, and society: http://bridgetmarys.blogspot.com/

Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan also has a fascinating new book out entitled Living Gospel Equality Now: Loving in the Heart of God: A Roman Catholic Woman Priest Story : http://www.amazon.com/Living-Gospel-Equality-Now-Catholic/dp/1602646961/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1323108469&sr=1-1

Additional Links:

 ABC News story on early history of Mary Mother of Jesus House Church in Sarasota, Florida:https://youtu.be/4EuJ5KHzs28 

Ordination of  RCWP Bishops in Santa Barbara in 2009 https://youtu.be/0-tsOVVddBo