Saturday, December 16, 2023

People’s Catholic Seminary presents Three Forums on the Journey Together in a Synodal Church for Everyone: Next Steps


People’s Catholic Seminary presents Three Forums on the Journey Together in a Synodal Church for Everyone: Next Steps

Imagine Synod 2024 with Women Priests at the table in Rome presenting theologies and ministries in a Church for everyone 

People’s Catholic Seminary presents Three Forums on the Journey Together in a Church for Everyone: Next Steps in a Synodal Church. 

Join us for three sessions of mutual listening and sincere dialogue to continue  exploring possible paths ahead on the journey together in a Synodal Church.

Session 1: January 16, 2024 1pm-2pm and 7:30PM-8:30PM ET: 

Topic: The Face of the Synodal Church on the Road Together

Session 2 February 6, 2024 1pm-2pm ET and 7:30PM-8:30PM ET:

Topic: All Disciples, All Missionaries

Session 3: March 12, 2024 1pm-2pm ET and 7:30PM-8:30PM ET:

Topic: Weaving Bonds, Building Communities

These sessions will be recorded and a report sent to the Vatican for the Second Session of the Synod on Synodality in October 2024 in Rome. 

To prepare for the Forums, please visit the PCS Forum Blog:

Synthesis Report:

People’s Catholic Seminary presents Three Forums on the Journey Together in a Church for Everyone: Next Steps in a Synodal Church. 

Join us for three sessions of mutual listening and sincere dialogue to continue  exploring possible paths ahead on the journey together in a Synodal Church.

Session 1: Tuesday, January 16, 2024

1pm-2pm ET: 

8:00pm-9:00pm ET

Topic: The Face of the Synodal Church on the Road Together

Session 2 Tuesday, February 6, 2024 

1pm-2pm ET

8pm-9:00pm ET

Topic: All Disciples, All Missionaries

Session 3: Tuesday March 12, 2024 

Topic: Weaving Bonds, Building Communities

1pm-2pm EDT

8pm-9:00pm EDT

Please let us know if you are attending: by sending a response to People’s Catholic Seminary at:

Synthesis Report:

Here is the Zoom link for every session:

Meeting ID: 849 6525 9983

Passcode: 868236

Call in for audio only: +1 305 224 1968US

Monday, December 11, 2023

People’s Catholic Seminary: Grateful for Your Support of Courses and Programs Promoting Inclusivity, Empowerment and Equality

People’s Catholic Seminary 248 Van Rensselaer Boulevard Menands, NY 12204 December 11, 2023 Dear Friends of PCS: We are deeply grateful for your support of our work last year in People’s Catholic Seminary (PCS), and the enthusiastic response of the participants in our courses and programs. In 2023, individuals enrolled in a variety of PCS courses in Teachable Your donation will support our mission to provide low-cost, innovative programs to inspire and educate individuals and groups who embrace a vision of spirituality that is inclusive, liberating, empowering and equal. Our courses in contemporary theology, renewed sacramental rites, spiritual care, pastoral ministry and social justice offer pathways to theological and ministerial competencies for a new model of partnership in ministry in inclusive communities of equals. In 2024 we are planning free forum sessions to prepare a response for next year’s Synod in Rome. The goal is to provide listening forums for individuals and inclusive communities on the main themes of the Synod: communion, participation, and mission. We will explore possible next steps in fostering a church for everyone. We are grateful for your support of People’s Catholic Seminary, a 501-c-3 non-profit organization registered in the State of New York. You can make your tax-deductible donation through PayPal or by check, send to: People’s Catholic Seminary 248 Van Rensselaer Boulevard Menands, NY 12204 With gratitude and blessings, Bridget Mary Meehan and Mary Theresa Streck

Second Sunday of Advent: Diana Butler Bass

Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;

the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

We cannot comprehend what comprehends us.

— Wendell Berry

“Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” 

I’ve been thinking about that Lewis Carroll quote from Alice in Wonderland quite a bit in recent days. December is an odd month for Christians who mark time with two calendars. This month is both the end of the secular year and the beginning of the Christian liturgical year, also called the “church year.” As the world ticks off the last numbered days on the calendar, Christians enter into a cycle of sacred stories that compose our lives. 

Advent is the beginning. Again. 

A full month before the rest of the world marks a new year, Christians have already begun their yearly journey into the heart of our faith — the unfolding encounter with God through Jesus the Christ. 

Thus, we begin at the beginning with the birth of Jesus. Or, rather, with waiting for the beginning with the ancient promise to Israel for Immanuel, God With Us, to come and reside with humankind. Advent is the beginning, yes. But it is the beginning in the same way a prologue starts a book. 

“I don’t read the introduction,” a friend once said to me. “I always skip prefaces and prologues and get right to the story.” 

She couldn’t have said anything more heretical to a me, a writer! “Please don’t jump over the beginning,” I begged. “You can’t understand the whole unless you start with the first part! The entire story is there.” 

The four gospels begin with four different prologues, each revealing the point of their narrative in the opening words. 

Matthew starts with a genealogy of Jesus, “the son of David, the son of Abraham,” to tell a family story of Israel. Luke, probably the most familiar gospel preface, begins with political history: “In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the should be taxed.” He sets up a contest between the mundane and malevolent machinations of empire and the gestation and birthing of God’s dream.John opens with a vision of the cosmos — “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him.” — as he proclaims a sort of spiritual Big Bang. 

Matthew, Luke, and John — a family narrative, a political thriller, and a speculative tale of divine recreation and a universe turned toward love and justice. 

And what of Mark? “John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness.” 

Mark says an unhinged preacher draped in an animal hair torture garment is eating insects in the desert. 

A wild man in a wild place.

That’s it — Mark’s “Christmas” prologue. 

Most of the scholarly and polite interpretors of Mark’s gospel refer to it as the story of “The Suffering Servant.” It certainly is gloomy. It is hard to read and harder to preach. The suffering is real. 

But what if the suffering isn’t really the point? What if the wilderness is the point?

Mark’s story is that of the Wild Christ. 

Brian McLaren (who is a good friend) has turned much of his recent work toward ecological theology and spirituality, the “rewilding” of Christianity. In these three paragraphs, he explains:

Most theology in recent centuries, especially white Christian theology, has been the work of avid indoorsmen, scholars who typically work in square boxes called offices or classrooms or sanctuaries, surrounded by square books and, more recently, square screens, under square roofs in square buildings surrounded by other square buildings, laid out in square city blocks that stretch as far as the eye can see. If practitioners of this civilized indoor theology look out at the world, it is through square windows or in brief moments between the time they exit one square door and enter another. But those outdoor times are generally brief…

There is nothing inherently wrong about civilized, indoor theology. Except this: theology that arises in human-made, human-controlled architecture — of walls and mirrors, of doors and locks, of ninety-degree angles and monochrome painted surfaces, of thermostats and plumbing, of politics and prisons, of wars, racism, greed, and fear — will surely reflect the prejudices and limited imaginations of its makers.

….More and more of us are imagining a wild theology that arises under the stars and planets, along a thundering river or meandering stream, admiring a flock of pelicans or weaver finches, watching a lion stalk a wildebeest, gazing at a spider spinning her web, observing a single tree bud form, swell, burst, and bloom. We imagine a wild theology that doesn’t limit itself to Plato and Aquinas but also consults the wisdom of rainbow trout and sea turtles, seasons and tides. We imagine a wild theology whose horizons are measured not by thousands of years and miles but by billions of light years.

“In all likelihood, wild theology is the mother of civilized theology,” he concludes. “And in all likelihood, civilized theology is in the process of killing its mother and acting as if she never existed.”

Mark is the oldest gospel, written just before or after 70CE. And it is a source for both Matthew and Luke, its stories and events are the seed of the later books. Now, if the central message of Mark proclaims the wild Christ, reimagine Brian’s main point: “The Wild Christ is the mother of civilized Christ…In all likelihood, civilized Christ is in the process of killing its mother and acting as if she never existed.” 

“Wilderness” is often depicted theologically as a place of danger. Western cultures have understood wilderness as something chaotic, a thing to be mastered, and that which must be ordered and overcome. You go through the wilderness. 

But it is also a refuge where you can hide from your enemies and the evils of the “civilized” world. Mostly, it is a raw and unknowable place of encounter where we come face-to-face with ourselves, our environment, and our horrors, hallucinations, hungers, and hopes. We find ourselves — and God — in the wilderness. And everything is far more and far different than we imagined. 

That’s where Mark begins — in the wilderness, that terrifying refuge beyond the reach of the squared world. The sun brutalizes the sand; the sirocco shifts the dunes. The landscape taunts and deceives. Caves provide shelter. Whether a winter flood or a dry season rivulet, the river refreshes, sustains, enlivens. The wild baptizer immerses his followers in its waters while promising another even Wilder One who is coming and will drench the world with the Spirit. 

This is the place. The wilderness. Here, God burned like a brushfire and thundered Torah. 

The scene is set, the story summarized in just few lines. 

The wild gospel. A Wild Christ. 

Don’t skip the prologue. Let us begin at the beginning.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Second Sunday of Advent- inspiring Homily by Sarah Hansman in Catholic Women Preach





This week we hear a near unanimous message from our readings. Prepare the way!  

      The author of Isaiah says to the Jewish people: prepare the way of the LORD, fear not to cry out. 
       In the Gospel, John the Baptist quotes these same words from Isaiah: You are called to prepare the way. 
       And perhaps it comes most descriptively in the Psalm:  Justice shall walk before God and prepare the way.

I see this as a reminder that Advent is not a passive waiting but active preparation. We are invited to cooperate with God, working together to prepare the way. For God’s kingdom won’t show up on its own.

This speaks to a theology of the kingdom I find particularly useful, often called “already but not yet.” 

It holds both things to be true. 

The kingdom of God is already around us. We get glimpses of it in the liminal moments of daily life that point to something bigger. In the silent grace of a first snowfall, in the joy of a child's face on Christmas morning, in the strength of communities coming together in the face of despair, and in the small wins we achieve in the fight for justice. 


The kingdom is not yet here in its fullness. This not yet part has felt particularly present in these past few months, as we see war reign across the world, harrowing spikes in anti-seminitism and Islamophobia, an epidemic of teenage loneliness, and extreme weather as a result of the climate crisis. This is certainly not yet any kingdom I’d be satisfied with. 

So we must prepare the way. To seek, to reveal, to move towards the kingdom in all its fullness. 

I think of the great reverend doctor Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech “Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution,” from which we get the quote “the arc of the moral universe is long but bends towards justice.”

I love this quote. And yet I feel it is too often stripped of MLK’s radical call and context in place of reassurance or blanket positivity. 

The arc of the moral universe does bend towards justice but it does not bend on its own. It is bent through the resolute and communal efforts of people.   

MLK warns us not to wait. He calls out the “appalling silence and indifference of the “good people” who sit around and say, "Wait on time."

In school, I am often reminded that the “church works in centuries not years” and “look how much progress we have made!” 

Yes, change takes time. The arc is long. We must be patient.

But, being patient does not mean slowing down our efforts. Patience does not ask me to stay silent for fear of rocking the boat nor delaying until everyone is ready for change; for they may never be. 

Patience means do the work. Prepare the way! Just don’t give up in the face of slow progress. 

So how do we prepare the way?

There is no one singular answer. Rather we must ask ourselves, how can I use my own unique gifts to enact change? How can I reveal the kingdom in my own particular context? We each have a role to play. 

Let’s consider the question of women in the church. 

Perhaps, you pursue structural change in response to the Synod on Syndality participating in continued listening sessions and follow up work for part two next year. Perhaps you raise your voice in a communal rallying cry through organizations such as Discerning Deacons. Perhaps you create spaces for authenticity, vulnerability, and support amongst women in your community. Perhaps you model for your own daughter, what it looks like to take up space and set boundaries.  

For me, I consider this simple act of preaching a step in preparing the way, refusing to let my voice be silenced and calling for other marginalized voices to be heard.  

There are so many ways for each one of us to prepare the way. Big and small. And yet knowing the arc is long, we cannot do it alone. It must be communal work. 

Who are your communities? Who do you turn to when the arc is long? And how do you uplift others in return? 

I myself look to an entire sisterhood of strong women in my life who sustain me. My classmates who join in communal lament after a day when the lack of female voices feels particularly heavy, my mentors who remind me of my worth and ability when imposter syndrome rears its ugly head, my friends who use humor in the face of oppression and belly laughter as an act of resistance. My supervisors who remind me to slow down, drink water, take care of my body.

Maybe it would be easier if we just had to wait around for the kingdom to arrive. To believe if we are patient, someday everything will just fix itself.  Senseless violence will cease and peace will reign. 

But our readings say otherwise. They seek to shake us awake and point out that just waiting around for the kingdom to come is at best a false hope and at worst a form of escapism. They call us forth towards the kingdom already but not yet. 

So this Advent, let us prepare the way. And most importantly, let us be on that way together. 


The second of three volumes from the Catholic Women Preach project of FutureChurch offers homilies for each Sunday and holy days of the liturgical year by Catholic women from around the world.  The first volume for Cycle A received awards for best book on Liturgy from both the Association of Catholic Publishers and the Catholic Media Association.

“Catholic Women Preach is one of the more inspiring collection of homilies available today. Based on the deep spirituality and insights of the various women authors, the homilies are solidly based on the scriptures and offer refreshing and engaging insights for homilists and listeners. The feminine perspective has long been absent in the preached word, and its inclusion in this work offers a long overdue and pastorally necessary resource for the liturgical life of the Church.” - Catholic Media Association

Purchase at Orbis Books