Thursday, July 11, 2024

Remembering our sisters who have passed into God’s loving embrace

ARCWP Retreat- Day1
Remembering our sisters who have passed into God’s eternal embrace: Adele Jones, Joan Thom, Tish RAWLES, Judy Beaumont, Sally Bochu,  Georgia Walker, Michelle Birch Connery, Peg Bowen, Sydney Condray


Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests Ordination of 5 Deacons: Homily by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, July 11,2024


We rejoice as we gather today for the Diaconate Ordination of Catherine Collins, Sharon Brannen, Margaret Gunnell, Barbara Hanley and Joyce Smith.

 The story of the healing of Peter’s mother in law is found in Mt, MK. and Luke it is a story about Diakoneo.

As you know the root word for deacon is the Greek word for ministry diakoneo.


Diakoneo or “diakoneo-ing” is about following the basin and towel ministry of Jesus who washed his disciples feet at the Last Supper.  


Together in ARCWP/RCWP we are “diakoneo-ing “a new model of priestly ministry, rooted in our baptismal equality in Christ in one Spirit, with a rich variety of spiritual gifts, to serve ecclesial communities in the emerging Church.


Scholar Lizze Berne DeGear in her new book Jesus Found in Translation, invites readers to engage their imagination in an intimate journey with Jesus in the first two chapters of the Gospel of Mark


The text reads: “Jesus came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. And the fever left her immediately and she was ministering to them.” Mark 1:31


Reimagining the scene, DeGear raises some poignant questions that lead to some intriguing interpretations: “ “Moving towards Nana, did Jesus just take her hand and lift her up?, “In their time together, did Yeshua listen as Nana articulated her very real fears about what this ministry would mean for her and her family? Did it help him to see the complexity and consequences of his new work a little more clearly?”


“Through this new connection,” DeGear concludes,” [Nana] can now see that her family is not breaking apart, it is expanding…The  spirit of hospitality fills her heart, and she springs into action… Nana’s diakoneo signifies her welcoming Jesus into their extended family, and it also signifies him welcoming her into the blossoming ministry.”


While DeGear points out that although women have been diakoneo-ing on the first day of Jesus’ ministry, it is not until after Jesus’s crucifixion that Mark mentions that women, many women had ministered in this movement every day since the beginning. ““These women used to follow him and minister with {diakoneo} him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem. (Mark 15:41)

 (Lizzie Berne DeGear, Jesus Found in Translation, 2023, p. 49, 52)


Not only were there many other women who ministered to Jesus,  there were many women  who ministered with Paul.


 Scholars believe that Phoebe was part of a larger group of women who partnered with Paul that included Chloe (1 Corinthians 1:11), Nympha (Colossians 4:15), Apphia (Philemon 2), Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2-3, and Junia (Romans 16:7).


 Paul commended Phoebe as an influential  leader and deacon in his letter  to the Romans because he wanted them to listen to her as she unrolled the scroll, and proclaimed a message of hope to persevere in spite of the dangers they faced each day in living their faith.


Like Phoebe, whose name in Greek means “shining”, we are called to embody the light of Christ in our loving care of hurting and broken people and creation. In baptizing, anointing, preaching, basin and table ministry, we proclaim the Gospel with our lives using words - as St. Francis advised- when necessary. As the prophet Micah proclaimed we are called to action: do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.


Like Yeshua and Nana and the countless women in the good news movement through the centuries, we come here today to celebrate the heart of our priestly ministry as diakoneo-ing – as joyful, loving service- being the hands and feet of Christ- ministry with the people of God in a Church without walls beyond any political or ethnic division!

Just imagine if Nana had kept a diary of the early days of Jesus’ ministry and the fun they had at the gatherings in her home! Perhaps, we should take time to savor at our gatherings , the chaos  and holy messes of our beautiful lives and lighten up, smile at the wonder of it all! As you well know, in our movement,we are building the plane as we are flying it. And that means there will be some bumps along the way!  Like Mary, mother of Jesus, we know there is nothing impossible with God.

Together in ARCWP /RCWP, we are “diakoneo-ing a new model of priestly ministry rooted in our baptismal equality in Christ -in one Spirit-with a rich variety of spiritual gifts to serve ecclesial communities in the emerging Church! All of share in this prophetic mission! Let us rejoice and be glad!



Sharing of Ordinands on your call/ hopes/ and joys of diakone-ing – loving service- to the people of God and all creation.


Deacon” immediately brings me to the first century right after Christ died.  These were women and men who supported others in the awful chaos and confusion in the death of Jesus. They offered material, physical and emotional support. They cooked a meal, blessed and broke the bread.  They had listening hearts.  Ultimately, they brought others to Jesus Christ.  This is the heart I would like to have.”

Cathy Collins


To me being a deacon allows me to continue to know, love and serve my God and give prophetic witness to the ordination to priesthood for Roman Catholic women.”

Barbara Hanley



" Being a Deacon opens my long-held desire to be a 'readily identifiable God person' bringing God's light and love into the world." Margaret Gunnell

“Having just spent several weeks in Agua Prieta, Mexico, I can't help but relate the diaconate to the ministry of radical hospitality that I experienced at the Mexican/US border.  Creating spaces where all are truly welcomed and celebrated - and able to be in intimate communion with the God of Love - is how I understand my vocation.  It is a humbling opportunity to be included in this ministry through ordination." Sharon Brannen

My call to become a Deacon has taken the form of a strong desire for so many years I can't even remember!! Since men in our Beloved Catholic Church chose not to permit me to become a Leaders like Mary Magdalene or Deacon like Phoebe, I decided that I would continue to obey Our Beloved Holy Spirit's calling and guidance, which was to teach, minister to the sick, the vulnerable, the dying, and to be of fullest service to members of the Body of Christ as "an invisible authentic Roman Catholic Deacon” -- because it was clearly God's call.  Ever since being a young adult, I participated in prayer groups, hostessed Bible studies, held Lectio Divina in my home, taught religious education, and worked for the Church either as a volunteer or a professional.  All during this time I loved, nourished and took the best care of my family as my first priority.  Upon reflection, by living out of prayer and following the Holy Spirit's calling, I was constantly being formed into becoming a more loving, sensitive and self-aware mother for our wonderful children, a more fully cultivated and loving wife, and a more loving, joy-filled and integrated woman.  As I did all I could in Jesus' Name to build up the souls of others, the Body of Christ, through prayer and ministry, I was surprised by being enriched and blessed by a plethora of additional opportunities for personal growth and development which  empowered me to enrich my husband's faith journey and our dearest children's hearts in depths and breadths, with graces and healings I never imagined.  I believe that following in the way of the true Love of Jesus and surrendering to the guidance of the Holy Spirit is our best way forward. Joyce Smith