Archive | September 2013


The message is clear but now needs to go from gestures to words of affirmation and change!

Evangelizadoras de los apóstoles

Feminism in the wild, prophetic gesture. What is the subliminal message?

GESTOS DEL PAPA: Fotos: Papa Francisco coloca solideo a niña

GESTURES OF POPE: Photos: Pope Francisco placed skullcap to girl

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Colombian Contingency of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests Meets in Medellin

Our impassioned ARCWP group in Colombia, South America consists of two ordained priests, three strong  candidates, and several applicants and supporters. On September 14 and 15,2013 the group met in Envigado, Antioqua under the guidance of Rev. Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea who was ordained a priest in December of 2010 in Sarasota Florida. Aida Soto Bernal, the other priest ordained in Colombia in March of 2011 was not able to attend this meeting. The group will meet on a regular basis to reflect on their service to the people of God and their growth and commitments as women priests,aspirants and supporters. Rev. Dr. Judy Lee who is a co-guide of the candidates with Rev. Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea was able to greet the group on Saturday night by SKYPE. She also sent responses to questions and comments sent by those assembled. Rev. Judith Beaumont greeted them as well.  An  RCWP candidate in Spain also communicated with the group.

Candidate Marina Teresa Sanchez of Santiago de Cali was the scribe for the event, keeping good records of what was said and planned.  A leader in her faith community in Cali shared the mission of the community of faith in Playa Reciente, Cali and how happy they were to support Marina Teresa.   Candidate Judith Bautista Fajardo of SantaFe de Bogota began the two day meeting with liturgical dance from the Native American (Navajo) culture. She also shared a poem entitled Confession about finding her calling.  A religious sister and missionary who was a supporter was present and shared her ministry and  prayed with the group. Each one present reflected on her own journey of love and service.

Those assembled discussed issues such as responsibilities of women priests,IMG_0169 apostolic succession and “evangelical succession” from Mary of Magdala, Apostle to the Apostles. They considered the roles of priest as spiritual leader and guide along with all of the priesthood of the baptized. The role of priest as co-liberator with Christ was highlighted, especially with women and all those who are poor and living at the margins,

The time together ended with a beautiful and simple Eucharistic Liturgy led by Rev. Olga Lucia and celebrated communally by all present.

To see pictures of the gathering and Olga Lucia’s comments in Spanish please visit:


What joy it is to have a strong branch of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests growing in South America.  We have much to learn from them.  Thanks be to God!

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,ARCWP

Rev. Olga Lucia Alvarez de Benjumea and Rev. Judy Lee in Photo,

Co-Coordinators of Programa de  Hispano Parlantes de ARCWP

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Three Women ordained in Albany, New York-Sunday 9/15/13

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and all supporters of ordaining ALL who are called to serve God’s people celebrate the ordination of three women of God. On Sunday September 15, 2013 Mary Theresa Streck was ordained Priest and Maureen McGill and Mary Sue Barnett were ordained Deacons.  Here is a summation of the event by our Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan and an article and link to read more about it. Please also see http://www.inclusivecatholiccomunity-albanyny. if you’d like to see pictures of the event and also follow the community of our new priest, Mary Theresa Streck.

Dear Community,

Thanks for your prayers and loving support.

We had a joyous ordination of Mary Theresa Streck, Mary Sue Barnett, and Maureen McGill in Albany.

Approximately 350 people attended. Church was packed to overflowing.

The website for the Inclusive Catholic Community of Albany is now up. See blog for link and article.

Albany diocese told priests and nuns not to attend under penalty of being fired from diocesan jobs!

However, there were a few courageous dissenters who came and stayed out of media coverage!

See article and television coverage in link below.

Bridget  Mary Meehan




Sunday, September 15, 2013

NEWS Stories: Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests: Ordination of 3 Women in Albany, New York/Sept.15,2013

Albany Times Union: “Group installs female priest:Grass-roots organization ordains nun, but Catholic Church won’t recognize her”       

By Bryan Fitzgerald 
 People gather inside the Unitarian Universalist Church for the Liturgy of Ordination celebrated by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013 in Albany, NY. (Paul Buckowski / Times Union)

“There was no air of controversy inside the First Unitarian Universalist Society on Washington Avenue Sunday afternoon — only jubilation.
In an ordination ceremony that will not be recognized by the Catholic Church, a woman was ordained as a priest. 
Despite the Catholic Church’s stance on female priests, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests says the Sunday ordination of Mary Teresa Streck was legitimate and that the longtime nun is now one of about 160 female Roman Catholic priests in the country. None of them are recognized by the Vatican.
“It is with great joy I present to you our newly ordained priest,” BishopBridget Mary Meehan told the excited crowd after Streck’s ceremony was completed.
Streck, a nun for 18 years before launching the Ark Community Charter School in Troy, was greeted with thunderous, rock-star-like ovations at various times during the nearly three-hour-long ceremony.
Two female deacons, Mary Sue Barnett and Maureen McGill, were also ordained during the service.
“This is a very joyful day,” Streck said after the ceremony. “Nothing but joy.”
The leaders of the Catholic Church have been unwavering in their assertions that women have important roles in the church but are not recognized as priests, often saying there is no theological basis for their ordinations. 
Meehan and others in her grassroots group say there is no theological basis for barring women from the priesthood, adding that women were ordained in the church’s earliest years.
In July, Pope Francis told USA Today that “the church has spoken and says no … that door is closed,” when asked about female priests.
Churches have disciplined and even expelled priests who have so much as attended ordinations recognizing women as priests. Meehan said that the Albany diocese sent out a memo telling its leaders not to attend Sunday’s service under threat of reprimand, though the diocese could not be reached Sunday to confirm or deny Meehan’s claim.
The church has also said that any woman who is ordained is excommunicating herself from the church.
Streck said she the threat of excommunication never deterred her. 
“I do not consider myself excommunicated,” Streck said. “I hope other women consider this path.”
While speaking to crowd at length, Meehan, who lives in Florida, often likened the women priest movement to civil rights activism, invokingRosa Parks on several occasions and saying the ancient guidelines the church says forbids women priests are outdated.
“Rules of those times had nothing to do with love and compassion,” Meehan said. “The Catholic Church needs to wake up.”

Catholic sect ordains female priest

Saying Good-bye and Following: Homily 23rd Sunday 9/8/13

Our Scriptures for this Sunday are not the warm fuzzy ones we like to hear about our loving God-or are they?  It all depends on how we understand love and what love can help us to do. Here, we are asked to follow Christ and to more deeply understand what that means. We are asked to count the costs of our decision to follow Christ. We are asked to look at those things and relationships that “ground us”. Not in the sense of anchoring us in stormy seas, but in the sense of holding our feet to the ground when we are ready to fly or just plain need to go.  In the Gospel (Luke 14:25-33) we are asked to “Turn our backs on our loved ones” (some translations say “hate” them) and turn  “our backs on even our very selves” to follow Christ” ; to “take up the cross” to follow; and to “say goodbye to all of our possessions” to be disciples.  Wow! If this is about only what we give up it is too hard. But, if it is about learning how to love as Jesus loved that is a different story.

I am reminded of a scenario from my older adolescence-one that I did not handle very well although I tried. I lived in a poor inner city neighborhood where violence was on the increase. My mother loved me very much and wanted to protect me. She also had many internal fears about how dangerous life was and I fought to embrace life and saw it differently. When any event planned by the Church or the Youth Group involved returning home late at night I could not go. There was a particular event involving an inspirational and evangelical speaker and it was far away necessitating several subway rides. Although people would accompany me there and home, my arrival home would be very late. I loved my mother who in many ways was giving her life for me, but I needed to let her know that I it was important for me to go to this event.  My Grandmother even advocated for me. Mom was adamant and I wound up yelling at her and saying things I was sorry for. My Pastor called me on this and he was right. But, I still couldn’t go until my Pastor convinced her that he, himself, would bring me home.  In my mind my mother had wrapped herself around my ankles and literally held me from following Christ. I could not see that she, too was a woman of faith, or comprehend her fears of losing me and how much I was her life. I didn’t know how to be loving in my distancing.  I didn’t know that growing up could be so difficult and complex.  But for me it was.

And I would learn in later relationships in life that the call of God and the demands of the relationship were sometimes in conflict. This is not an argument for being single and celibate though some are called to be that. It is in relationship with loving others that we learn what it is to be in relationship with a loving God, and the reverse is also true. In relationships, the beloved is first. But it can be particularly hard when there are two beloveds-when God, our love, is first and when our spouse, partner or child is ,in another way, first. That is when Jesus asks that God and the needs of the kin-dom be our greatest love.   No spouse or life partner finds it easy when the pastoral response demands attention to others, even strangers, at the worst times and hours and sometimes at the cost of other important plans or even one’s health. When Pastor took me home, he would get home even later and at his own peril.  Somehow in love we negotiate these times. We don’t hate those we love, but we do put the call to serve first and for the right reasons, and I think that is what Jesus meant in the Gospel.

What does it mean to follow Jesus? Why does it sometimes take some hard self-denial? What are the ‘right reasons’ to put our following before those we love and our very selves?   What does it have to do with love?

First, what “following” is not-it is not admiring what Jesus did. The wise theologian Soren Kierkegaard said that Jesus wants followers not admirers. The “rich young man” (Mark 10:17-22) admired Jesus.  He admired his goodness and called him “good master”. Jesus was not up for this adoration and told him only God is good. When he pressed Jesus on what he should do to have life forever, Jesus told him to keep the commandments and to sell what he owned and give his money to the poor,and follow him.  He went away sad because he couldn’t part with his great wealth or change his lifestyle.  Jesus too was sad because he “looked steadily at him and he was filled with love for him.” Many times people will tell us how much they admire our work with the poor and homeless, adding “I couldn’t do it”. Sometimes I answer that God has given many gifts and talents as if it is only a gift and not the essence of the Law and the Great commandment to live a Matthew 25 life. If I were true to the Gospel, and not afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, I would say as Jesus did “inasmuch as you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto me”.

One does not need a special ministry. There are many opportunities in every day life everywhere to live this Gospel. Our Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) Bishop , Bridget Mary Meehan enjoys McDonald’s ice cream and goes regularly to get it. She has a ministry of presence as she greets, smiles and talks with people that no one else would talk to. A woman who was homeless and mentally ill shyly approached her. She engaged her and  was happy to buy the woman a meal. Subsequently, the woman would approach her at various times. On one occasion another friend accompanied Bridget Mary. This friend, “Betty”  who is generous in many ways to her own friends, chastised Bridget Mary and tried to convince her that she should not talk to or give anything to this woman, “who probably drank”.  Without chastising her friend in return, for she loves her, she continued to relate warmly to this lonely woman. I know Betty admires Bridget Mary, but she does not follow her.

To “follow” is, then, to do what Jesus did. To respond in love to the needs of all, especially those who are poor, sick, lonely, and outcast.  To work hard for justice and peace so that no one is left out of having what they need, be it a bed indoors at night or a simple meal or a place to raise children without fear, or medical treatment. To welcome the stranger and open the doors of the Kin-dom to everyone. To create a culture of sharing and giving rather than having and hoarding. And, yes, to challenge those who make religion into endless rules that no one is good enough to follow perfectly and an exclusive, members only club. To overthrow the tables of those who sold doves and animals for sacrifice, to set all God’s creatures free, including those who made money from their sale, from their perversion of religion,their misuse of God’s House.  To risk righteous anger at all systems that oppress,exploit and starve some while others are inordinately rich and sleek.  Pope Francis is now giving an example in simplicity and priority on serving the poor that is moving to all who want a renewed church. Last week workers in some major cities of the USA united in a strike against fast food chains to lift the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour so they could begin to live and not barely survive. It takes 3 such jobs to pay rent, bills and care for a family.  Dear followers of Christ, this too is our fight.  This month too we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s I Have a Dream Speech and the dramatic changes the Civil Rights era brought. This too is an ongoing dream  of equality for all through nonviolent activism that we as Christ followers are still fighting for.

In the Epistle reading (Philemon verses 9-10; 12-17) the Apostle Paul is challenging the institution of slavery “left handedly” by entreating Philemon to take back his slave Onesimus, who ran away to Paul and became “Paul’s Heart” and was loved as Paul’s own child. Philemon is asked to  love and treat him as a brother,not as a slave. While we may have preferred a polemic from Paul against slavery, and wish that he did not send the slave back to his owner(thereby giving a double message), we can full well appreciate the love Paul had for Onesimus and Philemon. We can appreciate  Paul’s “appeal in the name of love” and we can learn to do the same along with whatever courage it may take in the face of injustice.  The book of Wisdom reading (9: 13-18) helps us because it reminds us that we do not have to rely on our own faulty mortal reasoning, but on the Spirit of our living God to learn what pleases God. We are so thankful for the Spirit of Wisdom (Sofia) when things are too hard for us to know or do otherwise. Sofia teaches us the love of Christ, hence how to follow.

Jesus embraces all of us, including the rich young man who could not allow himself to follow him.  Jesus had a special love for him. We are challenged to have that love as well.  To have enough love to lift Lazarus from the grave.   To love when we are too tired to love, to care when our caring dries up because we do not feel cared for ourselves. To care for people who cannot give up the addictions and ways that are killing them.  There is a Memorial wall of pictures in our church and a few candles beneath it. The wall has become too filled with pictures of our people who have died homeless, or addicted to alcohol or both. I am actually astonished at those we have helped to turn around-and there are many who have expelled demons and only by the grace of God. Some we  got into good housing and all was well for a while. Then, and it breaks my heart, they still could not stop drinking and died rather than use help. Last week I almost cussed at a man who was doing really well in housing and then got hooked on prescription painkillers that took away his rationality and good judgment.  I told him that I was not planning to do his funeral and bury him. I did cuss when he was gone.  When I get over my anger at him, I will gently start my work all over again.  To love as Jesus loves is sometimes to have a broken heart.

Hence, to “follow” is not only to do what Jesus did but to feel what Jesus felt. To feel the love that filled him until he wept, until he cried out to God and  sweated blood in intensity and even fear,  To feel the “dryness” when God seems too far away. To feel alone and exhausted. To be reproached and battered for taking on the “powers that be”.  To carry people on your back when you can hardly carry yourself. To crave time away only to be followed on your bathroom break.  And, maybe even to keep on loving and forgiving when you feel like you are dying. Can it be that we are asked to love as God loves? I think so and that is the crossIMG_0255.

The beautiful spiritual poet, J. Janda says it this way in the closing lines of a poem called  “Covenant” from his book IN EMBRACE published by Life In Christ Press:

“….I know/it is/difficult/ to suffer/but look/I am taking/away your heart/and in/its/place/I am/putting/my heart/now I will/ be suffering/now I will/be/forgiving/now I will/be loving/in you/my heart is/beating in you”

“Following” is when Christ’s heart beats in us. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Judith A. Lee, ARCWP

Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community

Fort Myers, Florida  9/4/2013                                                                                                             Sculpture at the FDR Memorial in Washington DC