Chava Redonnet, Roman Catholic Woman Priest in Rochester, New York Reflects on Ministry

Readers who are interested in peace and justice work will enjoy the Reflections of Chava Redonnet, RCWP, Priest of St. Romero Community in Rochester, New York. Chava serves the migrant worker community there with compassion and models the equality of the renewed priesthood of all believers. Thank you for sharing ,Chava, we look forward to other reflections and Bulletins from you and Rachel Morlock. 


Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church
Bulletin for Sunday, October 6, 2013
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time


A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a young man named Geoffrey Alan Boyce, who is a graduate student doing research about immigration policing on the northern border. He asked if he could talk with me about St Romero’s. I’m always happy to tell the stories of our little church, so of course I said yes.

He listened very patiently to my stories, then asked a question I wasn’t expecting: “What sustains you in your work? How do you keep going?” It’s a really good question, and actually a very important one for any of us who are in this work of doing the kindom of God down on the ground, whether as Catholic Workers, or in Migrant ministry, prison ministry, nursing homes and hospital work, teaching – all the myriad ways we find to be the hands and feet of God in the world, bringing that love day after day. It can get exhausting, especially when there is a lot of negative energy around, and when we are confronted by injustice day after day and, well – just reading the newspaper!  So the question of how one does this for the long haul is crucial.

When I was ordained a number of people gave me the same piece of advice: Have a daily prayer time. I’ve never been very good at meditation, and my prayer time is simple: journaling, drawing, reading, and sitting in silence. Sometimes I lean heavily on poetry in my reading: Hafiz and Mary Oliver being my favorites. But recently I picked up Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, “An Altar in the World,” which is so nourishing it’s like going on retreat.

Having people to talk to is important, and nourishing close relationships. For me that means not only my significant other, Santiago, but other friends, as well. I am blessed with friendships that go back thirty years and more, a great gift in my life.

Something else that is sustaining is the joy I find in my ministry. Last night we had a Mass – getting down to the last few Migrant Masses of the season – and I noticed how free people feel to put in their two cents’ worth during the homily, to ask questions, to have a homily that is part conversation. I revel in times like last week when we had two babies, three grandparents, lots of friends and two dogs at Mass. Or last night when I accidentally smashed all the cookies while leaving the house, and everyone gamely ate the little broken pieces, drinking the hot chocolate that one young couple brought, while sitting and talking after Mass. Those things make my heart very, very glad. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

And finally, people like Geoffrey are sustaining in this ministry, as well as Librada, Lory, Peter, the BEOC folks in Brockport, so many others who are serving the same folks, asking the same questions, patiently or impatiently chipping away at the injustice that keeps our friends imprisoned in fear and overwork. And you folks, too, reading this – your support, your caring, your messages, just knowing that you are reading the bulletin – that, too, keeps me going.

Then there is the basic self care of exercise, healthy eating, and rest.…so this is a good moment to tell you that I’m taking a week off, and there will be no bulletin next week. There will, however, be Mass on Sunday at 11, and the Migrant Mass on Thursday at 8. With so few left I didn’t want to cancel it.

Two more things: first, I want to extend thanks to those people who have been helping with the Buffalo driving. Charley Bowman and Bill Plews have been helping, and there are several more people who are willing to help when they are needed. Thank you so much. Hopefully you are having fun doing it!

This weekend, Oct 5, there will be marches and things for immigration reform, most notably in New York City. We do not have an event planned in Rochester, but I’d like to ask you to consider fasting in some way on that day, for our brothers and sisters who so badly need to be set free.

Hope you are able to get out and look at the beautiful fall leaves! Give thanks to God for this incredibly beautiful world. Stand still, like Mary Oliver says, and learn to be astonished.

Blessings and love to all,

Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph’s House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620

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