Chava Redonnet Woman Priest With MIgrants in Rochester NY Writes About Church

Chava Redonnet is a priest of the poor and the migrant workers in Rochester, New York. . Here are her reflections on what it means to be church in a community of equals and some of the history/herstory of her church, St. Romero’s. When their 501c3 application is approved donations to this ministry will be tax deductible so we wish them well in this. 

Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church
Bulletin for Sunday, November 10, 2013
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear friends,

We had a milestone moment at St Romero’s this week: Librada Paz, Lynne Hamilton, Marianne Timmons, attorney Mike Tobin and I gathered in my kitchen to sign the papers for our 501 (c  )3 application.

Our little church began on September 19, 2010 with Mass in the dining room at St Joe’s. Three years later, we continue to celebrate Mass each Sunday at 11 am at St Joe’s. We also continue to be a little church! But whenever I ask God for a sign as to whether or not to keep going, a sign comes. Most recently that was Oct 27, when Wally Ruehle and Tim Sigrist turned up to help give thanks that Santiago and I are alive and reasonably well following our accident. It was such a lovely moment, the table surrounded by old friends, other St Joe’s community members and a man named James, who wanted to sing “Amazing Grace” for our final hymn, so we did.

The question I carried with me through seven years of seminary was, “What is the role of a priest in a community of equals?” It was such joy when in the fall of 2007 I encountered the Roman Catholic Womenpriests, and met an entire organization of woman asking the same question! If women become priests and simply enter the hierarchy as it now exists, we will become part of the problem. The church needs to be different than it has been, to be a place where people are empowered and encouraged to realize that they are the church, where the gifts of each person are given a chance to bloom, and the message is, You beautiful child of God, you are worthy, you are whole, you are loved, you are needed.

So how is one a leader in such a church? What does it mean to be a priest in a community of equals?

When we first began celebrating the Migrant Mass in June of 2011, it was a collaborative effort. Librada and I drove around, asking people if they would be interested in a weekly Mass, until finally we found people who not only said yes, but invited us to use their space. We negotiated the date and time until we found something that worked for all of us.

One of the gifts to me in the past three summers has been learning some new answers to that question. The question of how to lead a community of equals is not the sort of question with one right answer. It’s the sort you hold , carry with you, and answer in a myriad of ways. My Spanish has been an equalizer from the start, and continues to be.Today in the nursing home as I read from a Psalm in Spanish, half a dozen voices spoke up, correcting my pronunciation of “refugio.” They patiently repeated it until I got it right. (I’m told that in the migrant community, people sometimes sit around the dinner table asking each other, “What do YOU think she meant?”!)

At the last Migrant Mass of the season, we blessed the cars of those going to Florida. Because it was raining, we stood on the porch and held our hands out towards the row of cars parked in front of the house. “Which are the cars going to Florida?” I asked. “It doesn’t matter,” someone said. “We will bless them all.”

And so, my car was blessed along with the others. All of us blessed all of the cars, and three days later when the front end of my car was demolished by a drunk driver, Santiago and I made it through with bruising and minor cuts, but probably no lasting damage. I am in awe. In a community of equals, all bless, and all are blessed. That’s a wonderful thing.

When our little church began three years ago, it was not possible to know what the future would hold. One simply listens for the call and says yes, hanging on to God’s hand and putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, walking with God in trust and love. We will continue to do that at St Romero’s. May we listen, trust, and say yes, and see where God takes us. May this little church be a blessing!

Thank you for reading this bulletin. You, too, are a part of the life of this community. May all of us grow in ways we’ve never dreamed!

An update or two:
I have heard from our friends who were deported to Mexico in August. They are “mas o menos” which in English we would probably say, “okay.”

The friends who went to Florida for the winter arrived safely, and visited family on the way.

Santiago and I continue to heal. He is still in a lot of pain so his doctor told him to take five days off from work. I am happy to tell you that the farmer said, “Tell him to take the time he needs,” when I called. It means no pay, and forced inactivity which he does not like, but hopefully it will make the difference and he will feel better before long. I have good days and bad days, but on the whole am recovering. Driving is hard but I’m “back in the saddle” except for some long or complicated driving. One day at a time.

Congratulations to Patti La Rosa and Judy Pfoltzer  who will be married in Ithaca on Saturday. Much joy to you both, Patti and Judy!

Life is good, God is good, and there is so much to be grateful for. Get out and enjoy those gorgeous leaves!

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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