This has been a year of wonderful work and accomplishments in the face of some challenges and changes. The program was fully carried out with some modifications despite my sudden illness in late Dec. 2012 and January 2013 and major surgery for a GIST, a slow growing cancer totally removed on 2/28/13. While neither chemo nor radiation was necessary a period of recuperation was. Hence Pastor Judy Beaumont singlehandedly, with the help of volunteers guided the Ministry from March 1st through April, 2013. Although I returned on Easter, it was quite a while before I was able to be back in full swing. Yet, with God’s help and that of our members and volunteers we were able to keep going. Now things are back to full strength and we are so thankful.
An important change in the program was the closing of Joshua House Transitional Residence in April of 2013 when the last resident, Joe B. was able to get into Goodwill Housing at Ohio Place. This closing was planned before my illness and was unrelated to it. The co-Pastors and others in the Church community saw the need to expand the physical space for the church in order to attend to the expansion of the congregation and have room for youth to meet on Sundays, for a dining area, and for the “Store” where people get clothing and personal items without pay to expand into adequate space. The more spacious fellowship and living room/ dining room type atmosphere benefit our Tuesday people.
Joshua House served 23 people, 21 men and two women for periods of time ranging from two weeks to over three years. Three of these had serious problems but twenty did very well in residence. Of these, seventeen moved out into affordable housing and one into regular housing. Sixteen of these were successfully helped to get incomes through SSDI or SSI. One was helped to complete a vocational program.The remaining five did not complete our program and continued in addictive behaviors although one was eventually housed and received his Social Security. We decided that we could offer hospitality to carefully selected individuals in need of brief respite and offered this to one man, Linuel, on two occasions in June and July, 2013, making 24 individuals who stayed at Joshua House. Our hospitality/brief respite function will continue on a selective basis.
We make many referrals to the Triage Center and other residential programs in the area.
We continue with our focus of housing the homeless and doubled and tripled up individuals and families by assisting people with applications, preparation and recommendations for affordable housing and with shepherding, funds, furniture and resources in setting up a home. The resources included rent and security and setting up an electric account with deposits. Four of our newly housed were formerly homeless and one lived unhappily with a family member. We also assisted others to obtain low income market level housing. One particularly rewarding example of housing assistance was helping a woman who was in and out of the mental hospital to obtain her own apartment by shepherding her in every aspect of becoming housed. Another was helping a woman unable to work and lacking an income who lived serially in abusive relationships in order to be housed to obtain her own place for the first time in her life. Still another very rewarding example was helping a man who is mentally ill and homeless to obtain affordable housing and learn how to maintain it. With God’s help, we have helped over 75 individuals (and families) to obtain and maintain affordable housing in the past five years.
Dr. Teresa Sievers continues to see our affordable housing candidates pro bono for disability clearance.
We also helped Lili R. to reapply for Habitat for Humanity Housing and she was recently approved. We need help in obtaining volunteers to work on a house for her.
While we cannot make a practice of this, we were able to pay electric bills for three families who would have been evicted for lack of payment. We also paid rent for two large families. For one family of four where the mother was unemployed and awaiting unemployment insurance we saved the day just in time. This woman was able to pay us back almost two thirds of the rent we paid. She has also started attending the church with her children and assisting us with tasks.
Incomes and Educational/Vocational Training
We helped this Mom to apply for a course in medical coding. We helped another young mother with expenses as she pursued a course in the medical field.
We successfully assisted three individuals to obtain SSI or SSDI this year. One, Lloyd, paid us back for his stay at Joshua House and an additional amount. Another is making good on a bill we paid for him and the other made a small donation to us. It is very special when people are able to pay us back and they enjoy this very much. Several others are waiting SS hearings with a lawyer that we have referred them to.
We helped Joe B. complete his plumbing course and as he still has no work, we assist him with a small monthly stipend. We also assist Eddie F. and Lin J. with small stipends.
We also supplemented the cost of PSAT tutoring for a High School Senior and gave other assistance toward college applications. We helped a College Junior with an increase in college tuition and we assisted her family with rent. We assisted two college sophomores with incidental expenses. We assisted another HS senior in obtaining legal status with the Obama immigration plan. She is now graduated and working and awaiting green card status which we also paid for.
Pastor Judy B. has been the Rep Payee for seven individuals this year and one has gone on his own recently. She now has six people, three women and three men whom she pays bills for and shepherds through many of the activities of living so that they maintain health and housing.
Priority on Young People
Our children’s and youth group has served seventeen young people this year ranging in age from 5-20. I meet with the teens on Sundays and Pearl Cudjoe meets with the Juniors while Linda Maybin and Debbie Carey assists with the preschoolers. During the season Kathy Overby also works with the Juniors. (We baptized one eleven year old,one very ill young adult, and two infants this year as well.) We made special appeals for summer activities and also for our kids at the start of school. We were able to assist them with $800.00 to start school with books, supplies and clothing. They also took three trips this summer with the assistance of Judy Alves and Efe Cudjoe. Pastor JudyB and I took them to see Shrek the Musical at the Dinner Theater and it was great for all ages. Judy A. and Efe took some of them to the Holocaust Museum and to the Movies. We also note a wonderful year end contribution by the Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community of New Jersey where Mary Ann Schoettly is a Roman Catholic Woman Priest. Their great generosity is earmarked to enrich the learning experiences of our young people throughout the coming year. We are so grateful.
Throughout the year we give incentives for good report cards and assistance with school related costs. We gift them on Birthdays and on Christmas. It is a great joy to see them grow in maturity and learning. As noted above, we have five of our young people currently in college. We are very proud of them. Three are at Edison in their second year and one is at FGCU in her Junior year. Efe Cudjoe is in her Junior year at Brown and continues to help is in the summer and on breaks.
Our High School students were asked to keep an Advent Journal. I am happy to share with you Jolinda’s entry as it moves me so much and is an example of what we are hoping to offer our young people:
“Coming to this church I have learned a lot. I have especially learned to love because that is what I feel when I am at church. So I thank my Pastors because you are both the best symbol of love! Coming to this church makes me happy because I am loved by the Pastors and other members. I thank you and I love you all.”
And, Natasha, our High School Senior reflected on her hopes and on the changes she was trying to make in her life:
“I need to change my mindset to become a Christian mindset so I am prepared to keep evolving and making myself better for God. (This includes growing in forgiving others because it is hard for me.) My hopes are to be graduated from college and become active in my career. I want to be able to help others. I want to be married and grounded in faith. I want to be financially stable and able to give back. I want to help my family in big ways and to be happy with family and with life”.
And the Junior Class with Mrs. Pearl Cudjoe made a group collage Thank You Card!
What wonderful hopes and prayers our children have expressed. How special it is to be part of their journey.
Our Beautiful Young People
We have served over 1200 meals this year. We served about two hundred on Tuesdays and a thousand on Sundays. We do not keep track of take away meals and second helpings. The mean attendance on Sundays is 35 (up to 46) and on Tuesdays 17 (up to 23).
We have wonderful and faithful volunteers. Especially in the season members of the Lamb of God Church provide, cook and serve food for us. Monica Piccirillo and Eileen Wickeri and Ginny Beecroft and her community also provide and serve throughout the year. For the rest of the year, Ellen and Jack McNally and their Country Creek community cook and serve on Tuesdays and our own members, especially the Cudjoes, the Rismays and Judy Alves provide food and cook and serve it on Sundays. We continue to be blessed with caring members and volunteers.
Hospital and Sick Call Ministry
We make many visits to serve hospitalized and sick members of our community. We pay special attention to the caretakers and families of our sick. We also visit one woman in a Nursing home and three individuals at home who battle with serious illnesses.
We are so grateful to The Orioles Club and Ginny Beecroft’s Breckinridge Community, Lamb of God and Gail Fleeman of the Salvation Army who generously gave our children Christmas gifts. We were able to share this bounty with the Tropical Trailer Park as well where some of our Tuesday members live and many children received no gifts, and they were well received. Santa Clus also visited us after our Christmas Mass. Our Congregation was also able to give a good love offering to an orphanage in Ghana, Africa where one of our families is affiliated.
Our St. Francis Ministry
It has also given us great joy to assist God’s other homeless creatures this year. When Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a feeding trough, the gentle animals were his first visitors and the poor shepherds and their sheep were next. Symbolically God’s love incarnate was joined with all of creation in the Christ child and the weakest became the first to know this miracle. We were so happy to place Bushy Tail, Farmer Joe, Tuxedo and Potsy in loving forever homes. Seeing the joy of the people whose families were now complete was a special part of this miracle.
This is Sherry and her new family member,Tuxedo-Joy for both!
We have had a full year of service despite some part time hours. We are thankful to look forward to the future with our excellent Board and members and to continue to serve the low and lowest income community of Fort Myers. In this we get so much more than we are able to give. There is truly a united Good Shepherd community that welcomes and serves one another and the wider community.
Here is to a happy and healthy New Year for all!
Pastors Judy Lee and Judy Beaumont,ARCWP
Saturday, December 28, 2013
At Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota Florida, the “Clerical Team” consists of ordained and non ordained women and men including Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, Katy Zatsick, ARCWP priest and married priests including Michael and imogene Rigdon and Lee and Carol Breyer as well as other church members. These leaders take turns at presiding and starting the homilies. The homilies are short as the homilist then turns to the congregation in interactive dialogue. This is all part of renewing the model of priesthood and liturgical celebration in churches where women priests share liturgical responsibilities. Below is a fine homily starter by Dr. Imogene Rigdon who presided with her husband Michael, a Roman Catholic Priest, at this evening,s Mass of the Holy Family.
Four Sentences that Will Change Your life from Imogene Rigdon’s Homily Starter/Holy Family Sunday
There is no need to wait until we’re dying. Using the 4 healing sentences throughout life could be our way of supplementing God’s work of holiness in us.”
Dr. Imogene Rigdon, Homily Starter/Holy Family Sunday/Dec 28,2013)
This excellent article by Darina Naidu for Wwe (Women’s E News) describes how activist nuns and women priests, such as Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan and Priest Janice Sevre-Dusynska of The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests support the Pope with his emphasis on simplicity and serving the poor and outcast while praying and hoping for the Ordination of women and the inclusion of those women priests already ordained. There are now over 160 validly ordained women world wide. We are humbled and pleased to be among them.
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,ARCWP
Rev. Judy Beaumont, ARCWP
Credit: © Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk, Catholic Church (England and Wales) on Flickr, under Creative Commons
(WOMENSENEWS)–In the nine months since the white smoke went up at the Vatican, many of the same nuns who were running afoul of their leadership in Rome are happy about the Vatican’s election of Pope Francis, Time magazine’s person of the year.
“I think the Pope is showing all of us that each of us has this same capacity for compassionate openness – this largesse of soul – that is so needed in our world,” said Sister Mary Beth Hamm, social justice coordinator of Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill in Brookline, Mass.
Bridget Mary Meehan, a bishop at the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, says Pope Francis is “doing terrifically well” and that he is “moving on toward the justice of the oppressed.”
But she also hopes he will move the Church toward female ordination. “It is all about equality and justice,” Meehan said in a phone interview. “Ordained women in the Catholic Church is the issue because women are half, more than half, of the population in the world. The Pope needs to recognize that global and gender equality and justice are essential.”
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests is a group, based in Florida, of ordained women who live and minister in the United States and South America. They prepare and ordain qualified women to serve the people as priests.
Two years ago in April, the Vatican concluded an investigation of the Leadership Council of Women Religious, an organization that represents 80 percent of the nuns in the United States, and criticized their “radical feminist themes” and focus on social services at the expense of other issues, especially their silence on same-sex relationships and abortion, Women’s eNews reported.
Nuns on the Bus
In response, nuns such as Sister Hamm lent support to leaders of the council who travelled around the United States in a bus to defend themselves against the accusations and to press the government for a “faithful budget” that would do more to help those in the United States who were suffering financial need.
“Pope Francis has said so many times and in so many ways, he wants a Church that is poor – a Church that is for people who are poor,” Hamm said. “Since women comprise 70 percent of the world’s poor people, this vision of Pope Francis is very good news for women. My hope is that we can embrace this vision of the Church and commit our energies to bringing it to birth.”
Meehan says she is hopeful that will happen. “I have great hope for the future of the Church and for God’s people everywhere.”
In September, barely six months after taking his seat at the head of the Church, Pope Francis seemed to join sides with the nuns when he famously said the Church had grown “obsessed” with abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception, and that he had chosen not to talk about those issues despite recriminations from critics, the New York Times reported.
Janice Sevre-Duszynska is a priest at the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. “Gays and lesbians have suffered enough,” she said in a phone interview. “It was profound that he came out about the harshness of Catholicism.”
Call for Female Priests
Sevre-Duszynska also hopes the Pope will call for the ordination of female priests. “We need a feminine image of God. There needs to be a balance between the oppression of women with their own religion and violence against women in the world,” she said. “I hope that he comes out and says, ‘it is required to open priesthood to both males and females, celibate or not celibate, gay, lesbian or heterosexual.'”
She added that she thinks the world is too capitalistic and needs to become more human-oriented.
“Too much money is going into weapons; meanwhile, the rights of the citizen are being taken away,” Sevre-Duszynska said.
Sister Carol Zinn, based in Philadelphia and president Leadership Council of Women Religious, said Pope Francis is projecting a new vision of the ministry of the Church in the world as well as his own ministry as bishop of Rome.
“This change is clear in his manner of reaching out, personally, to so many people, in his clarity of message about the Church’s role in the world as that of offering mercy, compassion, forgiveness, joy, hope and love to all people,” Sister Zinn said.
She added that when it comes to gender issues, “I would expect Pope Francis to continue to speak of a Church of inclusivity, respect and diversity in contrast to a Church of exclusivity, judgment and uniformity, as he has already done.”
Time Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs said the Pope “has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time, about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power,” Huffington Postreported.
Darina Naidu, an international student from Mauritius, is an editorial intern for Women’s eNews and an intern at ABC News for the News Specialized Unit. She graduated with a degree in journalism from SUNY Plattsburgh in May 2013. Follow her on Twitter @DarinaNaidu.
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The Associated Press – By FRANCES D’EMILIO – Associated Press
In this picture provided by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis delivers his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the City and to the World) message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Pope Francis on Christmas day is wishing for a better world, with peace for the land of Jesus’ birth, for Syria and Africa as well as for the dignity of migrants and refugees fleeing misery and conflict. Francis spoke from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica Wednesday to tens of thousands of tourists, pilgrims and Romans in the square below. He said he was joining in the song of Christmas angels with all those hoping “for a better world,” and with those who “care for others, humbly.” (AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano, ho)regorio Borgia)
7 of 19
Pope Francis carries a statue of baby Jesus as he celebrates the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)8 of 19
Pope Francis walks with the pastoral staff at the end of the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)13 of 19
Clergymen walk and pray during Christmas mass at the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, lead the midnight mass attended by many including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (AP Photo/Musa Al-Shaer, Pool)15 of 19
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, leads the midnight Christmas mass at the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Musa Al-Shaer, Pool)16 of 19
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, bottom center, leads the midnight Christmas mass at the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Musa Al-Shaer, Pool)17 of 19
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, center, attends Christmas mass lead by Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal at the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Musa Al-Shaer, Pool)18 of 19
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, center, leads midnight Christmas mass at the Church of Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Musa Al-Shaer, Pool)19 of 19
Francis also spoke of the lives of everyday people, especially those struggling for a better life.
Recalling the hundreds of migrants who have drowned this year while trying to reach European shores, including many close to the Italian island of Lampedusa, Francis prayed that refugees receive hope, consolation and assistance.
He added that “our thoughts turn to those children who are the most vulnerable victims of wars, but we think, too, of the elderly, of battered women” and others.
The 77-year-old pope kept to the simple style he has set for his papacy. Wearing a plain white cassock, Francis presented a sharp contrast in appearance to the pope who stood on the same balcony on Christmas exactly a year ago. Then Benedict XVI, who was soon to stun the world by retiring, read his Christmas speech while dressed in a crimson, ermine-trimmed cape. Benedict lives on the Vatican grounds, and Francis paid a holiday call on him earlier this week.
In another break with tradition, the Argentine-born Francis stuck to Italian for his Christmas greetings, forsaking a custom of wishing happy holidays in dozens of languages to the crowd below the balcony.
In the Mideast, pilgrims celebrated Christmas in the ancient Bethlehem church where tradition holds Jesus was born, as candles illuminated the sacred site and the joyous sound of prayer filled its overflowing halls.
This year’s turnout was the largest in years in Bethlehem, and the celebrations have been marked by careful optimism amid ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Leaders expressed hope the coming year would finally bring the Palestinians an independent state of their own.
The top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, led a prayer for some 1,000 worshippers. “The whole world now is looking at Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus,” Twal said in his annual address, adding that the message of Jesus was one of “love and reconciliation.”
We are grateful to present Rev. Chava’s Christmas reflections that takes place on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the Sunday where the candle we light represents LOVE. For us, Christmas is Love incarnate, God entering human flesh in a new way, in the form of a baby who will grow with the love of his mother and step-father,fulfill messianic prophecies of his people, and experience all that we do. He will laugh and anticipate and fill with joy.He will make many loving relationships with men and women who share his Good News. Some will hold him up and some will let him down, badly. He will be a loving, healing, challenging Presence among us. He will be prophetic and show us the way of his God Father/Mother Who wants no less than justice ,love and peace for us and from us and gives the same. Jesus, Yeshua bar Joseph, will suffer, a lot, and die for his prophetic teachings. Jesus the Christ will be our salvation and our liberator. Death could not hold him. Because of him our life is eternal. Because of him church has happened where God’s family celebrate life and worship together,leaving none behind. The Gospel of such love and life is to be shared with all people. We thank our sister Rev. Chava for braving the snow and icy conditions once again as she brings this Gospel to two men, one of whom is ministering to the other. Thanks be to God for Christmas, thanks be to God for the messengers. You be a messenger too. This is Church and this is a beautiful Christmas celebration.
Pastor Judy Lee, ARCWP
with Pastor Judy Beaumont, ARCWP Holding the Candle of Love
Rev. Chava Redonnet’s Reflections
Sunday, December 22, 2013
4th Sunday of Advent
Three years ago when we started St Romero’s in the dining room at St Joe’s, Jim Callan gave me a piece of advice. “Show up, no matter what,” he said. I managed to stick to that for quite a while, but about a year ago there came a time when I had to be away and there was no one to fill in for me. So now when I have to do that, I put signs up all over St Joe’s, put it in the bulletin, and write it on facebook, hoping no one will show up and find there’s no Mass.
This past Sunday was awfully snowy and cold, but I remembered what Jim said, and slogged my way through the snow, wondering if anyone would come to Mass at all. And it was a good thing I did, because two men showed up. One of them was a man who had been there just once before. He is an immigrant from Southeast Asia, who washes dishes at a restaurant nearby. The other is a man who is almost blind, who is often at Mass, and always asks for food. He lives just down the street. As the three of us prepared to start the service, the first man told me that he would have to leave by 11:45 because he had to go to work. My homily was about Nelson Mandela and finding reasons to rejoice (of which his life is one). When it came time for the Eucharistic Prayer, it was already past 11:30. I cut out some of the prayers so that we’d all be able to have communion together. We shared communion, and then the man from the restaurant was putting on his coat, getting ready to leave. He started fiddling with a bag that I hadn’t realized was his. The bag turned out to contain food from the restaurant that he had brought for the man who is almost blind.
“Oh, thank you! You brought me food!” he said. But as the other man was on his way out the door, the blind man added, “It’s not as much as last week!”
“He’ll hear you!” I told him.
“Well, it isn’t!”
I don’t think the man from the restaurant heard him. (Phew!)
He wanted to sing “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” and even though it’s still Advent we sang it, because that’s what he wanted. And it was joyful and beautiful, just as it was.
This week we read of Joseph, getting the news that things were not as they were supposed to be. His bride-to-be was pregnant, and he knew he wasn’t the father. He must have been a mature person with a good heart, because he decided to divorce her quietly and not put her to shame. Then an angel showed up! And told him that this messed-up version of family was exactly the way God wanted it to be. And he was to name the baby “God is with us.” Emmanuel.
I think our little church is exactly the way God wants it to be, too. We’re small, we’re grouchy sometimes, but these beautiful moments happen, these moments of grace. It’s really church… like Jesus said, wherever two or more gather in his name, there he is with us. God-is-with-us.
Please pray for one of the guys in our migrant church, who will be spending Christmas in the Detention Center. On Monday I kept getting these strange calls with a recorded woman’s voice speaking in Spanish. About the third or fourth call I figured out they were coming from the Detention Center, and a call or two later figured out what I was required to do to accept the call. It was a big relief because I knew he was there but hadn’t been able to reach him. It turned out he had court on Wednesday and needed help. I called a lawyer friend who is representing a number of folks from our church. He said he couldn’t be there but instructed me on what to tell our friend to say, that he had a lawyer but had only found him the day before, and he needed an extension. Tuesday night I was worried because I had no way to call him, was waiting for his call so I could explain what he was to do, and he hadn’t called. I asked friends to pray! And they did. And the phone rang! We went over and over what he was to do, and the next day he went in to court alone and asked for the extension, and got it. He will go to court on January 6, and the lawyer will ask for bond. Then we have to find a way to raise the bond, so stay tuned! I will visit him Saturday.
One thing you can say about St Romero’s. We may be tiny, but it’s never a dull moment!!
Love and light and peace as you celebrate Christmas. May there be lots of JOY!!
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
Judy Alves and Ty Powell serve the Christmas meal at Good Shepherd
In the past few days we have continued our preparation for Christmas. We wrapped endless presents for our children and adults. We have been catching up with friends and loved ones. On Tuesday we had twenty-one adults and children for Tuesday Church, meal and fellowship and each one received a personal Christmas gift as well as a bag of toiletries. What a joyful time it was! On Sunday we will have many more kids who await Christmas with great anticipation and understanding.
On Thursday we traveled to Tampa to visit with Miriam and her sister Gloria who is in a Nursing home. Later Shayra, Miriam’s granddaughter joined us and we celebrated Christmas a little early but with much joy. This joy is so important as this is a family still in mourning for the loss of Miriam’s daughter and my friend and former MSW student and Pastor Nancy Echevarria who died in April of 2012 of complications of diabetes. Miriam had a good cry with us and we noted that she had no Christmas decorations up. Still she enjoyed our visit and the visit with her sister very much.
This time Gloria was dressed and enjoying a visit from friends and neighbors. She was so happy to see us and her friends and let everyone know that now her family was surrounding her. It was wonderful to see her progress. She also loved her Kentucky Fried chicken!
After visiting her we met up with Brenda Cummings and her friends. Brenda was one of the homeless women we first met in Lion’s Park in our outdoor feeding ministry in 2007-2009. She is living near Tampa now but hopes to return to the Fort Myers area as she remains connected to our Good Shepherd church.
On the way back we visited with our Bishop, Bridget Mary Meehan and also enjoyed an early Christmas celebration. Then we put our heads together about the ordination of four women in St. Andrew UCC church on January 18th,2014. One to be ordained priest is from Colombia South America, Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia. Maureen McGill of Florida will also be ordained a priest then and two will be ordained Deacons as well, More details later.Do save that date if you can come and remember us all in prayer.
A great joy this week was placing Tuxedo in a new home. This is a kitty who has been visiting me for a few months. He was terrified of human contact and would literally run so fast that he would disappear when we first met. In the past few weeks he became very friendly and did all he could to beg his way inside. I was so blessed to have a neighbor, Sherry Hornbrook who was willing to adopt him. He went to the Vet on Monday and was neutered and got all of his shots. He had to stay a little longer as there was a complication with his neutering and he had a pre cancerous condition that was so much better removed! He did very well with all of this and charmed everyone at Dr. Terry Sutton’s Three Oaks Animal Hospital. He was so ready for a home. On Friday Sherry picked him up and it was mutual love right away. He is adjusting to two older dogs who are very patient with him as they had a cat sibling before. What a lucky kitty to have such a loving family now. We are very thankful.
It is not easy to find homes for throw away kitties and thousands are killed each year here despite the efforts of caring people and rescuers. Yet, it is even harder to find homes for people who have been thrown away or just plain given up on. Everyone deserves a home. Our prayer is for homes and shelter for all this season of love, justice and peace.
Here is a slide show of our Christmas journeys and our wishes for you. CLICK ON FIRST LINK.
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We wish you love and peace as we celebrate the last Sunday in Advent and Christmas-when God became one of us though always MORE beyond our understanding, and love was born again on earth.
Pastor Judy Lee,ARCWP
Our God is With You Sister Megan Rice- Facing A Possible Thirty Year Sentence For Anti-Nuclear Activism at 83
Here is the prelude to the Article on Sister Megan Rice in Al Jazeera America, 12/16/13-An Open Letter to Sister Megan Rice
Dear Sister Megan,
Your life of courage and conviction moves us and convicts us. Thank you for your Plowshares Now action with your friends. You took “extreme” and courageous action and face living out your days in jail where you bear the light in the darkness of our penal system. Your caring for your fellow inmates is life-giving to them. Your anti nuclear actions are life-giving to all of us. You are right that most our young people do not understand the cause of justice and peace interconnected and the meaning of what you did. All we can do is promise you, and God, that we will work to remedy this. We will teach them about you and others who have risked their lives for peace and justice. We instruct our youth to “study war no more”. You are the light on our path. The least we can do is walk in it toward peace and bring our young people along with us.
It is for them and for their future that we will “study war no more”
In our church the story is a little different,our young people do know about you and your activism and about earlier Plowshares actions as well. Our co-Pastor, Judy Beaumont also a Plowshares activist, She was imprisoned for several months for her part in Plowshares Nein. How blessed they are to have a living example of peace activism in their Roman Catholic Woman priest. She too worked on prison reform from within the walls of prisons in Rhode Island and Connecticut. When you attended our priest sister, Diane Dougherty’s, priestly ordination in Georgia you were brave to do so. But that is who you are a woman of courage who is not afraid of speaking the truth to power no matter where that power lies. It is beautiful that you mention her ordination and the existence of Roman Catholic Women Priests in the interview we are sharing below.
Dearest sister Sister Megan, thank you for your peace and anti-nuclear activism and for your public stance recognizing women priests as in the present as well as the future of the church. Thank you for your witness, thank you for your love. We love you and want you to know that we appreciate what you are doing. We still pray for a merciful sentence and we know that your witness will remain strong whether or not you are in prison. If they keep you in, they’d better watch out for reform will be on the way!
Much love and peace,
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP
Rev. Judy Beaumont, ARCWP
Co-Pastors of The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community
Fort Myers, Florida,
Here now is the beautifully written article in Al Jazeera America by Lisa DeBode
Sending a Nun to Prison to Die
83-year-old Sister Megan Rice continues her anti-nuclear activism in jail, pleads for a Catholic Church ‘of the streets’
This is the Sunday of Joy in waiting for the coming of Christ-for the fullness of Christ within us so that we reflect Christ; for the Christ born in relative poverty and shepherds rejoicing on Christmas day; and for the Christ who will return when the kin(g)dom is close to fruition. The pink candle of joy is lighted and we are only one week away from the birth of the baby in the manger.
Isaiah tells us ((35:1-6,10) tells us that when our God comes to save us, the blind will see and the deaf will hear, the lame will leap and the mute will sing for joy. I take this to mean, beyond the miraculous, that finally we will all understand and see and hear what the kin(g)dom of God is about, love and justice-and joy. We will get up off of our comfortable seats and walk and dance this kin(g)dom into existence. The faithful will enter Zion with joy, sorrow and lament will flee and there will be everlasting joy on their faces. For Isaiah’s exiled people freedom will bring that joy even as Mandela’s triumph brought a lasting joy to South Africa. Yet that joy is there despite the poverty that exists among the poorest for whom little has changed in South Africa. The work of the kin(g)dom is not anywhere near done there or here or anywhere. The Psalm also assures us of God’s love and provision for the poor- “You secure justice for the oppressed- You give food to the hungry”. And at the same time we whose eyes are open know that our work is intense- there is so much work to be done so that there is justice for the poor and all are fed. And we know this even though we do our part in feeding the poor and working for justice regularly. The epistle reading today (James 5:7-10) asks us to wait patiently for the kin(g)dom to come even as the farmer waits for the crops to grow. And yet we know that we must work to bring forth the crop and the kin-dom- to unite all of us as God’s family. James wrote about that strongly –faith without works is dead! (James 2:26)
Good Shepherd Church-Pearl Cudjoe and Debbie Carey serving the Sunday Meal
But we know this (that our work is needed) only if we have indeed found the One that leads us into this kin(g)dom and asks us to work together to bring it here. John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin, his Mom Elizabeth and Jesus Mother Mary were close friends. John knew who Jesus was from the start-from the womb as it were. John knew that his own job was to prepare the way for Jesus. John’s preaching did this and he had already baptized Jesus and experienced the Spirit of God affirming Jesus. And yet in today’s Gospel (Matthew 11:2-11) John seems confused. Perhaps we would be as well if we were in prison and it looked like there would be no reprieve and if we could not see the works that Jesus was doing, but only hear about them second hand. (And that is how it is for us, isn’t it? So we can look around and see the pain in the world and ask John’s question too. ) John sends a messenger to ask: “Are you the One who is to come, or do we look for another”? Maybe John’s Messiah was to literally free the Jews from the Romans, maybe he was to overturn the political establishment by whatever means necessary. Yet John knew the holiness and greatness of Jesus saying “I’m not even worthy of latching up his shoes”. Maybe John was just confused. I can resonate with that-we see Jesus, the Christ, filtered through so many eyes old and new, traditional theology and contemporary theology, that tell us who Jesus is or isn’t, it can be very confusing. All do it with great authority as if they finally have God in the box. But God just doesn’t fit in any box. So if we are honest we too may ask Jesus, “Are you the One?”
Do you remember a time in your life when you were looking for “the one?” I don’t mean for the Messiah, the Anointed/Chosen one, but for the one you would love and cherish and want to spend your life with? The one who would be your lover and beloved forever? I remember that time. It was more than one time. Finding the love of your life is so complicated and so much mutuality is needed and people change so much that you don’t always get it right. I remember wondering if this one, or that one was “the one”.
The African American people also had a long period of time and sometimes still ask when a child is born: Is this the one? Meaning the one who will lead the people to freedom who will show the way. I wonder if they knew when Martin Luther King Junior was born that he would at least be one of the ones who would lead the way, or Rosa Parks, or Sojourner Truth? Is this the one? Did Nelson Mandela’s mother know he was the one to lead his people to freedom? Maybe not, they say he changed in prison to become the gentle forgiving leader that galvanized a country-not only by his great courage but by his love.
Well, the answer Jesus gave is a really good one. He answered with what he DID not with what he was supposed to be. He referred to the passage in Isaiah about the reign of God and pointed out that he has been making the blind to see, the lame to walk, the unclean clean/lepers cured, the deaf to hear and even the dead to be raised to life. And the “have-nots” have the Good News preached to them-by him. So blessed are they who can see this and not take offense. Offense at what- at the man who is fulfilling prophecy and bringing on the kin(g)dom? Yes, this would offend the powerful and also the traditionally religious who can’t believe that this is happening in their midst. “Can’t” because they may be expecting someone else a military leader for example. “Can’t” because he comes from a small not powerful town, though one that was prophesied for the Savior’s birth. “Can’t” because they just don’t get who he is or what he’s doing. “Can’t” because his being and preaching, his inclusion of women and outcasts threatens the status quo, including their religious establishment power.
For those who seek the one to love and settle down with-the answer is also in his or her deeds. Is this the one for me? It is if their actions not just their words show their love for you. And if you in turn reciprocate this love with loving deeds. With love it is a two way street. Well, it’s the same with loving Jesus, the Christ. If we love Christ our deeds will show it. We will become Christ-like-we will become like our Beloved. We will work hard to feed, shelter, cry for justice with and for, and love EVERYBODY. And Christ might just ask us too “Are you the one?” It is all about love after all. And that love brings us great joy-it also brings on the kin(g)dom of God on earth and forever. So do you know this Christ, is this the One for you? If it is, REJOICE!
Pastor Judy Lee,ARCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community Fort Myers, Florida
In June 2013 Pastor Judy Beaumont and I had the pleasure of visiting the “senior priest” of The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, Rev. Dr. Adele Jones,86 years young. You may check the June Archives of this blog for learning more about this very special woman who chooses joy and enjoys every moment of her life.
Below, our Bishop, Rev. Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan shares highlights of her visit this week with Rev. Adele in San Antonio, Texas.
Friday, December 13, 2013
A Sacred Journey – Conversations with a Contemporary Mystic: Dr Adele Jones, ARCWP
|Adele Jones and Bridget Mary Meehan, left to right
at Villa San Antonio
First, Adele who lives in joyful solitude in a senior living community, believes that we are all called to be mystics and prophets.
She is grateful that she lives in San Antonio, a sacred place among people who descend from Latin American indigenous people who provide a rich cultural and spiritual heritage.
|Dancers at Our Lady of Guadalupe Liturgy in San Antonio|
She credits institutions such as Incarnate Word, a Catholic University here, for leading the way in presenting in depth spiritual programs on topics like the new cosmology.
|River Walk, San Antonio|
Adele believes that there is a convergence that is happening now among people from diverse religious traditions who are coming together to share and to celebrate their experiences of Indwelling Presence in this world and beyond. “What could be more mystical than gazing at the stars,” Adele said. She feels God’s presence everywhere and is never bored.
A devotee of the Feminine Divine, Dr. Jones shared these thoughts from her workshop: “Sophia, the Breath of God: An Invitation to Wisdom”:
“…Sophia is nearly unknown in the twenty-first century but her presence in the world can be experienced as she again calls out amid the chaos, confusion and violence of our times. Once she is heard and her wisdom penetrates the human heart and mind, wise solutions to problems will be discovered, both individually and collectively…As more and more groups develop in wisely solving situations, whole cultures and societies will be influenced. It begins with one. It begins with me. It begins with you. A small beginning but a start. The idea of learning to live more wisely as an individual with the potential for that to spread to others is the most exciting adventure I can imagine…”
|Adele Jones in her home in Villa San Antonio|
We concluded our time together by celebrating Eucharist. As we prepared the altar, we prayed:
“Nurturing God, we are united in the sacrament by the love of Jesus Christ in communion with Mary, who proclaimed God’s power and mercy for the lowly and oppressed. Like Mary, First Disciple, may we live as prophetic witnesses in the Gospel. Like Mary May we discover the liberating power of Woman-Spirit in our midst. We ask this through Jesus, our brother, the cosmic Christ of the ages.”
|Our Lady of Guadalupe at Cathedral in San Antonio|