Archive | December 2013

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

By Lisa De Bode, Al Jazeera America
16 December 13

83-year-old Sister Megan Rice continues her anti-nuclear activism in jail, pleads for a Catholic Church ‘of the streets’

ister Megan Rice presses the palm of her hand against the glass in greeting, her blue eyes welcoming her visitor in a cell opposite hers. Lamps illuminate her oval face framed by cropped hair like a white halo. Her uniform – a green-striped jumpsuit, sneakers and a gray blanket that covers her slender shoulders – is not the norm for a Roman Catholic nun, but she sees her presence in Georgia’s Irwin County Detention Center as answering her Christian calling.
The 83-year-old Rice has chosen to spend the final chapter of her life behind bars.
She faces a possible 30-year prison sentence on charges of interfering with national security and damaging federal property, resulting from an act of civil disobedience she committed in July last year.
Exhausted after hiking through the woods adjacent to the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., that once provided the enriched uranium for the Hiroshima bomb, Rice, along with Michael Walli and Gregory Boertje-Obed splashed blood against the walls, put up banners and beat hammers “into plowshares” – a biblical reference to Isaiah 2:4, “They shall beat swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”
Breaking into a sensitive nuclear facility to stage a protest, the three activists were prepared for the worst. “We were very aware that we could have died,” Rice said.
They were not killed but found themselves incarcerated. Now she spends her days answering letters from supporters and educating other detainees about the dangers of nuclear weapons – and the connections she draws between militarism and the poverty she believes has landed so many young women behind bars. Rice accuses the U.S. government of denying citizens such basic rights such as medical care and access to education because it invests so many billions of dollars in military equipment.
“Every day is a day to talk about it,” she told Al Jazeera, raising her voice a bit to be heard through the glass wall that separates her from the outside world. “It’s not time lost by any means.”
Citing backgrounds of poverty from towns “where there are hardly any other options,” she blames a capitalist economy for not investing more in social services available to the underclass and effortlessly connects nuclear weapons to the “prison-industrial complex.” They’re not bad people, she says of her fellow inmates, but were unfortunate enough to be born into a society that gave them few choices.
“They know that they are the human fallout and the victims of the profiteering by the elite and top leaders of the corporations that are contracted to make the nuclear weapons. It’s (the money) denied to human services that should be the priority of any government,” she said.
She coughs slightly, her nose running from the cold inside the jail. Every morning, she stands in line to receive her daily dose of antihistamines, but others receive pills for conditions far worse than what she has to endure, she said. “So many should not be here,” she sighed, edging closer to the glass wall in which a talking hole was partly blocked.
“I don’t see them as perpetrators but as the victims. People are being warehoused in detention centers all over the country.”
Walli, a 64-year-old Vietnam veteran, also spends long hours talking to inmates, veterans from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder, whom he said should be getting proper treatment. “We try to do missionary work here,” he said. “We’re trying to instill the idea that human life is sacred.”
Mushrooms clouds in Nevada
Unlike most of her fellow inmates, Rice was born to an affluent family, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, whose next-door neighbor was a physicist secretly involved in the Manhattan Project, which created the world’s first nuclear weapons. Her passion for social justice came early. She followed her parents to meetings of the Catholic Workers Movement with Dorothy Day, the social-justice activist currently on course for beatification. Her mother wrote her doctoral thesis at Columbia University on the Catholic view of slavery, and her father helped serve the city’s poor as an obstetrician. “I just happened to have very conscientious parents,” she said.
At 18, she joined the Society of the Holy Child Jesus and started teaching science to girls in rural Nigeria in 1962. During summer holidays, she visited her sister’s home in upstate New York, where she would ride a horse in her habit, looking “different, not a typical nun,” said her niece, who was named after her and is now 52. Wherever Rice went, she inspired people to follow her example, such that six to eight letters reach her cell every day. “I just get this feeling that the action she did with Michael and Greg is a culmination of her life,” her niece said.
As malaria and typhoid began to take their toll, Rice permanently returned to the U.S. in 2003 and took up a position with the Nevada Desert Experience, a nonprofit organization advocating against nuclear warfare at a former test site. Ghastly visions of giant mushroom-shaped clouds became tourist attractions from hotel rooftops in Las Vegas, near which about 1,000 nuclear weapons were detonated since the 1950s.
Rice’s uncle, a former Marine who watched Nagasaki being leveled, befriended a Jesuit bishop whose mother and sister were incinerated in Japan during a Mass. They were among the estimated 60,000 people immediately killed by the blast. He devoted the rest of his life to nuclear disarmament.
“That’s how close I’ve been in touch with the reality,” Rice said.
She was pleased to report that, nearly 70 years later, Japanese media reported on her arrest and lauded her action.
Hypocrisy in disarmament?
Rice and her friends were arrested for acts of civil disobedience they devoted to global nuclear disarmament at various stages of their lives. She feels a special responsibility to draw attention to the U.S nuclear arsenal, she said.
The logic of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty under which Iran is currently being held accountable, for example, requires that the existing nuclear-armed states take steps toward disarmament. Yet in 2008, for example, almost two decades after the end of the Cold War, the U.S. was spending at least $52 billion a year on nuclear weapons, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. And only 10 percent of that spending is devoted to disarmament.
“It’s extremely hypocritical to demand disarmament (from Iran),” Rice said, recalling an anecdote involving former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who reportedly honored the activist trio during a dinner in New York City last year, where he held a photo of them close to his heart. “It showed that he honored the effort to call the U.S. to its legal obligations.”
The activists decided to stage a protest to draw attention to the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Defunct cameras and fences couldn’t prevent the three elderly people from damaging what some call the country’s Fort Knox of uranium, raising questions about how they might restrain professional thieves with less idealistic intentions. Some members of Congress even thanked Rice and her accomplices for bringing the Y-12 facility’s security problems to the nation’s attention – the latest in a series of nuclear security breaches in recent years.
The U.S. nuclear weapons program has become the backwater of military services. In 2010 the Pentagon concluded that“the massive nuclear arsenal we inherited from the Cold War era of bipolar military confrontation is poorly suited to address the challenges posed by suicidal terrorists and unfriendly regimes seeking nuclear weapons.”
Paul Carroll, program director at the Ploughshares Fund, a foundation that supports the elimination of nuclear weapons, said, “Sitting in a missile silo in the middle of the country, waiting for the day when the Soviets (attack) is a throwback. So they have moral problems. They’re rusty.”
Paul Magno, a fellow plowshares activist and loyal friend of Rice’s, said a generational disconnect pushed the nuclear issue into relative obscurity in recent years. A guest lecturer at a University of Tennessee sociology class, he said it’s become increasingly hard to impress his student audience with the gravity of nuclear warfare.
“For decades there was duck and cover and you would climb under your desk at school,” he said. “Kids today never had that moment. They don’t have any idea about nuclear winter.”
Occupy Church
Rice may see her actions as inspired by her faith, but she has had little support from within the Church establishment. Retired Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a renowned peace activist, laments the Church’s tepid stance on Rice’s detention and nuclear weapons. Citing official doctrine that explicitly condemns the use of weapons of mass destruction as “a crime against God and man himself,” he calls on colleagues to take up her cause as an exemplar of someone who stood up for what is right.
“They’re supposed to be leaders on something like this. There hasn’t been any kind of statement from Catholic bishops on what Megan has done,” he said. To be frank, Gumbleton added, “in the official church, I have to say most people don’t even know about her. And that’s really sad.”
Rice doesn’t expect much from the establishment – not even from the new pope, whose recent pronouncements have raised many eyebrows. She isn’t interested in institutions but swears instead by a grass-roots church. “The church is where the people are,” she said. The church matters only “on a local level.” She is skeptical of Pope Francis but feels encouraged by his choice of a less extravagant lifestyle than those of his predecessors, who she said had been living like “princes in their palaces.”
Her order, the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, offered the lone voice of support from within the Catholic establishment.
“While we do not condone criminal activity, we would like to point out that Sister Megan has dedicated her life to ending nuclear proliferation. With the Catholic Church, she believes nuclear weapons are incompatible with the peace so desperately needed throughout the world and therefore cannot be justified,” Mary Ann Buckley wrote in a statement emailed to Al Jazeera.
Pope Francis certainly seems inclined to rebrand the Church as an institution that fights for social justice and is not afraid of protesting. “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined,” Francis wrote in the mission statement for his papacy issued last month. That’s a message that has resonated with many young people in different parts of the world who have taken to the streets to protest austerity and vast economic inequalities.
“American Christians have been far too polite, too quiet and too accommodating of both the injustice and the blasphemous use of Jesus’ name in committing atrocities in our nation and our world,” wrote a group styling itself Protest Chaplains in a manifesto that coincided with the Occupy movement of which they formed a part. “That’s why we want to protest with all those who, like us, know in the deepest places of our souls that another world is indeed possible.”
Rice met with Occupy activists discussing nuclear issues in New York City, “when it began in September.” She described their work as “religion doing what it’s meant to be doing.”
“The church is where the people are,” she said. “It is the people.”
A similar message has been echoed in Barcelona, where street activists known as Indignados took their cues from Sister Theresa Forcades, a Roman Catholic nun and activist who believes the current economic policy consensus among governments of industrialized nations perpetuates inequality. And like Rice, Forcades has been skeptical of Francis’ pronouncements, arguing that the new pope should be judged by his attention to women’s rights, which so far has been lacking.
Still, Rice is confidence that “it will come,” referring to the ordination of women. Last year she attended the unofficial ordination – not recognized by the Vatican – of Diane Dougherty in Atlanta. “They are preparing the way and are receiving great acceptance from lay Catholics.”
Lessons from prison
Her supporters say Rice’s life exemplifies the social activism needed to revive the church’s appeal among young people. Still, she’s reluctant to be cast as a hero. Her heroes, she said, are ordinary people who act “according to our conscience.”
As she awaits sentencing on Jan. 28 – facing a possible maximum term of 30 years – she borrowed phrases from Dr. Martin Luther King in a letter she sent to Al Jazeera. In it she reflected on her life, which may very well end in prison.
“On some positions, cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ And vanity comes along and asks, ‘Is it popular?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?'” she wrote.
“And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but one must do it because conscience tells one it is right.”
At a court hearing in May, she told the public prosecutor her only guilt is that she waited 70 years to break into the facility “to be able to speak what I knew in my conscience.” Seven months later she said, “This is a very positive experience. It’s getting better and better.”
She remains uncomfortable being in the spotlight, looking to deflect attention to others. She settles on her fellow inmates in this prison, the ones she is helping prepare for a life outside prison bars – a life to which she herself might not return.
With them in mind, she smiled, noting simply, “I’m not alone in being misjudged.”
We thank God for you, Sister Megan!!

Are You The One? Homily for the 3rd Sunday in Advent A-Rejoice! By Pastor Judy Lee

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


A Return Visit to Rev. Dr. Adele Jones,Woman Priest and Contemplative by Bishop Bridget Mary

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

This week I have been blessed by my visit with Dr. Adele Jones, a Roman Catholic Woman Priest, and a mystic who lives in San Antonio, Texas. Here are a few of her spiritual insights: 

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

Thanks be to God! Five Roman Catholic Women Ordained in Louisville, Ky 12/8/13

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests is pleased to announce the ordination of five women in Louisville, Kentucky on Sunday 12/8/2013. . The cold and snowy weather did not deter people from attending the ordination of Mary Sue Barnett as Priest and Ann Harrington, Betty Smith ,Denise Menard Davis and Mary Weber as Deacons. Over two hundred people gathered to celebrate this wonderful event with Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan presiding. The article below is from the 
Written by
Charlie White
The Courier-Journal
Five Roman Catholic women were ordained (four as deacons and one as a priest) at Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. As priest candidate Mary Sue Barnett lay prostrate in the aisle, deacon candidate Betty H. Smith got some help getting into position. Dec. 08, 2013

Five Roman Catholic women were ordained (four as deacons and one as a priest) at Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. As priest candidate Mary Sue Barnett lay prostrate in the aisle, deacon candidate Betty H. Smith got some help getting into position. Dec. 08, 2013 / David R. Lutman/Special to The Courier-Journal
Mary Sue Barnett lay prostrate Sunday before members of theAssociation of Roman Catholic Women Priests and others laid their hands on her in solemn reverence and prayer.

They had a clear message for the Vatican on Sunday, ordaining Barnett as its latest woman priest.

“The time has come for a holy shake­up that will bring new life, creativity and justice to the church and beyond,” the Rev. Bridget Mary Meehan, the ordaining bishop, said during the ceremony.

MORE | Photo gallery from the ordination

More than 200 people attended the afternoon ceremony for Barnett at Central Presbyterian Church in Old Louisville.

Four other women were ordained as deacons: Denise Menard Davis and Betty Smith of Louisville, Mary Weber of Indianapolis and Ann Harrington of Greenville, N.C.

It was the second such ceremony in Louisville in the past year.

“It’s a very natural next step for me, a joy-filled step,” Barnett, 51, said after the ceremony, adding there are “women of all ages who need to be visible and need to be heard.”

She will give her first liturgies at First Unitarian Church on Fourth Street at 5 p.m. Dec. 21.

Barnett, who is married, has two sons and lives in the Lyndon area, was born and raised in the traditional Roman Catholic Church, attending St. Athanasius, Mother of Good Counsel and Church of Epiphany in Louisville. She also has taught at Catholic institutions, including PresentationAcademy, Assumption High School, Spalding University and St. Catharine College.

There are now more than 160 women priests in the association, said Meehan, of Mother Mary of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Fla.

The association’s first seven women were ordained as priests in 2002 on the Danube River in Europe, and a dozen more were ordained in the first U.S. ordination in Pittsburgh in 2006.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville officials have said Catholics should not support or participate in events held by the association, maintaining it has no connection to the Roman Catholic Church.

Some association supporters who attended Sunday’s ceremony sat on the upper level to avoid having their photos taken because they said they would be excommunicated if they were seen at the ceremony.

Pope Francis, like other pontiffs before him, has rejected the idea of women priests, although he is trying to include them more in the church.

The Rev. Janice Savre-Duszynska, an association member, said priesthood “goes beyond gender.”

She’s among those who say frescoes the Vatican recently restored in the Catacomb of Priscilla — including one that appears to show a woman being ordained by a bishop — are evidence of women deacons and priests.

But the Vatican has a different interpretation.

“This is an elaboration that has no foundation in reality,” Barbara Mazzei of the Pontifical Commission on Sacred Archaeology told Reuters last month.

Reach Charlie White at (812) 949-4026 or @c_write.

Jesus helped the blind to see. It is amazing that anyone could see and then deny the presence and meanings of those frescoes interpreted by many scholars, Gary Macy and Dorothy Irvin included. Yet, thankfully,  Even the Vatican cannot limit the powers of God to call whom God calls to serve as priests and deacons. Thanks be to God for those male bishops who helped to start this Movement in 2002. They were clear that this was done not for any individual woman but for the good of all the church, of all God’s people. Thanks be to God!  To read the stories of early women priests, including this author, the reader may be interested in Women Find A Way edited by Meehan and McGrath, or or Band N .com

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP

More Thoughts on Advent 2 from 3 Preachers -Bringing In the “Already-but not yet”


Good Shepherd Tuesday Ministry Core Group-Homeless No More And Helping Others

In my last blog I shared my homily on “Blossoming Out of a Tree Cut Down”.  Many of us, including those who are  homeless,like the Blossom from the cut off stump of Jesse, Jesus the Christ, sprout up, rise up, despite the treatment we have received. Advent is a time of sprouting into new life. For some as Pastor Reho says, it means moving away from our own dead center of “ME”. For others as Rev. Bingle says it means doing what they can do to serve others, to feed and clothe and encourage the homeless and others in trouble when the minimum wage is so low no one can live on it. May we also encourage those changes that bring new life to all, like raising the minimum wage to twice what it is now so people can live on it.

Here are two more preachers sharing the word for Advent 2. 

Rev. James Reho of The Lamb of God Lutheran Episcopal Church in Estero, Florida

“Koans are paradoxical questions that are meant to stop our ordinary ways of thinking so that our minds (and hearts) can be opened to something more.  Some famous koans include, “What was your original face before you were born?” and “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”  Sitting with such paradoxes can expand us.

This season of Advent, too, is a paradox.  On the one hand, it is a time of preparation and waiting; on the other, it is a call to awaken to God’s kin(g)dom which is already at hand, among us and within us (Luke 17:21).  Theologians often describe this reality using the paradoxical phrase “already-but-not-yet.”

The Advent paradox of “already-but-not-yet” captures, I think, how we often experience the Holy.  The more present we become to Presence here and now, the more we see new horizons unfolding into the future.  The more we experience union with God, the more we are called to continual transformation into God.  The more our Lamb of God community seeks and embodies God’s hopeful dreams for our world, the more we are called to faithful courage in furthering this “already-but-not-yet” kin(g)dom of God.

The more seriously we take the message of Advent, the more we become people of paradox.  What does this mean?  It means that we can imagine in a courageous way what our future will look like and risk making it happen, while awakening to the fact that we, already in the present, have everything we need to bring it about.  It means, too, that for God’s kin(g)dom to be more fully revealed, our own kingdoms have to move over: “what I want” sometimes needs to cede to “what best serves.”      Finally, it means that we learn to become suppler and less rigid through cultivating our inner prayer life and outer community life.

What are we waiting for?  We wait for That which is already here.

Whom are we waiting for?  We wait for Jesus Christ, who, here and now, is alive within us and among us.

What is the sound of one hand clapping?  That one I’ll leave to you to figure out🙂

See you in church,


Rev. Beverly Bingle, Roman Catholic Woman Priest in Toledo, Ohio

Last Wednesday, the temperature in Toledo was 60. This weekend the
high is 30. The forecast high for next Tuesday is 20. The Winter
Solstice—the darkest day of the year—is two weeks off. Bleak, frigid
days ahead.

Lucas County officials count over a thousand homeless people here. I
mentioned that statistic at Claver House this week, and Al, one of the
guests, estimated that there are two to three times that many because
they’re not all counted. Some live in cars. Some squat in
abandoned houses. Some go from couch to couch with family and
friends. A good number have “riverfront homes.” Some live under the
High-Level Bridge. Others under the Craig Bridge. Still others live
under the new Glass City Skyway.

A third of the homeless have a mental illness or an addiction. Some
of them are the “working poor,” not making enough money to pay minimal
expenses for food and housing. Many of them are unemployed. Many of
the women and children are fleeing from domestic violence. Some spend
their nights in one of the four homeless shelters—they’re the ones who
get counted. They walk or bike to soup kitchens and the public
library during the day while the shelters are closed. They look for
jobs without an address to put on the application, without a shower,
without clean clothes for an interview.

It’s bleak. Cold. Hard.

We gather here today, warm and safe, and hear scriptures that promise
a peaceful, happy world. We hear the Baptizer proclaim that God’s
reign is at hand. And we know that something’s wrong with this
picture. What were those words of scripture we just heard? Treat
poor people with fairness? No harm, no destruction on my holy

Our Pope Francis describes the problem; he says: The great danger in
today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and
anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit
of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our
interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns,
there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor.

John the Baptizer is more blunt about it; he shouts: You pack snakes!
Give some evidence that you mean to reform!

Glory be to God, our Holy Spirit Community can give evidence. We
consistently spend our time and our talent and our resources to, as
the Psalmist puts it, “rescue the poor when they cry out.”

Last week you brought canned goods and sweaters, cash and toys,
Christmas decorations and socks, cereal and lots of plastic bags and
containers… all donated by you for the hungry and the homeless in our
midst. During the week each of you ministers at home, at work, with
friends, among strangers. You’re at the Assumption Outreach Center,
Helping Hands of St. Louis, Hospice, Claver House, the St. Vincent de
Paul Society, Pax Christi, the Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition, Call to
Action, to name just a few. You contribute, over and above what you
give for our Community’s efforts, to causes ranging from ISOH/Impact
disaster relief to the Padua Center’s tutoring program. In two weeks,
on the 22nd we’ll address another of our five potential focuses for
systemic change to serious problems in our world, this time looking at
the systems and institutions that contribute to addiction.

We can see the problems. We are already part of the solution, and we
are working towards doing even more.

So a shoot will sprout—a branch will blossom. In the darkness of
winter, in the darkness of our world, we can walk in the light of

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Mass at 2086 Brookdale (Interfaith Chapel):
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 9 a.m.
Mass at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.

Rev. Bev Bingle, Pastor,

As we celebrate Advent 2, the Sunday of Peace and Preparation let us pray for the grace to work for justice in order to pursue peace. Let us join John the Baptist in giving some evidence that we mean to change our hearts and lives to serve one another and the “least” among us this Advent season. 

Pastor Judy Lee,ARCWP

Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Florida

Blossoming Out of a Tree Cut Down-Homily for the Second Sunday in Advent-12/8/13


“On that day,

A shoot will sprout from the stump of Jesse;

From Jesse’s roots, a branch will blossom.

The Spirit of God will rest there…” (Is 11: 1-2a).

Have you ever felt like a tree cut down? Like a dead, sap bleeding, or dying stump instead of the flourishing tree you were before the axe of life’s events did its work? Do you know people who have been cut down before they could even grow? Or those who grew well until hard events cut them down? I know and serve such people and I know what it feels like to be a tree cut down. Poverty is a great axe that cuts new and older trees down without mercy. After almost thirty years of serving the homeless, I still wonder how anyone survives it. How physical survival is possible let alone emotional and spiritual survival. I have learned sadly that some do not survive. We have a Wall of Remembrance in our church where candle lights remind us of the lights that went out while homeless. But most do survive and I see those shoots coming forth and blossoming every day. It is a miracle of the spirit. Yet, if I do not speak and act prophetically, if we all do not cry out at the structures that continue to produce homelessness and act to remedy it, we are silently and tacitly in the tree cutting business.


 And I see the fruits of racism in the lives of all I serve, black, white, brown, yellow, poor or rich. Race still can put limits on growth, interactions, and opportunities despite the ultimate great success of the Civil Rights Movement. Whole peoples and nations, whole forests can be wantonly cut down by prejudice, discrimination, oppression and exploitation. The Jewish people were cut down again and again throughout history and yet they survive and Israel lives. The prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist would say-yes, yes, live on, but continue to ACT for Justice and peace.  Now, in Palestine, in the spirit of God, act now for justice, and peace.  

And let us act to accept and respect difference. Difference such as gayness or facing a host of other life challenges strikes blows to the young trees that can bend and break them.  Much of youth suicide is connected to being different and to being bullied about it one way or the other. I serve the “trees” cut down and I see the shoots coming forth and the fruits blossoming despite the stunting experiences endured. I rejoice at those shoots and tend them carefully. I know it in my people and I recognize it even as I know it in myself. I know it intimately, from growing up in relative poverty, from being a woman, from facing homophobia and heterosexism in its many subtle and not so subtle forms, from health challenges that change everything in one moment, from facing many losses, and from the aging process that keeps one humble.  

And so I look to the root of Jesse, to the shoot that came out of the cut off tree, from the stump itself and blossomed, died and literally rose to lead us as the people grafted into the tree of Jesse, the tree of life. I look to Jesus the Christ whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas, whose presence we welcome into our lives and see in every suffering and beautiful face, and who comes again in us as we are Christ to one another and who will come back again when the job of building the kin(g)dom of God is closer to completion. I look to this Christ to know that we can all grow back beautiful and strong from the stump of a tree. The Christ who grew from the tree of cut off and restored Israel, the Christ who grew from the wood of the Cross, who knew how to suffer with the suffering and how to bring rising to new life to each and every one of us.   I love this shoot sprouted from the cut off tree, from Jesse’s roots. I wait for the fullness of Christ dwelling among us. I stand with the rough clad John the Baptist in our Gospel for this day (Matt 3: 1-12) and baptize with water waiting with him for the coming of the baptism of fire and the passion for justice and peace into each life redeemed by baptism. Together we are waiting to see, watering, and nurturing the life inherent in the seed through baptism.  Sometimes with John and with Christ Christ we must even be abrasively prophetic to cut away the weeds that choke out the new life.

During Advent we wait for the coming of Christ even as the ancient prophets waited for and heralded the coming of the Messiah who would bring in the reign of God-when justice and peace would wed and love would be the rule. When “the lion would lay down with the lamb” when there would be no predators or oppressors and all would dwell together in a peaceable kin(g)dom, paradise regained where there would be justice and fairness, especially for the poor and disinherited (Is 11:1-10).  Isaiah wrote late in the seventh century when the Northern kingdom (the northern outskirts of Jerusalem) was annexed to Assyria and Judah lived uneasily in its shadow as a tributary. He longed for Israel (and the known world) to be a free and peaceable kingdom where the faithful could live a life of loving God and especially the poorest of their neighbors. It is said that prophets afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted. In this case Isaiah is both challenging and comforting the afflicted Jewish faithful who are oppressed and perhaps emerging and reuniting from exile. God will restore the remnant of Israel.  Yet the prophetic voice reaches beyond those times to the coming of the Messiah from the root of Jesse, the father of King David, the shepherd king of Israel. The writer of Matthew shows Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy.  Yeshua bar Joseph, Jesus son of Joseph, as his patriarchal lineage was then traced, was in the line of Jesse. The Epistle (Romans 15:4-9) also tells us that we are to accept one another as Christ has accepted us. Through Christ the Gentiles also have cause to “glorify God for showing mercy”, God’s praise spreads throughout the nations. How thankful we are.

 I love the words of John the Baptist- don’t just count on your religious connections “Give some evidence that you mean reform!” “Produce that fruit as evidence of your repentance”! (Matthew 3:8). Act, don’t just talk.   And what fruit is that? -It is the fruit of justice- preparing the way of our God is preparing the way of love-love of God, of neighbor and of justice and peace. The Psalm of the day,Psalm 72, is the hope of the poor- “For they will rescue the poor when they cry out, and the afflicted when they have no one to help them…the lives of the poor they will save”. (Psalm 72:13-14). The TIB translation broadens the “king” to the leaders. Yes, God will raise leaders to save the poor, it is the job of the Christ and it is our job. To the extent we leave it undone we need to repent and to do it!   Pope Francis was caught sneaking out at night to give food to the poor-we don’t even have to sneak! Amen.  

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,ARCWP.

Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community

Fort Myers, Florida 

Hooray! My New Book “The House on Sunny Street” Is Now on Kindle and Nook!


Take a look! This story is faith-full, funny, poignant, outrageous, and full of surprises.  If you want to know what makes this person, priest and pastor who she is-start here! If you like stories about Brooklyn, inner city issues, coming of age, class in America, race relations, difference, faith and inspiration, or stories about making it against the odds, check it out.

Follow me through the decades and see why I am so thankful!

There is universal appeal to this story.

It is great that it is now available on Nook and Kindle so it is more affordable and at your finger tips! $9. 95 and Cyber Monday sales are on!

 October 16, 2013 on Nook and Kindle 12/2/13
This is the inspiring story of a Brooklyn child and her beloved, unique, strong and joyful family plagued with many problems and trials, their house, and a glorious ever-changing neighborhood. It celebrates the redeeming power of groups exemplified by a diverse, funny and outrageous group of young people coming of age with the help of a neighborhood church. It captures two Brooklyns-one white and one black over two and a half decades (1943-1966) and the ending of an era. The Epilogue skips through time bringing the reader up to the present time with God’s many surprises and blessings for the family and friends who lived on Sunny Street, also known as St. Mark’s Avenue. This is a story of faith and triumph against the odds, the intricacies of class, race, and difference and the ultimate power of love.
The book I wrote about The Good Shepherd Ministry with the homeless in Fort Myers: Come By Here: Church with the Poor is also available on KINDLE. (Will be on Nook too).    Do check it out!