Archive | January 2014

Sermon by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for The Presentation of Christ in the Temple

In preparing for my Homily on the Presentation of Jesus for this Sunday I found this 2004 Sermon by the wonderful preacher,homilist and near sainted human being, Most Rev.  Desmond Tutu. In it he addresses many of the issues we continue to face today in the world and as followers of Christ: war and blood on our hands, inclusion and attitudes towards the LGBTQ community, women’s ordination and episcopate, the false dualism of spiritual and material (read human) nature, and the reality of God in Christ and God in us according to how, indeed we present ourselves and Christ to others. His ending with God’s abiding love for us is beautiful. The text is Luke 2:22-30. I had the pleasure of hearing the dynamic and deep Desmond Tutu preach in New York City when I was a youth. I am so happy to read his words when I can and to present them here.

Sermon by Archbishop Desmond Tutu at Southwark Cathedral

[ACNS source: Southwark Cathedral]

The Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple

Sunday 1 February 2004 – 11.00am Choral Eucharist

Long, long ago, very clever people decided that the human body, flesh, all material things, that all of these were in and of themselves, evil, intrinsically, inherently and always. So there was no way that the good, the pure, the sublime and, by definition, the perfectly good spirit could be united with the material. For these people, the dualists, the incarnation, God, pure spirit, becoming a human being was totally and in principle, and always, out of the question. What people thought was God become flesh in Jesus Christ, well, that was all just playacting, a charade. Could you imagine God the all-powerful, God the eternal, dying? Oh come off it! Get real! When this one was crucified, it was not really Jesus – God – dying. You and I may pooh-pooh all this superiorly and say, “How odd, flying in the face of facts” but aren’t so many of us really closet duallists or worse, have we not sometimes been embarrassed with our physicality, when we have found it attractive to engage in the familiar dichotomies as between the sacred and the secular, the profane and the holy? When we have thought that Original Sin, must somehow have had to do with the facts of life, we snigger a little bit, wink, wink, as if when God said to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply”, God meant that they would do so by perhaps looking into each others’ eyes!

And have we not heard so many, many times: “Don’t mix religion with politics”, so very much the philosophical position of duallists. And just look at the tangle we have got into about human sexuality, about gays and lesbians, etc. Now what follows is really in parenthesis. I hope so very much that you have got over the anguish of last summer and may I salute Canon Jeffrey John who acted with so much dignity and selfless generosity.

The Jesus I worship is not likely to collaborate with those who vilify and persecute an already oppressed minority. I myself could not have opposed the injustice of penalizing people for something about which they could do nothing – their race – and then have kept quiet as women were being penalized for something they could do nothing about – their gender, and hence my support inter alia, for the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate.

And equally, I could not myself keep quiet whilst people were being penalized for something about which they could do nothing, their sexuality. For it is so improbable that any sane, normal person would deliberately choose a lifestyle exposing him or her to so much vilification, opprobrium and physical abuse, even death. To discriminate against our sisters and brothers who are lesbian or gay on grounds of their sexual orientation for me is as totally unacceptable and unjust as Apartheid ever was.

The God we worship has taken our physical material selves seriously because God declared about everything that God had created – matter and spirit, everything, not just that it was good, God said it was “very good”. That is why we say in the Nicene Creed: ‘maker of all there is, visible and invisible’. That matter is not recalcitrant, hostile and antagonistic to the spirit and so God could and did become a real human being, a real baby, belonging to a particular couple who have names, who lived in a real, a particular village, Nazareth, in an actual, real part of the world God created, belonging to an actual, real community with particular and specific laws, rules and customs.

So this baby’s parents obeyed the law and brought the baby to be redeemed as the first-born male who belonged therefore to God. God took human history seriously and so fulfilled promises God had made earlier to a Simon and to a faithful widow, Anna. God became a real human being; God took on our humanity – why? Other clever people said God became a human being so that we could become God. The epistle of St Peter speaks daringly of us as partakers of the divine nature. In this Eucharist, we will mix water and wine in the chalice and the President prays a remarkable prayer: ‘Oh God, who didst wonderfully create and wonderfully renew the dignity of man’s nature, grant that by the mystery of this water and wine, we may be made partakers of His divinity, who shared our humanity.’

Here God uses everyday, mundane, material things to communicate the very life of God, making Christianity, as Archbishop William Temple used to say “the most materialistic of all the great religions.” Yes, we are made partakers of the divine nature, God became a human being so that we could become as God. The Orthodox Church makes far more of our so-called ‘deification’ than we and you might recall how in the epistle to the Ephesians, the author speaks of us as being those who are going to be filled with the fullness of God – yes, we have been created in the image of God, that is our destiny, our destiny to be God-like, God-like so that we are perfect, even as our heavenly father is perfect.

So in the Old Testament, God exalts God’s people to be holy, “even as I your God am holy” and though this injunction occurs in the book Leviticus, which spends a great deal of time over the minutiae of cultic, ritual things, it turns out that this holiness that God requires of God’s people has nothing to do – or very little to do – with cultic purity. No, it is to reflect the divine compassion and concern for the weak and the hungry and so the assertion is when you are harvesting, don’t take up everything, leave some, leave some for the poor, be kind to the alien, for you see you were aliens in Egypt. How apt as we contemplate ever more stringent requirements for asylum-seekers and refugees. When you worship this God, if it does not make you see and feel like God, then that worship is a cult and for God it is an abomination, however elaborate it might be.

God will not heed your worship, your beseeching, for your hands are full of blood, the blood of your sisters and brothers killed in wars that were avoidable. Demonstrate your repentance by how you treat the most vulnerable: the orphan, the widow, the alien. When you are king over this people, and this God gives you God’s righteousness, it is so that prosperity will prevail, will prevail because as king, you judge rightly, you judge rightly especially the poor with equity, you give justice to the poor, you deliver the needy when they cry and the poor man who has no helper. You will pity the helpless and needy and save the lives of the poor. How many of our governments would pass this stringent test: “how did you deal with the poor?”

And when God’s spirit anoints you, it is so that you may preach the Good News, especially again to the poor, to preach the release of the imprisoned ones and to announce the year of the Lord’s favour, the year of jubilee, the year of release, the year of the cancellation of debt – of heavy, un-payable, draining international debt.

To be partakers of the divine nature means we become more and more God-like, treating all with an even-handedness, even those we regard as evil. For you know, even the most evil, the Shipmans, the Saddam Husseins, Bin Ladens – we may not like it – but they remain God’s children. This God, who lets God’s sun shine on good and bad alike; who makes God’s rain fall on all, for all, and we, who want to be God-like, are asked to forgive, even as God has forgiven us in Christ, forgive even that which we consider to be unforgivable.

To be like this God, who gives up on no-one, who loves us, not because we are loveable but that we become loveable only because God loves us, God loves us with a love that will not let us go, a love that loved us before we were created, a love that loves us now, a love that will love us forever, world without end. A love that says of each single one of us: “I love you, you are precious and special to me, I love you as if you were the only human being on earth, I love you and there is nothing you can do to make me love you more because I already love you perfectly.”

How incredibly, wonderfully, it is that God says to you, to me: “There is nothing you can do to make me love you less. I take you, I take you very seriously, I take you – you – body and soul, you the visible and the invisible of you, I love you, I love you, I love you.”

[Archbishop Desmond Tutu is the retired Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town]

Some Lessons on Peace from Woman Priest Janice Sevre-Dusynska,ARCWP and Other Peace Activists


Janice Sevre-Dusynska,ARCWP on the right with her friend Max Obuszewski also a peace activist and Bridget Mary Meehan

When our sister Priest Janice Sevre-Dusynska and other peace activists were arrested for a recent anti-nuclear action  their sentence was unusual: to write essays on questions asked by the judge. The National Catholic Reporter printed some of their responses and I share them below. They are honest, moving and insightful. Not everyone will agree with all of their answers but we can all learn about what peace,peacefulness, peace activism and love for our neighbors means by reading their answers.

When I was growing up there was a song from the Rodgers and Hammerstein Musical South Pacific that was popular and very true: “You have to be taught to hate, you have to be taught by six ,seven or eight…”. I remember the many ways I learned patriotism and that one side in war,any war, was righteous and right while the other was always wrong. I remember how it was wrong to hate, especially if you hated people like yourself-but somehow it was okay to hate people different from yourself especially if they were in a group we had been or were at war with. As a child I could not catch the inconsistencies, but I have caught them for a long while now and I marvel at how hard it still is to truly love your enemies as Jesus taught us to do. I remember how I felt after 911 when in my own “backyard” in New York City the two Towers  came tumbling down with thousands of deaths and tragedies along with a sense of safety at home that was now forever violated. I remember that I had to remember how to love my “enemies” once again and it took a while.

I think if I could, and I am not musically gifted, I would add a stanza to that Rodgers and Hammerstein song that would begin: “You have to be taught to love….”. Most of us have experienced the love of families and friends, spouses and partners or significant others, neighbors,and communities,religious and secular. But that doesn’t mean we know how to love, loving those we are taught to hate doesn’t come easily or naturally. It is a discipline of the heart, mind and soul. It is risking ridicule and rejection to love beyond what is popular and “patriotic”. It is not at all easy to love as Jesus did. I present these words of peace activists from the NCR here because they are words to teach us how to love enough to risk comfort and safety and freedom and self for a world at peace.

Pastor Judy Lee, ARCWP

Guilty nuclear resistors write essays for judge

Megan Fincher  |  Jan. 27, 2014 NCR Today
Eight nuclear protesters found guilty of trespassing onto the Kansas City Plant were given an unusual sentence Dec. 13 (see story here [1]).  Instead of jail or community service, Presiding Judge Ardie Bland sentenced the defendants with homework. They were required to write one-page, single-spaced answers to six questions Bland posed on the spot.

The following are a sampling of the defendants’ answers to the six questions, which their lawyer delivered to Bland Jan. 23. The full text for each defendant can be accessed here [2].

1. If North Korea, China or one of the Middle Eastern countries dropped a nuclear bomb on a U.S. city tomorrow, would that change your opinion about nuclear weapons?

“Could the dead be brought back to life? What restitution is there for losing a child, a sister or brother, a parent, relative or friend?  There is nothing that can replace a human being.  I know…I lost my mother when I was 16 and the oldest of four. I also lost my younger son when he was 18. We know from experience that the death of a loved one causes grief beyond measure and it takes a long time before those left behind can gather their soul and breathe without feeling their heart aflame in the fires of hell. In fact, one never recovers completely.  Instead, we learn to transform our suffering and loss into doing good in the world to bring about the Kin-dom. Bringing about the Kin-dom, not Kingdom. Jesus in the Gospels is not about hierarchy or relationships of a domination/subordination paradigm. Rather, he calls us to friendship – which implies equality between each man and each woman.  Everyone is invited to the table.” –​ Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, of Lexington, Ky.

“I would certainly be angry. I can only hope and pray that in time and with the help of others around me that my anger would be a source of energy for good. I know this can happen. I have been influenced in this hope by hearing the children of survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They speak quietly but as if they are on a mission, sent by their ancestors to plead with the world to never let this happen again.” – Sister of Charity Cele Breenof Kansas City, Mo.

2. If Germany or Japan had used nuclear weapons first in World War II, do you think that would have changed your opinion?

“I was 14 when Pearl Harbor was bombed and was taught and propagandized that the Japanese were cunning and vicious.   Though I didn’t know what an atom bomb was, I rejoiced at age 17 that the U.S. had dropped the bomb and defeated Japan. I feel that if Germany or Japan had dropped ‘the bomb’ first, I would have been filled with that time’s spirit of revenge and retaliation and would have wanted to see the weapon used against any foe. However, over the years, the life and teachings of Jesus to put away the sword, to forgive and to love one another, have hopefully taken root in me so that I will not return violence for violence. The followers of Jesus’ teaching, such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day and others, have taught me by their lives that the Kingdom of Peace is possible and that if nonviolence is not accepted, then the global village is headed towards nonexistence. … The house I live in now is called Jean’s House of Peace, part of the Tacoma Catholic Worker. It belonged to a Japanese lady, Jean Shimoishi, who lived here 55 years. She had lived in the internment camp for the Japanese in World War II in Minidako, Idaho, for three years, from 1942 to 1945, with her husband, her parents, and her young daughter. They lived in cabins, two families to a cabin, with no insulation, only bare boards. They used outside latrines and had a separate building for a dining hall. The concentration camps were surrounded by barbed wire, chain-link fences, and towers with armed guards. Many persons there had been born in the U.S. and were therefore U.S. citizens. Jean died in 1999, the most gentle, loving person.” –​ Jesuit Fr. William J. “Bix” Bichsel of Tacoma, Wa.

“In 2008, Henry [Stoever] and I hosted four persons from the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, including a translator and Hibakusha (A-bomb survivor) Yoshiko Kajimoto. A tiny, delightful woman, Kajimoto-santold of the deaths and destruction in Hiroshima in 1945, when she was 14. She and a classmate had been at work in a suburban factory 1 ½ miles from the epicenter of the attack. They crawled out from under the wreckage and then carried classmates out of the building and away from the fires around them. Kajimoto-san saw people walking away from the city holding their arms out in front of themselves because flesh was hanging from their arms, melted. Carrying her classmates to safety, she inadvertently stepped on parts of dead bodies. ‘I don’t want anyone else ever to see what we had to see,’ she told groups at Rockhurst University and the Community of Christ Temple in Independence [Mo.]. Later, during a videoconference between Avila University and Kajimoto-san in Hiroshima, a student asked her, ‘Do you feel revenge toward this country?’ She replied, ‘Oh, no!’ She said she just wanted an end to nuclear weapons. Kajimoto-san, in working for peace, I’m trying to walk in your footsteps!” –​ Jane Stoever of Overland Park, Kan.

3. What would you say to those who say, “If we [the U.S.] do not have the big stick, that is, if we get rid of our nuclear weapons, and other countries develop nuclear weapons, then we do not have the opportunity to fight back”?

“Since I have a sarcastic streak, I would probably say, ‘O yes, this tactic is working so well for us! We spend roughly half our resources on war-related expenses, can’t afford to fund our education system adequately, aren’t investing in maintaining infrastructure we have, let alone improvements, and make new enemies every day, contributing to this spiral of insecurity and dependence on violence.’ I believe that the United States, if it wishes to live up to its own myth of moral superiority, needs to forsake the path of nuclear escalation that will bankrupt us, and eventually any nation that follows this blind and arrogant path.  To use the weapons is to cause irreparable harm to the ecosystem we depend upon for life. To build and possess them exposes us to the risk of accident or sabotage every day. This is a reckless policy! Believing that it provides security is delusional. It hasn’t prevented us from becoming involved in inconclusive, expensive and unpopular wars, or protected us from terrorism. The idea of American ‘exceptionalism’—that it is noble for us to do what we would label ‘rogue’ behavior from a smaller nation—is ridiculous. We are as much blinded by our self-interest as any other individual or group, and should be as willing to submit to International Court and UN mandates, as we wish others to be. The attitude of ‘No one can stop us from doing what we want’ is no guarantee of wisdom! Instead we use international organizations as a tool when it suits us, and ignore them if they wish to call our behavior to account.” – Catholic Worker Elizabeth “Betsy” Keenan of Maloy, Iowa

4. You defendants say you are Christians and one is a Buddhist. Fr. [Carl] Kabat says that you should disobey ungodly laws. How do you respond to someone who believes there is no God? Who is to say what God believes, for example, when Christians used God to justify slavery and the Crusades?

“I am the one Buddhist among the defendants and will have a difficult time answering this question seeing as, according to Buddhist belief, the matter of an existence of a God is up to the Buddhist. It doesn’t really matter if a God exists, according to Tibetan Buddhism, but that persons live their lives according to what they believe is good (the Dharma and Karma) and in an enlightened place to escape reincarnation. … These are points that we could mostly agree on: humanity and compassion are overall good; destruction and hate are overall bad. It should be these points alone that should answer this question for us. One does not need to believe in a God to know that nuclear war brings nothing but destruction to our Planet and the living organisms on it, just as one does not need to believe that nuclear war is detrimental in the most tremendous ways to believe in a God.” –​Lauren Logan of Independence, Mo.

“For someone who does not agree with the existence of God, we can understand their denial of God because with the state of the world, there has been so much slaughter, so much of it caused by Christians. The 20thcentury was the bloodiest century in history—and Christians stand at the head of the ranks of the violent. We give people reason to believe there is no God. We need to follow Jesus: lay down your arms, forgive one another, love one another. In the Lord’s Prayer, we say give us this day our daily bread. We mean nobody should be without bread. We say forgive us our trespasses. We mean nobody should be without forgiveness. Concerning the old doctrine of the just war theory, A.J. Muste said, ‘The just war theory is just war.’ We are called to the nonviolence of Jesus, where we do not return evil for evil, blow for blow, insult for insult. We should not wonder how people would say there is no God. The thing that makes a difference in people’s lives is if they see somebody acting out of love. We need the evidence of those following in the footsteps of Jesus. All religious traditions have the sense that we are all connected one to another and honor that. Unless we actively live that out, people will not be led to believe in God.” –​ Jesuit Fr. William J. “Bix” Bichsel of Tacoma, Wa.

5. How do you respond to those who have a God different from you when they argue that their religion is to crush others into dust?

“A question such as this one seems to suggest that there are actually major world religions that call for the systematic elimination of people who worship a God different from theirs.  Most scholars who have comparatively studied the religious documents of all the world’s major religions seem to refute this.  Comparing the world views and written holy documents of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Baha’ireveals an inherent common thread of a preference for peace and toleration for humans of diverse faiths. I personally do not accept the view that any of those major religions promote the idea of annihilating those who worship a God different from their own.” –​ Georgia Walker of Kansas City, Mo.

6. Who determines what “God’s law” is, given the history of the USA and the world?

“Very often, it is simple to determine what the Holy One/God wants. Sometimes, such is not true. It requires prudent and deliberate judgment, and sometimes that judgment is wrong. It is then when one asks pardon and attempts to make up for the wrong. It is not easy, but in many instances, it is clear what should be done. The hard part is doing it.” – Oblate Fr. Carl Kabat of St. Louis, Mo.

“For me, and for most people, I imagine, we come to accept and absorb God’s Law not only through the printed Scripture and charismatic religious leaders – but especially through HOW these ‘divine teachings about law’ are lived out by those same people and others. In my lifetime thus far, being influenced by certain holy and courageous people throughout history, I find reason to believe that certain laws of Love, Justice, Compassion and Truth come from the heart of our Creator. For the moment I point out a few among contemporaries who have profound impact on me (along with Jesus and St. Francis of Assisi), especially regarding God’s Law:

1) Matahma Gandhi

2) Martin Luther King, Jr.

3) Pope Francis

4) The three ‘Transform Now Ploughshares’ activists”

– Franciscan Fr. Jerome Zawada of Burlington, Wis.

TRUTH Knocked To The Ground Will Rise Again

TRUTH Knocked To The Ground Will Rise Again

This cartoon is worth a thousand words-Let us join Pope Francis in prayer and action to change this equation.

Judy Lee, ARCWP

Three Women Priests Reflect on Miriam Dancing

Below is an original painting of Miriam Leading the Women Across The Sea/Exodus  by Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP a gifted artist and priest. The energy, joy  and triumph and sense of women’s prophetic community in this painting is worth more than a thousand words. Yet, ARCWP Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan finds some of the right words to describe it: or maybe just a few words- words about the God’s endless love for us.

The prophet Miriam and her brothers Moses and Aaron lived in the terrible slavery and oppression imposed on the Israelites by Egypt. Their story is one of great faith,courage and triumph over the oppressors. As a girl Miriam helped save her baby brother Moses and her courage to speak up to the Egyptian princess who found him in a basket in the river and assured him of his own mother’s care and love (Exodus 2:7).  Moses became the leader of the Hebrews, his faith and courage were rooted in the love of his mother and his identity as  one of God’s people.  When Moses followed God’s promptings and led the people through the Sea of Reeds (“Red Sea) that swallowed up their oppressors, he and Miriam sang a song of praise and joy ” In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed…”(Ex 15:13). “Then…the prophet Miriam picked up a tambourine,and all the women followed her, dancing,with tambourines while Miriam sang…”(Ex 15:20-21). Miriam was a woman of great courage and never failed to speak up for what she saw as right . Contrary to popular Movies about Moses, the triumvirate of Moses, Aaron and Miriam were in their eighties at the height of their  leadership of God’s people. For us in the Roman Catholic women priest Movement the prophet Miriam is our Hebrew Scriptures heroine and we affirm the leadership God has given us in the renewal of the church.   Let us now affirm God’s call, God’s love for all and dance with Miriam as the church is renewed. Judy Lee,ARCWP

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Like Prophet Miriam ,the Communion of Saints Continues the Dance of Liberation Today

Miriam Leading the Women Across the Sea/Exodus by Mary Therese Streck, ARCWP

A friend recently shared that a priest said something that deeply touched her:

“there is nothing you can do to make God love you more, and there is nothing you can do to make God love you less.”
Yes, this is true. The purpose of life is not to make “brownie points” with God.
We are the beloved of God, each of us, is loved completely and totally as we are right now. Like Miriam and the Exodus women, the Spirit of God is with us, leading us, guiding us, renewing us. As we open ourselves to God’s indwelling presence liberating and healing us each and every day so, like Miriam, prophet and sister in the communion of saints, we too can dance and sing, live and love in the fullness of God’s love always with us in our loving care for each other and creation.
The Communion of Saints is a holy company of kindred spirits, who have gone before us and who continue to be with us.  They cheer  us on in our earthly journey and  one day we will meet them again because we all belong in God’s family. (on earth, in heaven, on the way to heaven) Let  us celebrate our mystical oneness in God and  dance the cosmic dance with our sisters and brothers on earth and in heaven.
Like Prophet Miriam, the Communion of  Saints Continues the Dance of Liberation in our Church and World Today
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

Rev. Bev Bingle and Rev. Judy Lee, Women Priests, Reflect on The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 1/26/14


Jesus says….. Follow Me and we will build the Beloved Community together…. Matthew 4:19 (Paraphrased)

Once again I am happy to present Rev. Bev’s Homily Reflections and share some of my own in a dialogue of sorts. Indeed Rev Bev is right on in saying that Jesus is asking us to change our ways of thinking and acting and thereby transform the darkness of this world with the light of love and justice.

See The Light-Change Your Hearts- Follow Me

In the readings for this week the writer of Matthew (in Matthew 4:12-23) is presenting Jesus as the light in darkness, the prophet of inclusion and justice, the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy who draws disciples to him from the poor and the outcast,from the backwater Gentile town, and teaches them how to reach others with the light. In Jesus’ language, Aramaic, NOOHRA means light, understanding, enlightenment, and true teaching. Ancient writers saw light as the source of all life. In the Gospel of John Jesus will refer to himself as the light of the world even as the writer of Mathew presents him as the light-the one with the true teachings that will dispel the darkness of ignorance, prejudice and hatred. Jesus also asks us to follow his teachings and BE the light of the world in John(8:12). Aramaic scholar Rocco Errico ( Let There Be Light, Noohra Foundation, 1994:184)  says that to be disciples of Jesus it is our job to let love, justice, compassion and goodness shine in our everyday world to change it.

Jesus, upon hearing of John’s imprisonment, courageously moves from Nazareth to Capernaum a lakeside town under Roman control in “the Galilee of the Gentiles”, a much maligned backwater town despised by the religious and political establishments.  The prophetic oracle of Isaiah (CH 8:23-9:3) says that “in the end” our God has glorified the district of the Gentiles because “anguish has taken wing,dispelled its darkness” by the shining of the light that turned gloom into great rejoicing and the yoke of oppression is smashed.  The 27th Psalm’s beautiful response is “O God, You are my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear”. And the Epistle (ICor 1:10-13) tells us that God has chosen “those whom the world considers foolish to shame the wise, and singled out the weak of the world to shame the strong”. Indeed the disciples Jesus called were not the scholarly and the religious leaders but the fishermen, two of whom were apparently too poor to have a boat as they fished with only a net and a despised tax collector and of course a woman healed of seven( or infinite) illnesses, Mary of Magdala,among others.  How is it that the broken and the simple folk were drawn to Jesus and his teachings? Or, indeed, how is it that this is whom Jesus chose to spread the good news of God’s love for all and justice for the oppressed? The individuals that Jesus called by the sea shore came immediately. They were ready for the light, for his light,his teachings and for him. They were ready for his healing touch, for his love and for his liberation. As Rev. Beverly Bingle said they were the underdogs and Jesus saw them as winners. They were ready for the glow of the home light shining steadily in Jesus’ heart.

I think of my communities-both the one I was raised in in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy and the one I serve now in central Fort Myers. Indeed I serve the latter because of the influence of the first. Both are characterized by caring plain folks that respond to the Gospel and to one another with love. They don’t overthink it- their theology is simple- God IS,and God is LOVE so love God, love Jesus, love one another,share what one has, and do this is without conditions. Both communities had a good measure of poverty balanced in a way by a good measure of communal caring. Both dealt with discrimination, prejudice, yes, oppression, violence,illness, and hard times. Yet the caring of the neighbors and friends,of the church, made all the difference.When a sense of community is missing there is profound darkness to dispel. Today we know that the homeless do not suffer from a lack of affiliation, but only a lack of income. For some this is complicated by addictions and mental and physical illness. But with an income and housing homeless can be banished. How we, the people of God, continue to tolerate it in our midst is still a mystery to me. Economic inequality is a great sin and yet we tolerate a minimum wage so low and a welfare system so bankrupt that individuals and families pray not to get ill and need four jobs to just survive. And among the poor as among the well to do there is sometimes the pain of human isolation.There are many sectors of society where there are those who are alone and isolated and cast out. Jesus reached out to them and drew them into the beloved community. We have just celebrated the civil rights and human rights prophet, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday. May we join him following Jesus and building the beloved community. He too identified with the poor and outcast and that was the last straw for his detractors. May we join Jesus at the seashore in backwater Galilee and follow him in his work of love and justice. May we learn to draw all who need love and justice into Love.

Rev. Beverly Bingle Reflects:  

There is a light shining, a promise, coming out of Zebulun and

Naphtali, the north part of Galilee, the land dominated and destroyed
by the Assyrian army. It’s Jesus of Nazareth, rising up out of the
peasant population of that God-forsaken land, come to announce the
reign of God n the midst of a land oppressed by the Romans. Follow
me, he invites, Change your life! Adopt a new way of thinking, a new
way of acting. Make this world a place of justice and peace.
Transform it. By your love you can bring about fullness of life for
Super Bowl XLVIII is coming up, and the media is hyping the
vacillation of underdog status between the Broncos and the Seahawks.
Who expects underdogs to win? Jesus! He picked Galilean peasants.
He picked tax collectors. Samaritans! He also picked lawyers.
Centurions. Pharisees. Foreigners. And, goodness gracious, women!

And this Jesus of Nazareth is not calling only the best and the
brightest. He’s calling fishermen, farmers, parents, tax collectors,
Jeep workers, students, the unemployed, amputees, the poor,
politicians, the marginalized. He’s calling the bail bondsman, the
typist, the gay and lesbian, the divorced, the bereaved, the lost, the
forsaken, the waitress at the greasy spoon, the incarcerated. He’s
calling doctors, lawyers, CEOs. Everyone. Jesus had the wisdom and
heart to see the Divine Presence in everyone—the poor and the wealthy,
the educated and the illiterate.
We are called to follow Jesus—to fish for people—and today’s readings
give us guidelines for how to do that. In the first reading, Isaiah
tells us that God has smashed the yoke, the pole, the rod of our
taskmaster: we are free! We once walked in darkness, but the light
has come. Nothing can hold us back. Our second reading tells us that
we must be united, each of us holding the same mind and purpose. No
divisions among us. Each of us must focus on the message; each of us
must acknowledge the Divine Presence among us and in us and in each
other. In the gospel we hear Jesus preaching the good news: it’s
time to change, time to follow the Way, time to fish for people
instead of casting our nets in the waters of the world.
It’s pretty easy these days to get distracted by the flotsam and
jetsam of the world, all those trinkets and gewgaws held up for us by
TV commercials, the internet, our friends and co-workers, and even our
family members. We hear messages telling us to buy beer for a Super
Bowl party or a new car before the interest rates go up. We hear that
we will be worthless unless we wear a certain brand or eat at a
certain restaurant or buy the latest smartphone. We hear that we need
to get away from it all, that we deserve a break today, that we are
nobody unless we are spending money. When, bombarded with those
messages, we ask, “Who am I?” the answer is, loud and clear, “I am a
loser, a nobody unless I buy the right stuff.” If we are to be
fishers of people, we must speak Jesus’ message, just as loudly and
just as clearly as the commercial giants are doing.
We are doing that with our actions. With our prayer. With how we
treat people. With how we use our resources—our time and effort and
talent and money.
We are free, free to take action. Nothing can hold us back. We are
called to cast our nets by what we do and who we are. Called to
change minds and hearts: the kin-dom of God is at hand!

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

 A-men, A-men, A-men,A-men, A-men sing it over, A-men, A-men-A-me A-men, Amen!

Blessings and Light,

Rev. Judy Lee, Pastor

Ministering Priests with Rvda. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia

When Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Cali, Colombia was ordained Priest in Sarasota Florida on January 18,2014 she made one request. She wanted Judy Beaumont and I to take her to see our people where they lived and worshiped. She said that the presence of our community of African Americans and others who participated in her Ordination procession and in blessing her made all the difference to her. She did not want to tour the tourist attractions of SW Florida and there are many,but she wanted to minister with us. So she and Rvda. Olga Lucia Alvarez went with us to visit a family in Tampa that we have ministered to and with for many years. And she visited two families with us in Fort Myers and visited our church. As she witnessed the joy and the pain seeing the hopes and the spirituality of our people she blessed them and brought great joy.

Here Rvda. Marina Teresa is in front of our Good Shepherd Church in Fort Myers,Florida 



Here we are with Miriam,89, who lost her daughter Nancy to a sudden diabetes related death almost two years ago.  Miriam has a very hard time living on without Nancy but loving visits sustain her. We have told part of Miriam’s story in this blog earlier when our other new priest Maureen McGill visited with her. We visited and prayed with Miriam and also took her out to a Spanish culinary feast. 



Here Rvda. Marina Teresa is singing Spanish folk tunes with Miriam along with a singer that came to our table and played requests. To see Miriam’s tears turn to singing and laughter was a great joy for all of us.



Then we took Miriam to visit her sister Gloria in the Nursing Home. Here Gloria is singing the 23rd Psalm with us.



And Gloria’s sadness also turned into joy and hope.

Rvda.Marina Teresa and Linda,mother of five of our children, felt connected immediatley.  They were drawn together by the Mothering Holy of Spirit of God. Here we enjoy a meal with Linda and her children.  When Rvda Marina visited Linda’s home she blessed and prayed for the family. She also encouraged the young women to find the call that God has for each of them, particularly the call to serve the community. 

 .  ImageImage




Rvdas. Mejia Sanchez and Alvarez with Keeron Jones, 16, Efe Jane Cudjoe 21, our Brown University Junior in Pre-Med, Natasha Terrell, High School Senior and Keeondra Terrell,13. Pearl Cudjoe in the background. 

The Good Shepherd Community and their priests were truly blessed by the visit of our priests from South America. Alegria-joy-was shared and experienced by all. The four ministering priests agreed: the reason for the priesthood is to serve the holy people of God, especially the African American and Afro Colombian Community and all who struggle for equality and dignity in their own lands and wherever they are immigrants and strangers.

Bendiciones, blessings, to Rvdas. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia and Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea as they return to their own full ministries in Colombia. We are all the better for your visit.

Love and prayers, 

Pastors Judy Lee,ARCWP and Judy Beaumont, ARCWP

And the Good Shepherd Community of Fort Myers, FLorida and Tampa, Florida





Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Cali, Colombia and Three Other Women Ordained Roman Catholic Women Priests and Deacons on Jan 18,2014

Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Cali, Colombia came a long way to be ordained a Roman Catholic Woman Priest with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests on Saturday January 18 in Sarasota, Florida.   And although Maureen McGill came from nearby St Pete, Florida to be ordained a priest she too came a long way as did Rita Lucey of Orlando and Mary Bergan Blanchard of Albuquerque, New Mexico who were ordained deacons. It was a long journey because each had been preparing for this moment all of their lives. Marina Teresa,46 explains that she has been called from her baptism into priestly service. The others are in agreement.

Along with Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea of Envigado Antioqua, Colombia I am the Program Coordinator for Hispano Parlantes. We were delighted to present Marina Teresa for Priestly ordination. Her ministry in Cali, near the river Cauco, serves 173 families mostly of Afro-Colombian descent, representing over 700 people. The heads of this community wrote a letter of recommendation saying that she was ministering to and leading them and they would happily support her as their priest.  She also stands with them in their very real struggles to keep their riverfront land as there are interests who hope to take the lands and develop tourism there.

ARCWP Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan presided.  Our co-pastor Judy Beaumont assisted her with the altar book. St Andrew UCC Church on Beneva Road in Sarasota was nearly filled to capacity. The children of our Good Shepherd Church in Fort Myers led the procession with drumming, dancing with liturgical dancer Sheila Carey, and carrying the Book and candles and, later, the gifts. Keeron Jones was the drummer, Keeondra Terrell carried the Gospel Book, Natasha and Jolinda Terrell carried the candles and Jakeriya Maybin and Keion Lewis joined in the liturgical dancing with a tambourine and bells. Our Efe Jane Cudjoe, a Junior at Brown University read the first reading in English and Theresa Rodriguez read it in Spanish. Our Henry (Hank) Tessandori led the Psalm in English while we sang Alabare as the response. Elizabeth Lucey read the Epistle in English and Roman Rodriguez read in Spanish. Deacon Mary Weber read the Gospel, the Magnificat, and Olga Lucia Alvarez proclaimed it in Spanish. Bridget Mary’s spirited homily is below.  I  was pleased to be the MC for this Ordination that was conducted in Spanish and English. Univision TV will air an hour long special on Marina Teresa and Olga Lucia Alvarez and possibly our other priest in Bogota, Colombia, Martha Aida Soto Bernal on February 9,2014. Caracol TV in Colombia also covered this as did NBC and ABC News.  The beautiful pictures below are courtesy of Wanda Russell, ARCWP Priest.

This was a deeply moving Ordination where the Spirit of God was clearly present. The pictures and story below are wonderful but they cannot begin to convey the special meaning or beauty of this day to all concerned.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

ARCWP Ordination Photos – January 18, 2014 in Sarasota, Florida

Today justice is rising up for women in the Catholic Church in Colombia and in the United States.

Today the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests will ordain 4 women to serve inclusive Catholic communities where all are welcome to receive sacraments.  
Marina Teresa Sanchez is a 46 year old highly dynamic community activist and married woman who has two sons and a granddaughter.  She has pursued the cause of human rights, justice for women and for Colombians of African descent her whole life. Her degrees are in early childhood and community education and theology. In the 1990’s she participated in global women’s conferences in Brazil, Vienna and Beijing, China. She worked with local priests in several base communities. She was a missionary to Ecuador for three years where she studied Theology and served women and children and the outcast. Since 2005 she has animated, represented and served the very large community of Afro Colombians in Cali. As Marina Teresa gathers with this community around the Eucharistic table, they will reflect the liberating presence of God at work for justice on the altars of their lives.
Maureen McGill is a married woman with two daughters and 5 grandchildren. She is a retired lawyer who spent most of her practice advocating for abused and neglected children. She has served in almost every phase of church life including director of religious education, lector, and Eucharistic Minister.  Maureen will lead liturgies at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, provide pastoral care for residents of nursing homes in St. Petersburg and continue her advocacy role for those in need.
Like deacon Phoebe, whom St. Paul praised as an outstanding leader in Romans 16, our newly ordained deacons will continue to hear the cries of the vulnerable and work for justice for the marginalized.  
Rita Lucey of Orlando, a member of Pax Christi, has been married for 61 years. She is a mother of four and grandmother of nine.  As a human rights activist Rita spent six months in federal prison to close the U.S. Army School of the Americas. Because of her witness for justice issues and her experience in prison she has advocated for women in prison and has also served as a Hospice Volunteer for 25 years. As a deacon, Rita will continue her witness for peace through prison ministry, and as a human rights activist in Amnesty International, Pax Christi, and the United Nations Association.
Mary Bergan Blanchard is a widow, mother, grandmother, writer and a practicing Licensed Professional Counselor. Her early years were spent as a Sister of Mercy, where she taught in diocesan schools and spent one year on mission in Lebanon working in a Palestinian camp. She left the Order to teach the disadvantaged in Boston where she promoted racial integration and began a neighborhood group to promote social justice. After retiring, Mary and her family moved to Albuquerque where she served the Risen Savior Catholic community for twenty years as a Licensed Professional Counselor. As a deacon, Mary will develop liturgies for inclusive home church celebrations.”
In our Gospel today, Mary, mother of Jesus, proclaims that God raises up those who are exploited, the victims of poverty, discrimination and violence in church and society.
Mary’s prayer of praise, the Magnificat, reveals her solidarity with the lowliest and the hungriest. In this prayer, Mary is an apostle for justice, a symbol of strength, comfort and empowerment for the disinherited and marginalized of the world. Her prophetic message gives hope that the oppressed will triumph over poverty, abuse and domination and that they will experience the justice promised to them by God. The poor and marginalized are the blessed ones, not their oppressors. Award-winning theologian Elisabeth Johnson sums up God’s liberating action in these words: “God protects the poor, noticing their tears, while challenging the comfortable and the proud to conversion, to genuine discipleship, even at the loss of their own comfort. The divine intent is not to take revenge and so create a new order of injustice but to build up a community of sisters and brothers marked by human dignity and mutual regard…Imagine the world according to the defiant Mary’s Magnificat, invites African writer Peter Daino: a heavenly banquet and all the children fed”(Elizabeth Johnson,  Truly Our Sister, New York, Continuum, 2009, 269-271)
In the spirit of prophetic obedience we remember the words of Archbishop Oscar Romero who said in 1977: “Peace is the fruit of justice….(There will be peace when) there is no repression, when there is no segregation, when all people have legitimate rights, when there is freedom, when there is no fear”.  As validly ordained women priests we long for such peace and justice for the world and for ourselves in the church. 
Pope Francis reminds us that a prophet is someone who listens to the word of God and reads the sign of the times. He said: “When there is no prophecy amongst the people of God, the emptiness that is created gets filled by clericalism…All those who are baptized are prophets: let us not forget God’s promise, let us not tire of moving forward.”
I agree with our beloved Pope. The church must once again reclaim the prophetic voice of the people of God, the sense of the faithful.  
Our international Women Priests Movement is one of the contemporary prophetic movements of our time.  We are visible reminders that women are equal images of God. I believe that on a deep, mystical level women priests are beginning a healing process of centuries-old deep misogyny in which spiritual power was invested exclusively in men.  Churches that treat women as second-class citizens contradict the fundamental spiritual equality of women in the Bible: “Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them female and male God made them.” Genesis1:27
Our ordinations are acts of justice to move the church to live its mission of human equality as the Body of Christ on earth. The Catholic Church must break free of machismo and affirm women’s sacredness and full participation as equal partners in ministry including ordination.  As Pope Francis said in a recent interview in La Civilita Catolica, “Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed.”
The sad reality is that women are among the lowliest and poorest in our world.  The laws and policies of the Vatican have a major impact on women’s lives around the globe. If the church discriminates against women and excludes them from serving at the altar, then it perpetuates the abuse, rape and exploitation of women throughout the world.  We must make the connection between the denial of women’s decision-making authority in religion and the abuse and violence that millions of women suffer around the globe.
In solidarity with other church renewal organizations, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests challenges church laws that fail to value the experiences of women and  their full human rights. The Vatican fails to treat women as free moral agents who are fully capable of following their consciences in decisions that affect their lives.  One example is the ban on artificial birth control.  If the institutional church utilized the gifts of married priests and women priests, this rule put in place by celibate males would be quickly lifted!  
Yes, Pope Francis, we agree it is time to listen to the prophetic voices of the faithful in the church for liberation and justice, and move away from the domination of a deficient, patriarchial  hierarchy.  Mary’s Magnificat offers a stinging indictment of a powerful hierarchy that clings to outdated structures that keep women subordinate in our church. The full equality of women in church governance and ministry is the voice of God in our times!
Women priests, Pope Francis, are following your advice and moving forward in prophetic obedience to the Spirit calling us to live human equality in our church now! The Magnificat: Mary’s Prayer empowers us in our struggle against sexism.
Now we ordain our beloved Sisters: Marina Teresa, Maureen, Rita and Mary. The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests rejoices that 4 women , called by their communities, will be ordained today to serve God’s people.  May we be a “holy shakeup” that will bring justice, compassion and love to our church and beyond!
Bridget Mary Meehan, D.Min., a Sister for Christian Community, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 31, 2006. She was ordained a bishop on April 19, 2009.  Dr. Meehan is currently Dean of the Doctor of Ministry Program for Global Ministries University, and is the author of 20 books, including   Living Gospel Equality Now: Loving in the Heart of God, The Healing Power of Prayer and Praying with Women of the Bible . She presides at liturgies in Mary, Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida. Dr. Meehan can be reached at and
Posted by Bridget Mary Meehan at 10:17 AM No comments: Links to this post

Saturday, January 18, 2014

4 Roman Catholic Women Ordained Female Priests and Deacons in Sarasota by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
On Jan. 18, 2014, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests ordained four women in Sarasota, Florida: Maureen McGill from St. Petersburg, Fl., Marina Teresa Sanches Mejia from Cali Colombia, Rita Lucey from Orlando, Florida and Mary Bergan Blanchard from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Approximately 140 enthusiastic supporters including Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida and a large group of children, teens and adults from Good Shepherd Inclusive Community from Ft. Myers, Florida attended. Sheila Carey led the youth and clergy in a processional and recessional joyous liturgical dance. Linda Lee Miska Michael Rigdon and Jack Duffy were our  music ministers and cantors.  Pastor Phil Garrison welcomed everyone in the name of St. Andrew United Church of Christ. He prayed that like the cloak of St. Brigit of Kildare, our women priests movement would spread throughout the world and embrace all. Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan presided at the 2 hour ordination which was in English and Spanish. The entire community raised hands in blessing and laid hands on each ordinand in a joyous affirmation of the newly ordained women deacons and priests. Several people said that they saw such love and affirmation on the faces of the people as they laid hands on the newly ordained women that they felt that the church had already changed! Yes, we are a “holy shakeup” of God’s justice and love for our church and beyond that welcomes all to the Banquet Table of the Eucharist.  NBC, ABC, Univision, Columbian TV and NPR covered this historic event of the ordination of the first Afro-Colombian woman Marina Teresa Sanches Mejia.
Bridget Mary Meehan,

 Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP

Janet is Going Home: a Mass of Celebration with Women Priests Judy Beaumont and Judy Lee





This is Janet,the lovely woman with her arms around her loved ones, and two of her children, Kathy and Billy and a dear friend. They, and son, Henry, and a large living room room full of dear friends have gathered to celebrate Mass. Janet loves the Eucharist and she attended daily Mass at the local parish and Sunday Mass with friends Ellen and Jack McNally at another parish. Yet Janet did more than attend Mass, she lived serving others. Pastor Judy Beaumont and I met Janet as part of the local Call To Action group, a progressive group within the Roman Catholic Church. Janet, who is a mother of four and a proud grandmother, has several advanced degrees and  a life of service. This includes Government service with several certificates of recognition and serving through the church. She joined our ministry of serving the homeless a hot meal in the park in 2007. She cooked, brought the food and stayed and served the people. She also gave clothing and other needed articles. Our people grew to love her and pray for her always.

Over the years she continued to assist in our ministry to the homeless even as she battled cancer. She went into remission for seven years and nothing held her back from her daily Mass devotions and serving others. In the past few months Janet learned that her cancer had returned and advanced. She and her Doctors and family looked at her options. With the faith of one whose eyes are on God, Janet refused further cancer treatment and is now preparing to go home to God. Janet and her family freely use the word “dying” but there is so much life within her. Going home is clearly the way she sees it, and the way it is. How blessed it is to be able to go home. 

Janet followed Christ in traditional ways and yet with her open mind and heart embraced the women priest movement. She attended my Ordination in Massachussetts with her son Henry and years later she attended Judy Beaumont’s ordination in Florida.   A woman of conviction, she accepted and was pleased that there were now women priests within her beloved Roman Catholic Church.  Eternally optimistic, she believed that some day women priests would be able to take their rightful place in the church, right beside their brother priests. She believes this to be a possibility with Pope Francis. And so, when we learned that she would dearly love to attend Mass again though she was not able to leave her home we responded. She was delighted and able to participate fully, planning hymns and music. Her neighbor and friend Bert was there to play the violin.  What ensued was one of the most spiritual and meaningful Masses we have ever attended or presided in.



 Below is Pastor Judy Beaumont and  Bert who played Ave Maria and other pieces including Danny Boy and an Adagio so beautifully on his violin that Janet closed her eyes and took herself home as we were all transported with her.  Janet reclined for much of the Mass yet received strength to stand at several points. 




We celebrated the Rite of Anointing within Mass,  greeting and receiving Janet and her family and friends. 

We began in the beautiful words of the Rite: ” We have come together to celebrate the sacraments of anointing and Eucharist. Christ is always present when we gather in Christ’s name….Christ taught his disciples to be a community of love…” Today we are in a wonderful community of love as Janet’s love for all of you and your love for Janet reflects God’s love for us in Christ and in one another. Through this Eucharist and anointing we invoke God’s love and power poured out on Janet and all here today.

In the Opening Prayer we asked that all who share in Christ’s suffering find in these sacraments a source of fresh courage and eternal life. We asked God to take Janet and this family and group of loved ones under God’s care knowing our physical and spiritual needs.

The first reading in the Liturgy of Word was read by Janet’s son Billy. Job 19;23-27:”….But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives…whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another’s shall behold God.  And from my flesh I shall see God;my inmost being is consumed with longing.”   Janet nodded her head with every word. 

The Psalm in response was Psalm 27.  The Refrain was “Put your hope in God;take courage and be strong.” Each one present said this directly to Janet and she made eye contact with each and sat up tall in her strength. 

The Gospel was John 6: 35-40.  “I am the bread of life…and I will raise you up on the last day”. Janet beamed. Those gathered sang the hymn Bread of Life with the chorus “And I will raise you up, and I will raise you up, I will raise you up on the last day”. The bread of life is the central devotion of Janet’s spirituality and the promise is very real to her now. 

I began the homily claiming this promise for and with Janet. I spoke briefly of Janet’s devotion to the Eucharist and to serving God’s people then I asked that each one who desired to do so speak a word to Janet. All present spoke a word. A word praising the quality of her friendship, her out spoken-ness, her courage, her many accomplishments, including her hole in one in July,and her selfless service to the poor and all people. When her children spoke,choking back tears or letting them fall, Janet got up, walked to them and hugged each one. As one friend summed up “the kind of mother Janet was is evident here today.” Her daughter Kathy thanked her for including them in her preparations to go home to God. Each of the children said how pleased they were to be here with her and to share in this moment. Janet responded with love for all and with sharing how the most special thing in her life was to be able to serve the Holy Eucharist as a Eucharistic Minister. She was so happy now to have her women priests serve her and to accept the Eucharist becoming one with Christ.  Love surrounded her and all of us in these holy moments.  Then all stretched out their hands in blessing as she was anointed with oil, and most certainly with the love of all present.

When the sign of peace was given Janet, miraculously, got up and hugged all present.




We served Janet first. As Janet stood to receive the Holy Eucharist, with the words “You are the body of Christ” You are the blood of Christ” it was as if both the suffering and the triumphant, risen Christ stood before us.  Her blue eyes shined like the sun and she smiled broadly, at peace and in anticipation of the eternal feast of love prepared for her.  All present felt comfortable to receive at our hands except one person whom we blessed.  Indeed all present were blessed, including the two priests, with the thanksgiving, the eucharist that Janet had requested for them.  

This most profound celebration of Mass was ended with Janet herself singing a stanza of “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman” and another Marian hymn.  She was indeed a reflection of the holy mother and God indwelling in us, around us and with us. How blessed we are to have Janet with us and to walk Janet home. 


Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP

Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community 


Rev. Chava Redonnet’s Reflection- Woman Priest of the Migrant Workers Shares For Sunday 1/12/14

Rev. Chava Redonnet, RC woman Priest reflects here on the tenderness of our loving God. Her illustration comes from a sad situation with a deportee. How sad it is that we treat our strangers and guests this way when we are asked not to break the bruised reed.  We also have some migrant workers who sometimes attend our Good Shepherd Church and some “second generation” families of migrant workers as well. Last week one of these asked help for a woman and her children after the deportation of her husband. There is no way she can pay her rent or sustain the family. Our Government simply causes dependency in addition to much pain and loss when heads of families are deported. John the Baptist asked that those who talk religion SHOW how they follow the law of God-the law of love and justice. Rev. Chava’s ministry is a beautiful example of following God’s law of love as Christ did.

We are always pleased to share her work with you,

Love and prayers,

Rev. Judy Lee, ARCWP 

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Dear friends,

This week we hear these beautiful words from Isaiah:

He shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth

That is both comfort for those of us who experience being “bruised reeds” –
which is most of us at some point in our lives! – and a model for the
church. How shall we be servants of God in the world? Not by arguing
endlessly, trying to convince others to believe as we do, but protecting
and encouraging those who are vulnerable, broken, their lights almost gone
out.  Encouraging life wherever we encounter it.

Some time ago on one of our visits to check in with the immigration folks
in Buffalo, one of the immigration men and I were talking about one of the
guys in our community who was having trouble complying with what was
expected of him, mostly because he would forget. “He’s kind of a lost
soul,” the immigration man said. “I think you care more about him than he
cares for himself!”

I think that’s a pretty good part of the church’s job description:
reminding people of their worth and dignity even when they’ve forgotten
they have it. A bruised reed we shall not break and a smoldering wick we
shall not quench… that’s  compassion and justice.

Toward the end of October I got a call from the roommate of the man I just
mentioned. He was in trouble with the law, and in jail. Could I help? Well,
no, there was nothing I could do because I could not find him in the
system.  In Buffalo, all they knew was that he was in jail and thus no
longer the responsibility of ISAP, the contractor that does the
Alternatives to Detention program. I called the roommate back and asked
that if our friend called him again, he’d pass on the message to call me.
No call. Finally in December I located him in the system. He was not in one
of the county jails as I’d thought (could have been Monroe, Genesee or
Orleans), but in the Detention Center.

So I sent him a card, told him I was praying for him, gave him my phone
number. About a week later I started getting strange phone messages with a
recorded woman’s voice speaking in Spanish. After several such calls I
finally figured out they were coming from the detention center, and after a
couple more, what I was supposed to do! And just in time, because he was
going to court two days later. You might remember this story from the
bulletin a few weeks ago. He went to court alone and asked for an extension
so he could come back with his lawyer, and then went back this week. I had
thought he would get bond and then need to figure out how to raise the
money to be bonded out, but instead, it seems the options are deportation
or voluntary departure. With voluntary departure a person has to pay their
own way out of the country, but they don’t have a deportation on their
record. Theoretically that means that they will be able to apply to come
here legally sometime in the future. Reality, for workers who are
considered unskilled, is that if it were that easy they wouldn’t have come
here without documents in the first place. He has said he would prefer
voluntary departure, and I will go to court next week to speak on his

It says in the Talmud, “Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over
it and whispers, ‘Grow! Grow!’” It seems to me that it is part of the work
of the church to be those angels. A bruised reed we shall not break, and a
smoldering wick we shall not quench. Remember that, when your own wick is

Blessings and love to all, Chava

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

Homily for the Baptism of Jesus: In Solidarity-Named, Loved and Claimed 1/12/14

I am watching the late day sun glint and gleam on the little lake outside of my window. It is breezy so the water is moving quickly. The ducks and coots bob along and decide to sit on the shore for a while. The lake is full of life, the water itself sustains the life. There is something holy about water–holy and essential for life.

I think of the sea wall and the muddy Atlantic ocean in Guyana, South America,known as the land of many waters, where we accompanied Sister Jacinta and the Guyanese social workers in their work with homeless people. The homeless and mentally ill bathed in the sea and sat and watched it day and night with hope for a better life. We may have been the only non-Guyanese to swim there. It joined us forever with the people.

I think about visiting the interior of Guyana, South America with Sister Jacinta, a Guyanese East Indian Carmelite nun who was so in tune with nature and with the poor. We went to the interior on two very different occasions. First, traveling on the Essequibo, a major river by small boat, then going by van over land,we went to the interior to visit the indigenous people, Amerindians, during a time of El Nino drought. We were heart broken to see evidence of brush fires and families walking miles with small plastic containers to find the water that remained of their dried up lake. Some were already sick and dying of thirst.  Sister said that it was both drought and greed that brought about this condition. There was water available in Georgetown but it had not been transported there. We told Sister that we would max out our credit cards, as we had little cash, to get the water delivered.  She and the Village Captain tried hard to make this happen, but were told it could not happen,even with outside payment, the water would be delivered when it was delivered.  The Amerindian people were low priority. And people waited and the vulnerable died. Sister later said that they got it a few days later so our caring did help. But we agreed that it was major social sin committed in the name of politics to be neglectful of the basic needs of people for water.

Another time Sister took us by a very small plane to the Brazilian border deep in the tropical jungle where the magnificent wonder of the Kaiteur Falls stunned and amazed us.  It was not even at its mightiest, as  it was not the rainy season but the immense Falls still thundered. We thought of Psalm 29: “the God of Glory thunders”. We laid on our bellies and felt the power of the water cascading. A brilliant rainbow arched over it and us. We thought of God’s covenant with people that water would not again destroy the earth. We longed to feel the water on our dry skins. We got back in the small plane, disembarked and walked until we saw the smaller twin Orinduik Falls splashing in the sun. Still magnificent, there were ways that four women could climb down and enter. As the water renewed and refreshed us at the same moment Sister and I said “Baptism” and began to throw water on each other. Rahannah,our Muslim friend, joined in as well until we were all drenched and refreshed. I am not sure what it meant to Rahannah but as we became one with the Falls and in our friendship, our one God was most surely with us.

I think about the River Jordan that I stepped into when I was in Israel in the 1970’s. There was a fence with a small sign “River Jordan Where Jesus was Baptized”, and a small body of water the size of some of the drainage ditches and small lakes here in Florida. The dark brown water moved lazily downstream. I imagined that in Jesus time this river was fuller and more vital. But the remarkable thing was that it was still flowing. I felt united with Christ as I stepped knee deep into the water.

I remembered my own baptism. I was eleven and as those of you who read my book The House On Sunny Street know, life was a bit hectic in my family and although I was attending church on my own and loved Jesus since I was eight I had not been baptized. I would be baptized now because finally my Aunt and Uncle agreed to have my baby cousin Jackie baptized and my mother would be the Godmother. And I would be baptized now because I asked my Pastor to baptize both of us. He was delighted and smiling as I was initiated into the Christian faith and “made new” again. Jackie who was “new” to this world has been a holy and loving person her whole life. Now I am reminded of a poem by Ezra Pound where the Chinese Emperor wrote a prayer on  on his tub: “make things new again”.  The renewing power of water is great for Christians and non Christians alike.

Each time that I baptize a child, a baby or an adult I am profoundly humbled and moved. Of the eighteen baptisms I have done in the past five years all but three have been of people who were old enough to understand what was happening and to actively request baptism. Sometimes for the adults tears flowed as they experienced the cleansing newness after lives of great struggles and trials. As the congregation and I  joined together to welcome our new members, the love in the room was palpable. The children respond with joy and some of the most happy smiles ever seen on their faces. It is a deeply spiritual experience for all and especially for this priest and pastor– every single time.

Recently a man who is a pillar in our church asked me to baptize him. He has actually stood up for some of those that I baptized. He is one of the adults who will be joining our young people in Confirmation this Spring.  But now he was uneasy.He had already been baptized when some young people from an evangelical local church reached out to him about eight years ago when he was homeless. His faith was rekindled by their caring and that was good. But his baptism disappointed him. He told me the story. He was taken to the Pastor’s back yard swimming pool and the pastor stood nearby as one of the young men dipped him in and said the right words: “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”.  It was not in the church and no congregation welcomed him. There was no oil and there was no light. He did not know why the Pastor asked the young man to do it, instead of himself. Maybe he was learning, he thought. They said that they were happy that he was cleansed from sins. He was too and he saw it that way. He loved Jesus and knew that he would follow Christ before and after the baptism, but he confided in me that though the words were said,he didn’t feel baptized as our people are baptized. He knew now that the welcome to the body of Christ, the church, the company of those who would work for love and justice together was missing.  I was torn in my response. At first I thought that “baptism is baptism” and this dear man is full of Christ already. I felt a little like John the baptist, “You should be baptizing me, your faith is so great!”. But I have pondered this and talked about it with my Co-pastor Judy Beaumont and Bishop, Bridget Mary. He and I were both to pray and think about this. I am clearer now. He wants another level of “newness”, one that includes being loved, welcomed and included, the level that a baptism done in the heart of a congregation who knows and loves him gives. If he still wants to be baptized I will be very happy to baptize him.

For the Jewish disciples of John  the Baptist, baptism meant changing one’s very heart, turning one’s life around, rethinking what one was doing, and following God’s commandments with actions and not only words. John’s was a very strong radical  and prophetic movement involving change toward love and justice, toward God’s law. The women priest movement of which we are a part, is a movement like that of John the Baptist. We are stepping into the water in prophetic obedience which is also disobedience within the Church, we step in on faith, to enact God’s call and let the church and the world know-God calls whom God wants to call to serve God’s people and enact justice. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Cali, Colombia, South America will be ordained a priest next Saturday, 1/18 here in Sarasota, Florida. She serves the indigenous Afro-Colombian people who live near the Cauco River in Cali. She stands with them as they fight to retain their riverfront lands.

Today we are challenged to follow Jesus into baptism by water and by the Spirit.  Jesus did not have to be baptized by John, the radical on the fringe asking for repentance, for turning  lives around from self to God’s ways.  Why did he choose to do this?  When Jesus entered that little river, he allied himself completely in solidarity with those who felt most broken, that they disappointed God the most, who needed to be washed clean, forgiven, and to begin again.  And, with those that the religious establishment judged as unworthy and as sinners.  He was redefining baptism itself, beyond individual sin it had to do with the sins of the so called righteous who nonetheless forgot what God had asked of them, to bring true justice to the nations (Is. 42: 4)  In the preceding chapter (Isaiah 41: 17) the prophet illustrates injustice and promises God’s help: “the poor and the needy search for water but there is none…but I, the  Lord  will answer them. I, the God of Israel will not forsake them…”)  In Baptism we are called to serve God’s “smallest” and neediest people.  We are called as Jesus was called to live love, to live the acceptance of all people who do what is right before God, to live inclusion as Paul said in Acts 10: 34-38. Like Israel and like Jesus, we are called to bring good news to the poor and captives. When we follow Jesus in accepting this call we too are pleasing to our loving God.

When Jesus stepped into that water to be baptized he did it in solidarity with all humankind, especially the poor,the broken and the and outcast. He also joined with John in rebuke of the religious establishment ,we remember that John called them a bunch of snakes and told them not to say they have changed their hearts, but to show the fruits that prove their hearts have changed to embrace God’s law of justice and love. This was a fulfillment of Messianic prophecy but was also a call to do likewise. In God’s approval of Jesus ,Jesus was named “Beloved”; claimed, “My beloved”;IMG_0297 and deeply loved.

Let us step in the water with Jesus. Let us act to proclaim good news to the poor and broken and bad news to the establishment when it does not reflect God’s profound love for all people.  Then we too will hear:”on you My favor rests” and we will be guided by the Spirit and given strength to build the kin-dom of God. Are we ready for this baptism?


Pastor Judy Lee, ARCWP