Sunday, April 27, 2014
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP Confirms 16 Catholics from Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community/Video Clips
(Special thanks to Linda Lee Miska our musician, to the sponsors and to the communities of Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Ft. Myers and to Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community. We are grateful to Pastor Phil Garrison and the UCC community for their gracious hospitality at St. Andrew UCC in Sarasota, Florida.)
Sixteen Roman Catholics Seal The Deal To Love and Follow Christ: Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan Celebrant
On Saturday April 26th sixteen members of The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers, ,Florida were confirmed in the faith by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, Roman Catholic Woman Bishop in Sarasota, Florida. Pastors and Roman Catholic Women Priests Judith Beaumont and Judith Lee presented the group of eight young people, aged 12-18, and eight adults, aged 35-61 for the Rite of Confirmation. One man, Robert Swanson, 53, was also baptized before the Confirmation. He and five others also received First Holy Communion after years of faithful attendance and Catechesis at Good Shepherd. For Robert and for each one this Spirit filled celebration represents a turning around of his life and a choice to live in the Light and share Christ’s love with others in the community. Including the Sponsors,parents and Robert’s daughter and grandsons twenty-eight people from The Good Shepherd community and over thirty members and friends of Mary Mother Of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community of Sarasota joined in joyful celebration. Almost all of the Confirmands and their families have experienced homelessness, poverty, unemployment ,healthcare and other difficult life struggles. Yet their determination to follow Christ and their love and joyful spirits lifted all present.
Pastor Phil Garrison welcomed the Confirmands and all present to the St. Andrew United Church of Christ that hosted us. Dorothy Irvin, theologian and Archaeologist who has unearthed many proofs of women’s clerical roles in the first twelve Centuries was also present. She commented that she was raised in Belle Grade, Florida and grew up in segregation as all of the older Good Shepherd Confirmands did, and witnessing our loving interracial and inter cultural celebration was especially meaningful to her. Truly here in this sacred moment, young and old, black and white, men and women, well to do and poor, American born and people of other lands and cultures joined together as a discipleship of equals in the Body of Christ. Thanks be to God!
Pastor Judy Lee makes introductions and Pastor Phil Garrison of St. Andrew UCC Church welcomes the Congregation and the Confirmands who are about to process
Gathering Around the Altar
Nathaniel Chester, Natasha Terrell and Lauretta Rasmussen and Hank Tessandori
of Good Shepherd were the Lectors. Rev. Katy Zatsick read the Gospel. Linda Lee Miska of MMOJ was the Minister of Music and Cyrillia Rismay of Good Shepherd
led in song.
The Baptism of Robert Swanson
Robert and his family and sponsors, Dr. Joe and Pearl Cudjoe gather at the baptismal Font, and Pastor Judy Lee anoints,baptizes and passes the Light to Robert. Robert’s Grandson, Craig, traces the sign of the Cross on his forehead.
In Christ you are made new!
Bishop Bridget Mary anoints each one with Holy Chrism oil making the sign of the Cross on their foreheads and saying:
“Be sealed with the Holy Spirit”
And this is JOY!
THANKS BE TO GOD!
Tom In Front of His New Home
Tom has been a rambling man all of his life. He travels light and the bag on his shoulder is most of what he has. He is from New England and has lived much of his life in the Northern New England States. He left home as a teenager and eventually entered the Marines. Yet, he could never stay in one place very long. He battled alcohol and depression since he was sixteen and with the help of faith based programs often won the battle for periods of time. He also lived in the West- in California, Oregon and Washington. He worked in concrete and at other jobs until an accident and other events qualified him for Disability in the 1990’s. He lived in single room situations and in shelters for the homeless all across the country.
This Fall he decided to leave the cold weather behind and move to Southwest Florida. He could not afford market housing and much of the time here he was again homeless,sleeping outside in the bushes. Unlike some of the places where Tom stayed, Fort Myers does not have a Men’s Emergency Shelter. It has some drug and alcohol related programs where working is necessary and Tom cannot work any longer. Yet Tom wanted to stay here. Tom’s hope in staying here was Senior housing. Tom turned 62 this month and one Church based Residence for those 62 and over lets our ministry know when they have an apartment available. Thanks be to God, an Efficiency apartment became available a week after his birthday. Tom got the apartment and signed the lease and moved in today.
This is Tom signing his lease with the Property Manager Margaret Sousa and Pastor Judy Beaumont
Tom is delighted to have HUD assisted affordable housing. Good Shepherd Ministries is paying his Security, Electric deposit and pro-rated monthly fee as he will get his check on the First and pay his first months rent then and take it from there.
This is Tom about to put his key in the door of his new home
Margaret, the Manager who truly cares about the residents, was able to provide a bed for Tom, and Good Shepherd provided the bedding and furniture through our own cost free “store” and the generous donations of our friend Ginger Delerme. We also set him up with a full cupboard.
Tom and Pastor Judy B. going over how to pay his electric bills
Tom relaxing in his new chair. He said he feels like a king on a throne!
We blessed every corner of Tom’s new home, and more importantly, we blessed Tom and assured him that he also has a church home.
Tom says that he likes to be social and is glad that he is not alone anymore. We love his shirt-“What Recession”?
For Tom, thanks to this wonderful Senior housing and a caring church, housing is now affordable. The rambling man has decided to settle down. He says that he has found the right place to do it: thanks be to God!
Pastor Judy Lee and Pastor Judy Beaumont, ARCWP
This important message is from Newwaysministry.wordpress.com blog.
Uganda’s Roman Catholic Bishops are promoting this hate legislation. They need to hear from Pope Francis.
Urge Pope Francis to Speak Out Against Uganda’s Anti-LGBT Bill!
Uganda’s Parliament has passed a bill which would criminalize homosexuality, including life imprisonment for those considered repeat offenders, and the president is considering whether to sign it.
As Catholics are the largest denomination in Uganda, making up over 40% of the population, it is imperative that Pope Francis speak out against this terrible human rights development. Uganda’s bishops have been ambivalent, which means Pope Francis’ strong moral leadership condemning this bill can greatly impact Uganda.
Your voice is needed in urging the pope to speak out in defense of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people’s human rights. Take action today by tweeting Pope Francis, sending him an email, or writing him a letter!
Email Pope Francis
Dear Pope Francis,
In less than a year, you have done as St. Ignatius asked of us and “set the world on fire” by creating greater welcome for gay and lesbian people in the Catholic Church.
Unfortunately, not all have heeded your call to love each other regardless of a person’s sexual orientation, and several nations have passed laws which criminalize being gay. Currently, Uganda’s political leaders are considering such a law.
For the World Day of Peace, you wrote that fraternity can lead us to a more peaceful and just society when we recognize other human beings as our brothers and sisters under God. Help us to stop discrimination, hate, and violence against gay and lesbian people by condemning Uganda’s anti-gay bill and similar efforts in other nations.
Please defend the human rights of gay and lesbian people in Uganda and elsewhere, for their very lives may depend on our witness as Catholics to speak Christ’s love.
Click here to send this email to Pope Francis!
Write Pope Francis
His Holiness Pope Francis
Vatican City State, 00120
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Kris and Hootie in their new home
Kris has been homeless for many years. When he could he worked temporary odd jobs and sustained a room in someone’s house. He was a good painter and helped paint the ministry house in 2008. At that time he was caring for a beloved senior dog and spent most of his pay on dog food and Vet costs. We would also assist him with this. He was bereaved when his dog died in 2011. After serious injuries he could no longer lift his arm to paint or to do most odd jobs. He lived on porches, or when possible, slept on someone’s floor. While sleeping on an open porch Kris met a small black kitten, one of the many feral cats surrounding this house. He shared his food with her and patiently and lovingly befriended her. He called her “Hootie” because she turned her head like an owl.
Kris has no medical coverage and it has been hard to document his disabilities so his case is currently with a lawyer. Our church member, Doctor Teresa Sievers,MD saw him pro bono as it is her offering to Christ, and gave him a complete physical with testing for range of motion, etc. It was clear that he is disabled and that was finally documented. With no income housing is impossible except with HUD subsidized housing like Goodwill Industries Housing for the physically disabled. Kris had been on a list for one of their Units for over four years and had forgotten that he applied.
The miracle happened in March, his name finally was at the top of the GWI List. He could not contain his joy when on Friday April 11th he moved into his first home, a wonderful townhouse that was handicapped accessible. One of our church members, Judy Alves supplied all of his furniture, a gift from her sainted mother who went home to God the same week. We supplied a bed and other household items.
Kris in front of his home
Hootie could not move right in, however, she had to be spayed and have her shots first. On Friday April 18th our church member Linda Maybin taxied Hootie and Kris back and forth to Eastside Animal Hospital who helped us with a reduced rate. Kris could not wait for Hootie to join him in their home. His joy is complete as he describes her nestling in beside him and playing and even watching TV. This is a joy for both of them. “Now my buddy is here”, he said, adding “there is nothing like being loved” and “thank you, Good Shepherd Church and Pastors Judy and Judy”. We are delighted to house Kris and Hootie in a forever home.
Hootie and Kris and Hootie’s special corner in the background-Thanks be to God!
Ending homelessness in Fort Myers one person at a time,
Pastor Judy Lee and Pastor Judy Beaumont,
Good Shepherd Ministries of Fort Myers, Florida
Thank God for Easter! Thank God for rolling away the stone. Thank you, Jesus for showing us how to walk the walk even unto your death. Most of all, thank you for rising again and showing us how to rise!
This year our Good Shepherd Community celebrated Holy Thursday and Good Friday long before last week. Young and old have had major illnesses, frightening surgeries, the onset of serious limitations, the daily challenges of poverty and homelessness and caretaking for the sick and dying, and violent deaths. We washed each other’s feet and “oh this feels good” could be heard from our hard working people. When we went through the Last Supper with Jesus and stripped the altar we remembered how our lives were stripped. When we walked the Stations of the Cross in the community our twelve year old boy, Jakein, who was baptized last June volunteered to “be Jesus” and carry the Cross. As we found a Colombian Serape that would fit his height, worn over a man’s white shirt our Jesus stood and smiled in all his glory. And we smiled and in our hearts we cried. For the young black men of our community have the hardest road of all. We have lost so many to gangs and violence both as victims and perpetrators. We prayed with and for this Jesus as he made his way through the streets with the community following.
We stopped as he was sentenced in front of the church and as he fell in front of a home that offered the community some hope because Builders Care was rehabilitating it. We remembered hope every moment of his journey-even when we stopped in front of a “crack house” where two men died within two years as they sat drinking alcohol in the yard. And, when we reached the shopping center where many stores were closed and boarded up we prayed for the community. Even the Bail Bond center was closed and we prayed for those in jail, wrongly and rightly. We prayed in front of Foreclosures as Jesus fell for the third time. We prayed for all who died unjustly or as victims, especially children. We prayed to learn how to forgive. Our Jesus helped us do that. But most of all our hearts were moved to feel a new joy as we lived Station 15, the resurrection. Our young Jesus got up and took a bow.
Jesus is risen from the dead! That is the miracle we believe and now live. Now we too must move from death to life. We now remember the joys and life we have. We rejoice in our young people who are now in college and working despite the odds and rough road! We rejoice in Natasha who got all A’s, will graduate from High School, and is accepted into colleges and preparing to go. We rejoice in the joy of our community. We rejoice in the parents, grand- parents, God-parents and community members who live Christ and guide our youth. We rejoice in a community that is one with the poor and outcast, the physically and mentally ill and struggling, accepting all. We rejoice in lives turned around, homeless housed, and sick made healthy with the love of God. We rejoice in Easter Love!
Only love gets you up in the morning and brings you to the tomb like Mary of Magdala and Mary. And only with the eyes of love will you be one of those who can see and hear and believe in the human impossibility of the resurrection. Only Love will let you know that YOU don’t have to move the stone away! Only some folks saw Jesus after he rose-I think they were those who could see with the eyes of love Only love will let you see that Jesus did not come forth as Lazarus did wrapped in the clothes of the dead-he came forth as a new and transformed being-fresh and new! (John 20:6-7) So take off your burial clothes. He folded that burial cloth that covered his face and left it there. His napkin was folded, he was coming back to the Table. Jesus the Christ rose from the dead and was not going to carry death with him.
Only love will let you see the empty Cross and let you deeply realize that Jesus the Christ is now let loose in our midst. The loving women (Matthew 28:1-10) saw that he was not there and ran to tell the others. Jesus met those faithful loving women on the road and commissioned them to “go and tell” to be the apostles to the other disciples, apostles to the apostles. They were the first to carry the message of his new life. Throughout the world, and in churches where they are forbidden to serve at the altar in equal manner as priests or even altar servers, women are treated not as blessed but as second class. Symbolically the altar is Christ, it was women who tended that body in life and death and women who first testified of his life. Loving God, forgive them for they know not what they do. Let the scales fall off the eyes of the Church and all who oppress and victimize women and children, men and all who are different and outcast. Bring Easter life back to the Church and to the world.
Let us look at our own lives and hearts. Are we still carrying the crucifix of a dead Jesus and wearing the burial clothes of life’s losses and disappointments? Or are we becoming fresh and new with the risen Christ? Do our lives point to the crucifix or to the risen Christ-full of new life, transformed and vibrant? Oh, loving God, give us back our joy, give us the fullness of new life no matter what Good Fridays we have faced or will face. Give us the joy of the resurrection!
Our loving God rolls away the stone and raises us from the dead with Christ. Let us keep on keeping on, let us truly become an Easter people! Not death but resurrection is God’s final word-new life- now and forever!
HAPPY EASTER !
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Florida