Archive | September 2014

We Have A Dream: Good Shepherd Youth Travel To Washington D.C.









The US Capitol

                      Waiting for the Plane



We follow Jesus and we follow LOVE. We want to learn the history of justice making in the United States and in the world. We are part of the legacy of Jesus the Christ as manifested in many persons throughout history, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Freedmen and women and slaves, and John F. Kennedy and the Kennedy brothers and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, to name just a few. So we wanted to go to Washington DC where so much of American history and herstory and our story was made and remembered.  For us, representing the teens and young adults and all members of our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Church of Fort Myers,Florida this trip was a FIRST in so many ways. Four of us were born and raised in Fort Myers and we never saw another State, or flew in a plane, or took a subway, or even a bus. We wanted to see more of the world and we got to do all of this! This is a little of what we did and saw. We are Natasha Terrell, 18 and Felice Rismay, 21, the  working and College students. And we are Jolinda Terrell, and Keeron Jones, High School Students and Keeondra Terrell, an eighth grader. Our Pastors, Roman Catholic women priests Judy Beaumont and Judy Lee were our guides for this amazing trip. Our church and The Father’s Table Foundation and individual donors made this adventure into life and justice available to us and we are so thankful.

 At the Capitol Natasha Terrell stands beneath the statue of Rosa Parks sitting on the bus and sparking the Civil Rights Movement




The Lincoln Memorial where Dr. King made his I Have A Dream speech             Abraham Lincoln (At the Capitol)















IMG_0078At the Memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King ,JrIMG_0080










WE STAND AT HIS FEET AND ON HIS SHOULDERS and on the shoulders of ALL who gave their lives for freedom and justice for all. 








It was exciting to see and go to the top of the Washington Monument and understand how the United States of America came to be. 


It was very special to go inside of the White House. We hoped to see a glimpse of President Obama or his family but they were not home.  We learned that Malia and Sasha  can go into all of the rooms that we were able to see whenever they want to. They also have their own movie theater. 



Pastor Judy B and Felice are near the statues of a couple struggling with poverty and Felice is near the statue of one of her heroines, Eleanor Roosevelt .The group members are standing on the bread line that marked the great depression and homelessness and hunger today as well in the USA and world-wide.

                                                                                                                                We too want to fight for economic equality and for PEACE. 

Keeron Jones standing under FDR’s Pledge of the New Deal  that still helps people today.



The Arlington Cemetery was a hallowed place. We prayed before going there and as we saw a funeral in progress there. We prayed at the site of the eternal light at  President John F.Kennedy’s grave and at the graves of all the Kennedys.  We tried to understand how so many members of one family gave their lives for freedom and equality.

IMG_0167IMG_0169Jolinda is pleased that the light never goes out. 

We also went up the hill to the “impressive” house owned by the Washington-Custis-Lee family. We were truly impressed, however, as we visited the slave quarters in the back and learned that the Washington’s personal maid was able to buy freedom for her son by sharing the story of his death with a reporter as she was with him as he died. It was difficult to witness slave history but we learned of the courage and accomplishments of the slaves. We also learned that slaves were treated better by the Washington’s than by the Robert E. Lee family. We were able to feel the reasons for the Civil War and see the bravery of those enslaved.



It meant even more to understand who Frederick Douglas was after viewing this history.

Keeron at the foot of Frederick Douglas in the Capitol IMG_0138


We also visited The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic Cathedral in the United States where we prayed and were amazed at the stories in the pictures.  It was overwhelming to some of the group but very beautiful. All of the paintings and the statues told the story of Christ and of God’s love for all people and for justice and equality. The paintings and statues of Mary, the Mother of Jesus with Jesus showed Mary and Jesus as Chinese, Czech, Native American, African and Mexican and dark and light and of many Nationalities.   Keeondra and Natasha were in awe while Jolinda said that she was happy that we have a much smaller church where we can all know and love one another. When we lit a candle to pray for a sick family member Keeron questioned why I put money in the box, did we have to pay to pray here? We explained that we never had to pay to pray but that was a love offering like we give in church on Sundays. Yet, his question was astute. He and Jolinda were not comfortable with all the gold and glitz, and I told him that he is in good company for neither is Pope Francis.  As we traveled in Washington we saw many homeless people. Our group members appropriately questioned why homelessness was everywhere, even in our Nation’s Capital. The Pastors were pleased to see that this moved our young people who dug in their pockets to be helpful. But once again they asked good questions. Indeed we pray that  their questions and answers may help bring the reign of God to all people here and now.

This trip was well worth every effort that it took and we are thankful to all who helped it to take place. We will post other aspects of this journey in a separate post. Thanks be to God for these young people who follow Christ!                       Rev. Dr. Judy Lee and Rev. Judy Beaumont, Roman Catholic Women Priests and Co-Pastors of The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida.

                                                                                                                     Below are the women at the Cross





Say What You’ll Do and Do What You Say You’ll Do:Rev.Deniray’s Sermon for Sunday 9/28/14

I did not preach this Sunday as Pastor Judy Beaumont and I took five of our teen and young adult group members to Washington DC from Thursday 9/25-Sunday 9/28. We had a prayer service on Sunday morning then continued our meditations on the hallowed ground of Arlington Cemetery visiting not only the graves but the slave quarters of the Washington-Custis, Robert E. Lee home there.  Soon we will share the highlights of this wonderful trip with you.

Today we received Rev. Deniray’s excellent Sunday sermon from her blog, the Deni Doulos Blog. Rev. Deniray is a member of Ecclesia Street Ministries as we are. She ministers regularly to the homeless and hungry in Columbus, Ohio. I am pleased to share her sermon here.

SAY What You’ll Do and DO What You Say You Will Do

by rev deniray

“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.

    (Matthew 21:28-31)

As the old saying goes, there are three kinds of people in this world: those who watch things happen, those who make things happen and those who say, “What just happened?” This scripture from Matthew offers lessons on belief backed by action, not by preaching about things or complaining, but by doing.

Jesus tells this parable of the two sons to illustrate how actions are significantly more important than intentions. He highlights the difference between those who pay lip service to God – and those who, having set out on the wrong track, change their minds and turn back to do as He asks.

Jesus describes a situation that we are all familiar with. We have all met people who say they will do something – and then find they didn’t do what they said they would; those who make promises, but don’t keep them. And we have probably also met people those who start out being against an idea or refuse a request but who then think better of it, and not only fulfill the request, but go beyond what was asked and do even more.

Jesus says if you are going to be a Christian, if you are going to follow him, then you are going to have to do something. Christianity is not about talking. Christianity is about action: the way we live and respond to people and life events; it is about growing, maturing, giving of ourselves to others and forgiving others, and loving others as ourselves.

Jesus tells a story which is rather common: one son is asked to go to the vineyard to complete a task. He says that he will do as his father asks; we assume he will do what he says. The second son refuses to do what his father asks. One son seems to be in the right and the other in the wrong.

However, appearances are often deceiving. The son who appears to be ‘right’, agrees to do his father’s work, but fails to go to the vineyard. He never shows up – all talk and no do. Yet the second son, who had first refused to obey and help his father, then changed his mind and went on to do his father’s work; this is, in the end, the son that did the ‘right’ thing. Because doing what is right means more than words and promises.

Like most of Jesus’ parables, this story isn’t really about the two boys. It’s about you and me. It’s about two kinds of people in this world: those that profess faith in God, but do not do His will and work, and those who do the will of God while, perhaps, saying ‘no’ to a lot of showy, church beliefs and preaching.

I don’t know about you, but, there have been times in my life when I’ve uttered nice, pious words about God but showed unbelief through my actions. And there was a time in my life when I wanted nothing to do with God, but tried to live my life with as much integrity and goodness as possible.

Are we the faithful or the unfaithful son? Both lied to the father. But one changed his mind and went to work while the other never followed through. We know the answer to Jesus’ question — the son who finally did what his father asked is the hero in this parable.

The meaning is so obvious.

Some religious people make all kinds of grandiose promises to God but their performance doesn’t live up to their promises. The Christians promise God, “O yes, God, I will be your faithful disciple. I will live a Christian life.” But they don’t do a darn thing. They are ‘do as I say, not as I do’ Christians. So God will find some less ‘churchy people’ who actually go and do His work in this world.

All of us would rather direct this parable to others. Lord knows we can point fingers. But this parable is addressed to you and me.

It is about integrity, about putting your money where your mouth is.

We must say what we will do and do what we say we will do.

Jesus teaches that having the intentions to obey God isn’t enough. It is only those who actually obey God, whether they originally say they will or not, who are doing the will of God.

SOMETIMES OUR ACTIONS DO NOT MATCH OUR WORDS.Intentions alone aren’t worth anything, because obedience or disobedience are actually found in what we do, more than in what we do.

We must say what we will do and do what we say we will do.Let me leave you with an example of someone who truly lived what he believed:
We have passed the thirteenth-year anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center in September. Among the thousands of victims of that attack was Father Mychal F. Judge, the fire department chaplain who, while ministering to the fire fighters working at Ground Zero, was killed by falling debris from the Towers. In Father Mychal’s pocket was this prayer that he always carried with him:

      “Lord, take me where You want me to go;
      Let me meet who You want me to meet;
      Tell me what You want me to say, and
    Keep me out of Your way.”*

Father Mychal was a man of commitment. He understood that the vows he took before God were not a trivial matter. He is one who said, “I’ll go,” and he went.



Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH28 September 2014

Archdiocesan Reaction Insufficient in Philadelphia Hate Crime Against Gay Couple

Once again we thank Bob Shine of New Ways Ministries and Bondings 2.0 blog for bringing the behavior of Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia to our attention. While it was highly appropriate to fire the part time Catholic HS coach involved the response needed to name the crime as a hate crime against a gay couple by Catholic HS alumnae and coach. Also other incidents of anti-gay actions are sadly noted. Let us continue to shine the light on the church and the LGBT community.

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,RCWP



Archdiocesan Reaction Is Insufficient in Philadelphia Hate Crime

by Bob Shine

Alumni from a Philadelphia Catholic high school were allegedly involved in a hate crime last week, accused of attacking a gay couple on the street that left one victim with a wired jaw and broken eye socket, and the other one badly bruised.

In the aftermath, a school coach has resigned but reactions to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s statements are mixed. Ultimately, the response has been insufficient and this is a missed opportunity.

Fran McGlinn coached basketball at Archbishop Wood High School, in the Philadelphia suburb of Warminster, from which several of the assailants including McGlinn had graduated. Archdiocesan spokesperson Kenneth Gavin confirmed the assistant coach’s resignation on Wednesday, saying he was further banned from employment at archdiocesan schools. The identities of McGlinn and the others became known after social media users viewed surveillance footage which was made public to find the assailants.

In a statement reported by the Bucks County Courier Times, the Archdiocese also said:

“This afternoon, administrators communicated with the entire Archbishop Wood school community to make it emphatically clear that the school does not, under any circumstances, tolerate or condone the violent and hateful behavior displayed by those who took part in this senseless attack.

“Administration also stressed that Catholic schools are centers of learning where students are expected to treat each other in a Christ-like manner at all times and that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. The actions of those who took part in the attack are reprehensible and entirely unacceptable.”

 Archbishop Charles Chaput also commented on the September 11th assault, saying in astatement:

“A key part of a Catholic education is forming students to respect the dignity of every human person whether we agree with them or not. What students do with that formation when they enter the adult world determines their own maturity and dignity, or their lack of it. Violence against anyone, simply because of who they are, is inexcusable and alien to what it means to be a Christian. A recent beating incident in Center City allegedly involved, in some way, a part-time coach at Archbishop Wood High School. After inquiries by school leadership, the coach was contacted regarding the matter and he resigned. Archbishop Wood’s handling of the matter was appropriate, and I support their efforts to ensure that Catholic convictions guide the behavior of their whole school community, including their staff.”

First, Archbishop Wood administrators are to be commended for quickly dealing with McGlinn’s employment when his involvement in hate crime became apparent. In twenty LGBT-related employment incidents at Catholic institutions this year, this is the first resulting from a church worker’s actual failure to uphold human dignity and the common good.

However, both Chaput and the Archdiocese’s statements fail to recognize openly the specific nature of this attack. Reports claim the assailants asked the couple if they were boyfriends and yelled homophobic remarks while beating the two men. Though Pennsylvania hate crime laws may not be LGBT-inclusive, in this incident it is essential for Catholic officials to acknowledge the homophobia seemingly at the core of the attack.

Yet, neither the word “gay” nor any variation is used in the statements which simply condemn violence. One interesting note is that the archbishop said no one should be attacked “simply for who they are,” a possible shift from the language of same-sex attractions in vogue with American bishops back to language of sexual orientation. This, however, does not directly name what happened as a hate crime specifically targeting a gay couple and is therefore insufficient.

Archbishop Chaput has a record of acting against LGBT people. He is known for expelling a child of a lesbian couple from Catholic school and denying Communion to LGBT advocates. Chaput recently aided efforts by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conferenceopposing a non-discrimination bill that would make sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes.

Further, this incident is a missed opportunity for Archbishop Chaput and archdiocesan officials to make an unequivocal statement in support of LGBT people who face discrimination and violence. Though Chaput was critical of Pope Francis in the past, this incident could have provided a moment for the archbishop to change his tone and implement a more pastoral approach when dealing with the LGBT community. Catholics United has called on him to do as much when it comes to Philadelphia’s transgender community. Why not use a moment of horrendous tragedy to build a bridge and reach out with love for lesbian and gay Philadelphians as well?

Thankfully, the story is still in the news and there is time for Archbishop Chaput and Archbishop Wood H.S. officials to make a more explicitly LGBT-focused condemnation of this attack. Let us pray they will finally feel the ‘Francis Effect’ now spreading in the USand do the right thing.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Jesus and the Workers: Rev. Judy’s Homily for the 25th Sunday in OT 9/21/14

Pastor Judy Beaumont and some of our Good Shepherd WorkersIMG_0001

Once again in the Gospel for this week, Matthew 20: 1-16, Jesus turns the religious and social order upside down and  shows us we cannot possibly understand the mind of God nor fathom the depth of God’s love for everyone. The prophet Isaiah addresses this theme as well: “… For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,’ says your God´(Is 55:8). Just before this Isaiah offered God’s invitation to those who were thirsty and hungry to come and drink and eat “without money and without cost” (Is 55:1). God is again promising the same “faithful love” God promised to David and the children of David. And we read the invitation on two levels: when the prophet says “listen to me and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest fare” (Is 55:2) he is saying listen and LEARN what our God is teaching, RECEIVE the teaching that is good and live! This invitation is also the preface to hearing the Gospel today, this is how we find our God.  And, it is also a specific invitation to those who have no money to buy. Consistently throughout the Scriptures God provides for those who have the least of this world’s goods and is concerned about the poor and outcast, those who are usually left out.

Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard is not a treatise on labor relations for as much as I support Unions in obtaining just pay and benefits for those who work they may not approve of Jesus’ teachings here. Jesus wants to give everyone the same wages and benefits no matter the hours worked. To understand this parable we need to put ourselves in the shoes of the last to be hired, or even those who will probably not be hired at all.

Here in Fort Myers there is a Labor Pool that assembles on a street corner at 5 AM. It is made up of men and women who want to work and have no regular job.  They want to work for the day or, preferably, for as long as possible. Many of our homeless people are part of this Labor Pool. Some ask us for work boots or boots with steel tips because the labor boss wants only those who could actually survive on a construction site. For a while when we served in the local Park we were known as the boot ministry because we would take sizes and deliver boots to these people. The saddest part of this was that the boss took only the youngest and strongest of men and older men, sickly men or women were hardly ever chosen. Yet they would go day after day as once in a while there were “easier” jobs to be given out and they just may get one. There were always many more people waiting to be hired than were actually hired. There is a similar waiting place at another place in Fort Myers and in nearby rural Immokalee where farm workers are chosen for the day.  Once again hundreds may stand there and fifty be chosen for the day. Indeed the first are chosen first unless someone younger and stronger is behind them. Some just give up and stop going. We know an older man who went every day hoping to be chosen. Once he was chosen to sweep on a site.  That was the first smile we ever saw on his face. It hurts to be overlooked and cast aside.

Unemployment is improving in the USA with 6.2 as the current unemployment rate ( Lucia Mutikani 8/1/14). The Obama years are comparable to the Roosevelt years in improvement of the depressed economy inherited from a previous era for the working person(Chart in article on Unemployment). This is truly remarkable but not for those who remain unemployed and in need, including those who have given up. In the world there are places with the unemployment rate nearing 50% of the population able to work. Many cannot even survive without UN and other sources of outside help.  In a country, like the USA where the upper 1% have 90% of the highest income resources many are overlooked whether in competing for a job and wages or in the esteem of others. This parable is a comment on that. It follows in fact the story of the rich young man who was asked to sell his possessions and give to the poor to have “treasure in heaven” and to follow Jesus. The young man “went away sad for he had great wealth”.  So Jesus then teaches that with him, with God, equal wages (rewards/gifts of love and money) are given to all no matter when they come to God. The not chosen and outcast deserve to be first, they have borne the burden of need and want and the stigma of the outcast.

Jesus knew that, he deeply loved the unchosen of this world and told us before and after this parable that “the last shall be first”.  Those who are usually left out in this world will be first in the reign of God. The economically poor and those left out because of mental illness, physical difference, race, color, class, caste, national origins, sexual orientation, or any other difference judged by mainstream others to be not good enough will be first with God. The gift of life, eternal life and God’s unfathomable love will be given to all in equal measure. And that should begin now, not sometime later as now is when we are asked to be laborers in the Vineyard. The labor of Christ’s followers is our effort to bring justice, compassion and love to fruition here and now so that those waiting in the labor pool may be duly rewarded for their wait as well as their work.  This parable is also about God’s endless and overflowing generosity.  If we are stingy and not generous with our time, money, resources, and effort in working for justice and inclusion we are like the workers who were envious of other’s just wages. Justice in God’s dream means that all throughout the land and throughout the world eat and have shelter and respect, dignity and love. We may hold the secret belief that we deserve all good things but “those others” do not. God’s way is generously giving gifts that none of us merit: life, health, love, ample means, and joy- freely given to all.  That is God’s way–what is my way? What is your way? We are asked to reflect on that this week, and to be thankful for God’s boundless love. Amen!

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Florida

How Can the Christian Community Support LGBT Homeless Youth?

Saints not Martyrs Please! a741e-smallcopylogoglbtsaints200pxoriginal

This is a Follow-up Article by New Ways Ministry to yesterday’s very important article on homeless gay youth.

From Bob Shine and the blog Bondings 2.0:

How Can the Catholic Community Support LGBT Homeless Youth?

by Bob Shine

YesterdayBondings 2.0 highlighted the religious rejection that too often causes LGBT youth to experience homelessness, and we called on Catholics and other people of faith to participate in GLAAD’s #SpiritDay this October as a sign of love and acceptance for upwards of 400,000 LGBT youth inhabiting American streets.

Today, we take a look at the flip side of the relationship between LGBT youth homelessness and religion, specifically Catholicism.  Examples of Catholics and those rooted in the church’s tradition confronting general homelessness abound, and it is a source of comfort for me that the church has such a fervent commitment to children in poverty. But what about LGBT youth?

Carl Siciliano, once a Benedictine monk and Catholic Worker, left the church over homophobic remarks from New York’s Cardinal John O’Connor. But he did not leave the  practice of the works of mercy for those without homes, as Rolling Stone reports:

“Siciliano was working at a housing program for the homeless in the Nineties when he noticed that his clientele was getting younger and younger. Until then, he says, ‘you almost never saw kids. It was Vietnam vets, alcoholics and deinstitutionalized mentally ill people.’ But not only were more kids showing up, they were also disappearing. ‘Every couple of months one of our kids would get killed…And it would always be a gay kid.’ “

Siciliano founded the Ali Forney Center in response, a shelter in New York City devoted exclusively to LGBT kids and teens without housing. Siciliano has also become an advocate, questioning where the tax dollars are for these youth and what Pope Francis’ impact has been. The Rolling Stone articles highlights the first of these, noting a lack of government funding exacerbated by a further lack of LGBT protections to assist LGBT youth.

Of more than $5 billion in federal funding annually funneled to address homelessness, a very small percentage targets youth. The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), a primary source of youth funding around this issue, does not ban LGBT discrimination and it does not look likely that such a clause will be added to a new version of the Act which expired last fall. This situation leaves the US with only 4,000 beds nightly for an estimated 1.7 million homeless youth.

There are further complications when factoring in religious organizations. Because President George W. Bush channelled government funds to faith-based providers, LGBT youth may face further discrimination if they seek services at faith-based care providers who are not inclusive and do not provide for this population’s unique needs. Given the track record of local Catholic Charities affiliates when it comes to non-discrimination laws around adoption and the Hobby Lobby debacle earlier this year, would Catholic groups end social services to homeless youth if they were required to be LGBT inclusive?

There is another angle, touched upon yesterday, when it comes to Catholicism’s response to this epidemic of homeless LGBT youth and that is the pastoral care that also needs to be provided. Siciliano wrote public letter to Pope Francis published in the New York Timesthis spring and pleaded for the pope to act forcefully against the causes of religious rejection afflicting LGBT youth.

Indeed, though Pope Francis has not directly addressed this issue, I think he points the way forward for American Catholics. The pope’s emphasis on accompanying the poor as a mandate of faith needs no comment, aside from a reminder that he chose to dine with the homeless for his birthday, and the Jesuit church in Rome held a funeral for murdered transgender woman who had been homeless that respected her gender identity. Pope Francis chooses mercy over judgment, over caring for and including those on the margins, rather than rejecting them.

What can you do?

On a personal level, participate in #SpiritDay on October 16th to let LGBT children and teens know there are supportive people of faith in their lives in their communities. New Ways Ministry is joining with other faith-based and LGBT groups to co-sponsor #SpiritDay with GLAAD. We hope you will join us and help us spread the word! For more information, click here.

On a parish level, begin efforts to address these LGBT youth-specific injustices. Whether this means broader education efforts about sexual orientation and gender identity or augmenting existing efforts to confront homelessness by tackling the unique needs of LGBT people experiencing poverty. Do something small to start and build upon it.

On a state and national level, become involved with legislative efforts to meet the specific needs of homeless youth generally, including those needs of LGBT youth.

Homelessness among LGBT youth is not simply a Catholic or faith problem, for there are a myriad of other factors influencing each person’s life. But Catholics have both a mandate from Christ to care for those least among us and a faith responsibility to combat negative religious beliefs that result in rejected youths.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Bob Shine | September 19, 2014 at 1:00 am | Tags: Catholic, Gay, homeless,

The Pain of Difference: Homeless Lesbian and Gay Youth

As a Pastor and individual serving the homeless and the LGBT community all of my life, I find the high figures on homeless LGBT youth shocking and tragic. I thank Bob Shine of New Ways Ministry- Bondings 2.0 Blog for bringing this to our attention. Please join me in prayer for loving Christ-like outreach to all homeless people, especially young people and LGBT teenagers who are facing the aftermath of rejection for the persons they were born to be. I am moved by the examples here and remember such rejections in my own life as I struggled to find and name myself and my orientation along the LGB spectrum in my thirties. For the young who cannot support themselves homelessness is part of the tragedy. Young brother and sister, my prayers are with you.

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

Co_Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Fl

All may be saints but we pray there are no martyrs among our youth!


Below is Bob Shine’s Article from Bondings 2.0 Blog New Ways Ministry

Homeless LGBT Youth Need Your Support This #SpiritDay

by Bob Shine

In a month from now, October 16th, millions of people nationwide will don purple clothing and take to social media in what has become an annual display of love and support for LGBT youth called #SpiritDay. In past years’, Bondings 2.0 has marked this event by highlighting the bullying of LGBT youth and Catholic responses  to this problem.

Today, we highlight the tremendous problem of LGBT youth homelessness, suicide, and related pastoral concerns in the hopes you will add your voice to #SpiritDay on October 16th. TomorrowBondings 2.0 will look at the other side of this problem–how religious social service providers are impacting LGBT youth experiencing homelessness.  #SpiritDay is sponsored by GLAAD, and you can find out how you and your company, school, church, organization can participate by clicking here.

Rolling Stone magazine took up LGBT youth homelessness in their September 11th issue, mixing hard data with anecdotes from four LGBT youth to tell this tragic story. To set the scene, the article cites Center for American Progress numbers that between 320,000 and 400,000 LGBT youth experience homelessness in the United States and this is approximately 40 percent of the homeless youth population overall.

The causes of LGBT youth homelessness are varied. The average coming out age has dropped to 16, when most youth are still dependent on their parents, and more youth may be coming out following legal victories for LGBT equality.

Research also shows that almost 40 percent of LGBT youth experiencing homelessness are on the streets because of family rejection, primarily rooted in religious concerns.The Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State published data showing a distinct correlation between highly religious parents and the rejection of their LGBT children in comparison to those parents considered less religious. Two of the four youth who shared their stories in the Rolling Stone article came from families identifying as Catholic.

Jackie was raised in Idaho amid an upper-middle class family. She succeeded academically and socially, pushed on by traditionally Catholic parents. It took until college for Jackie to realize she was gay, coming out sophomore year over the phone to her mother. The article reports:

“So while Jackie hoped for the best, she knew the call she was making had the potential to not end well. ‘You can’t hate me after I say this,’ she pleaded when, alarmed to be receiving a call in the middle of the night, her mom picked up the phone.

” ‘Oh, my God, you’re pregnant’ was her mom’s first response, before running through a litany of parental fears. ‘Are you in jail? Did you get expelled? Are you in trouble? What happened? What did you do?’ Suddenly her mom’s silence matched Jackie’s own. ‘Oh, my God,’ she murmured in disbelief. ‘Are you gay?’

‘Yeah,’ Jackie forced herself to say.”

Her mother hung up after using a slur against Jackie and questioning what she, as a mother, had done “for God to have given us a [gay] as a child.” Jackie’s parents cut her off financially, kicked her out of their house, and broke contact with their daughter. They mentioned later that Jackie, who experienced homelessness while still pursuing her college education, could get their financial support if she enrolled in “ex-gay therapy.” Of this, Jackie says:

” ‘I wanted to be their kid, but I couldn’t change. Everyone I’d ever known my whole life cut ties with me. But this was who I am.’ “

James was a raised in the Midwest, in a highly religious town where there was a church “on every street corner.” His mother, once Catholic, experimented with evangelically-oriented Christian traditions before returning to her original church. James, who had heard his mother rail against homosexuality, started quietly dating a co-worker. He was forced to come out after his mother found a picture of him with his boyfriend on James’ phone. Upon graduating high school, he was kicked out and, after a month of hitchhiking, ended up in Atlanta at a shelter for LGBT youth, called Lost-n-Found Youth.

One additional note is that LGBT youth who are kicked out experience higher rates of violence, sexual assault, HIV/AIDS, and prostitution than averages for youth experiencing homelessness. These can lead or exacerbate existing substance abuse and mental health issues, and in too many cases lead to suicide.

Jesuit Jason Welle questions the acts of Catholic parents and family members who would reject an LGBT child or sibling, commenting on its inconsistency with teachings of Jesus. He writes at The Jesuit Post:

“And this kind of rejection is shameful and heartbreaking because, really, our faith tradition should teach us that rejecting our children is a rejection of the promises we make in Baptism, namely that when a Catholic parent has their child baptized, the priest or deacon instructs them to teach their child to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor, and then asks pointedly, ‘Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?’

“The thing is, before you bring a child into the world no one asks you if you know what you’re getting into. But when a Catholic parent baptizes that child, they must respond directly to this question first. It leaves me crying out: what part of throwing a gay or lesbian child out of the home shows our love of God and neighbor?”

Beyond the family, there is still the matter of the Catholic community. San Francisco social worker Kelley Cutler wrote a blog post at Patheos with questions for this fall’s Synod of Bishops tackling marriage and family life. Cutler asks the right questions, I think, for the church at large presently faced with all of the above:

“How can the Church follow Christ’s example? What do queer people want and need to feel welcomed and supported in the Church where they may find him? How can the Church support queer people already in the pews, let alone the many on the street? What do they hope for from the Church, and how is the Church failing those hopes, thus contributing to a sense of hopelessness?”

Cutler points out that community and a sense of belonging, as well as spiritual care are essential components in helping marginalized communities — and what the church can offer to LGBT youth. She concludes:

“It takes a genuine connection to make the vulnerable feel truly safe, and truly seen…if we truly want to outreach to queer people, we need to do more, starting with real dialogue. Without being defensive, we need to see queer people through Jesus’ eyes, understand why they feel like outcasts, and then ask what we as a community can do to bring them home.

“If we listen, we will hear that we all share the same desires: for connection; for community; for hope; for love; for a place where we may safely graze.”

Making public your support as a Catholic or person of faith for LGBT youth this #SpiritDay will let them know there is a supportive community out there. New Ways Ministry is joining with other faith-based and LGBT groups to co-sponsor #SpiritDay with GLAAD. We hope you will join us and help us spread the word! For more information, click here.

TomorrowBondings 2.0 will follow-up this post by looking at the impact faith-based social service providers have had in confronting LGBT youth homelessness.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Radical Love-Rev. Judy’s Reflections on the Cross: Holy Cross Sunday 9/14/14

When we love someone deeply we remember all we can about their lives including the manner of their dying and parting from us. We remember most of all how they loved us in big and little ways and what they taught us. As we mature we attribute meaning to many of the things they did and said and this gives meaning to our own lives.  I was raised by my mother and my Grandmother and we lived together in a small frame house in Brooklyn, New York with my two Uncles. We were also surrounded by a host of other family members from near and far in my youngest years. My Grandmother was the head of this clan and a leader in her church and in the community. Her vibrant faith, accepting love and joy drew people to her. She was my best friend and my anchor and I loved her very much. She always said that she wanted to live until I was married. She was 65 when I was born and almost 85 when she died. I was married for four months when she died.

I was not ready for her death but if it had been gentle it would have been easier. She died of a cancer that had metastasized and her suffering unhinged all who loved her. Her faith held strong but pain management in those days was totally inadequate. My faith in God was strong like hers, but I did not know how God could let one of God’s most faithful suffer and die like this. After almost two months of awful suffering in Kings County Hospital, hooked up to IV’s and not visibly responsive to my evening visit, she finally got to go home to God in the early morning hours. I wondered what took God so long. I was numb and could not cry until my friend Barbara’s Grandmother, Hattie Ballard, a beautiful African- American woman of faith, took me in her arms and said “She’s at home with God, I’ll be your Grandma now”.

Even as I write this so many years later tears well up. And that is the same way I feel about Jesus and remembering his execution. It is my love for him that makes me remember the giving of himself throughout his life and in the Last Supper, his terrible suffering on the cross and the unbelievable miracle of his resurrection. In Aramaic the word “believe” carries connotations of love not abstract belief. In love I remember it all.

I do not seek to wipe out the hard parts and have a Pollyanna faith built on a flimsy superficial notion of love. Real love remembers all of it and does not simply delete the suffering at the end.  But his death should not loom so large that we forget all he did and taught-all he was in all of his humanity and all of his Godness.

It is not that his death overshadows his life and his resurrection for me. I remember everything I can about my Grandmother and I remember all that Jesus did and taught and what I can comprehend about what and who he was-the Christ he is. It is that, as hard as it is, I did learn from my Grandmother’s hard death. I learned about suffering. I learned it early and I have learned much more of it in my life than may be “a fair share”. But I also learned there is no fair share-only that God is with us through the suffering and sometimes a Grandma Ballard will step forward and will help ease the pain. And I learned that life comes after death, for the deceased and also for those who mourn and live on. Let us not be afraid of remembering and embracing the cross.

This is what Pope Francis said about the centrality of the cross in our faith. “When we journey without the cross,when we build without the cross,when we profess Christ without the cross,we are not disciples of the Lord,we are worldly….My wish is that all of us will have the courage to walk in the presence of the Lord,with the Lord’s cross….” Pope Francis

On September 14, 2014 we will celebrate the feast day of the Holy Cross.  The following is from the writings of Frederick Beuchner in

“Here is this week’s reading from the gospel of John:  John 3:13-17

“…. just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

“The following excerpt was originally published in The Faces of Jesus and later in Listening to Your Life.

“God so loved the world,” John writes, “that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” That is to say that God so loved the world that he gave his only son even to this obscene horror; so loved the world that in some ultimately indescribable way and at some ultimately immeasurable cost he gave the world himself. Out of this terrible death, John says, came eternal life not just in the sense of resurrection to life after death but in the sense of life so precious even this side of death that to live it is to stand with one foot already in eternity. To participate in the sacrificial life and death of Jesus Christ is to live already in his kingdom. This is the essence of the Christian message, the heart of the Good News, and it is why the cross has become the chief Christian symbol. A cross of all things – a guillotine, a gallows – but the cross at the same time as the crossroads of eternity and time, as the place where such a mighty heart was broken that the healing power of God himself could flow through it into a sick and broken world. It was for this reason that of all the possible words they could have used to describe the day of his death, the word they settled on was “good.”Good Friday.”

No, I don’t understand all of what happened on the Cross or how time and eternity met, but I understand that Jesus asked his Abba God to “forgive them, for they know not what they do”. In relationship with Jesus, the Christ, I know his love and I know the life that it gives, now, and forever. I know it within and for myself and I see it every day in the lives of those around me who have suffered the ravages of poverty and illness. I know that the Cross and Resurrection are two parts of one action and that they form the centerpiece of Christianity. A centerpiece centers us,draws us in, but all else that Jesus did and taught about love and justice, peace and inclusion and forgiveness completes the picture. In a way it is our love for Christ and following Christ, our functions as part of the body of Christ,that is completing the picture of God’s kingdom or kin-dom on earth that includes everyone. And it is all about the power of Love/love.

There are some who make the Cross the whole picture. As in the Mel Gibson film The Passion they center only on the suffering. They ignore all that Jesus was, taught, did and wants us to do. They even minimize the Resurrection! At the end of the film the Resurrection was pictured in one frame, in a small box on the screen. They got the proportions all wrong. The Resurrection is even bigger than the death as new and forever life flows from it-from the life of Christ to the Cross and through the Resurrection. The early church would have never lived and spread far and wide if something huge like the Resurrection had not happened.

As feminist social ethicist Beverly W. Harrison said crucifixions are going to happen. From Jesus, to many of the saints, to M.L.King, Jr, to Oscar Romero and beyond. “Radical love is a dangerous and serious business….There is no way around crucifixions given the power of evil in the world. But….the aim of love is not to perpetuate crucifixions but to bring an end to them.’’ Indeed, she continues, “we are not called to practice the virtue of sacrifice but to lovingly pass on the power of radical love.” Harrison is right, “there is no way around crucifixions given the evil in the world” and there is no way around the existence and pain of sin, social sin, mass killings, rape and genocide, corporate and individual greed and other individual sins that may also be horrendous. The presence of evil does not negate the wonderful presence of beauty and love in our world and in the cosmos and in our very lives, but only makes it sweeter. Yet a theology without addressing evil and sin is at best the weakest skim milk of theology. In embracing radical love, we need more substantial understanding.

There are some who see Christ’s death as a cultic sacrifice, even as lambs and other animals were sacrificed before him. But it is clear in the Scriptures that God did not desire animal sacrifice, let alone its human counterpart. Even in the story of Abraham and Isaac, there was no human sacrifice. The prophet Samuel says (I Sam 15:22) “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord”? The prophet Hosea says (6:6) God desires mercy and acknowledgement not sacrifice. In Psalm 51(16-17) we learn that God does not desire or need living sacrifices, but thanksgiving, praise, and a spirit in need of wholeness.  So Christ did not die for “atonement” but simply for love-God’s radical love for us and for all of God’s creation.

Some of today’s theologians, including some feminist theologians like Schussler-Fiorenza(1994: Jesus Miriam’s Child…) and black feminist theologian Delores Williams(S-F,1994:103) are wary of identification with a suffering Christ especially for women in general and black women in particular who should not tolerate the self- sacrifice replete with suffering that is often expected. Yet, Williams allows that most black women do believe in redemption through Jesus suffering on the cross (SF,1994,273). She does not think one should accept suffering for any reason “including the reason Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had: that suffering might serve to transform the social situation”. I am with Dr. King on this. As I recall the Civil Rights era it is clear that a lot of courageous suffering came before life-giving change (including Dr. King’s) and it was not “for nothing”-it gave birth to change. The suffering was like the pain of childbirth. Womanist theologians Grant,Terrell and Mitchem also disagree with Williams’ conclusions and see Jesus as co-sufferer (Mitchem, Introducing womanist Theology,2002:113). Terrell says” The idea of Jesus’ suffering invites those who live in oppression to identify with God’s love—the extent to which God goes to bring us back from alienation and human estrangement (Mitchem, 2002, 117). For these and for a range of Latin-American and Asian feminist theologians Jesus is seen as the Liberator Christ who calls us to be active participants in our own liberation. Ritchie,an Argentinian theologian quotes Sobrino “Any theo-logy must hold that Jesus is God. Liberation Christology emphasizes that we only know what God is from a point of departure in Jesus.” In the midst of historical and political conflict Jesus is “the Savior who incarnates God’s plan to liberate humanity….” (Ritchie in Tamez,Through Her Eyes ,1989). Tamez says: “The God of life, our Creator and Liberator, who through God’s Son Jesus Christ-incarnated in history, died and rose again to give us abundant life-lead us in the quest to recreate history and culture so that God’s kingdom may be visible on earth” (1989:13).

Korean feminist theologian Chung Hyun Kyung says “Jesus takes sides with the silenced Asian women in his solidarity with oppressed people.” Hong Kong theologian Kwok Pui-Lan says “We see Jesus as the God who takes human form and suffers and weeps with us.” ( In Schussler-Fiorenza, 1994: 103). For further discussion on this and its relation to the poor and homeless everywhere please see my book about building church with the poor (Lee, 2010, Come By Here: Church with the Poor especially pp. 70-78.)

And, finally consider these words of the theologian and author of Raising Abel James Alison:

“… In the context of discussing the revelation of God as Love, using John 3:16 as a prime example, Alison poses the story of Genesis 22 as a story that can be demythologized by John 3:16:

Now, this “giving his only Son” is not an idea pulled out of a hat. It is, itself, the demythologization of a story from the Old Testament: the story of Abraham who was prepared to give up his only (legitimate) son to God, by sacrificing him. But look at what has happened meanwhile: in the first story God is a god who demands sacrifices from humans, including the one sacrifice which really mattered, even though, in the story as we have it in Genesis 22, God himself organizes a substitute for the sacrifice. In any case, we still have a capricious deity. What we see in the New Testament, completely in line with the change in the perception of God that I’ve been setting out, is that it is not humans who offer a sacrifice to God (by, for instance, killing a blasphemous transgressor), but God who offers a sacrifice to humans. The whole self-giving of Jesus becomes possible because Jesus is obedient to God, giving himself in the midst of violent humans who demand blood, so as finally to unmask and annul the system of murderous mendacity which the world is.

Once more, if you think I’m making this up, everything which I have been saying is beautifully and exactly resumed in the first epistle of John. There we see what the message is, the nucleus of the Gospel:

This then is the message which we have heard of him [i.e., Jesus], and declare unto you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

That is: what Jesus came to announce was a message about God, and God’s being entirely without violence, darkness, duplicity, ambivalence or ambiguity. This message is then unpacked by the author in the following verses, and then he gives us the famous summing up of where this process of the changing perception of God has led to:

…for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, that God sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:8-10)

Here we have the element of the discovery of the absolutely vivacious and effervescent nature of God leading to the realization that behind the death of Jesus there was no violent God, but a loving God who was planning a way to get us out of our violent and sinful life. Not a human sacrifice to God, but God’s sacrifice to humans”. (pp. 45-46) ( Bold emphasis mine).

Let us thank God for the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Let us gather around the Table together in love and remember.

This is Rvda. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia,RCWP celebrating the Eucharist with some of the faithful in Cali,ColombiaCon los lideres de la Comunidad en la Corporación "Playa Renaciente"

Like Christ, LIVE , now and forever!

Rev.Dr.Judy Lee,RCWP

Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers, Florida



Irish St. Vincent de Paul Society Gives Grant to LGBT Center Despite Bishop’s Challenge

We thank Francis De Bernardo of the blog Bondings2.0  (NewWaysMinistry) for this hopeful good news!

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St. Vincent de Paul Society Gives Grant to LGBT Center Despite Bishop’s Challenge

Yesterday, we reported on some developments in Ireland that showed that Irish Catholics were responding more and more positively to LGBT issues.  We saved one story for its own post, not only because it is a remarkable development, but because it contrasts so strikingly with what sometimes happens here in the States.

The Irish Times reported that Ireland’s St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) Societyrecently gave a grant of €45,000  to  “Amach! LGBT Galway,”  a resource center which serves the sexual and gender minority community there.  The grant will be disbursed over three years. [Editor’s Note:  “Amach” is Gaelic for “out.”]

What makes this story even more remarkable is that when Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway objected to the grant and asked for a clarification of the decision, the SVP defended their action, and countered the bishop’s concerns about “moral grounds” with an accounting of how they indeed acted morally.

The Irish Times  reports:

“Bishop Drennan said that ‘on moral grounds we can’t support that.’ Homosexual activity was ‘in our eyes morally wrong behaviour and we cannot put funds at the service of what we don’t believe is morally incorrect.’ His problem was ‘the moral judgement involved.’ The reputation of the SVP ‘has been put in question by this grant,’ he said.”

Initially, according to the newspaper, an SVP official responded that the decision to fund the LGBT group

“was made purely on the basis of need in the Galway area, in the same way as all requests for support are assessed. It does not signify any other motive.”

In an article in The Independent, Jim Walsh, SVP spokesperson, further explained where the grant money came from, and that it did not impact their donations to other needy causes, which totalled about €42 million pounds in 2012.  Walsh stated:

” ‘The money that has been granted comes from a specific fund, the Maureen O’Connell Fund, and so it has no direct connection to any of the other money spent by the SVP,’ Jim Walsh said.

“He rejected suggestions that the money would be better spent on funding those more obviously in poverty, such as those asylum seekers trapped in direct provision or the elderly.”

Indeed,  “Amach! LGBT Galway” itself serves needy clients.  The Indedpent offers this description:

“The centre is intended to be a safe space where LGBT people can address issues and concerns such as prejudice, isolation, loneliness, depression and the lack of opportunities to network with peers.”

An Irish blogger on points out:

“A popular stereotype is that LGBT people are happy! Fun! And are inundated with disposable income! They are fabulous and ageless men, they live fabulous lives, with fabulous homes and fabulous lifestyles. Everything is rosy, just like on TV or just like in some kind of liberal, south Dublin bubble.

“The reality, according to the evidence, can often be very different.

“LGBT people can experience marginalisation, stigmatisation, difficulty accessing essential services, all of which impacts on our health and well-being.”

The statistics used to support the above claim are staggering, especially on the situation of LGBT people in Ireland.  The numbers strongly support the SVP statement that the grant was given to an “excluded and marginalised group in need.”

The main question that arises for me from this story is “Why does Bishop Drennan think of morality only in terms of sexual morality and not the morality of helping a population that has been ostracized, under-served, and in need of healing and reconciliation?”  The SVP obviously saw morality in much broader terms than the bishop did.

An equally important point to make, though, is that the SVP action contrasts greatly with many recent actions in the U.S. where Catholic funds have been withdrawn from social service agencies because of LGBT issues.  In all the cases, the funds were withdrawn not even because the agencies were serving LGBT clients, but because from time to time they acted in coalition with LGBT organizations.  You can read about all those actions by clicking here.

Obviously, Catholic leaders in the U.S. have something to learn about humility, charity, and a-political service from Ireland’s St. Vincent de Paul Society.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Two Moving Reflections: Love in The Midst of Sorrow – Rev. Chava’s Ministry with Migrants and Fr. Mychal Judge A Gay Saint on 9/11

Here we present Rev. Chava’s reflections on her migrant ministry and also a reflection on Saint Mychal Judge by Don Pachuta a friend of Woman Priest Eileen Di Franco of Philadelphia and also from  In both reflections we can feel the love in the midst of sorrow and the worst things that can happen. How beautiful are these preachers and their people. 

Rev Chava’s Reflection On Noticing the Joy

Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church
Bulletin for Sunday, September 7, 2014
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear friends,

There have been so many times that there has been hard news to write about
in this bulletin: people picked up by immigration, deportations, the I-9
audit that cost everyone in our little migrant church their jobs two years
ago – and bed bugs and cockroaches and long working hours and exhaustion.
It’s important to share those stories because our friends are hidden from
mainstream North America. I’ve met people who didn’t even know there was an
immigration problem in our area. But as difficult as all those things are,
and as necessary as it is to share them, it is also important to notice the

This past weekend held some very real joy, as we celebrated the wedding of
two folks from our community. The happiest memory for me is of the bride
and groom’s 15-month-old son toddling up the aisle and into his Papi’s
arms. He was the only member of the wedding party who didn’t know he was in
it! …and he provided some entertainment (or competition) during the homily.
After the ceremony, a neighbor invited the wedding party to take photos in
her garden across the street. I thought that was so kind. The one
disappointment in the day was the noticeable dearth of Mexicans, because
the groom’s co-workers all had to work. The bride actually drove out to the
fields to get the best man, a couple hours before the ceremony. In spite of
that, there was lots and lots of joy. Best wishes in your life together,
Constantino and Cassandra!

On Thursday I finally got our projector working with both picture and
sound, and to celebrate the first week of school, plus having a pretty
thoroughly exhausted pastor, and a very small group at church due to
illness and extra long work hours, we decided to have a movie night instead
of Mass. Brenda from St Joe’s was with us for the first time, but the kids
she had come to teach weren’t there. She had, however, made some wonderful
chili to share, so we ate and watched “Harry Potter” – until the two older
kids that were there said they needed to stop watching and go do their
homework. It was getting late anyway, so I gave them the video to watch at
home, we found containers so everyone could take home some chili, and that
was our night. I found I missed the joy of celebrating Mass together, but
was delighted and impressed by the kids’ devotion to their schoolwork.

Another source of joy this week was learning that the book “Border Patrol
Nation” is being used as a textbook at the Divinity School this fall. The
author, Todd Miller, will be doing a speaking  tour of upstate NY in
November. He will be at St John Fisher the evening of November 4 (6:15) and
at ROCLA (which meets at DUPC) at 7 pm on November 5. I recommend his book
highly and hope you can make it to one or both of his talks.

Love to all

Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph’s House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620
A member community of the Federation of Christian Ministries


Saint Michael Judge by Don Pachuta

As we approach the memory of that horrific day, we pause to honor Saint Mychal Judge, a Franciscan priest, and Fire Department of New York Chaplain, died on September 11, 2001. They labeled him casualty 001. Thepicture of his lifeless body being carried out from the Tower has become an icon of that day. He died because he loved his neighbors, and even put them above himself. He walked in the feet of Jesus as he went into the burning NorthTower to minister to others. Other priests were present but he was the only priest to enter the Towers. He walked in the feet of Jesus when he refused the evacuation order, saying his work was not yet done. He continued to anoint those who were stricken and to pray with them, for them, and over them, until he was killed by flying debris from the collapse of the South Tower. He is oneof the great heroes of that day and a martyr in every sense of that word. Hegave his life for others walking in the feet of Jesus – “Greater love no one has than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). He lived a saintly and compassionate life, whether in Northern Ireland, or New York. He ministered to everyone, including those most outcast in society,addicts and people with AIDS. He continued serving as chaplain to Dignity,despite his hierarchy’s objections to such a ministry to people who are gay. Oh yes, incidentally, he happened to be born gay, a fact totally irrelevant to the New York mayor, fire commissioner, and firefighters. He remained a celibate priest true to his vows. The Orthodox Church recognizes him as a saint. There is an Old Catholic Church in Dallas named Saint Mychal Judge. You will feel inspired if you visit the website That would pay homage to him and all the dead heroes of that day and since. Fr.Mychal truly manifests that greater love which Jesus expounds on. Here is the prayer he spontaneously spoke in his last homily the day before, a prayer for all seasons
Prayer ofThanksgiving
by Fr. Mychal Judge

Thank You, Lord, for life.
Thank You for love.
Thank You for goodness.
Thank You for work.
Thank You for family.
Thank You for friends.
Thank You for every gift
because we know
that every gift comes from You, and
without You, we have and are nothing.

As we celebrate this day in thanksgiving to You,
keep our hearts and minds open.
Let us enjoy each other’s company, and
most of all, let us be conscious of Your presence in our lives,
and in a special way, in the lives of those who have gone before us.
Father, we make our prayer in Jesus’ name,
who lives with You forever.  Amen.

Gay saint of 9/11: Mychal Judge

“Holy Passion Bearer Mychal Judge and St. Francis of Assisi”
By Father William Hart McNichols

A gay priest is considered a saint by many since his heroic death in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001.

Father Mychal Judge (1933-2001), chaplain to New York City firefighters, responded quickly when Muslim extremists flew hijacked planes into the twin towers. He rushed with firefighters into the north tower right after the first plane hit. Refusing to be evacuated, he prayed and administered sacraments as debris crashed outside. He saw dozens of bodies hit the plaza outside as people jumped to their deaths. His final prayer, repeated over and over, was “Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!”

While he was praying, Father Mychal was struck and killed in a storm of flying steel and concrete that exploded when the south tower collapsed. He was the first officially recorded fatality of the 9/11 attack. Father Mychal was designated as Victim 0001 because his was the first body recovered at the scene. More than 2,500 people from many nationalities and walks of life were killed. Thousands more escaped the buildings safely.

After Father Mychal’s death, some of his friends revealed that he considered himself a gay man. He had a homosexual orientation, but by all accounts he remained faithful to his vow of celibacy as a Roman Catholic priest of the Franciscan order.

The charismatic, elderly priest was a long-term member of Dignity, the oldest and largest national lay movement of LGBT Catholics and their allies. Father Mychal voiced disagreement with the Vatican’s condemnation of homosexuality, and found ways to welcome Dignity’s AIDS ministry despite a ban by church leaders. He defied a church boycott of the first gay-inclusive St. Patrick’s Day parade in Queens, showing up in his habit and granting news media interviews.

Many people, both inside and outside the GLBT community, call Father Mychal a saint. He has not been canonized by his own Roman Catholic Church, but some feel that he has already become a saint by popular acclamation, and the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America did declare officially declare him a saint. For more info on Father Mychal, visit  his Wikipedia entry or the Saint Mychal Judge Blog.

The above icon by Father William Hart McNichols shows Father Mychal with St. Francis of Assisi as the World Trade Center burns behind them. They hold out a veil to gather and help people who cry out in times of violence and terror. In the text accompanying the icon, Father McNichols describes Father Mychal as a Passion Bearer who “takes on the on-coming violence rather than returning it… choosing solidarity with the unprotected…..”

We thank God for Rev. Chava and for Fr. Mychal Judge for they are the pioneer priests of a new day of justice for all and truly “walk in Jesus’ shoes.  May God help us all to walk in those shoes. Pastor Judy Lee  

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Bound Together in Love: We Are Responsible For One Another: Rev. Judy’s Homily 23rd Sunday OT

                                                                                                                                       Some of our Good Shepherd LeadersIMG_0061

Our Judeo- Christian heritage teaches us another way to be in an increasingly secular, self-centered world where day after day we wonder at the tragedies taking place on every level of life.  Locally, still another young teen is accused of killing his mother. We weep for our children and our world as we recall that just a few weeks ago in the same town a thirteen year old killed a homeless man.  On the world scene wars and terrorist actions from beheadings to outright slaughter and genocide fills our hearts with outrage and sadness.  Our times right now often bear comparison to the violence described in the Holy Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity.   Yet the Law and the prophets and the teachings and life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ, show us another way.

Our Lectionary readings for this Sunday have one common theme: we are responsible for one another.  The priest and prophet Ezekiel ministered to his fellow exiles from 593 to perhaps 563 BCE. His very hard job was to keep them faithful to the Law and to loving God throughout the despair of their exile and even as they made the transition to freedom and their own homeland. He held to the Law and to the integrity of the individual and the responsibility of each one toward God and toward one another. While we focus on Ezekiel 33 today, in Ezekiel 18 the prophet enumerates the laws that must be observed and the consequences for those who do not observe them. Beyond indulging in forms of pagan idolatry, the laws are social laws that make God’s people responsible for their neighbors’ basic needs(verses 1-13)- not defiling a neighbor’s wife, not oppressing anyone, restoring the debtor his pledge, no robbery, giving bread and clothing to the poor and hungry, and so on. This responsibility also includes a father raising his sons to follow these laws, and if the sons are violent toward others, shedding blood, the father remains responsible. Following these laws brings righteousness and life, not doing so brings death-both metaphoric and actual.  Yet, if the wicked, who have chosen death turn away from their sins and keep God’s statutes, “they shall surely live”. The converse is also true for the righteous who turn away from God-death follows. But, Ezekiel concludes: “….get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.”(EZ 18:32).   

This sets the stage for Ezekiel 33: 7-9, our first reading. Here God is telling Ezekiel that it is his job to give the people warning so that they can turn back to God and live. If he gives up on this unpleasant job of correcting others, their sins are upon his head. If they have been instructed and still break the Laws of loving God and being responsible for their neighbors, that is their own fault. In Ez 33:11, the sentiments of Ez 18:32 are again repeated. God loves God’s people and wants Ezekiel to help them turn back to God and live. In essence, not only priests and prophets have that responsibility but we are all Ezekiel-we can act lovingly and with justice and we can help one another to act lovingly toward God and toward one another.  If we don’t it is on us!  That is the essence of tzedakah and the intersection of tzedakah  and chesed with tikun olam.  EEK, you may say, now she’s speaking in a foreign language! Yes, this is Hebrew and these are the living concepts from the Hebrew Scriptures and midrash/commentary that the prophet Ezekiel and Rabbis Paul and Jesus not only knew intimately but lived, taught and wanted others to live. Tzedakah is not just charity or philanthropy but enacting righteousness and justice as well as charitable aid on behalf of the poor. Chesed is even more comprehensive and includes all acts of loving kindness extended toward every one, poor or rich, friend or enemy.  These acts of justice and kindness, or ethical mitzvot, are not optional but obligatory in Orthodox Judaism. Tikun Olam is the concept that “humanity is responsible to perfect-to heal, repair and transform the world along with G-d.” It is our responsibility to take on social action for justice as well as philanthropy and genuine caring, to exercise our communal social responsibility especially in the absence of a strong welfare state.**

(**Online:  Jonathan Sacks Orthodoxy’s Responsibility to Perfect G-d’s World; wikipedia Tikun Olam;  Journal of Yeshiva University,-Jewish Social Work Forum, Eric Levine “The Ethical-Ritual In Judaism: A Review of Sources on Torah Study and Social Action,(pp. 44-50, Vol 26,Spring 1990). I am also indebted to my teacher of Jewish Social Philosophy at Yeshiva University, Wurzweiler School of Social Work Doctoral Program, Rabbi and Professor Irving Levitz,and to Rev. Becky Robbins-Penniman for mentioning Tikun Olam in her last Sunday’s sermon..)

 Our church community enacts love and justice by seeking out and serving the homeless and poorest among us, and by reaching out to families and young people with the teachings of the Scriptures and the love of God and Christ. Both co-pastors are now in their seventh decades. There are times when this call is just too much for us. I am the grumbler and I grumble-“how can I do this now, oh God?” Sometimes we may be short tempered with one another and even with the people if the day is heavy and long with need after need. But we are continuing because we must.  On Sundays there is a meal and fellowship time after the Mass and after that I teach Sunday school along with one or two others. Sometimes we are so tired by the time Sunday school time comes along that we just want to call it off for the day. But we don’t because we feel that the only way to prevent the kinds of horrors we discussed in the first paragraph where young teens are killing parents and elders and, indeed, one another in our community is to spend time with our young people, loving them, listening to them, and teaching them. And, yes, I am very plain and clear in the sermons I give as to what right relationship with God and others looks like. The people, especially the teens know what I mean when I say “don’t call yourself a Christian if you are packing heat (carrying a gun or weapon) or carrying a beef (a need for vengeance)”. What we do will not change the world or violence on a mass scale but it does make a difference with those we can reach. We are praying for more to join us in this work with the homeless and with the young because for us it is not an option but an obligation in living the Gospel.  It is important to us that our church stand as a beacon of love. People say they can feel the love when they enter the door, and that is so good.


And that is what Paul means in Romans 13:8-10 where he says “Owe no debt to anyone-except the debt that binds us to love one another”. He sums up the Law and says “Love your neighbor as yourself” Love never does any wrongs to anyone-hence love is the fulfillment of the Law”. Like Jesus, he is boiling all 613 Jewish laws down into the essential two: love God, love your neighbor (everyone else)-and that is our obligation as Christians even as it is the obligation laid down in the Hebrew Scriptures. On Sunday we are going to sing the very old hymn “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds”-our hearts in Christian love…. We share each other’s woes, Our mutual burdens bear, And often for each other flows the sympathetic tear”.  Yes, the tie binds, we are bound together in love. And we are bound in  love to our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters who share Father Abraham. Jews, Christians and Muslims have scriptural obligations to enact love and justice in common. In Fort Myers there has been a wonderful Tri-Faith Dialogue. Rev. Walter Fohs of Lamb of God Lutheran-Episcopal Church led in that Dialogue for Christians. He faced much opposition as he strongly paved the way in this for several years. Now that he has moved West I am not sure what has happened to the group. But it must continue as a vehicle of Interfaith understanding and unity in the midst of world-wide conflicts in “the name of God” who does not want that even one life should be lost. 

Conflicts abound on every scale. Of course, sometimes these conflicts are within the church as well. Perhaps these are the hardest ones. In the Gospel, in Matthew 18:15-20 we are taught how to handle conflicts within the community of believers. This teaching comes right after Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep where we are to go out after the one who is lost because God is not willing that any of the little ones, which can also mean new believers, or just plain “unimportant/little folks” are lost. To God not one should perish. (Sounds like the God of Ezekiel here as well).

Now Jesus is on the theme of social responsibility. Once again here he is steeped in the Law and knows that the Law has much harder remedies for sins against one another. (See for example Deuteronomy 25:1-take the offender to the judge and give him 40 lashes-not more, but enough. And, Deut 17: 8-13- if the court can’t decide take the offender to the priest and follow his decision-if contempt is shown toward the priest death follows). Jesus asks that the problem be talked out “between the two of you”. That is a lot better than 40 lashes and a lot less hierarchical! Then he says if she or he listens you have won a loved one back. Wow-the binding together in love is not broken. But, he cautions, quoting Deuteronomy 19:15 do this in the presence of two or three witnesses. Finally if the problem remains, refer the matter to the whole church. If that doesn’t work see the offender as one who is outside of the group because we have the power to forgive one another’s debts and to hold one another accountable. But this is not a light thing, for it is forgiving the debt that makes us even worthy to pray and be granted our prayers. (In Aramaic, in the context here ,to be ‘in agreement’ means to be worthy!).  So when we are able to forgive sins against one another, we can pray and God is in our midst.

(Below are some of our teens and Juniors.)


What a wonderful teaching this is in the context of Judaic law and language. It does what Jesus often does, takes the Law one step further. This is certainly one of the several cases where I think it is very high-minded of the members of the Jesus Seminar to say “definitively” that Jesus did not say these words. I challenge us to remember that there is great difference among scholars including progressive scholars about what Jesus actually said. Timothy Luke Johnson and Gary Wills, for example seriously question the presumptions and assumptions that the members of the Jesus Seminar act on in voting for what Jesus may or may not have said. Certainly there were conflicts in Jesus’ community of believers-even the disciples fought about who would sit on Jesus’ right and left hands-who was closest to Jesus. Peter was teased and called kepas, or brick-head, stupid. And the problems between Peter and Mary of Magdala or Peter and James probably did not start only after his death. Jesus, the Christ, who lived Love, was also a Palestinian Jewish Rabbi who could indeed have said the words of Matt 18:15-20.  We can all use these suggestions as to how to deal with conflict among believers.

Blessed be the tie that binds us together in love. For love feels less like an obligation or responsibility and more like simply what we want to do. We want to help one another, to challenge injustice and to reach out to those who have not or those who need something from us because of love. We want to forgive one another even the most painful hurts against ourselves and against the innocents of this world, only because of love. Thank God for God’s love for us and for helping us to really love one another. May God continue to bind us together in love.

  Some of our Good Shepherd Board Members                                        

   An Interfaith Group                                                           Pastor Walter Fohs with Pastors Judy L and Judy B


Rev. Dr. Judith Lee, RCWP Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers   9/5/14