Archive | March 2015

The Women Remain Faithful-Roman Catholic Women Priests Reflect on Palm Sunday 3/29/2015

Here I will reflect on this years Palm Sunday and Passion readings using the Gospel of Mark, and also share some of my last year’s reflections along with those of Rev. Chava Redonnet, a priest of the migrant worker’s in Upstate New York.

This year we celebrate Palm Sunday and the Passion of Jesus with the readings from the Gospel of Mark. These are some of my favorite readings as the love of the people and the actions of women are prominently included.  In the readings for the blessing of the palms and the Procession into the church (Mark 11: 1-10) we see the people spreading their cloaks on the ground for the little donkey carrying Jesus to walk on.  When we discussed this at last year’s procession several people said: “I wish I were there to put my clothing on the ground for him”. For some of our homeless and poor people that would be putting all they own down for Jesus. Indeed, it is our very lives that we can spread before Jesus as we seek to be the Christ light in the lives of those around us. Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians(2:5-11) tells us that the humble Christ became completely empty and took on the image of oppressed humankind (TIB). It was many of these same oppressed humans,  poor, and oppressed by the Roman Empire and by the religious and political leaders of the time that Jesus took on, who threw their cloaks on the ground before him and hailed his reign, asking him “Save us!”( the meaning of Hosanna). The Epistle concludes that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, but in strong identification with Jesus the Christ who assumed the image of “oppressed humankind” reverence and honor comes naturally as does a very special love for one who knew sorrow,rejection and suffering as they do, here and now.

Mark’s account of the Passion( Mark 14:-15:47) starts with a woman anointing Jesus with expensive perfume as he reclined at table at the house of Simon who had leprosy. First I love that Jesus and the disciples are at the house of someone who could well be outcast and seen as ritually unclean because of his leprosy. Then the actions of this woman who is not given a name speak loudly of her extravagant love for him. It may also be that she is also a disciple who does understand that Jesus is about to die, and she is anointing him with her kindness and the expensive nard for his burial, as Jesus later says when other disciples rebuke her. She may have been Mary of Magdala, or Mary the sister of Martha of whom there is a similar story, or a truly unnamed but loving follower. She “gets it” and she loves him and he appreciates this so much he says that wherever the Gospel is told her story will be remembered. I take great joy in remembering it here as she inspires us to love Jesus with all our hearts as we undertake this Holy Week walk at his side.


The rest of Mark’s passion contains all of the elements of the gospel story: the Last Supper, Peter’s denial and ‘disowning’ of Jesus, Jesus’ prayers in Gethsemane, his arrest and “trials” before the Sanhedrin and Pilate,the mocking soldiers, the crucifixion and the death and burial of Jesus. No matter how many times we read it or try to relive it with Jesus, we are moved.  At the burial some of the women who are remaining with him are named: Mary of Magdala (also known as the Apostle to the Apostles), Mary the mother of James the younger and Joseph and Salome. Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of Jesus stayed til the very end observing where Jesus had been laid.  Biblical Scholar Esther De Boer makes the point that Mark is consistent in seeing women as important among the disciples of Jesus (Mark 3:34). When these women are named at the end it is to say that discipleship is not about power but about risking even in times of danger and remaining and serving until the end. (We recall that Peter and the male disciples ran off although,like Mary of Magdala, Peter returned to observe from afar.The fear of going to the grave was perhaps that the disciples would be crucified even as Jesus was, so it took much courage to be seen at the tomb.) “Thus, Mary Magdalene, Mary of James, Mary of Joses and Salome exemplify Markan discipleship and by doing so they are special among the other disciples” (P.117 in The Gospel of Mary: Listening to the Beloved Disciple, Continnum, 2004). De Boer also quotes Martin Hengel who notes that Mary of Magdala is always named first even as Peter is always named first indicating that Mary of Magdala and Peter hold comparable positions in the community of followers(p.119).

During Holy Week we stand with all disciples, women, men and children who continue to follow and serve despite risks, anxieties and fears. As women priests we are especially thankful for those women who served until the end and we pray to be faithful as they were so that we too, like Mary of Magdala, may see the risen Christ.

Rev. Judy Lee and Rev. Judith Beaumont, RCWP

Co-Pastors The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic community in Fort Myers, Florida

Rev.Judy’s Palm Sunday Homily 2014 

Churches all over the world will be adorned in palm branches this Sunday commemorating the joyful entry of Jesus into Jerusalem seated on the back of a donkey. In our church as in many Roman Catholic and other churches, people will gather outside in a procession to the church carrying palms and singing Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest, as was done for the first time by the crowd welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem.

The Gospel of Matthew (21:1-11) will be read and we will see Jesus enacting the prophecy about the coming of Zion’s ruler in Zechariah 9:9-10. “Rejoice in heart and soul….Shout with gladness daughter of Jerusalem! Look! Your ruler comes to you: victorious and triumphant, humble, riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”(TIB) The NAB translation of this verse read: “Shout for joy…See, your king shall come to you; a just savior he is, meek and riding on the foal of an ass”.   The Peshitta (Near Eastern translation from Jesus’ Aramaic) reads “…he is righteous and a Savior, lowly and riding…upon a colt, the foal of an ass”.  The fulfillment of this prophecy about the Messiah is why Jesus sent his disciples to get the colt he would ride on into Jerusalem.  To ride on a donkey in that age was more a sign of humiliation than royalty, for only the poor rode on donkeys. Royalty rode on fine horses or in transport pulled by powerful steeds.  So, here is Jesus the king of the poor and outcast, for he had loved them, healed them, taught them and won their hearts, now welcomed by them with great joy. They spread their cloaks on the ground before him and shouted “Hosanna” which means “Save” in Hebrew but is a song of praise. Matthew’s Gospel says “the whole city was stirred up” at his arrival.

The account of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem is in all four Gospels. John’s Gospel (Ch 12) adds that the people recalled the raising of Lazarus and thronged around him. “Look, the whole world has gone after him! (12:19b). In Luke’s (Ch 19) account Jesus was asked by the Pharisees to quiet his disciples. He said that if they were quiet even the stones would cry out! This was a time of acclamation and joy, the universe itself was in accord. I think that the joyful shouts of acclamation filled Jesus’ heart and even for a short while he knew that despite what lied ahead, and he had already predicted that, he had accomplished his mission, the ordinary, the poor, the sick and the outcast along with his other disciples, men and women and children, knew who he was and would carry on his work. This deep knowledge and his always close Abba, Amma God (Papa, Mama) gave him the strength to face what was ahead of him.

And, then as he drew close to Jerusalem, Jesus wept for Jerusalem and the people as they did not accept the prophets before him, or him-“you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you”- and destruction not peace would come to them.  The oppressors would win after all in Jerusalem and for this, he wept. Then, he entered the Temple and further enraged the authorities by throwing out the money changers and the sellers of animals, doves and others, for sacrifice. In essence, He set those birds and animals free and put the place where God was supposed to live back into God- perspective. God doesn’t want any form of animal or living sacrifice, God wants lives and hearts full of justice and love for everyone.   This is to be a house of prayer!  The ensuing parable of the tenants in the vineyard (Matt 21: 33-45) where the owner has to send his son because the others collecting the debt were killed and the son is also killed but the vineyard is given to other tenants, tells us what will happen next.

On Palm Sunday I like to savor the victory with Jesus.  Jesus joy was short lived because his work was not done-he kept on going with his actions and his teaching. I think the strength of the Heartfelt Hosannas propelled him on. I also think that it may well have been a different crowd that shouted “crucify him” while his loyal group of lowly folks, lowly like him, were overwhelmed by the greater powerful interests of the religious establishment and the Roman Oppressors.

The Roman Catholic Liturgy really rushes Jesus’ moments of victory as once the palms are placed down, the entire Passion is read for the Gospel. Yes, Jesus will be killed in a brutal and slow tortuous way. But even there he will make a statement of victory. When we rely on the English translations from the Greek alone we may miss this shout of victory from the Cross. In Matthew 27:46 we have Jesus saying the Aramaic words “Eli, Eli, L’mana Sabachtani.” In English that is translated “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It is phrased as a question and is taken to mean the abandonment of God. But Aramaic scholar Rocco Errico (Let There Be Light, pp. 12-13) points out, it can also be understood as a declaration: “O God! O God To what (a purpose) You have kept me!” or “O Sustainer, O Sustainer! To what a purpose you have left me.” “Left” does not mean abandoned but it means spared to fulfill an end or destiny”. God never forsook or abandoned Jesus, and God will never forsake us.   It is a cry of “I have accomplished it” (Like the “it is finished” in other accounts). The Lamsa version of the Aramaic translates, “for this was my destiny!” In other words, in addition to the words of forgiveness and inclusion (for the thief) from the Cross we have a sense of completion of Jesus’ work -only to be topped by the resurrection! And that indeed is the conclusion of Holy week-rising from the dead!

Amen to the Victory of Palm Sunday and the Victory of the Cross-God is with us until the end, and will raise us up! Amen!!!

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP

Inside of the church all heads were bowed as the priests venerated the altar. Then Cyrillia Rismay led us in singing “Enter Into Jerusalem” , a popular hymn in her country of St. Lucia. It begins:

“Let us go to God’s house

With the healthy and the sick

The worker and the weak;

Let us go to God”s house

Enter into Jerusalem.

Let us go to God’s house

Swaying with the breeze

With the God who reigns in peace,

Let us go to God’s house.

We will celebrate,

We will celebrate,

We will celebrate, O Israel….”

And celebrate we did, even as we read the Passion in several parts and felt every blow and insult hurled at Jesus. This is a Congregation that has been to the Cross in every day life. For us, Jesus triumphs not only on the ride into Jerusalem but on the Cross. He cries out through the pain  that he forgives and that he completed his work. That is a wonderful thing to feel as life ends. We are blessed to know that he will rise in three days. But we can wait and be with him in his dying and burial because of the triumph of the Cross.

Rev. Chava’s Reflection

On Palm Sunday I think of something Dom Helder Camara of Brazil said once,
that he imagined himself in the Triumphal Procession into Jerusalem… and he
was the donkey. That’s a lovely image for us as church: to be God-bearers
for each other, bringers of love. We don’t have to be perfect, we don’t
have to get everything right: we can be humble bearers of the love of God.
I guess I was a God-bearer for a man I met this week who remembered the
joy of communityfrom the past, too, because it gave him so much
joy to learn that I was there, too. He ended his recitation of what we’d
done on those marches, holding out his arms to me and saying joyfully, “And
YOU were there, TOO!”Another day this week, I met a different man. This other man had cut
himself off from everyone in his life. Everyone he was related to, he spoke
of with anger and disgust. When I asked about God, he said, “There is no
God!” I listened to his litany of anger and rejection, and finally said,
“Sounds like a lonely life.” Tears filled his eyes. This man seemed to me
like a cell without water, unable to connect with anyone around him, not
even God. He didn’t want prayer but I told him I would send good energy his
way. He liked that. Maybe that’s a little crack of openness to love in his
soul. I hope so.Lastly, a story from our Sunday Mass at St Romero’s last week. We were a
very small group. Just as we were about to share Communion, he left the
room, using his telephone. I was surprised but went on, serving communion
and praying, then just waiting for him. Finally he came back. “I just
remembered,” he said. “Jesus said if you’re mad at someone you need to
reconcile before you come to the altar. So I had to call someone and
apologize before I came to communion.”Look for God wherever you are, this week! May we all be God-bearers for
each other, carriers of love and hope. Have a blessed Holy Week.

Blessings and love to all,

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


Pope Francis’ Inclusive Prison Visit

In this New Ways Ministries blog entry by Bob Shine he speculates on the Pope’s inclusion of the LGBT community in his visit to a prison and in the nearby crowd waiting to get a glimpse of him. What a good example of inclusion for all of the church.

by newwaysministryblog

Pope Francis preaches at a Naples mass on the day he visited a prison in that city.

Pope Francis joined 90 prison inmates for lunch during his visit to Naples last Saturday, including 10 from the ward which houses those who are gay, transgender, or have HIV/AIDS. They were among the 1,900 inmates who participated in the lottery for a chance to eat with the pope.

The pope did not address LGBT issues specifically in his talk to the prisoners, but stuck to general themes about God’s love for those incarcerated.  In his talk, he stated:

“Sometimes it happens that you feel disappointed, discouraged, abandoned by all: but God does not forget his children, he never abandons them! He is always at our side, especially in trying times; he is a father ‘rich in mercy’ who always turns his peaceful and benevolent gaze on us, always waits for us with open arms. This is a certainty that instills consolation and hope, especially in moments of difficulty and sadness. Even if we have done wrong in life, the Lord does not tire of showing us the path of return and encounter with him. The love of Jesus for each one of us is a source of consolation and hope. It’s a fundamental certainty for us: nothing can ever separate us from the love of God! Not even the bars of a prison.”

The inclusion of the prisoners who are trans, gay, and HIV+ was not a special outreach by Pope Francis, but it is significant that their identities did not prevent the pope from meeting with them.  A Washington Blade article quoted New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director Francis DeBernardo about the importance of this papal gesture:

“This is another example that Pope Francis does not consider sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status as something that should prevent him from engaging them in dialogue and conversation. Under the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, these same personal characteristics were causes for the popes to shun and ignore people, much to the discredit of the church.”

The Washington Blade story also cited Andrea Miluzzo, director of LGBT News Italia, who said that there was an additional positive LGBT angle to the pope’s visit to Naples:

“Members of the local affiliate of Arcigay, an Italian LGBT advocacy group, were among those who were allowed to stand along the streets of Scampia, a poor Neapolitan neighborhood overrun with crime, earlier in the day as Francis passed through in his open-air car known as the pope-mobile.”

Pope Francis’ willingness to include trans, gay, and HIV+ prisoners in his luncheon and to allow an LGBT advocacy group on the parade route, but not mentioning either of them in his talks, shows the complicated approach he is taking to LGBT issues, and perhaps to other issues, too.  In an editorialThe National Catholic Reporter analyzed what they see as the pope’s strategy:

“Francis perplexes Europeans and North Americans who have split the analysis along a liberal-conservative axis, writes [Austen] Ivereigh, ‘because he uses a lens and a language that come from outside those categories.’

“Francis wades into slums, embraces those who otherwise might inspire revulsion, refuses to draw boundaries so rigidly as to exclude anyone, welcomes all questions and robust debate, and leads with the God of mercy.

“He preaches ‘the art of encounter,’ which requires moving beyond the safety of the church building and walking with the people. It is an approach schooled in the slums of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the norm is broken lives, messy, stressed and needy.

“It is in those circumstances, he preaches, in the irrational embrace of the prodigal, that grace abounds. In a recent visit to a parish in Rome, he instructed its leaders to avoid telling people where they were wrong, but to ‘get closer’ to the people, walking with them and respecting their needs.”

The power in Pope Francis’ symbolic gestures lies in the hope that other church leaders will soon imitate him, thus opening up greater possibility for encounter and discussion on LGBT and other important issues, too.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

Life From Death and A Troubled Soul: Rev. Judy’s Homily for Lent 5- 3/22/2015

Life from Death and Troubled Souls:  Rev. Judy’s Homily 5th Sunday of Lent 3/22/15

The Gospel today, John 12: 20-33 is a powerful message on life and death.  Yet, it is not easy for us to break the taboos and talk about dying and death even in the context of the risen Christ, since we know the end of the story.  Facing death and suffering is never easy and no matter how strong our belief in Christ and resurrection, there is such pain in the loss of loved ones, and in suffering of any sort. The disciples did not want to hear Jesus predicting his own death and on some levels it made little sense to them. Yet he needed to share it and its meanings.

In my Grandmother’s day death was an accepted fact of life and reverence, utmost caring and peace were accorded to the dying. My Grandmother, Ella, a woman of great faith and charisma, was both a mid-wife and the one called upon when people were dying in our community.  Long before the Hospice movement, she cared for the dying and taught me the concept of “tending” death and the dying with love, reverence, and care. Yet, she was not allowed to die such a death when diagnosed with terminal metastatic cancer in 1963. She suffered much and was hooked up to every invasive means possible to sustain a life that was full of pain despite morphine. And yet, miraculously, her faith prevailed. In this post- modern era when science and technology can keep us alive even if for all intents we are already dead, it is still not easy to talk about death and dying. The better aspects of Hospice care today can eliminate some of the torturous methods of sustaining life and denying death and can often allow death with comfort and dignity. Yet, the reverence for and holiness surrounding death may still be overlooked.

There is a trend in Christian theology today that explicitly avoids discussion of the cross and its centrality in traditional Christian beliefs. (Here I do not mean to endorse atonement theology although I have no problem accepting that there is sin and what horror it does in the world, for God does not want burnt offerings and living sacrifice but hearts that love God and love and serve one another in justice (Hosea 6:6). But it is undisputable that Jesus did suffer and die.) It is as if by using pretty words about stardust and the cosmos, for example, and not focusing on suffering and dying we can avoid both. We cannot. And, this is not what Jesus did. He faced it all head on and gave us the wisdom and courage to do the same. In today’s Gospel we see Jesus, the Christ, facing his own dying and teaching us about suffering and dying and ultimately about life and living.  I am so thankful for this.

The context for today’s Gospel in John 12 is that six days before the Passover, after Jesus was ministered to by his friends in Bethany, Martha and Mary and their brother Lazarus who Jesus had raised from the dead, Jesus spoke comfortably about his own death saying that Mary had anointed him with the perfume (probably the very expensive myrrh that was used for embalming) that was to be saved for his burial. He then proceeds to Jerusalem and the crowd welcomes him with cheers of “Hosanna!” (Save Us!) . They too know about his raising of Lazarus. (The raising of Lazarus is also a message about his own death and resurrection-death is not final, God will raise him and ultimately us up from the grave. And now while we live we are also raised from the million ways we can choose death over life). With the crowd’s acclaim of Jesus on what we now call Palm Sunday the religious leaders are getting more and more nervous-“See, this is getting us nowhere.  Look how the whole world has gone after him” (John 12:19). Jesus is not long for this world and he knows it. Then, in today’s Gospel, the Gentiles seek Jesus out and this is another unforgiveable affront to the religious leadership who believed that God’s promises/ covenant was only for them. So Jesus again predicts his death (John 12: 23-24,25b, 27-28, 32).

“Unless a grain of wheat falls onto the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain. But if it dies, it yields a rich harvest….Anyone who wants to work for me must follow in my footsteps…Now my soul is troubled.  What will I say: ’Abba, save me from this hour’. But it was for this very reason I have come to this hour. Abba. Glorify your name!….And when I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself”.

Life comes after death and life comes out of death even as the most beautiful flower and the  most delicious fruit comes from the seed buried deep in the soil. The world-wide church blossomed and grew from the death and resurrection of Jesus and later those who followed him to their own deaths. Following Jesus is life for us now and forever, beyond death, but like Jesus each one of us can say “My soul is troubled” in the face of suffering and death. Hebrews 5:7-9 notes that Jesus offered prayer with loud cries and tears. Jesus suffered emotional and spiritual pain as well as physical pain as he faced the ending of his mission and ministry. And yet somehow we think we may be immune to suffering.  We are not asked to be Pollyanna and make believe there is no suffering in the world, or ahead for us and those we love and serve.  We are asked to accept what may come in our lives, particularly as we follow Jesus in living a prophetic life of love, inclusion and justice.  The more we act prophetically the more the chance of running into trouble from the powers that be.  Witness the lives of Martin Luther King, Jr. and so many faith filled believers whose deaths fueled the success of the Civil Rights Movement. But even in ordinary life there is plenty of trouble. We can’t pray it away nor should we if we emulate Jesus. But it is how we deal with our troubles that shows what we are made of and who we are.

In the last two weeks we responded pastorally to the needs of two homeless women, one who we have known over seven years and the other new to the area, and a homeless family of seven. It is not only material needs for housing and the basics for establishing a home that such persons need, they need a welcome to community and a loving presence as they reestablish their lives.  We were so pleased as the family and our old friend connected and reconnected to our church community and our people reached out with resources and services for them. The father in this large family thanked us for the food, clothing and beds, but he said that most of all he thanked us for inviting the children to the Sunday school. They love it and can’t wait to come back and the parents are coming with them.  And our old friend, simply cried and said “My new start and new apartment is a miracle but mostly I’m so happy that I am home again.”  Our community is providing her Security and Utilities deposits and all of her furniture and household goods and also cleaning up her new apartment so she can move in quickly. She loves meeting all of the people as they bring their gifts to her. One family even cared for her little dog while she was in a Motel that did not take dogs. The troubles that these families endured brought them to the lowest points in their lives. But at the bottom they found the love of a Christ following community and could rest at home in that love.IMG_0199


We have been supporting one of our formerly homeless mentally ill men as he faces both physical illness and a flare up of mental illness that threatens his life and well-being and his housing. We stand with his family and friends in not knowing how to help him turn this around, but we try. We also received two calls this week to attend to beloved elders who had very recently entered hospice care. One is one of our Roman Catholic Women Priests and the other woman is a member of our Good Shepherd Community.   Both are in their late eighties and have sustained falls and much physical suffering. Each one is unique and faith filled and thinking about the world without her in it is very difficult for us.  Each is planning her funeral and thinking about her family and friends, and about her own dying. It is an honor to be asked to “tend” these deaths as best we can and with God’s grace accompany them home and provide comfort for the families. And even as we do this we await news of tests regarding our own health and pray for the strength to carry out this ministry.

With Jesus I can say “my soul is troubled”. And with Jesus I turn to our loving MotherFather God to be there with us as we try to be there for our brothers and sisters. It troubles our souls to face the issues of poverty and mental and physical health issues that end in sickness and homelessness and sometimes death. It troubles us that there are still millions of homeless in the United States and so many more world-wide. We are troubled at the decision of the State Legislature in affluent Florida to turn down 3 Billion dollars of Federal aid to help the lowest income poor. We cry out in the wilderness that this is sin and people we serve are without any medical help because of it. Yes, this injustice troubles us. And it is a different kind of soul trouble to face dying and death with our beloved older sisters.  It draws us into holy and sacred space with them and with our loving God.

Jesus, help us to find life in death and to serve your people facing troubles that are so great.  Your death brings forth the new life of the kin-dom in each of us. It gives birth to and joins us with the beloved community. We pray that we will have your courage to risk everything including death to bring life to the world. Amen.


Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

Rev. Judith Beaumont, RCWP

Co-Pastors Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community

Fort Myers, Florida

Women Speak Up From The Heart of the Vatican: NCR

A very important article from  ncronline:

Women speak up about equality in the church from the heart of the Vatican

  • From left: Gudrun Sailer, Tina Beattie and Deborah Rose-Milavec speak at the Voices of Faith event March 8 at the Vatican. (VoF/Alessandra Zucconi)
  1.  |  Simply Spirit
OK, I’m gobsmacked, as the Brits say (“gobsmacked“: adjective, British, informal: utterly astonished; astounded). I spent four hours on International Women’s Day watching a Voices of Faith event “from the heart of the Vatican” in which women shared stories “for a creative exchange of ideas from a female perspective.” There were some amazing narratives.Mary McFarland, a former dean at Gonzaga University, spoke eloquently about her work bringing online education to girls in camps run by the Jesuit Refugee Services. Students from one beleaguered camp had just one remaining evening class to fulfill graduation requirements. Amid increasing threats of violence, their teacher doubted anyone would risk coming. Yet every single student showed up. “The hunger for education and the girls’ great resilience is stronger than war,” McFarland told us.Sr. Hatune Dogan, a Syrian Orthodox Christian, lives out of her suitcase because she travels continually to Syria and Iraq, helping abused women who have fled from the Islamic State group. (To our amusement and edification, she agreed to display the contents of her bag: one computer, one LCD projector, one habit, pajamas, a toothbrush, and two copies of her books.)

These were just two of many inspiring stories of women’s courageous and creative efforts to counter the poverty and degradation that are “the consequences of violating the fundamental rights of a girl child, especially the right to education,” said Nigerian Jesuit Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator. A year ago, Orobator publicly called on Nigeria’s president to resign after his government failed to address the kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls by the terrorist organization Boko Haram.

Noting that in sub-Saharan Africa, a girl’s subjugation is linked to cultural prejudice, religious fanaticism, and sectarian hatred, Orobator lamented: “Any society that relegates women to secondary status creates conditions for a morally depraved ideology. Educating a girl is a threat to such ideologies and renders an educated girl an endangered species.” He called for strong, bold voices: “Voices of women are needed in the world’s religions to challenge the patriarchal hermeneutic and lead to a better understanding of the sacred texts.”

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Yes, “gobsmacked” is not too strong of a word. Just across the room sat female theologians who are respectfully challenging patriarchal interpretations of sacred texts that render women second-class status in our own tradition.

For the first time, an honest and constructive public discussion about women’s inequality in the church was held inside the Vatican. Yes, you heard me, inside the Vatican — at the Casina Pio IV, to be exact.

It is difficult to write about this in the context of the suffering of the Boko Haram, Iraqi and Syrian women. I do not wish to imply that the suffering of women within the Catholic Christian tradition equates to their suffering. Yet the potential for abuse remains whenever a girl child internalizes that she is somehow less worthy and beloved of God than her brother because she never sees herself reflected in sacred texts or serving in sacred roles. (I try not to think too much about what her brother is internalizing.)

A Catholic event celebrating passionate women working for female empowerment would lack integrity if it did not also address women’s empowerment in the church. Caritas International, Jesuit Refugee Services and the Fidel Götz Foundation are to be congratulated for their wisdom and courage in adding this long-awaited discussion to their program.

In light of Pope Francis’ repeated calls for a “more incisive presence” of women in the church, four women — a theologian, a medical doctor, a former ambassador, and a journalist at Vatican Radio — reflected on their experiences and their dreams for Catholicism. Dubbed “We have a dream,” the panel was astutely facilitated by my colleague, friend and FutureChurch director, Deborah Rose-Milavec. Highlights of panel reflections have been ably covered elsewhere by NCR and others, so I will focus on aspects that struck me as most helpful for “do-ability” in advancing dialogue in the church today.

Canon law and the laity

Veteran Vatican Radio journalist Gudrun Sailer cited German Bishop Reinhard Marx, who “recently said we need to look at canon law and see which roles require ordination and which do not. Right now, there are only two undersecretaries who are women. We should have 10 to 20 undersecretaries in the next couple of years.”

Preaching, seminary education and the lectionary

“I dream of a church where a woman can give a homily like the one Kerry gave this morning,” said medical doctor and theologian Astrid Lobo Gajiwala. “Women professors who teach homiletics to seminarians should be permitted to preach themselves.” (Delhi, India, Archbishop Anil Couto had earlier asked Kerry Robinson of the National Leadership Roundtable to share a reflection at the concelebrated Mass that kicked off the day.)

We also need “more stress on women in the lectionary so we can see ourselves in our sacred texts,” said Gajiwala, who is one of the architects of a gender policy passed by the Indian bishops’ conference in 2010. (Spoiler alert: I will cover this in depth in a future column.)

Stereotypical language about women

Former Swedish ambassador to the Vatican Ulla Gudmunson said she “lost count of the number of times I heard women described stereotypically as tender, patient and mothering” — language with which she does not always identify.

“It is diminishing to men to imply that they don’t have a capacity to be tender and patient. Pope Francis himself is a shining example of ‘feminine genius,’ ” she said, eliciting quiet chuckles from the audience. “The Vatican needs to recognize women as individuals who are different people, have different political views and different gifts.”

Maternal mortality, feminist theologians, and women’s history

British theologian and professor of Catholic studies Tina Beattie is dismayed because “800 women die every day in childbirth-related events, yet Catholic social teaching says nothing about maternal mortality.” She mourns that although Catholicism has done more than any religion to preserve the voices of women, “women must start at ground level in every generation.”

No one teaches about women’s traditions or the history of women’s leadership in the church. “Feminist scholarship has given back to the church gifts from the medieval women mystics that we’ve forgotten, women who did not learn Latin but did vernacular theologizing,” Beattie said. “We are retrieving that history now. Yet feminist theologians have yet to be recognized in church documents.”

The Voices of Faith event this year was a tour de force. It was balanced, constructive, compassionate and impassioned.

It is the sort of program that could and should be replicated in other Catholic venues. It is the sort of program that could be game-changing if the institutional church is paying attention.

If Pope Francis really wants a “more incisive presence,” the dreams of women who clearly love the church would be a great place to start.

[A Sister of St. Joseph, Sr. Christine Schenk served urban families for 18 years as a nurse midwife before co-founding FutureChurch, where she served for 23 years. She holds master’s degrees in nursing and theology.]

Editor’s note: We can send you an email alert every time Christine Schenk’s column, Simply Spirit, is posted. Go to this page and follow directions: Email alert sign-up.

Major Reforms Demanded From a Church That Acts Unjustly Toward LGBT People

We present here an article from New Ways Ministries blog, Bondings 2.0 by Bob Shine.  It is a report on the very important mega- Religious Education Congress in LA where Arthur Fitzmaurice confronts the  “powers that be” in the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic church and those responsible for teaching the next generations, the catechists, with teachings that are anything but inclusive and compassionate. The brightest hope is that the younger generation seems so much more ready for full inclusion and acceptance of all persons of difference, including the GLBT community. I fully agree with Fitzmaurice and Shine that it is critical to teach the dignity and inclusion of all at the Table and the beauty of all God’s works of art, God’s beloved people, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.  In my homily for last Sunday (What’s Love Got To Do With It?”) I focused on the amazing love of God for all of us,God’s works of art”.  The church by extension should be a haven of love and safety for all and yet it is so often the opposite, promulgating and advocating misinformation, ignorance and negative images of what it means to be born non- heterosexual, part of the LGBT spectrum.


New Ways Ministries Bob Shine Reports: 

“A gay advocate challenged Catholic catechists gathered at a major conference as he demanded reforms from a church that “acts unjustly” towards LGBT people.

Arthur Fitzmaurice, resource director of the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry, spoke last Friday at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, one of the biggest gathering of Catholic ministers in the U.S.  In an address to 800 religious educators, he criticized the magisterium’s damaging theological language and harmful practices with a special appeal to protect LGBT youth. Michael O’Loughlin of Cruxreports:

“The paragraph [in the Catechism] on homosexuality — which describes it as ‘intrinsically disordered’ while also demanding respect for gays and lesbians — is placed in a section of the catechism paragraphs condemning ‘pornography, prostitution, and rape,’ he said.

” ‘To keep this abusive language in the Catechism and other Church writings is, in itself, gravely evil,’ he said.”

Arthur Fitzmaurice

Fitzmaurice also harshly criticized pastoral practices that stem from a “poor and dangerous theology.” These include the firing of LGBT and ally church workers, insertion of anti-gay morality clauses into teaching contracts, and the denial of sacraments. Such acts “reinforce the false message that being born LGBTQ is shameful” and “communicates the sentiment that we are beyond God’s abilities and unreachable by God’s love and grace.”

Instead, Fitzmaurice said, “our Church leaders should be models of love.” During a question and answer period, many catechists inquired as to how they could support LGBT people through their educational efforts. Crux reports:

“One participant in the gay and lesbian workshop told the crowd that he is drawn to being a catechist because he wants “to change the mindset” of Catholics who are opposed to homosexuality…

“Several audience members spoke about experiences with gay relatives that helped them change their minds on the issue, though some said they still struggle reconciling Church and biblical teachings with their own experiences.”

But not all participants were in agreement with Fitzmaurice, reported O’Loughlin:

“During a question-and-answer period, one woman challenged Fitzmaurice on whether or not he thought sacramental marriage should be offered to gays and lesbians. Fitzmaurice declined to give an answer, stating only that he’s heard a wide variety of opinions from gays and lesbians with whom he’s worked.”

Examples of poor catechesis were cited, including a story from a high school student, Anthony Marquez, who told the audience:

” ‘You cannot be gay in a Mexican family, because they will say so much stuff to you that hurts you…But what hurt me most was my confirmation teacher who told me it was a disease. I want to be a catechist so badly because I want to change that mindset. It’s not a disease. We can be good Catholics, even if we’re gay.’ “

It is stories like Marquez’s which reveal the need for special pastoral care for LGBT youth, especially those coming from religious households.  These teens are afflicted by mental health issues and homelessness at much higher rates than their peers. On this, Fitzmaurice told the audience:

” ‘The Church cannot continue to turn our backs on these kids…Tell your LGBT child he or she can have a happy future.’ “

American Catholicism’s next generation, if they remain in the church at all, is overwhelmingly supportive of LGBT equality. Student advocacy occurring in San Francisco right now is only the latest example that youth are unwilling to tolerate church leaders who single LGBT people out or a Catholic community where all are not truly welcome and affirmed.

Religious educators are capable of helping students understand the fullness of Catholic teaching, especially those teachings about justice and human dignity which are bedrock for Christian life. They can evangelize youth to become disciples of Christ without compromising their belief in LGBT justice.  Such action would help counteract damages done by church leaders and ministers who fail.”

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

What’s Love Got to Do With It? Rev. Judy’s Homily 4th Sunday in Lent 3/15/2015

It’s all About Love


Opening Prayer: Our God of the second chance, God of love, thank you for loving us into life now and forever. Help us to love you with all our hearts, and to love all of our neighbors especially those who are most difficult to love.  We ask this through Your Beloved Jesus, who lives with You and the Holy Spirit, One God forevermore. Amen.

Liturgy of the Word

(I am using The Inclusive Bible translation by Priests For Equality.)

2 Chronicles 36:14-17, 19-23   “…for God had compassion for the people…”

Psalm 137 “May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I forget You”

Although the people in exile cannot joyfully sing their much loved hymns they remember God

Ephesians 2:4-10 “God, loving us so much, brought us to life in Christ”…We are “God’s work of art…”

The Gospel John 3:14-21 God’s great love transforms us into light for the world


The readings for this fourth Sunday of Lent are about God’s boundless love for us. God’s love can transform our lives so that we can reflect the love and light of God. How good it is to have a God of love and not a God of vengeance or indifference. How good it is to be loved.  And yet, I wonder, how do we really know, embrace and experience this love and make it known to others beyond empty words?  Do we have a relationship of love or of obligation or negotiation with our God?

A rousing yet plaintive and jaded Tina Turner song goes: “What’s love got to do with it? What’s love but a second hand emotion?” Well, dear friends, love has everything to do with it, and it is way beyond any type of emotion.  It is the fullest giving of self and the very acts we engage in with one another and for justice on behalf of the least of us. It is what we long for and what God has freely given to God’s works of art-to each one of us.

This 4th Sunday in Lent is LAETARE Sunday, radiant JOY Sunday. The Liturgical color is Pink. In part it means that Lent is 2/3 over and we are closer to Easter, even though we have to go through Good Friday to get there. In part, we can associate the readings, the covenantal promises, about God’s abiding love and light with the most profound reasons for our joy. As I reflect on my own life it is when I have felt most loved, or in love, that I have felt the most joy. And God gives us reason to feel this way every day of our lives no matter what else we may have to bear. Today I walked through a local Botanical Gardens with Pastor Judy B and her sister Jill who is visiting us. Together we gasped at the especially lovely Orchid Garden set amidst natural looking fountains with water flowing.  We joined the others there who  could see the beautiful pink, yellow, violet and multicolored delicate orchids almost shouting “joy, Joy!” in their exquisite beauty. I thought if flowers can shout joy, if flowers can be God’s works of art and radiate God’s love and light, so can we!

And yet, I also think of the ways in which we turn away from God’s love and lose our joy. I remember speaking to Roman Catholic Woman Priest Adele Jones who in her mid eighties faced many of the trials of health and aging. Yet, her spirit was remarkable. When asked about it she said “I choose joy”. This was profound as she could have also chosen suffering or complaining ,but her lesson from a life of struggling to attain many things denied to women of her age,including the priesthood, was to choose joy. Wow! Let us pause and think that over. (Rev Adele’s picture in lively green, is the last one below).

The reading from the Hebrew Scriptures (2 Chronicles) causes us to ponder our infidelity to God,our turning away from God, while God is faithful to us. And also our pension to kill the messengers. Yet,we learn that, like the Hebrew people, we may wander in exile but there is a way to go home again. For those who have had ruptures in relationships, with God and with loved ones, and in family and community life that have felt like exile, going home again is all the more sweet. Even as our loving God is home for the outcast, the Church must also be home for the marginalized and outcast. Yet so often it is the church that rejects. How sweet it would be to be able to go home to our church families when they have initially rejected us.

I think with much compassion about those we minister to and with. I think of some of our families who have members who belong to gangs that live by gun violence. The families are in a bind-they simply do not know how to love these youth without condoning the violence that is then brought down on the heads of all in the family. I think of the struggles of families with mentally ill members who are loved and accepted and those where they are cast out.  (The book Behind the Wall by Elin and Mary Widdifield tells the revealing and poignant stories of parents struggling with the mental illness of beloved children of all ages).  I think also of the gay youth I have known who have been all but banished from families. I think of those who ended their own lives unable to negotiate their “gayness” or gain acceptance in their families. I think of those who were happily able to reconcile with families and restore loving bonds.  I think too of PFLAG parents, those parents who come together to give and gain support as parents of gays and those on the GLBT spectrum. I think of the PFLAG group here in Southwest Florida who were told they could no longer meet in their parish hall by Bishop Dewane of the diocese of Venice.  Until the church grows in love there will be no going home again for so many. (The picture of the Franciscan Saint is Fr. Mychal Judge, a gay priest who died saving others on 9/11).


The Epistle reading is particularly poignant and full of meaning: “God loving us so much brought us to life in Christ”. God’s ultimate giving of Self in Christ gave us life. We are literally born of love, God’s love for us. And it is forever. Wow! Yet so many seem unaware of this deep and abiding love. In part they do not see it reflected in human eyes or feel it in human touch, and, in part, when it may be there they can’t see it.  I am ministering to a woman who is so depressed that she can see no hope or light- all is darkness. She often says “My life is over”. Practical situations are hard for her to solve because she can only see the downside of everything. Similarly a young man I am counseling has made a great deal of progress in conjunction with psychiatric treatment and medications but he still states that life is not worth living. There are many people who feel as these two do and it is a challenge to love them into life- we must try with all our hearts but perhaps ultimately only God can do that. Yet, if we can see God’s “work of art” in all people, perhaps we can help those who are in exile to find their way home to God’s loving arms again.

God’s Works of Art   IMG_0023IMG_0014IMG_0027IMG_0059100_4061IMG_0150 - CopyIMG_0016IMG_0030IMG_0175100_4075100_4016IMG_0100IMG_0025IMG_0070

This is the heart of our Gospel text today: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” According to Pope Francis in his homily on the Wednesday in the Domus Sanctae Marthae on 4/10/13:

“The Lord saves us by His love: not with a letter, nor with a decree, but with his love, a love so great that it led him to send his Son, who, ‘became one of us, walked with us,’ and this saves us.”

While our loving God is so much more than the pronouns ‘he, his or him’, encompassing all that is best in female and male, our loving Father/Mother is in love with us and we are created as God’s works of art according to Ephesians 2:10, and this gift of special life carries with it the responsibility and the ability to not only be but to do good works ourselves. Wow! Something else to pause and think over.

Indeed in Jesus’ walk on this earth he lived inclusion, compassion and healing. He welcomed the stranger and the outcast, calling women and ordinary folks and outcasts into fellowship and discipleship. Jesus saw virtue in those dismissed by religious authorities. He opened eyes and brought light into darkness both literally and metaphorically. He also spoke truth to power, so much truth that they had to kill him.  Christ showed us how to live and through his death and resurrection Christ lives in us. We are fully alive in Christ. But it is not about words, right words or right thoughts about God, it is all about love and the power of love to dispel darkness and to heal the broken-hearted. The more broken we are by life, the more God is there to make us whole again. In the Gospel we are asked to “believe” in Christ to gain eternal life. But the word “believe” here is more like hold as “beloved” in the Aramaic language of Jesus. To believe in God, in Christ, is to LOVE God, to believe in as a spouse or parent or best friend believes in the beloved person in their lives- not to have a set of correct beliefs or thoughts. To believe in is to “belove” God. To have faith in is to be faithful to and to deeply trust God, not to recite right words. Loving God and one another must come from deep in our hearts and not from our heads. And that kind of loving transforms our deepest selves. We then can reflect the love of God and the light and love of Christ to others, even those who are not easy to love for whatever reasons.

When the father of the epileptic boy that Jesus healed in Mark 9 said, “I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24) he taught us how to pray in the midst of ignorance and doubt. We might in the context of John 3 and Ephesians 2:4-10 say “Christ you are my beloved, help me to learn to love”. Then we may be transformed into the art work we were designed to be, and become the light and love that others so desperately need. Let us love and let us live so all may live, now and forever. Amen.

This is a poem by J. Janda that speaks to the kind transformation love can bring in our lives:


My childI know
it is
to loveI know
it is

to forgive

I know
it is

to suffer

but look
I am taking
away your heart

and in

I am putting

now I
will be

now I
will be

now I
will be

in you
heart is

beating in you

J. Janda

(J. Janda’s poems have appeared in newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and literary publications, as well as in books of his own poetry.

The present poem comes from the Janda’s book,
If you wish to order a copy go to

Love and blessings , Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,RCWP

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

For Mass times call 239-565-6713

Take All This Out of Here! Rev. Judy’s Homily for 3rd Sunday in Lent March 8,2015


Take All This out of Here!

The cleansing and clearing of the Temple in Jerusalem that we read about in our Gospel for Sunday (John 2:13-25) is one of my favorite Gospel readings. In the synoptic Gospels it takes place just after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem that we celebrate as Palm Sunday, the start of the last week of Jesus’ life.   In this account from John it may take place earlier in Jesus’ preaching career although Passover in Jerusalem is still the context. All four Gospels record an account of this event in the Temple that shows Jesus’ passion and courage, and righteous anger as he speaks truth to power with his words and strong actions.  But, what is the truth that he is speaking here?

“There he found people selling cattle, sheep and pigeons, while moneychangers sat at their counters. Making a whip out of cords, Jesus drove them all out of the Temple…Then he faced the pigeon-sellers: ‘Take all of this out of here! Stop turning God’s house into a market! “  

The account in Matthew (21:13) adds “My house shall be called a house of prayer (for all people/nations) and not a den of thieves”. Matthew describes Jesus as overturning the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those selling doves (21:12).   In commenting on the den of thieves, Jesus echoes Jeremiah 7:11 which is in the context of the entire seventh chapter of Jeremiah where the prophet describes the myriad ways the people cling to the Temple but do not follow God’s laws. The prophet tells them to “Reform your ways and your actions….if you (do this) and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place….you will live….Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury….and then come and stand before me in this house that bears my name ….Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers?….”(Jer 7; 1-11).  These offenses include many of the ways the religious leaders and people reject God’s law while saying they “love” God’s house.  The Law is a relational guideline for our relationship with God and with one another. At its heart is justice, especially for those who are on the margins, like aliens and widows and orphans who are impoverished. According to the prophets, and to Jesus we cannot love God’s house if we do not love and KEEP God’s law. That is the point of including the Ten Commandments in Exodus20:1-17 in our readings for this Sunday. It is a review of what those who love God’s house/temple ought to be doing-living in truly just relationships with one another and loving God above all.

Most interpretation of Jesus’ actions in the Temple settle primarily upon the words “moneychangers” and “market place” and miss the full meaning of what Jesus is doing here. This is the last week of Jesus’ life. He knows his fate. In Luke’s account (Luke 19:45-48) before his actions in the Temple he weeps over Jerusalem because they did not recognize “the time of God’s coming to them” (Luke 19: 41-44).  He is defining his mission one last time and with greater passion and energy than ever before. Like the prophets before him, Jesus is saying that the Temple has come to represent religion gone wrong-caught up with animal sacrifices and all of the economic business around it instead of living the Law with all of its compassion and justice for the neediest and most outcast among us. In Matthew 9: 13 when Jesus is speaking to the Pharasaic critics after choosing Matthew the tax collector as a disciple, Jesus tells them to “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’”.  Here he is quoting Hosea 6:6 where the prophet Hosea clarifies what God wants from a people who have broken the covenant- not followed the laws of love, inclusion and justice: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings”.

In the context of Matthew 21 the “multitude” shouts Hosanna! meaning Save! As Jesus enters Jerusalem. He then acts to save God’s house and God’s people from a false understanding of what God is all about. As he said earlier in Matthew 9, God does not want animal sacrifice or burnt offerings, but mercy and compassion and justice. Jesus is freeing the animals that were awaiting their sacrificial deaths, the cattle and sheep and the little doves, pigeons, the poor person’s sacrifice. He is decrying the sacrificial cult perversion of the religion of the times as well as the money making that relies on cultic sacrifice. The priests stand to lose the most if the people follow Jesus and no longer adhere to live animal sacrifices-they lose money, status, and food. The core of their job centered on animal sacrifice.  It was the chief priests and the elders of the Temple that challenged Jesus to say who gave him such authority? (Matt 21: 23). Jesus was clearly taking on the Temple leadership.  And he also alienated the occupying Roman government as he put love of God as central to the Jews in a time when Julius Caesar claimed to be both God and the Son of God and “gospel’, good news, meant any news about Caesar. Clearly Jesus changed what the Good News was. For the people, he heals, includes, loves, feeds and teaches and calls for new hearts-he is the fulfillment of the prophecies and preaches adherence to the spirit and not the letter of the Law.  His strong actions in the Temple and their meaning to the religious leaders are probably a major reason for his crucifixion.  He throws out those who profit from animal sacrifice and sets the sacrifices free even while decrying those who make money off the poor instead of caring for them in the ways the Law prescribes.  This is Jesus the Liberator of the poor and of all “innocents” including the animals. This is the Savior of God’s message to us and God’s actions in history. This is the Savior of all who break God’s Law and repent, of those seek to serve and love God and the least among us. As 1 Corinthians 1:22-25,our epistle for the day says; Christ is the power and the wisdom of God!  Wow! Or as it says in the Psalms “Selah”-pause and think that over.

What do we do to preach the good news to the people and to the powers that be? How do we take on the Government or even the Church to enact compassion and justice? I am humbled to be a Roman Catholic woman priest. I think of over two hundred of us who in simple faith and  commitment to justice within and outside of the church for women who are courageous enough to sacrifice our good standing in the church to answer God’s call and risk ordination with “automatic excommunication” and the kind of criticism from church leaders that Jesus also endured.   I think this takes the strength of Jesus in the Temple.  I think of Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Viola Liuso, Andrew Goodman,James Earl Chaney and Michael Schwerner, Episcopal Seminarian Jonathan Myrick Daniels and all of those people of faith who challenged segregation and the laws of the land that kept black people, and eventually all poor people, down without equal rights and equal pay. I think of Harvey Milk and the gay activists who gave their lives for the life of the LGBT community. I think of the Plowshare Nein peace activists including our co-pastor Judy Beaumont and presently Sister Megan Rice who chose prison rather than silence or inaction in the face of nuclear proliferation and drone warfare. I think of Greenpeace and animal activists who fight for the least of these. I think of all the parents of poor and minority students who go up to the Principals and Boards of schools to safeguard the learning experience of their students.  I reflect on our own neighborhood Good Shepherd community riddled with gang violence and drive by shootings.  I think of those brave souls who tell the truth about what is happening and make the sacrifices needed to identify and stand against the evil. I pray for the majority who just accept things as they are and thereby cooperate with the horror of violence and the threat of death that plagues the neighborhood. I pray for wisdom and guidance in proclaiming the Good News in this context as it must include naming the evil of drug, gun and gang violence no matter who likes it or not. I have had to say, even as Jesus and the prophets did, “don’t come and sit and smile in this church and go out to break God’s precious law with guns and violence.”


May we look to Jesus, Jesus cleansing the Temple,  Jesus the Christ ,the author and finisher of our faith as we seek to cleanse the wrongs that plague our church, our world and our families and communities. Amen!

Rev. Dr. Judith Lee, RCWP

Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community,

Fort Myers, Florida


Seasonal Visitors And RC Woman Priest Judith MCKloskey Visits The Good Shepherd Community

On Sunday 3/2/2015 we had the pleasure of a visit from Rev. Judith McKloskey, RCWP from St. Paul, Minnesota. Rev. Judith has visited our Good Shepherd Community for several years during the month of March and the congregation was delighted to welcome her back. Her gentle presence and wonderful reading and singing voice combine with her natural warmth to engage our members.  As these photos show, she was warmly received.

This is Rev. Judith with co-pastor Judy Beaumont and two members of our leadership team: Hank Tessandori and Harry Lee Gary. IMG_0036IMG_0034

In the first picture above  our seasonal members from Minnesota, Kathy Overby and Kathy Lauwagie greet Rev. Judith. “The Kathys” as we call them are also a real blessing to us helping us in our Tuesday Ministry as well as serving the meal on Sundays.  Rev. Judith talks with some of the women in our congregation,Ann Palmer and Jolinda Harmon and a visitor from Ohio.   IMG_0040 IMG_0044

We also celebrated the 13th birthday of our twins, Jakeriya and Jakein Maybin. IMG_0025 IMG_0026 IMG_0042Kathy Lauwagie helps to serve our Sunday meal. Below are Chris Miller and her Mother from Ohio.  Chris has been serving with us seasonally since 2007.  We are truly blessed to have our seasonal members with us. Thanks be to God! IMG_0046

Here our Junior class makes cards for two of our sick Roman Catholic women priests priests-Rev. Gloria Carpeneto of Maryland and  and Rev. Adele Jones of Texas. It is wonderful to be in contact with women priests throughout the world!


love and blessings,Rev. Judy Lee,RCWP

Irish Arguments on Marriage Equality

This interesting and challenging New Ways Ministries commentary is by Francis De Bernardo of the Bondings 2.0 Blog.

Irish Arguments About Marriage Equality Go From the Ridiculous to the Sulbime

by newwaysministryblog

Marriage equality demonstrators in Dublin, Ireland.

For those of us in countries where the marriage equality debate has been ongoing for several years, it may seem that we have already heard the most outrageous comments opposing such measures.  And, sadly, those comments often come from Catholic officials.   We may have also thought we have heard some of the most insightful pro-marriage arguments, but it seems there are still more to be made.

The debate in Ireland over marriage equality, which is to be put to a national referendum on May 19th,  has recently fostered a bishop’s comment which bewilders logic.  At the same time, a Catholic lay spokesperson has argued eloquently in favor of the measure.

Bishop Kevin Doran of the Diocese of Elphin recently offered that gay and lesbian people are already allowed to legally marry–just not each other.  In a talk at a parish, Doran went through a list of rhetorical questions about lesbian/gay people and marriage, ending with:

“Can people of homosexual orientation marry?

“This is quite interesting, because most people would probably say that they cannot legally do so. But, of course there is no legal obstacle to a person of homosexual orientation getting married, just as a heterosexual person can.

“To that extent the question of marriage equality simply doesn’t arise. (Whether it is good or just or wise for a homosexual person to enter marriage is another question.)”

Doran’s point is a silly one, which reflects poorly on him, and does not substantially add to the discussion.  The sad part of his statements is that their silliness overshadows a number of positive things that he said leading up to those remarks.  Discussing Catholic approaches to lesbian and gay people, he said:

“A. Can we recognise the fundamental goodness of people who are of homosexual orientation? Yes.

“B. Do we believe that they are loved by God? Yes.

“C. And that they are equal in dignity to every other person? Yes.

“D. Can they be actively involved in the life of the Church? Yes.

“E. Can friendships between people of the same sex be good, even if they are sexually attracted to one another? Yes, of course.

“While marriage is the ‘primary and most unique friendship’, there are many other kinds of friendship which are blessed by God. Friendship is an aspect of love, and love is the path to holiness.

“This of course applies equally to those who are homosexual in orientation as it does to those who are heterosexual.

“F. Can people of homosexual orientation receive the Eucharist? Yes, on exactly the same basis as heterosexual people, who are likewise called to the virtue of chastity.

“G. Can we engage with them in pastoral care for the family? Yes, of course.”

While the Irish bishops oppose marriage equality,  other Irish church leaders and the Irish Catholic lay people are very much in support of it.  The Irish Times reported on a recent statement from a coalition of religious organizations, including two Catholic lay groups, We Are Church Ireland and Gay Catholic Voice Ireland.  One leader was quoted in the story:

“Brendan Butler, of We Are Church Ireland, said the Catholic Church’s opposition to marriage equality was the view of ‘the hierarchical church. We are representing a huge squad of ordinary Catholics. We have people in our group who are gay people as well as mothers and grandmothers of gay people. They are appalled at the attitude of the church.’ “

Butler recently penned an op-ed for The Irish Times in support of marriage equality, and he argued:

“Jesus of Nazareth challenged the skewed values and injustices of the religious and political elites of his day and their exploitation and marginalisation of their people.

“We as followers of Jesus must also challenge the injustices of our Church and society.

“This Kingdom of God is not confined to the Church but to the creation of a more just society in which all people are valued as equals.

“This is a vision which We are Church Ireland proclaims. We wish and work for a society where a person’s sexual orientation is not a cause of discrimination or prejudice.

“When it comes to marriage, Christians do not have the ownership of the institution and should invite gay, lesbian and transgender people to share in the joys of marriage if they so wish.

“As a result of a yes vote in the referendum we will have a more just and inclusive society befitting the dignity of all people.” recently reported that polls show strong support for marriage equality among the Irish population:

It recently emerged that one in five voters are still undecided about how they will vote in the referendum in May. The poll found that while 62 percent were in favour with 16 percent opposed, 22 percent of voters are still unsure/didn’t know how they would vote on the issue.

In such a heavily and traditionally Catholic nation, the results of this referendum will be significant for Catholic politics.  Una Mullaly, writing in The Guardiannoted:

“To get this far is nothing short of a phenomenal achievement. Homosexuality was only decriminalised in 1993; the Civil Partnership Act passed in 2010. The dedication of LGBT rights groups has changed hearts and minds. And now, Ireland is staging a referendum that enjoys support from all major political parties and the majority of the public, something unimaginable just a decade ago. . . .

The world will be watching Ireland in the lead-up to May’s referendum. If the Irish electorate seizes this opportunity, it won’t just be a local victory, it could be the watershed moment the global movement for marriage equality has been waiting for.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry