Archive | May 2015

Two Roman Catholic Women Priests Celebrate New Life In the Easter Octave


In the last two months,from the end of March to the end of May we have had a busy time at Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic community in Fort Myers, Florida. We have completed our celebration of the Easter season and embraced many new beginnings and new life chances with our people. Since March we have assisted six families that included twenty-three people with moving and celebrated many birthdays and other occasions of joy. These included finding homes for the homeless -both people and animals.  We find our home in God, as members of the Body of Christ and we are in pursuit of homes for all-no one living on the outside looking in-not even a stray cat!

We helped establish homes for babies and for children by assisting parents with furniture,security and utilities deposits and other basic needs including spiritual and emotional support. We were pleased when one family responded by having their boys join our Sunday school


We said good-by until next year to our seasonal members Kathy L and Kathy O and were very happy that they were able to provide a home for Ebbie, a small homeless kitty who now lives in Minnesota with them.  IMG_0103 IMG_0107

Our young men, brothers,  Rashawn and Quayschaun, became our moving men and assisted in moving Linda H. into Senior Housing and Brenda and her little dog Snappy into housing near the church. This delights Brenda and all of us as she now can walk to church regularly. Brenda says that she is home now because she is with her church family. We are happy to welcome her  home.



Brenda has many physical problems and has already been in the hospital since her return home but she is now getting the health and other services that she needs to live abundantly and not just exist.

The Baptism and First Holy Communion of Aleigha, 12, was a special Easter moment. And the Birthday celebrations of Aloria and Grandma Harmon were also highlights and occasion for blowing and  catching bubbles. IMG_0055IMG_0052


We also helped Grandma Harmon and her family to move to a nearby town to gain more spacious and  safer housing. Daughter Linda will  continue driving them to church so they can remain a faithful part of our community. IMG_0029IMG_0138

When we moved Brenda to her home near the church we discovered two homeless and very hungry kittys and were able, miraculously, to find them each a loving home. It is hard to tell who is happier, the kittys or their new families.

IMG_0198Here our Three Oaks hospital Vet Tech Joseph gets Casper ready for his new home. IMG_0199  And here he is welcomed home by Ginger.  IMG_0072IMG_0207

Pat and Joe who are wonderful supporters of our ministry ,like Ginger, lost their cat of twenty years. It took some months but they were ready for Missy when I called. Here they are welcoming her into the most wonderful bed she has ever known. IMG_0223IMG_0077

IMG_0080It is such a joy to see how complete a family can be and how God’s little ones can find a home.

IMG_0084These two have a feral Mom and have a home indoors now with us and   their Mom is accepting of this as long as she does not have to endure pets.Momcat Bonnie is below them. .  Benny and Marco, however, now love pets.  IMG_0139IMG_0390

At present we have two more kittys in need of a home. One, a beautiful all black neutered male cat about a year old will be evicted in July when his caretakers move North. They cannot take him. And, one is holding on to my foot and hoping i can take him in. But there is no room so he will be a visitor until a home comes forward. If you have love and a little space-maybe its your home?


And so, our work continues as we make plans for and with our children and families this summer. Every move and every enriching trip for kids costs more than we have but we know that God will continue to provide. Thanks be to God!


Love and prayers,

Pastor Judy Lee and Pastor Judy Beaumont,RCWP

The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers

Rev. Becky Robbins-Penniman’s Sermon For Pentecost: Just Breathe

I need time to breathe again. So do we all. I did not preach yesterday, and our summer schedule of  Mass on the first and third Sundays that begins in May because of the heat and the rain and storms and the coming and going of people and our summer youth effort,  is a time of renewal for us, and in a different way, for our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community. For ,indeed, it is the Spirit of God that we turn to and call upon to refresh and renew us. Pastor Becky shows us how to breathe in the Spirit of God and breathe out forgiveness-a lesson for our souls and for our time.

Pastor Becky was my  ministry mentor as I began my discernment of the priesthood and my street ministry in 2007. While some local male RC priests supported me in their hearts and other Roman Catholic women priests guided me from afar, no one could be my local mentor. God most graciously provided a woman whose priesthood in the Episcopal Church I deeply admired to be my local guide.  We worked together for two blessed years.  Then I was able enough to continue on and eventually she left Fort Myers to be the Rector and Pastor of The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Dunedin ,Florida. She is also now the Dean of the priests in her area. One of her most powerful charisms is preaching and it is always my joy to share her sermons here. Another of her charisms is depth and wisdom in accompanying others on their spiritual journey. I am blessed to have her walk with me once again.  I am so thankful that she included this one, not exactly of her flock under her shepherding care for a time. May the fire of Pentecost ignite us every moment so we may also renew the face of the earth!

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

Here is her insightful, Spirit in-fused Sermon for Pentecost:

MAY 24, 2015
Copyright notices: Copyright notices: The Scripture text (except for the Psalm) is from the Common
English Bible, CEB, Copyright 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible. Used by permission. All rights
reserved. Unless otherwise noted, all other content is original and copyrighted by Becky RobbinsPenniman,
2015. All rights reserved.
Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the
promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of
the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth…..
IMG_0062(This is Rev. S. Becky Robbins-Penniman with her mother, Rev. Anne Robbins one of the pioneer Episcopal women priests. I am so thankful for the spirit of both women priests in my life as a Roman Catholic sister priest.)

JOHN 14:25–29, 15:26, 27, 20:19–23
[The night before he died, Jesus said to his disciples:] “I have spoken these things to you
while I am with you. The Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will
teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you.
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be
troubled or afraid. You have heard me tell you, ‘I’m going away and returning to you.’ If you
loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than
me. I have told you before it happens so that when it happens you will believe.”“When the
Companion comes, whom I will send from the Father—the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the
Father—he will testify about me. You will testify too, because you have been with me from the
[Three days later, on the Day of the Resurrection]
It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed
doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them.
He said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. Jesus said to them again, “Peace
be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said,
“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them,
they aren’t forgiven.”
SONG OF THE DAY: God of Our Fathers
How do you define success?
Is a person or group successful if it’s the biggest? the richest? the strongest?
the one that has won the most? one that is secure and in control?
That has solved all the problems facing it?
If so, Christianity in America, in general, is in trouble.
The Pew Survey called America’s Changing Religious Landscape1
that came out a couple of weeks ago
reported that the Christian share of the American population
dropped nearly 8 percent in 7 years, from 78% of Americans to 70%.
The Episcopal Church, specifically, is not successful.2
We’ve been losing members steadily for decades.
What is picking up the slack? Islam? Not really. They did gain some people,
but they are still less than 1% of the American adult population.
The group that is growing exponentially has of two kinds of folks.
The “Nones” who have never affiliated with a faith tradition,
which is about 9% of adults;
and the “Dones” who used to be affiliated with Christianity, but left,
not for another faith tradition, but to become nothing in particular.
19% of people raised one or another Christian church
now say they have no affiliation with any faith group.
So, if you define success as being a member of the winning team,
where the biggest is the best, you’re OK for right now –
I mean, 70% of American adults still identify as Christians of some kind;
that’s a hefty majority. But the trend isn’t good.
Certainly, you will want to find another denomination.
The Episcopal Church is hardly a blip on the statistical radar,
and it’s getting smaller.
Have I made you all scared and anxious enough?
Are you ready to throw up your hands and run around screaming,
“Oh, no! This is terrible! This can’t happen! We must FIX IT!!!”
I hope not, because I don’t think fixing it is possible,
I don’t think it’s wise, and, most to the point, I don’t think it’s faithful.
First of all, it’s God’s church, not ours.
To be anxious and fearful about God’s church is to succumb to functional atheism.
Functional atheists are people who SAY everything depends on God
but ACT as if everything depends on them.
Because church people generally don’t like change,
and because we define success as being big and powerful,
we want to take control, to stop the demise,
and put things back to the way we were in the good old days.
But we need to realize that God is ALWAYS doing something new. Always.
As Creation unfolds through the eons,
both on this big blue marble spinning silently in space,
and in galaxies a billion light years away,
it is all taking place within the life of God.
There is no place, no time, outside God. God has this covered, folks.
And even if God isn’t happy about the findings in the Pew survey,
should we be frightened and anxious?
Are God’s arms too short to deal with this? I think not.
Which brings me to my second thought:
Where is it written that the way church is now in Western culture,
with the forms and traditions that we have developed and, for good reason, cherish,
is the ONLY way God wants it to be forever and ever, amen?
The Church is God’s, and God has and will continue to call all that exists into being,
forming and reforming it through the ages.
Isn’t that what the lesson of the dry bones in Ezekiel is about?
Isn’t that what the psalmist says?
Whether we are talking about the House of Israel or Leviathans,
God’s Holy Spirit enlivens that which has perished;
that which was ends, then is recreated over and over and over,
filled with God’s breath, God’s Spirit, on this day as on the first day.
And so God renews the face of the earth – including the Church.
And my third thought follows on this closely.
Today is the day the church celebrates an event:
the bestowal of the Companion, the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit,
the Spirit of the Father and the Son, into the very air we breathe.
The story is told a couple of different ways –
in Acts, we get fire and wind and ecstatic disciples running in the streets.
They’re acting so crazy people think they are drunk.4
In John, the story we hear today, we get peace and intimacy.
Before he died, Jesus promised his friends he was going to the Father,
and that, when he got there, he and his Father
would send the Companion, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth,
who would teach them everything.
He didn’t say how it would happen; he simply made a promise.
On the evening of Easter Sunday, Jesus makes good on the promise.
The resurrected Lord once again comes into life on earth,
a life chock full of fear and anxiety, and says “Peace,” Shalom.
He says it again. “Peace,” Shalom.
And then he breathes on his friends.
Breath. Spirit. Wind. In both Hebrew and Greek,
one word is translated into three different English words.
In Hebrew, it’s ruach: the breath, the Spirit, the wind, the ruach of God
blows over the chaos and waters and inspires creation into being.
The breath, the Spirit, the ruach of God enlivens those dry bones.
The breath, the Spirit, the ruach of God restores the whole earth.
In Greek, it’s pneuma (pneuma) – as in our word “pneumonia.”
In the Gospel of John, Jesus talks a lot about
the breath, the Spirit, the wind, the pneuma of God.
He tells Nicodemus that the breath, the Spirit, the pneuma of God
blows where it will, and later says that God IS Spirit, breath
When Jesus gives his breath, his Spirit, his pneuma to his disciples,
he is giving them the breath of God. That’s the event we celebrate today.
Now, the problem with celebrating an event
is that we naturally freeze it in time, as if this were a one-off,
a one and done, single occurrence. But it was not.
This giving of the Companion, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth,
the breath, the pneuma to the disciples, was not so much an event
as a beginning, a re-formation, a renewal,
that not only changed that moment, but every moment since then.
This bestowal of the Companion, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth,
the breath, pneuma never stopped– it is in the very air we breathe even now.
Not only that, but we, the church, can’t control it.
As your priest, I can and will and do assure you that God’s Spirit resides in you,
but I can’t and won’t and don’t control God’s breath!
This morning, as always, the Holy Spirit was here before we arrived,
inviting us to receive it, celebrate it, and, most importantly, take it very, very seriously.
The very air we breathe, here in this place and out there in the world,
is the breath of God. God is already within us, closer to us than our next breath.
Unless we think we can live without breathing, we can’t get away from it.
We can’t get away from it, but we can ignore it.
We can ignore it through plain ignorance, as the Nones do;
we can ignore it through a deliberate choice, as many of the Dones have chosen;
and we can ignore it through commonplace distraction and inattention,
which I’m guessing many of us do on a daily basis. I do.
This morning, for just a moment, become aware of your breath.
As you sit here, just breathing, you are receiving the Holy Spirit,
the Companion, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth,5
the breath, the pneuma that God pours out on all flesh
every moment of every day. Just breathe. Receive. Be aware.
. . . . . . . .
What shall we do with God’s breath, God’s Spirit, God’s pneuma in us?
What does Jesus tell his disciples to do with it? FORGIVE.
In Greek, to forgive also means to release, to set free, to erase.
The disciples are sent out to forgive ANYONE they meet – ANYONE –
to erase their failures, their regrets, to free them from their past.
Not only from their own stuff, their own personal baggage,
but also to liberate them FOR the reign of God,
to encourage them to be agents of justice, mercy and mutual respect,
working against the structures of corruption, greed, lust and injustice
that so often dominate human life.
What has happened over 2,000 years, however, is that the church
has become fascinated with the idea of how to withhold forgiveness,
glomming on to the tidbit in the verse that Jesus gave us the retain someone’s sin.
When we start binding and subjugating sinners to our power,
refusing to forgive them unless and until they do something for us,
exacting payment – literal or spiritual – before granting forgiveness,
the church becomes a place fear and anxiety as people fret:
“Am I good enough yet?”
No wonder outsiders aren’t interested in church.
However, I don’t think Jesus was giving his disciples an option, to forgive or not;
he was giving them a warning: I’m sending you to forgive;
I’m giving you God’s breath, God’s Spirit, to use as you go out
to put life into dry bones, to renew the face of the earth,
to bring Peace, hope, joy, courage, forgiveness and light wherever you go.
When you DON’T use God’s Spirit to free others,
when you stay put and don’t do anything but exult,
“I’ve got mine! I’m saved!” and keep the Spirit for yourselves,
or when you refuse to give forgiveness to anyone,
you’re holding your breath, stopping the Spirit’s work through you.
That’s not what Jesus did in his life, and his disciples aren’t to do that with theirs.
The church must get out of the business of controlling and managing sin,
and get on with what Jesus told his disciples to do: forgive. ANYONE.
To do that, just breathe: breathe in God’s ruach, the pneuma, the truth,
and become one with the Father and the Son in their Spirit,
the Holy Spirit that makes dry bones live again, that restores the earth.
Just breathe:
Breathe in God’s peace, but don’t hold your breath. Give it away.
Breathe in God’s forgiveness, but don’t hold your breath. Give it away.
Breathe in God’s joy, but don’t hold your breath. Give it away.
Breathe in God’s courage, but don’t hold your breath. Give it away.
Breathe in God’s hope, but don’t hold your breath. Give it away.
Breathe in God’s light, but don’t hold your breath. Give it away.
For the church, what defines success is not when we get more and more,
but when we give away all God has given to us as he sends us out.
When we need more of the Spirit to deal with life,
no matter where we are, what can we do? Why, just breathe.

Two Glorious Triumphs For Catholic Laity:The Beatification of Msgr Romero and Marriage Equality in Ireland

A blessed Pentecost to all! May the Holy Spirit that inspired and equipped the disciples, the women and men gathered in that place long ago, to proclaim the Gospel everywhere, ignite the church today into proclaiming the Gospel of God’s great love,  compassion and inclusion with social and economic justice for all.

Today,the day before we celebrate Pentecost,  is a great day in the history of what people can do together! Here is Francis De Bernardo’s Blog on the two victories of the day:  the Beatification of Msgr. Oscar Romero and Marriage Equality in Ireland-The only word to add is : AMEN!

The following is the statement of Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry, on the occasion of Ireland voting to legalize marriage for lesbian and gay couples:

Today, headlines around the world announced Catholic news from two different parts of the globe, which may seem disparate, but which share an important common theme.

Crowds outside Dublin Castle celebrate Ireland’s marriage equality victory.

In Ireland, one of the most Catholic nations on earth, hundreds of thousands voted overwhelmingly in a general referendum to enact marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples.

In El Salvador, a strongly Catholic nation, hundreds of thousands turned out for beatification ceremonies for Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was martyred 35 years ago while celebrating Mass.

What do these two stories have in common?   In both cases, the opinion of Catholic lay people has won the day, even when the church’s hierarchy opposed both developments.  In both cases, the sense of the faithful overcame institutional fears and customs.  In both cases, Catholic ideals were articulated and lived out by the laity.

In Ireland, the Catholic bishops spoke out consistently against the establishment of marriage equality.  Their statements have been documented here on this blog.  But lay people insisted that allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry was consistent with Catholic principles of equality, fairness, human dignity, and family stability.

In El Salvador, lay people instantly declared Romero as a saint at the time of his death, but his cause for canonization was hindered during the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI because Vatican officials feared any possible endorsement of liberation theology.  But lay people, especially those who were living in poverty, insisted that Romero, who defended their rights and human dignity fearlessly, was indeed worthy of veneration as a martyr.

Crowds gather for the beatification Mass for Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador.

In both of these cases, the prayers and work of lay people have won out over hierarchical reluctance.

New Ways Ministry prays with joy for both nations for their courage and determination to bring about justice and Catholic ideals into the public square.

There is still work to be done in both cases. In El Salvador, the advancement towards canonizing Romero as a saint must still be completed. The support of Pope Francis in this case may help to speed up the process.

In Ireland, the Catholic Church there needs to learn to work together once again–hierarchy and laity.  There will be pastoral work needed to help unite Catholics who were opposed during the marriage equality campaign.  U.S. bishops who have been involved in marriage equality debates have yet to do this type of work, and our church is hurting and losing much of the faithful because of omission of this step.

In Ireland, the job may be a bit lighter because the hierarchy’s leader, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin (vice- president of the nation’s bishops conference) has been extremely courteous in their opposition to marriage equality.  While maintaining consistent and strong opposition to marriage equality, he also voiced respect for those who held a different opinion.  He worked hard for his position, but he worked even harder to make sure that those who disagreed with him would not be alienated from the Church.

Congratulations and prayerful thanks to the Catholics of Ireland who have shown what we here in the U.S. have known for a long time:  that Catholic lay people support marriage equality because they are Catholic, not in spite of being Catholic.

Congratulations and prayerful best wishes to the Catholics of El Salvador who have shown that the preferential option for the poor is a pillar of Catholicism and that our church should honor those who live out that principle even in the face of violent opposition.

Yesterday was a day when, to paraphrase Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  the arc of the moral universe bent a little more toward justice.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

A Woman Priest’s Commentary on the Words of Colombian Bishop Cordoba about the GLBTQ Community

Here I offer my commentary and an article by Francis De Bernardo of newaysministryblog that reports on the story of a Colombian Bishop who attempted to engage the GLBT community in positive ways and was then caught by those on the right and the left for the imperfections in his dialogue. His apologies seemed authentic and on balance were promising for future positive dialogue and discourse. This is a story form my ministry as a commentary on Cordoba’s first tentative steps at extending God’s love to all.

There are gay young adults in our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community and it is a constant struggle for me to make them welcome and affirmed in the face of other young (and some older) people who, influenced by the lack of acceptance in their cultures and other churches with literal interpretations of the Bible and what I call “(un)righteous and sanctioned hate” freely disparage gay people. This week in our Teen and Young Adult class (ages 15-23) about the “Great Commission”  a 16 year old who sometimes attends a fundamentalist church with his family said: “My other pastor said that the world will end soon because of the sinful behavior of gays and others who live in sin.” He made crude jokes and used demeaning words to describe “gay behavior” and tried to quote the Bible to justify his positions. The gay young man sat back and scrutinized him.  Then he shared that God has brought him back from nearly dying and so today he wants to give thanks to God and share God’s love with others.  Some of the other kids laughed. I knew that talking about this made them nervous, but it was more derisive than nervous laughter. I said that I believed that he meant this with all of his heart and it moved me. After a silence,others said gay people are okay unless they come on to straight people. One young man replied that if God didn’t punish sin then everyone would enjoy sinning so he thought gays would definitely be punished.  Others asked if the world was really about to end. It was my turn to teach.

I admit that I inhaled deeply and with a prayer. First I said that those disparaging terms were hateful and ignorant and should never be used by anyone, especially those who say they follow Christ. Our gay young man relaxed and smiled and said “There!”. Then I repeated my constant message that God is love and we are all created and sustained by God’s love. Each one of us is a unique work of art by a loving God.  God loves each of us completely, just as we are and that includes gay and bisexual and questioning people. (The TV ads for the HBO Movie Bessie Smith brought bisexuality into their consciousness and this was mentioned.) The Bible should never be used to justify hateful positions and I would be glad to meet with the 16 year old’s other pastor to discuss the Bible. For example, he may like to know that the sin of Sodom and Gomorah was not “Sodomy” but inhospitality to strangers.  And the context of Paul’s words on this were for a certain community with specific behaviors in a specific context at a specific time and not a moral pronouncement for the ages. Two young women said that they were really scared about the world ending soon and I said that we needed to take care of our planet so it can go on with clean air and water and health for all of us. But, what our friend’s pastor said about gay behavior causing the world to end now was simply uninformed misunderstanding of the Scriptures. We need to know who God is-Love- and how Love behaves. As Pope Francis recently said “who am I to judge” gay people, (or anyone)-love does not judge or condemn or disparage(talk poorly about) anyone. And now we turn to how to spread the Gospel of love, not hateful misunderstandings….”   After the class, our gay young man thanked me and said he feels safe when I teach the others. He believes really God does love him and he told this to a particular friend of his. I gave him a big hug and asked him to bring his friend to church and to our class. He said he would.

I truly hope that hearing about and experiencing God’s love can change the ignorant,hateful, and hurtful positions on gay people sometimes learned and reinforced in church. I hope that influential Bishops like Pope Francis and Juan Vicente Cordoba of Colombia can pave the way unambiguously for new understandings and the cessation of sanctioned condemnation and  disparagement of at least a tenth of God’s human creation who are not of heterosexual sexual orientation.  As Bishop Cordoba said: The church welcomes every man and woman with a mother’s love…”

Would that it were so and will be so.

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, Roman Catholic Woman Priest     100_4039IMG_0728

FROM Newwaysministryblog:

“It’s pretty rare, and thus news, when a Catholic bishop makes statements about gay and lesbian people that equally anger both liberals and conservatives.  It’s even rarer to hear a Catholic bishop apologize for any of his statements.

Yet, a bishop in Colombia did both those things this past week. Bishop Juan Vicente Córdoba of Fontibón, Colombia, created a stir last week, when during a university talk about same-sex marriage, he proposed the idea that one of the Apostles was perhaps gay and Mary Magdalene might have been a lesbian.

In his talk, he also suggested that gay and lesbian couples be respected, though he did not support marriage or adoption rights for them.  But, he also gave a positive evaluation of homosexuality. The message he offered was very mixed, and a bit confusing.

As a result, according to Crux, the bishop’s words and message were not well-received by either progressives or conservatives.  The news report stated:

“To illustrate his point, he used a pejorative Spanish term for a gay man, offending members of Colombia‘s gay community during a speech intended to denounce discrimination based on sexual orientation. . . . Conservatives, meanwhile, raised an eyebrow when the bishop said that homosexuality is not a sin and that gays are welcomed by the church.”

In his original speech, Córdoba spoke very positively about gay and lesbian people.  The following, according to Crux, are some of his statements:

“ ‘No one chooses to be gay or straight,’ Córdoba said. ‘One simply feels, loves, experiments, is attracted, and no attraction is bad.’. . .

“Although Córdoba reiterated Church teaching when it comes to marriage – that it’s a union between a man and a woman, permanent, and open to children – he said that homosexuality isn’t a sin.

“ ‘Sin is something else. It’s not respecting the dignity of others. Not loving God and our neighbors as we love ourselves, not feeding the hungry, not giving water to the thirsty,’ Córdoba said.

“According to local reports, Córdoba said that in the Bible there’s no explicit rejection of homosexuality, suggesting there’s no basis for making a condemnation of homosexuality a Church doctrine. . . .

“Córdoba asked those in favor of the gay rights bill not to call the opposition ‘recalcitrant, dinosaurs, cavemen, retarded, because we also have the right to present our ideas and our emotions with respect.’

” ‘There will come a time when the Catholic Church is a minority that will be crushed by the majority,’ he warned. ‘Let us respect each other, without using adjectives or telling anyone they’re sick or disordered.’ “

Yet, the bishop did return to the language of “disorder” when he issued his apology and clarification of what he originally had said. A follow-up Crux article reported on his change of mind:

“ ‘Even if homosexuality as an inclination doesn’t constitute a sin, it’s regarded as a disordered conduct,’ he said.

“Córdoba said that his words were not intended to modify the ‘solid and unchangeable moral position of the Church,’ but to express respect in an auditorium which, according to the prelate, was mostly composed of leaders and members of the LGBT community. “

The bishop also apologized for his use of “unfortunate colloquial expressions,”  and explained the use of the pejorative in terms of the situation of his speech:

“The bishop also admitted that he didn’t know there were members of the press present at the event, and that he only used such colloquial expressions because of the academic and dialogic context of the encounter, adding that they had no theological or moral value.”

It is difficult to assess this controversy.  The bishop seems to have been sincerely interested in building bridges with the lesbian and gay community in Colombia, a nation which is currently debating legalizing marriage equality.  His use of a derogatory word was certainly ill-advised, at the least, but his apology for it seems sincere.

It is curious, however, that the bishop’s apology and clarification in which he reverts to traditional hierarchical language was issued not by his diocese but, according to the news report, by the Colombian bishops’ conference.  That seems to indicate that his second set of remarks were motivated by someone from that organization.

What is important, though, is that even in this more conservative clarification, the bishop offered some very positive statements about lesbian and gay people:

“ ‘With a mother’s love, the Church welcomes every man and woman, whatever their condition, conscious that regardless of their sexual inclination – and even sexual behavior – every person has the same fundamental dignity,’ Córdoba said.

“Regardless of the controversy it may have generated, Córdoba said,Thursday’s encounter at the University of Los Andes was the first public encounter between a Colombian bishop and the LGBT community.

“ ‘It proves that it’s possible to establish an honest and frank dialogue that could allow us to bring down the walls and discover each other as brothers,’ the bishop wrote in the letter.”

I think the bishop’s heart wanted genuinely to do something positive towards the LGBT community.  It is unfortunate that his message became so muddled by his use of a harmful slur and his pulling back from his favorable evaluation.  This was the first encounter between the church hierarchy and the Colombian LGBT community.  Let’s hope it is not the last, and that Bishop Córdoba’s original intention to show respect and outreach will be manifested more clearly in the future.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Anti-Nuclear Activists Sister Megan Rice,83, and Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli Released From Prison

We followed the sentencing and imprisonment of sister Megan Rice, 83, and Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli           earlier in this blog. Now we are happy to say that they have just been released from prison! Thanks be to God, to Bill Quigley and all good lawyers and the support from the public and the dedicated peacemakers! These three courageous souls have won an important fight and brought the horrors of nuclear armament  out in the open.

Here is the BBC article and the TNowPlowshares Blog article

US court orders release of three anti-nuclear activists

From left to right: Greg Boertje-Obed (left), Sister Megan Rice and Michael Walli. Photo: February 2013
Sister Megan Rice (middle) and fellow activists Greg Boertje-Obed (left) and Michael Walli

A US federal appeals court has ordered the immediate release of three anti-nuclear activists, including an elderly Catholic nun, the group’s lawyer says.

Attorney Bill Quigley says he hopes they will be released within days.

Last week, sabotage convictions against Sister Megan Rice, 85, Michael Walli, 66, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 59, for breaking into a Tennessee nuclear facility in 2012 were overturned.

But it upheld guilty verdicts for damaging government property.

From Transform Now Plowshares Blog

In an amazing turn of events, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals this evening ordered the immediate release of Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, the Transform Now Plowshares activists who were serving time in federal prison for their action at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, TN to protest plans for a new multibillion dollar nuclear bomb plant there.

Things unfolded rapidly this afternoon.

At 4:00pm word came from Bill Quigley, attorney for MGM, that the government had filed a notice that it would not oppose the release of Greg, Michael and Megan pending resentencing. The government’s notice was interesting—it included notice to the court that, when resentencing did happen, the government would not be seeking terms of imprisonment greater than the time already served. But, the prosecutor said, the court could not release the defendants unless it determined their were “extraordinary circumstances.” The government’s brief went on to note the issues cited by the defendants did not constitute ordinary circumstances. There was a way, though, the government pointed out, under a different statute, and then noted that another court had ruled keeping a defendant unjustly incarcerated beyond the time they would be expected to serve would be an extraordinary circumstance. “We defer to the Sixth Circuit” said the government.

Then, just after 7:00pm this evening, the Sixth Circuit ordered the immediate release of Megan, Greg and Michael on their own recognizance. The order is not available at this time, but the word from Quigley is reliable. In a delightful serendipity, Monday is Greg Boertje-Obed’s birthday—with any luck, he will be home to celebrate it with his family!

tnplowshares | May 15, 2015 at 10:01 pm | Categories: Updates | URL:

Sister Megan was jailed for nearly three years for entering the Oak Ridge facility, which stores uranium.

The other two protesters were each sentenced to more than five years in prison.

The July 2012 incident prompted security changes at the Y-12 site.

‘Displays of ineptitude’

On Friday, Mr Quigley said he was trying to get the three activists out of prison as soon as possible.

They have spent two years behind the bars, and the appeals court said they likely already had served more time than they would received for the lesser charge.

The campaigners are members of the group Transform Now Plowshares.

During their trial last year, Walli and Boertje-Obed received tougher sentences because they had longer criminal histories.

The trio were also found guilty of causing more than $1,000-worth (£650) of damage to government property.

After cutting a fence to enter the site, they walked around, spray-painted graffiti, strung out crime-scene tape and chipped a wall with hammers.

They spent two hours inside the site.

The trio also sprayed the exterior of the complex with baby bottles containing human blood.

When a guard approached, they offered him food and started singing.

At the trial, Sister Megan said her only regret was waiting so long to stage her protest. “It is manufacturing that which can only cause death,” she said.

US lawmakers and the Department of Energy later launched an inquiry and uncovered “troubling displays of ineptitude” at the facility.

Top officials were reassigned, including at the National Nuclear Security Administration.

WSI, the company providing security at the site, was dismissed and other officers were sacked, demoted or suspended.


Women Priests in the Roman Catholic Church

2014-01-18 05.11.56 This article on the Roman Catholic priestly Ordination of  Rita Lucey is from The Orlando Sentinel, May 15,2015. We personally know Rev. Rita Lucey and admire her as a woman of tremendous faith and spiritual presence. She also has unselfishly given her life to peace activism as well as church ministry. She is married and a devoted mother and grandmother as well. There are 208 or more Roman Catholic women who are ordained priests throughout the world. What a wonderful dimension and perspective this feminine presence is bringing to the church,also bringing in many who had become disillusioned with the church. In the picture on the right above Rita Lucey is on the left. The other priests are Maureen McGill and Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Colombia.

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP


“In 2002, on the shore of the Danube River, seven Catholic women broke tradition and sent tremors to the very foundation of the Church. That day, the Danube 7 were ordained as priests — an office not recognized as valid for women parishioners in the Catholic Church.

In doing so, the septet started a movement that adherents say contests for nothing less than spiritual equality in forging a more inclusive church that reflects a 21st-century sensibility.

It’s a fight not without supporters. Two years ago, a Quinnipiac University poll found that at least 60 percent of U.S. Catholics backed female ordination. It’s a controversial movement that touched down in Central Florida in January. At Christ Unity Church in Orlando, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests ordained octogenarian Rita Lucey a priest.

Supporters of ordaining women, including one of today’s columnists, contend that excluding women from the Roman Catholic priesthood not only is rooted in antiquated sexism, but also comes lacking any convincing biblical justification.
Meanwhile, advocates say the status quo is reliant on faith, not fashion. The whims of changing eras have no bearing on God’s immutable word. And God, as today’s other columnist argues, clearly chose men to deliver his message and minister to his flock.

Pink smoke may never rise from the Vatican. Nevertheless, women like Lucey continue to serve — fiat or no.

By the numbers: 208 Roman Catholic Women Priests”

Memorial Service For Roman Catholic Woman Priest Rev. Dr. Adele D. Jones


On Saturday May 9th The Memorial Service for our beloved sister priest Rev. Dr. Adele Decker Jones was held in the (formerly) Franciscan Chapel at Villa St. Antonio in San Antonio, Texas where Adele lived and ministered in her last several years.  While this facility was no longer Franciscan but now owned by a secular corporation the beautiful Chapel was Adele’s favorite place for  sacred prayer and contemplation and requested by Adele for her funeral.  An unnamed Monsignor in the Villa’s Diocese tried to block the Mass but was not able to do so as the property was no longer under Roman Catholic auspices.  This celebration of Adele’s courageous and pioneering life was full of music and poetry and joy in remembering Adele. Family and friends from as far as California and New York and others who loved her gathered to share memories and pray together in a Mass where Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan presided, assisted by Rev. Dotty Shugrue, both of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, one of six Roman Catholic Women Priests groups world wide. Rev. Dr. Adele Decker Jones was our dear friend and mentor and a credit to Roman Catholic Women Priests and courageous women of faith everywhere. We regretfully could not attend the funeral in person but our hearts were with her and her family at this time of celebration, farewell and commendation to our loving God in the name of the Risen Christ where Adele is forevermore.

with love and eternal admiration for Adele Decker Jones. (Her story has been told on my blog twice, once in June 2013 and again this April, 2015. It can never be told enough for she is an inspiration to all.)

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

This is the Memorial Liturgy

from bridgetmary’


Nocturno, form Lyric Pieces, Opus 54, Edvard Grieg 

Opening Song: PreludeDerek Jones, piano

Gathering Prayer:

Loving God, we gather to remember Adele who has died. We give thanks for the many blessings that our Sister brought to us. May your loving presence comfort her family, friends, and  our  women priests’ community in their grief for her loss. In this liturgy we comfort one another as we share God’s love and remember our dear Adele who was” made for joy.”

First Reading: Philippians 4:4-9

 King James Version (We used this translation of Adele’s favorite scripture because her grandmother used to pray these scripture verses with Adele as a child. It is our practice to use inclusive language in our services. However, our Sister Adele’s wishes were of utmost importance to us and love always trumps everything else. Two months ago, Adele planned this inspiring Memorial liturgy with me over the phone, and when Dotty and I visited her in late March we reflected together on the entire service. Adele is an inspiration to us all. Bridget Mary. We will hold her in our hearts forever.)

 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. The Word of God. Thanks be to God.

Psalm 23:  God is my shepherd, I shall not want.

All: God   is   my  shepherd,  I  shall  not  want.

God, you are my shepherd. I want nothing more. You let me lie down in green meadows.


lead me beside restful waters. Your refresh mysoul.

All: God is my shepherd, I shall not want.

You guide me to lush pastures for the sake of yourName. Even if l’m surrounded by shadows of

death, I fear no danger, for you are with me.

All: God is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Your rod and your staff: They give me courage. You spread a table for me in the presence of my enemies, and you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.

All: God is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Only goodness and Jove will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in your house, God, for days without end.

All: God is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Gospel: John 14:1-3:

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God;

In God’s house there are many dwelling places;

Otherwise, how could I have told you that I was going to prepare a place for you? I am indeed going to prepare a place for you

And then I will come back to take you, that where I am, there you may be as well.

Shared Homily: Tribute –we light a candle as we remember our dear Adele and share stories of her joy, faith, and wisdom that has touched our lives and blessed our world.

After each sharing, we pray:

All: Loving God, we will carry Adele in our hearts forever.

Music at Offertory: Offertory #1: Panis Angelicus, Cesar Frank

Alex Chavarria, Baritone    Shearon Horton, piano


Presider:  Blessed are you, God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer to you, fruit of the earth and work of human hands. It will become for us the bread of life.

All: Blessed by God for ever.

Presider: Blessed are you, God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you, fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.

All Blessed be God for ever.  

Presider: Pray my brothers and sisters that our offerings may give praise to God.

All: May God accept our gifts for the praise and glory of God and for our good and for the good of our church.

Presider:  God is with you, proclaiming love.

ALL:  and also with you. 

Presider:  Lift up your hearts that Jesus proclaims healing, justice and peace for all people. 

ALL:  We lift them up to God. 

Presider:  Let us give thanks to our God.

ALL:  It is right to give God thanks and praise.


Presider 1Lifegiving Love, You have called us to be radiant reflections of your holy presence on earth. United with You, we are one with all beings in the community of creation  we join the angels and saints as we say: 

ALL: Holy, Holy Holy, God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.  Blessed is the One who comes in the name of our God. Hosanna in the highest.

Presider 2:  Gracious God, you set the banquet table and invite all to the feast that celebrates your boundless love in the universe.  As midwives of grace we are Your hands, lifting up those who suffer, the vulnerable and excluded in our world today.

Presider 1: We especially thank you, Holy One, for Jesus, the Compassion of God, who came to show us a new vision of community where every person is loved and all relate with mutual respect. We welcome all God’s family into the Circle of Life at the Banquet of Love.

Presider 2: Jesus we remember our beloved Sister, Adele Jones, who is now in your eternal embrace in heaven.  We give thanks for her joyful witness to the Gospel during her life.  May we be blessed by her wisdom and inspired by her kindness as we celebrate our oneness with her in the communion of the saints.

All: (please all extend hands as we recite the consecration together)

Let your Spirit come upon these gifts as we pray:

On the night before he died, Jesus took bread into his hands and said:

This is my body, he said. Take and eat. Do this in in memory of me.

At the end of the meal Jesus took a cup of wine, raised it in thanksgiving to you, and said:

Take and drink of the covenant of my love poured out for you. Do this in memory of me.

Presider1:  Now then, let us proclaim the mystery of the Christ Presence made new again through you:  

ALL:  In every creature that has ever breathed, Christ has lived; in every living being that has passed on before us, Christ has died;  in everything yet to be, Christ will come again! 

Presider 2:  We honor the holy women and men who have revealed your compassion and justice in our world.  We thank you for people in our lives who show us how to love tenderly and have revealed the heart of our God, especially our dear  Adele

Presider 1: And so, liberating God, we hold our religious ministers and political leaders in the light of Christ Sophia, Holy Wisdom.  We pray for Pope Francis, for our bishops, for the young and the elders, and for all God’s holy people.

Presider 2:  We remember those who are sick and suffering.  May they be healed and comforted.  We remember Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary Magdala, Peter, Paul, and all the angels and saints who surround us with loving prayer each day.  We remember our dearly beloved Adele and all who have died that they may experience the fullness of life in the embrace of our compassionate God forever.

ALL:  Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, all praise and glory are yours, Holy God, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

THE PRAYER OF JESUS: Our Father and Mother



ALL:  Loving God, You call us to speak truth to power, we will do so.

Loving God, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice, we will do so.

Loving God, You call us to live as Your presence in the world.  We will do so.

Presider1:  This is the Bread of Life.  All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love.  All: We are the Body of Christ, the family of God.

Communion: Music:

Nocturne, Opus 9, #1, Frederic Chopin

Derek Jones, piano

Communion #2 

Ave Maria, Franz Schubert

Alex Chavarria, Baritone    Shearon Horton, piano

Final Blessing:  

Presiders: May God bless us as we go forth.

May the angels lead you into paradise, Adele,

May the martyrs come to welcome you and take you to the holy city,

The new and eternal Jerusalem. May choirs of angels welcome you and lead you into the heart of God.

All: Eternal rest, grant unto her O God, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and all the souls of the faithfully departed rest in peace. Amen

Recessional :When the Saints Go Marching In

“When the Saints Go Marching in”

Chorus: Oh when the Saints go marching in
When the Saints go marching in
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in

We are traveling in the footsteps
Of those who’ve gone before
But we’ll all be reunited (but if we stand reunited)
On a new and sunlit shore (then a new world is in store)

Oh when the Saints go marching in
When the Saints go marching in
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in

And when the sun begins to shine
And when the sun begins to shine
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in

When the moon turns red with blood
When the moon turns red with blood
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in
On that hallelujah day
On that hallelujah day
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in

O when the trumpet sounds the call
O when the trumpet sounds the call
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in

Some say this world of trouble
Is the only one we need
But I’m waiting for that morning
When the new world is revealed

When the revelation comes
When the revelation comes
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in

When the rich go out and work
When the rich go out and work
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in

When the air is pure and clean
When the air is pure and clean
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in

When we all have food to eat
When we all have food to eat
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in

When our leaders learn to cry
When our leaders learn to cry
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in

(Songwriters: Traditional


When The Saints Go Marching In lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group)


Pope Francis Orders a Jubilee Year of Mercy and Pardon

This article is from the

BY Hannah Roberts

Pope Francis has ordered Roman Catholic priests to bestow a full pardon on women who have committed a mortal sin by having an abortion.

Next year, both women who have had abortions, and doctors that have performed them, will be able to seek absolution, as part of a special Holy Year of Mercy decreed by the pope.

In the Catholic Church, abortion is considered one of the gravest sins and results in automatic excommunication. It can only be forgiven in certain special circumstances, by high-ranking clergy or by making a pilgrimage to Rome during a Holy Year.

Pope Francis is handed a child to bless on his first official trip outside Rome since taking the Papacy

But in a gesture of reconciliation the pope is for the first time to send ordinary priests as ‘missionaries of mercy’ all over the world with special powers to forgive even the most serious sins.

One of the organisers of the Jubilee Year Monsignor Rino Fisichella told a press conference that this included also abortion.

He said the pope meant the gesture ‘as a concrete sign that a priest must be a man of mercy and close to all.’

Those priests who apply to be missionaries must be especially skilled and ‘good confessors’, he said.

The theme of the Holy Year, which begins on December 8th, has been widely interpreted as a signal by Francis that the church should be less judgmental.

In a document known as a ‘bull of indiction’ explaining how he wants Catholic to celebrate the Jubilee year, the pope said that ‘the church must be ‘an oasis of mercy’.

It went on: ‘The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.’

The Pope pauses to bless a young child in St Peter's Square in the Vatican after a Palm Sunday service 

The Pope pauses to bless a young child in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican after a Palm Sunday service

The charismatic Pope Francis is proving popular, expressing a more progressive view on many Catholic beliefs that are seen as outdated and out of touch, such as those on contraception and abortion
The charismatic Pope Francis is proving popular, expressing a more progressive view on many Catholic beliefs that are seen as outdated and out of touch, such as those on contraception and abortion

The charismatic Pope Francis is proving popular, expressing a more progressive view on many Catholic beliefs that are seen as outdated and out of touch, such as those on contraception and abortion

The United Nations has previously condemned the Vatican for excommunicating the mother and doctor of a nine-year-old girl who had an abortion in Brazil in 2009 after she was raped by her stepfather and became pregnant with twins.

But the move is not likely to be approved universally. Italian cardinal Velasio De Paolis said it could cause ‘confusion’ among the faithful. He said: ‘Regardless of this decision by the pope, the church will continue to consider abortion a sin.

‘I hope it does not cause confusion.’

He told La Nazione: ‘He is the pope of mercy and wants to show the benevolence of the church towards sinners. This does not cancel the sin of abortion.’

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This I Command You: Love One Another:Sixth Sunday of Easter 5/10/2015

What’s love got to do with it, dear Tina Turner? “Everything!” is the answer in the readings for this Sunday and throughout the eight weeks of Easter during which we celebrate the risen Christ and the ways in which Christ remains with us.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  who, like Jesus, gave up his life for his friends, struggled with applying the gospel message of radical love and inclusion to our social and political structural context in America. In 1967 he said: . “…we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing‐oriented” society to a “person‐oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and propertyrights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered… True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice, which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth… A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual
death.” —“Beyond Vietnam” (April 1967)

The first reading is from the book of Acts about the growth and struggles of the early church,struggles about exclusion and inclusion that are like ours today.  In Acts 10:25-48 we learn that despite the wishes of the early church to keep God for themselves and their small group, after a vision showing him that nothing (and no one) is impure when God makes them clean, and experiencing the righteous life of caring for the poor and prayer of the Centurion Cornelius, Peter instructs them: “I begin to see how true it is that God shows no partiality-rather, that any person of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God”(verses 34-35). And so, in the recent words of Pope Francis:”Who are we to judge?” When the Jewish Christians saw the compassionate actions of Cornelius and saw that the Holy Spirit equally visited Cornelius and his friends, they were open to Peter’s conclusion that all can be baptized. How awful it is, then that we can cite time after time that baptism was refused by a priest of the Roman Catholic Church (and I’m sure of other Christian faiths as well) to the children of gays, divorced, “intermarried”, or couples cohabiting and to these adults themselves as well. See, for example, . Moreover, some also deny baptism and other sacraments to those who are not members of a certain parish. All of this is about exclusion and is the stark opposite of what Jesus asked of us. Clearly the texts of this day tell us that there is but one criteria of being right with God: that we love one another.


From the earliest years on we need to learn love, especially when people are different than we are. We have one Haitian boy,Jerry, that has been with us for a few years. One of our other boys constantly taunts him with remarks like: “Your people eat dogs, do voodoo and speak mumbojumbo”. We have addressed this as it happened and it is better, but not gone yet! Finally in the group I had Jerry share how the remarks made him feel. He looked up and said one word: “hurt’, adding “It’s not funny to me”.  Finally the other boy heard him.

Another example is acceptance across the racial divides. Fort Myers’ schools were not integrated until 1969. Most neighborhoods and most churches still remain segregated. School “balance” was achieved through a desegregation busing law but when that law reached its legal limit about two years ago it is no longer in force.     Our smaller kids are more able to cross the divides than the older ones. Sometimes the older kids reach out to one another but often they do not. It is our task to help remove these divides now or “integration” really has not happened and probably will not happen for them. Similarly we work on acceptance for our members with mental illness, mental challenges and those who may be gay or bisexual. With young people we work against ugly name calling, but with adults we work for full inclusion.

IMG_0015 IMG_0083


A few weeks ago some new children joined our Sunday school. One handsome little boy had long dreadlocks. One of our little girls,also African-American, said he was ugly because of his raggedy hair. (She also used stronger terms). We needed to take her aside and teach her about love and acceptance. The next week all of the children were eating and playing together and the incident was over. I commented to the boy that the little girl had learned something important, He said with remarkable honesty: ” I learned too- I said something mean back to her last week and now I won’t do that”.  This same 6 year old corrected a 13 year old boy who was sassing his teacher: “That is not the way we speak to adults”. Wow! He is a welcome addition.


The Epistle of 1 John 4:7-10 says: “Beloved, let us love one another….You who do not love have known nothing of God ,for God is love“.  Selah-pause and take that in. How blessed we are to have and know our God of love. Yet, what a struggle it can be for each of us to love as God does, as Jesus did. Jesus was full of surprises in who he embraced and loved-he included the social and political outcasts of the time and those who the strict religionists of his time saw as sinners- “impure”,unclean and outside of God’s love. Indeed, for Jesus, no one was outside of God’s love. We note in 1 John 4:10 that it was God who reached out to us, embraced us and gave all for us-God showed us how to love. We can take no credit for it, other than doing what we are asked to do: to love one another as God has loved us.

In the Gospel (John 15: 9-17) Jesus asks us to “live on in my love. and you will live on in my love if you keep my commandments”: “Love one another as I have loved you”. Jesus also calls us friends. How wonderful to have friendship with God through Christ. We pray to truly call each other friends. Recently I asked our Tuesday group members to write down the three things that empowered them most in their lives.  Most included “Friends” “community” ” church fellowship” and relationships as the source of empowerment. Carter Heyward and Mary Hunt, both feminist theologians, see friendship as a paradigm for our relationship with God. Bernard Cooke sees it as sacramental.    In John 15:17 loving one another is turned into a crystal clear commandment:”This command I give you:  Love one another”.   We are a work in progress. Real growth in love is hard to achieve. Let us pray for the grace to know what love means in our everyday lives,as a society, and as a church.  



Woman Roman Catholic Bishop Andrea Johnson’s Homily at the Ordination of Seven Women Priests

east ord2

Here is the beautiful homily given by Bishop Andrea M. Johnson, RCWP on 4/25/15 at the Ordination of seven women priests from the Eastern Region of RCWP-USA.

Homily For RCWP Priestly Ordinations

April 25, 2015

Episcopal Church of the Redeemer

Morristown New Jersey


It is such a joy to be here in Morristown with all of you today — Jersey girl that I am – to celebrate together with you this historic moment in which we call forth and ordain seven new Roman Catholic Women Priests for the eastern USA. The first time there were seven ordained together was on the Danube River in June of 2002 when our movement began; and in 2006, eight women were ordained priests in Pittsburgh, PA, coming from the entire USA. This is the first time such a large number is being ordained for just one region of our country.

We are so very grateful to be here at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, and want to express our deep appreciation to the Reverend Cynthia Black and the entire congregation for welcoming us here today.

Our ordination liturgy began this afternoon with these words from our opening hymn: Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live. What an awesome vision of who we seek to be as church – as the Body of Christ! What an apt description of the mission of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, standing firmly within the Roman Catholic tradition, yet pushing the envelope, and creating a safe and welcoming space for all who want to participate.

The seven women who have come before us today seeking ordination to priesthood have prepared extensively, and they have discerned deeply. They have grasped and embraced our model of priestly ministry which is a servant model, an inclusive model that empowers all of God’s people.

The readings chosen by the ordinands reflect their clear understanding that their call to ordination is a call – not to a leadership of privilege, but to a leadership of servanthood; a leadership that is prophetic in its demand for justice in our church and in our world. Indeed, as our reading from Isaiah says, these servants are called to “give life and spirit to people; to proclaim the covenant of love and fidelity that our God offers us; to give light; to heal; and to liberate.”These ordinands know themselves to be called to empower others so that those they empower can do the same for yet others.

These women understand that, in order to serve,, they must first live by the Spirit, indeed follow the Spirit’s beckoning by living into the fruits of the Spirit – which include among them patience, generosity, gentleness and self-control – ….they follow the Spirit’s promptings, even as they struggle with the harsh realities of injustice and persistent inequities in our church and world systems. They are committed to seek out and to speak the truth as they minister, knowing that it is God’s Spirit who upholds them and leads them into all truth and all true unity.

As we in Roman Catholic Womenpriests approach thirteen years of existence as an initiative within the Roman Catholic Church, seeking to break open the model of ministry to include women and all baptized persons called by their communities to priesthood; and with those descended from the Danube ordinations of 2002 now numbering more than 200 worldwide, how can we describe our mission to ordain, and our vision of church going forward? In real terms, how does our vision of inclusivity play out in a church whose structures have historically and increasingly disenfranchised the many?

We believe our call to priesthood is rooted in our baptism, and is sustained by a reflective, contemplative and prayerful lifestyle which seeks to follow in prophetic obedience where the Spirit leads us. We believe we are called to model a new way of leading which strives to empower others, to work with others in our communities to mobilize resources to serve the disenfranchised, to release creativity, and to enable stable communities to form and thrive. Most importantly, we believe we ensure, by providing priests to a renewed and emerging Catholic church, that the subversive memory of Jesus is perpetuated through the proclamation of the Word and the celebration of the sacraments, especially the eucharist, which is the core of our commitment to unity with one another – the unity that binds us in the One Body of Christ.

Nourished by Word and Bread, we, together with the whole people of God, call forth the gifts of the community to do the work of justice, peace and integrity of life. As for the communities we serve, they are diverse; nonetheless they are all characterized by a new spirit of collaboration. What do the communities committed to renewal and led by Roman Catholic Womenpriests look like?

  • They are imbued with a spirit of discernment, and they give voice to all community members
  • They have a variety of persons functioning in a variety of ministries according to their preparation, their gifts, and their call by the community
  • There are ordained and non-ordained persons serving on teams together collaboratively
  • There is mutual respect and openness to the views of others
  • Our communities practice contemplative listening
  • There is collaboration and connection with other RCWP-led (and other progressive) Catholic communities
  • There is meaningful ecumenical and interfaith outreach.
  • There is an unbroken liturgical and theological link with Roman Catholic tradition
  • There are active social justice ministries
  • The model of diakonia or service is foundational for all who minister in the community
  • There is a deeply eucharistic (i.e. thankful) spirituality, with mindfulness of God’s indwelling presence in and through the life of the community
  • And there is a deeply catholic spirit that is ever aware of being part of a much greater whole in terms of church

And so, today, we are truly thankful to our loving and compassionate God, who has given us an abundance of new servant leaders to continue to grow this movement for a renewed priesthood and church, and to discern a new understanding of what it means to be catholic – of what it means to be One Body in all of our diversity.