Archive | June 2015

Two Validly Ordained Women Serve in New Hampshire as Roman Catholic Women Priests

I start with an editorial note: With this weekend’s Ordination of Mary Catherine White there are two Roman Catholic women Priests in New Hampshire.  The first ordained Roman Catholic woman priest in New Hampshire is The Rev. Theresa Novak Chabot of Manchester, ordained in 2010 by Roman Catholic Women Priests-USA, a group that began in the USA after the first Ordinations of women in the USA in 2006. It now also has members residing outside of the USA. The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests was formed in October of 2010.  There are over 200 women priests world-wide. The vast majority of these reside in the United States (contrary to the information in the article below). Europe, Canada,Colombia, South America and South Africa are among the locations of other Roman Catholic Women Priests and candidates are currently from many different countries. The RCWP Movement  is bursting forth and is hardly “fairly isolated” as stated by a theology professor in the article below.  

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,RCWP 

The first New Hampshire woman Priest, ordained in 2010 is The Rev. Theresa Novak Chabot of Manchester who is mentioned in the NHPR Article below.  This is her biography:

Theresa Novak Chabot

Theresa Novak Chabot
Deacon 2009
Priest 2010

Theresa Novak Chabot holds a Master of Arts in Theology (Pastoral Ministry/Spirituality) from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.  After several years of serving in a variety of parish ministries, Theresa answered the call to priesthood to minister to those who are disillusioned with the Church but still long to be fed spiritually. She serves the Church of the Holy Spirit, a Catholic Welcoming Community of Hope, in Manchester, New Hampshire, with weekly liturgies and the sacraments in addition to a wedding ministry. Her hope lies in a Church where diversity is celebrated and all are welcome at the Eucharistic table in the loving spirit of Jesus Christ. Theresa was formerly the Director of Development for NH Catholic Charities, the executive director of a chamber of commerce, and has worked in fundraising, public relations, and development for non-profits and businesses. In addition to her ministry, she is a speech-language pathologist for a public school district. She and her husband, Gary, reside in Manchester, NH. She can be reached at

After Weekend Ordination, Gorham Woman Says She Will Assume Role Of A Roman Catholic Priest
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The Reverend Mary Catherine White of Gorham. VIEW SLIDESHOW 1 of 11
The Reverend Mary Catherine White of Gorham.

Listen Listening…4:36 Broadcast story

A radical event took place Saturday in a most traditional setting: a tiny, white, classic New England church in Shelburne. Mary Catherine White was ordained and now considers herself a Roman Catholic priest.

With about three dozen – sometimes tearful and proudly independent friends and relatives watching – White became one of just over 200 ordained women worldwide who say they are Roman Catholic priests. The Vatican says they are not priests because priests have always been – and must always be – men.

But the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests – which ordained White – says there is evidence – such as paintings – that show some women priests and bishops in the early church. And, they say, the Bible has Jesus treating men and women equally.

“Jesus treated women as spiritual equals,” said Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, who presided. “It is time for the institutional church to go back to its roots and do the same.

“The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests is not leaving the church, but leading the Catholic Church into a new era of justice and equality. No punishment, including excommunication, can stop this movement of the spirit.”

The Diocese of Manchester declined to allow anyone to be interviewed.

But a written statement said the church does not recognize ordinations such as White’s as valid and the priesthood “has always been reserved to men in fidelity to Christ’s example and to apostolic practice since the time of Christ.”

The statement also said “while it is unlikely” formal excommunication proceedings will be started White is “choosing to leave the church and put herself outside its communion.”

White says she would not recognize excommunication anyway.
White, 54, grew up watching men as priests and she’s dreamed of becoming one of those priests for decades.

“I felt called my whole life to priesthood, but it was not something that was allowed,” she said.
So, she got involved in other ways.

“I have done numerous roles within the Roman Catholic Church over the years, everything from director of religious education. I worked for a period at Catholic Charities up in Berlin. Pretty much any role that the official church allowed me to do I did, in addition to things like spiritual direction and so forth.”
But being a priest didn’t seem possible, and that struck White as terribly wrong.

“I think it is more than a civil rights issue. It is a justice issue. It is an issue that says ‘God created everyone equal. In my heart I know it was supposed to be different.”
But White, who is married and has two children, didn’t want to leave the Roman Catholic Church for another religion that would allow her that role.

“I am Roman Catholic inside and out. It is how I relate to and understand God.”
Then in 2012 the impossible suddenly seemed possible for White.

That’s when she heard about “The Danube Seven.” They were seven women who – ten years earlier – were ordained. Five became priests. Two became bishops.

It took place on a boat on the Danube – between Austria and Germany – and was carried out by a bishop supposedly in good standing with the Vatican – but a bishop who has chosen to remain anonymous.

Hearing about the Danube Seven was all White needed.

“When I saw that was possible, I knew that was my answer.”
The Danube Seven also prompted the formation of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, of which Mary White became its forty-first priest.

While The Vatican says women cannot be priests, White says the Bible refutes that assertion.

“I think the one scripture that I would say, more than anything, is Galatians. And, it basically said ‘In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave or free.’ That is a very clear depiction of what Jesus taught us.”
White won’t be accepted by The Vatican but she plans to hold services, including communion, in homes. And, she says, her faith community will be “all-inclusive and non-judgmental” including welcoming the LGBT community and those who are divorced.
That receptivity is true of all women priests, says Bishop Meehan.

‘Women priests are living Jesus’ vision of God’s full partnership and providing hope for a renewed church in the 21st century, where everyone is welcome and everyone belongs and everyone can receive Sacrament.”
New Hampshire’s second woman priest is Theresa Novak Chabot of Manchester, who also holds services in homes. She was ordained in 2010 by a different group, Roman Catholic Women Priests.

Novak Chabot said her ordination ended a long period of yearning.

“I spent many years wondering, frustrated, a lot of tears were shed. It would be so difficult to go to Mass and watch the men at the altar and know that the only reason that I could not be there was because I was a woman.
Every Catholic woman, I feel, should have the opportunity at least once in her life to see a woman at the altar because it is something that is totally taboo in the Roman Catholic tradition that it gives people hope.”
White and Novak Chabot are among about 200 women worldwide who consider themselves to be Roman Catholic priests. They were ordained by either the Roman Catholic Women Priests or the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.

There are about 100 in the United States.

And there are five in Massachusetts, two in New Hampshire and one in Connecticut.

A spokeswoman for the association said the movement is “flourishing” and is aiming at millions of Catholics who left the church over issues such as gender equality, divorce and LGBT.

However, there is no sign that the Vatican is likely to change its position on women priests anytime soon.

And the movement is still “fairly isolated,” said Thomas Groome, a professor of theology and religious education at Boston College.

But White and Novak Chabot figure they’ve at least started on what they see as the long journey to equality.

Two Astute World Views of Laudato Si: Pope Francis’ Courageous and Brilliant Encyclical on the Environment

“Pope Francis blesses a boy in the Varginha slum in Rio de Janeiro July 25, during his weeklong visit to Brazil for World Youth Day. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (July 25, 2013)

One of the many history-making features of “Laudato Si'” is that it is the first encyclical fully conceived and completed by a non-European. (Pope Francis’ previous encylical, Lumen Fidei, was largely written by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.) What difference does this make?

It comes from a Third World pope.As Jorge Bergoglio, Pope Francis’ life and ministry were marked by global capitalism and authoritarian communism fighting for control over his native Argentina. He saw firsthand how both ideologies left the poor in misery. Argentina suffered crippling economic crises as it attempted to play by the rules that richer countries put in place. This encyclical speaks from that history. It was initially drafted by Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, making it a landmark testament to the world from Catholics of the Global South.

It transcends Cold War binaries. Although some commentators have labeled Pope Francis a communist, what he offers is a refreshing departure from the ideological boxes that plague the rich world’s discourse. He opposes an economy based on short-term corporate profits while embracing the creativity and productivity that markets encourage. He stresses the divide between haves and have-nots, but calls for dialogue rather than class struggle. Above all, he opposes the idolatry of any ideology that puts itself before the well-being of human beings and creation.

It foregrounds the experience of the poor. Both the environmental movement and its opponents often seem to be purusing a theoretical and boutique cause, reserved for the wealthy and highly educated. Pope Francis frames his teaching with the perspective of the world’s poor, for whom the climate crisis is not a future possibility but a present reality. He identifies the “ecological debt” that the rich owe to the poor for the effects of their relentless consumerism.

It places the commons over property. “God rejects every claim to absolute ownership,” Pope Francis writes. While the world’s rich justify their pollution on the basis of property rights, Catholic tradition upholds private property only as long as it fosters stewardship for the common good. The world is first of all God’s gift to everyone, and property cannot be used to withhold the necessities of life from the many for the enrichment of the few. “The climate is a common good,” he reminds us, “belonging to all and meant for all.”

It says what is unsayable in U.S. politics. The climate crisis has been virtually a non-issue in Washington, thanks largely to the influence of the energy lobby. “Laudato Si'” breaks this silence, and it calls public officials to step away from the sidelines. It doesn’t offer particular policy proposals so much as it invites everyone into a common dialogue. It also gives voice to the concerns of Latino Catholics, who are far more concerned about the environment than their white counterparts, but who have often gone unheard.

It takes both Catholic tradition and science seriously. However radical this document may seem, it falls squarely in the mainstream of both the scientific community and Catholic tradition. Much of what Pope Francis says here has been said or alluded to by previous popes, and he cites his predecessors going back to Paul VI in the preface. Regarding scientific claims, he respects the authority of scientists who speak from their expertise and takes it for granted that Catholic faith must be consistent with the deliverances of reason.

It speaks of relationship rather than dominion. Knowing that biblical passages can be used to justify a narrative of human “dominion” over nature, Pope Francis shows that those same passages, and many others, call us to relationship above all. He outlines an “integral ecology,” one centered on the sanctity of human life, while recognizing that human flourishing depends on the flourishing of the environment of which we are a part. Like the African concept of ubuntu, he sees the dignity of humanity expressed in our relationships—to our Source, to each other and to creation.

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It insists that we can make a difference. This is the first encyclical addressed not just to bishops, or to Catholics, or even to “all people of good will,” but to “every person living on this planet.” Pope Francis does this for a reason. He concludes that we can rely solely on neither the state, nor an invisible hand of the market, nor the wonders of technology can solve the climate crisis for us. He calls on each of us to recognize our own sins against creation, and to repent, and to reorient our lives toward a healthier kind of relationship. This means not choosing one form of consumerism over another, but directing our resources toward a different kind of economy altogether—one based not on short-term profits but on long-term flourishing. We’ll disagree about how to do this. And it is not a temporary matter of somehow saving the world and then being done. This encyclical will be a lasting part of Catholic teaching, and it calls us—now and always, wherever we are in the world—to deepen our relationship with our crucified planet.”

And this pastor and priest and human being says AMEN !!!

Pope Francis blames ‘human selfishness’ for global warming

  • 18 June 2015
  • From the sectionEurope
Pope Francis
The Pope calls for a radical change in behaviour to save the planet for future generations

Pope Francis has blamed human selfishness for global warming in his long-awaited encyclical calling for action on climate change.

In the letter, he urges the rich to change their lifestyles to avert the destruction of the ecosystem.

Environmentalists hope the message will spur on nations ahead of the UN climate conference in Paris in December.

But parts of the document, leaked earlier this week, have already been criticised by some US conservatives.

It has been dismissed by two Republican presidential candidates.

Humans to blame

The encyclical, named “Laudato Si (Be Praised), On the Care of Our Common Home”, aims to inspire everyone – not just Roman Catholics – to protect the Earth.

The 192-page letter, which is the highest level teaching document a pope can issue, lays much of the blame for global warming on human activities.

Pope Francis writes that: “We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.

“The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life.”

The letter highlights the loss of biodiversity in Amazonian rainforests and the melting of polar glaciers

He criticises what he calls a “collective selfishness”, but says that there is still time to stop the damage, calling for an end to consumerism and greed.

‘Moral approach’

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi launched the pontiff’s second encyclical at a news conference on Thursday.

The teaching is more evidence of a pontiff determined to act as a catalyst for change, and a powerful diplomatic player on the world stage, says the BBC’s religious affairs correspondent Caroline Wyatt.

The release comes six months before international leaders gather in Paris to try to seal a deal to reduce carbon emissions.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the document, saying climate change was a “moral issue requiring respectful dialogue with all parts of society”.

Metropolitan of Pergamon Joannis Zizioulas (left) became the first high-ranking Orthodox Church official to present a papal document

It has also been widely praised by environmental groups, with WWF president Yolanda Kakabadse saying it “adds a much-needed moral approach” to the debate on climate change.

Greenpeace leader Kumi Naidoo highlighted passages calling for policies that reduce carbon emissions, including by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.

But a leak of the document, published by Italy’s L’Espresso magazine on Tuesday, had a frosty response from sceptical conservatives in America, including two Roman Catholic presidential candidates.

Jeb Bush said he did not get his economic policy from his bishops, cardinals or pope – so why his policy on the environment?

Meanwhile Rick Santorum questioned whether the Pope was credible on the issue of climate science.

US Senator, Jim Inhofe, chairman of the US Senate Environment Committee, said he disagreed with the Pope’s “philosophy” on global warming.

“I am concerned that his encyclical will be used by global warming alarmists to advocate for policies that will equate to the largest, most regressive tax increase in our nation’s history.”

However, many academics have welcomed the pontiff’s input.

Prof Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science at the University of Oxford in the UK, said: “If Pope Francis can’t speak up for our unborn grandchildren, then God help us all.”


Will Pope sway Americans? – Roger Harrabin, BBC News environment analyst

Jeb Bush dismissed a leaked draft of the encyclical

The UN’s climate change chief Christiana Figueres says the Pope’s message will influence talks in Paris this year on a deal to tackle global warming.

Developing countries are demanding firmer promises of financial help from rich countries so they can adapt to inevitable changes in the climate and get clean energy to avoid contributing to further warming.

Ms Figueres said their position would be strengthened by the Pope’s insistence that this was the clear moral responsibility of the rich.

The encyclical will be welcomed by poor countries in Africa and Latin America.

The big question is how it will play in the USA, where it has already been dismissed by a Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who is a Catholic.

Leading Republicans have warned the UN that they will undo President Barack Obama’s climate policies – so if the encyclical sways any of the conservative Catholics in Congress that could prove significant.


The Pope’s Encyclical Laudato Si Is A Major Awakening-Bravo, Pope Francis!

Occupy Democrats's photo.


Today is a major turning point. Pope Francis’ encyclical is more than a theological statement, it is a major awakening for the world of the deep moral urgency of the climate crisis. The science is settled, our moral need to act is clear – now let’s come together and build the world we need.

Support the Pope’s call & take action here:

My friend and retired Professor George Getzel notes:

You don’t have to be profoundly theist to appreciate this papal encyclical; you only need eyes that see, a mind that thinks and be graced with an empathetic conscience toward human beings and their environment.

In the Footsteps of Other Popes, Francis Seeks Worldly Change


Pope Francis issued a paper on combating climate change. CreditMaurizio Brambatti/European Pressphoto Agency

When an elderly Pope Leo XIII released a document in 1891 on the rights of workers to unionize and of owners to hold private property, European capitalists and socialists alike cried foul. Why should we listen, they fumed, to a pope’s pronouncements on economics and politics?

Now, 124 years later, Pope Francis has set off an uproar over his document on the environment and the threat of climate change, an encyclical released Thursday called “Laudato Si’ ,” or “Praise Be to You: On Care for Our Common Home.”

Once again industrialists, politicians and critics are fuming, contending that the pope should stick to religion and stop meddling in matters in which he has no competence.

“Pope Francis’ message on global warming was a confusing distraction that dilutes his great moral authority and leadership at a time when it is desperately needed to combat real — and present — crises in the Church and in Western culture,” said Richard A. Viguerie, who pioneered the use of direct-mail fund-raising to help build the political and religious right.

But Francis is following in the footsteps of popes and bishops who, for generations, have written documents on pressing social problems by applying religious teaching to events so contemporary that they seem ripped from their eras’ headlines.

Pope Leo’s encyclical “On the Condition of Labor” — or “Rerum Novarum” in Latin — became the seminal document in what is now recognized as modern Catholic social teaching.

Yet there have been many since then. Pope John XXIII warned of nuclear annihilation in “Pacem in Terris,” in 1963. Paul VI challenged wealthy nations to help develop poor nations in “Populorum Progressio,” in 1967. Benedict XVI noted economic inequality from globalization in “Caritas in Veritate,” in 2009.

Still, Francis’ encyclical, contends Austen Ivereigh, a papal biographer in England, “is the most significant Catholic social encyclical since the very first, ‘Rerum Novarum,’ in 1891, and it’s very much within that tradition.”

What distinguishes “Laudato Si’ ” from previous church documents on the environmental crisis, Mr. Ivereigh added, is that it is intended to provoke action — to cause an enormous “conversion” in how humans understand their place and responsibility to a planet that is in peril.

“We all know this is happening; the church has been talking about it for a long time,” Mr. Ivereigh said, paraphrasing Francis on environmental destruction. “Yet we do nothing.”

In “Praise Be to You” Francis puts forward a profoundly theological document, grounded in Catholic teaching, but one in which spiritual and secular matters are knit so closely together that the table of contents promising to segregate them into sections is a bit deceptive.

Throughout the paper, like a recurring chant, Francis intones that everyone and everything is interconnected — to God, to creation, to fellow human beings.

The encyclical repeatedly invokes phrases like “brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth.” Praise for “our Sister, Mother Earth” comes from the Canticle “Laudato Si’ ” by St. Francis of Assisi, for which the encyclical is named.

“As believers, we do not look at the world from without but from within, conscious of the bonds with which the Father has linked us to all beings.”

But just when he begins to sound spiritually cosmic, Francis adds a pinch of science: “A good part of our genetic code is shared by many living beings.”

Francis seems intent on showing that the concern about the environment is not his alone.

For at least three decades, bishops’ conferences and popes have spoken out on environmental problems. Francis’ encyclical is studded with quotations and footnotes from the statements of bishops in countries like Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Japan, the Philippines and the United States on the impact of climate change or environmental crises.

For some of Francis’ most contentious arguments — about an economic system that exacerbates inequality and causes environmental degradation — he cites the words of his predecessors, especially St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

He attributes the environmental crisis to wealthier, industrialized countries that extract resources to feed an insatiable desire for consumer goods. Christians also, he said, have been seduced by this consumerism, despite the tradition of monasticism and teachings on simplicity by St. Francis and others.

“Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption,” Francis writes. “We need to take up an ancient lesson, found in different religious traditions and also in the Bible. It is the conviction that ‘less is more.’ ”

Early in the encyclical, the pope spells out his intent for all humanity to undergo a spiritual transformation: “Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it.”

He says that the Bible’s reference to human beings having “dominion” over the earth has been misread by some Christians as giving license to humans to plunder its resources without respect for other living organisms.

From Bro. Mickey O’Neill Mcgrath, OSFS, a painting that he worked on yesterday, perfect for today and the release of the Papal encyclical.‪#‎LaudatoSi‬ ‪#‎PopeFrancis‬

Bro. Mickey O'Neill Mcgrath, OSFS's photo.

Francis of Assisi would affirm.

Read Pope Francis’ new encyclical online, in PDF, or in paperback form. Discover the Catholic Church’s teaching on ecology, climate change, and care for creation.
Love to all of God’s Creations,
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

God Is In The Boat: A Roman Catholic Woman Priest’s Homily with Prayers for South Carolina for 6/21/15


God in the Boat

The readings for Sunday are powerful. They are powerful in affirming and giving us a glimpse of the awesome yet maternal and parental God that gave birth to the cosmos and all of creation and is with us still, especially in the times of greatest storm and upheaval.

We note that in the reading from Job (1:8-11) God is speaking to the despondent and hopeless  Job, a man who has lost everyone and everything dear to him and suffered physical and environmental plagues as well and yet holds on to faith by his whitened finger tips. God is describing the creation of the cosmos and earth by a tremendous maternal effort in these verses and later in the chapter includes a paternal side as well (fathering the drops of dew, vs.28, and maternal again, giving birth to ice and frost (vs. 29). God tells Job how the sea was birthed-burst forth from the womb of God (vs.8), and carefully laid into the swaddling clothes of the clouds/darkness (vs.9). God here is a mother giving birth after explosive labor-bursting forth- and also a parent who places limits on its offspring (vs.10).  This same God who brought a universe into being is the one who is there for and with Job in all of his pain and suffering.  And that is what will reignite Job’s faith and well-being.

In the Gospel (Mark 4: 35-41) we are reminded that there are times in life when we have nothing to hold onto at all, when we are at sea in a small boat in the midst of a terrible, violent storm, when it seems like even God is asleep. And yet we learn, God is perhaps not at the helm of the boat, but is in the boat with us. And when we remember that God is there, God speaks to us, and to the storm itself, and there is calm.

The writer of Mark wrote in the first century, in the sixties, after the death and resurrection of Jesus and the bursting forth of the church in the midst of persecution. One of Mark’s strong themes involved the strength, freedom and continuity of the church community at a time of storm. Thirty years after the death of Jesus the Roman Empire carried out a mass persecution of the young Christian churches. The lead apostles and many others were killed. Yet the Gospel spread and the church remained strong especially among the poor. Baptism was an act of faith and courage in which believers died with Christ and rose again with Christ and lived reflecting the indwelling of Christ, with an amazing forgiveness, inclusiveness, and mercy.  The reign of God is so near that it is within-within the church and within each Christ-follower. The Aramaic for reign of God “malkutha di elaha” denotes an intimate and immediate relationship with God.  Hence, though Jesus was asleep in Mark 4:38, (and indeed had died) he, the Christ, has risen and is very much alive and in the boat with the church and the disciples.

I have been thinking about the storms of life when we seem to be overwhelmed and without control. At this moment one of Good Shepherd’s strongest supporters is fighting for his life in a local hospital. Admitted to the hospital Saturday in great abdominal pain, and sustaining an operation, Jack McNally a married priest, who, in his eighties, faithfully serves our feeding ministry( and has done so for seven years) along with his devoted wife Ellen was revived from a “Code Blue” this morning after his heart stopped beating. Ellen describes his smiling at the medical staff and telling them he is fine. And she asks for prayers. The storm is still raging but Jack and Ellen hold on to the one who is in the boat with them, and we join them in prayer.


Within the last few months one of our faithful families became the victims of drive-by shootings. The windows of a parked truck were blown out first. Then on another occasion bullets literally whizzed by the heads of the young people and children present. One young man can’t stop hearing the sound and it makes him feel as if he were already dead. And all we could do given the specifics of the situation, was pray. We prayed with the family members in ones and twos and as a family and we prayed together as a church. Then, it happened. They were able to move out of the area to another community giving them a start at peace of mind and safety. Jesus was in the boat and despite their fears of moving, almost as great as the fear of the shootings, they held on.  They now begin a new chapter of their lives.

There are so many examples. Many of our young people are successful and seem to sail on in their studies and careers despite some challenges. Racism and classism are still alive and well in Florida, as in most places. But, one of our young women tried and tried and faced defeat in her studies. She was despondent.  She felt her boat was going down. She just about gave up. But she prayed and like Job, she held on. She responded to the belief we had in her abilities against all odds. She is about to start a new program where she has a good chance at a trade and a career.

Today we learned of the horrifying massacre that happened last night in a South Carolina church while the Pastor led a Bible Study. Here, in the Mother Emmanuel AME Zion Church, a historic black church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to visit, speak and pray, a probably mentally ill 21 year old white man filled with hate for black people pulled out a gun and shot nine people. The dead included the Pastor, Clementa Pinckney , also a State Senator and a brilliant rising star and activist for justice, and eight other faithful souls ranging from 26-87 years of age. How horrific. To think this has happened in the sanctity and safety of a church. Dr. King said after the loss of the four little girls in a church on that fateful Sunday in Birmingham, Alabama, that God can draw good out of such tragedies. And eventually the good of civil and human rights did come. Yet, oh the immediate pain. In the face of tragedy and unspeakable loss, this church community holds on, praying together and asking for prayer and forgiveness. What a sign that God is in the boat with them.

This is a request for prayer that was sent to me from PICO (People Improving Communities through Organizing) National Network,  and you may respond with your prayers using the link:

“We are heartsick this morning as we take in the news of the mass shooting at “Mother Emmanuel” African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, SC. Once again, we are reminded of the power of fear and hatred that devastates our communities.

Whether it’s Sikhs in a gurdwara, Muslims in a mosque beginning the season of Ramadan, Jews in a synagogue or Christians meeting for weekly prayer and Bible study, we collectively grieve the tragic loss of life, denounce the violence, and stand with the families and communities impacted. Our hearts go out to the people of “Mother Emmanuel” Church and the communities of Charleston, SC.

We are working with the LIVE FREE team, our AME clergy leaders, as well as our multi-faith partners to coordinate our prophetic response. In the meantime, we are joining Groundswell in collecting prayers and words of support. Please contribute your prayers using this link.

Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews
Director of Clergy Organizing
PICO National Network”

AND HERE IS A PRAYER FROM BROTHER JAMES PATRICK HALL and the pictures of the martyred saints of SC:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.

James Patrick Hall's photo.

With this plea for prayer and faith, for the strength of Christ and the love of God to be with this community in the midst of their horrific storm, I close this homily. The forces of hatred and injustice are strong, the waves could capsize the church, and all of our little boats. But they will not. God is in the boat with us. God in loving relationship is right there with us. Mother/ Father God is not letting us go it alone. Ever. And, we live with the hope given us in 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 “Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation.  The old order has passed away; now everything is new!” God is still in the boat with us. Amen.

In solidarity and love,

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Florida

Summer Joy For Good Shepherd Children


For fourteen children and young people of our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, summer fun and learning began last Friday at the Shell Factory Zoo and Nature Park after lunch at McDonalds. They were accompanied by the two Pastors Judy Beaumont and Judy Lee, Roman Catholic women priests, and Linda Maybin, parent Assistant. Efe Cudjoe, our youth minister and Natasha Terrell her assistant guided and kept the group together as they explored animals and their habitats and birds in a walk-in Aviary. Later they enjoyed an inside Arcade and had snow cones.  The Bumper boat rides were closed as the water level was not high enough to keep them afloat so the snow cones helped to cool them off.IMG_0020

IMG_0023   Here group members enjoy an ancient Fire Truck that they were able to climb on and other exhibits of life long ago before entering the zoo.


They loved feeding the turtles and Koi that practically jumped out of the water to get the food.


IMG_0091 IMG_0027 IMG_0096

Watching the land turtles eat salad and feeding the baby goats captivated them.

The giant tortoises, lizards, and peacocks were a big hit. The peacocks had a particular scream that the kids imitated causing quite a bit of interest from the birds.


Watching the Zebra, a huge camel and a giant cow held interest for quite a while. IMG_0048IMG_0039


And then there were the birds! The cockatoos were the biggest hit as they would sit on an arm or shoulder and eat out of a hand. At first the kids were terrified of them, then slowly each one fed them and hosted them as we modeled how to hold them.  Soon the older kids were teaching the younger ones the joys of feeding birds.


At the end of the day, there were peals of laughter as the kids saw themselves elongated and foreshortened in the Carnival mirrors in the Arcade area. IMG_0104IMG_0101Competence at the Arcade games also brought great joy and even a few rewards.


We are so thankful for the generosity of our donors who make this summer fun and learning possible. When we think about what many of these kids went through this year their laughter and joy is all the more precious. They are now deciding where their second trip will be. We will keep you posted!

With love and thanks,

Pastor Judy and the Good shepherd Youth

Two Roman Catholic Women Priests Reflect on the Mustard Seed: Rev. Beverly Bingle,RCWP with Rev. Judy’s Reflections for June 14, 2015

Here is an insightful homily on the meaning of the parable about the mustard seed (Mark 4: 26-34) by Rev. Dr. Beverly Bingle of Toledo, Ohio. She challenges us to be part of the reign of God, growing and taking hold like weeds and yet challenges us to think  what is happening when the reign of God seems not to be growing?

As she notes the first parable about the seeds springing up while we sleep challenges us to think just what are we doing to help the seeds of God’s reign to take hold and grow? Do we sow, or water, or tend the growing plants? What does God do, and what do we do? Indeed if we are asleep, God is doing most of the work. And yet there is a role for each of us in growing the reign of justice, compassion and love in our troubled world. Megan McKenna On Your Mark (p.60) asks “are we helping with watering, nurturing, harvesting? Or are we, indeed, being harvested? Do we belong to a community that produces enough wheat to feed others? ….Where are those who lay down their lives,falling under the sickle so to speak, so others can eat? ”  This theme connects to our homily on Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ last Sunday. Are we willing to give all to building the kin-dom ,the reign, of God? If, as in the last sentence of this Gospel Jesus is still speaking privately to his disciples, how are we doing at listening? How attentive are we to reading and grappling with the meaning of the Word? How do we pray, share with God in relationship, what our concerns for the kin-dom are, for the weeds of us and the birds that seek shelter in the shade of the tree/large bush that the community offers for shelter? How do we  actually share the heart of Christ as members of the Body? How, indeed do we show our compassion for the people and for the earth that God has given us? How are we attending to the word of God thrown out into the world?

IMG_0024 IMG_0054 IMG_0080IMG_0065

In Luke 17: 5-10 and Matthew 17:20 Jesus speaks of the necessity of having faith in order to get the work of the reign of God done. Yet, he points out: even an infinitesimal amount of faith (the size of a tiny mustard seed) will do. Walter Wink, Prayer and the Powers points out that we do not have to be spiritual giants , most of us surely are not, but we do have to do what Jesus has asked us to do (in loving our God and really loving and serving our neighbors as ourselves) (Luke 17: 9-10), “Faith”, Wink says, “is not a feeling or a capacity we conjure up, but trusting God can act decisively in the world” (PP.14-15). And when we consider that the socioeconomicpolitical systemic snares faced by those who are poor and different are amazingly powerful, we cannot blame ourselves or God if prayers do not seem to be answered. For example, if homelessness and hunger and violence prevail even in the most affluent of countries as well as the poorest even as we do our best to address the issues where we are.  We can ,ourselves, continue to believe in the power of God and work with God on making dents in those temporal forces that work against the fullness of life, dignity and worth of every human being.

Recently I have been discouraged about how hard the work of the kin-dom is in poor communities that continue to experience the long arm of racism and classism down the generations. I have been discouraged by gun violence especially among young people and the death of children and others who have nothing to do with gangs or drugs or “beefs”. And, I have been discouraged by the strength of addictions and the lack of resources to shelter the homeless and teach empowerment skills. But, due to the kindness of friends I have begun to realize that God’s work is the reign of justice, I have a part in it, but I do not have to do it all, nor can I. That realization comes with  a renewal of my faith in God to get the job done and to raise up laborers for the vineyard, yes, for the garden full of weeds, that is here. Jesus said in Matthew 17: 19-20,  that the lack of faith is what prevented the disciples from healing the boy who had awful seizures.  Faith enables and sustains our work for the reign of God.  Without tending our own faith through prayer(even when it is the very groaning of our spirits) and relying on God, it atrophies even smaller than that mustard seed and the works of God’s reign are then impossible to do. Two problems then may happen: first, we may feel that we ourselves have to do it all. We forget that it is not us but God that is speaking the kin-dom, the reign of God, of justice and love, into being. We then burn out and despair since we cannot make the miracles happen that change violence, neglect, abuse and pain in God’s children and our good green earth, at times struggling to breathe. Or, we pull back to an inactivity that pretending to be prayerful instead centers us on ourselves instead of on building the reign of God with God. Here is Walter Wink’s prayer that may empower us to truly have faith and to pray and act with every fiber of our beings to build the reign of God with God.  “God, help me to refuse ever to accept evil; by your spirit empower me to work for change precisely where and how you call me; and free me from thinking I have to do everything”.

Rev.Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

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

We now turn to Rev. Dr. Beverly Bingle’s Homily: 

Today’s gospel has two seed parables,
the seed that sprouts and grows and ripens on its own,
and the tiny seed that grows into a large plant.
The first comparison is one that Jesus probably used
but, according to scripture scholars,
he would not have used it to talk about the reign of God.
That part comes from Mark,
who used it to contrast how little we contribute to the harvest
compared with what God contributes.
The second comparison, the parable of the mustard seed,
was one Jesus would have used,
and he would have used it to talk about the reign of God.
The parable of the mustard seed
is in the canonical gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke
as well as the sayings gospel of Thomas.
The version of the parable closest to what Jesus would have said
is this straightforward and unadorned passage
in the Gospel of Thomas:
The disciples said to Jesus,
“Tell us what Heaven’s imperial rule is like.”
He said to them, “It’s like a mustard seed,
the smallest of all seeds,
but when it falls on prepared soil,
it produces a large plant
and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky.”
According to scripture scholar Raymond Brown,
that’s very close to the original idea of the parable
as Jesus would have told it.
Five of us from Tree Toledo are taking a tree stewardship course,
and we keep hearing about invasive plants.
We’ve learned about invasive trees, like Autumn Olive,
#3 on the Ohio Department of Natural Resource’s top ten list. And
we’ve learned about invasive plants, like Garlic Mustard,
#7 on the list.
When American cooks hear the parable of the mustard seed,
they think of those round yellow spices
and know it’s definitely not the smallest of seeds.
When Ohio farmers and gardeners hear the parable,
they think of a weed run rampant through their crops,
their neat flower beds, and the rows of their vegetable gardens.
For them, Jesus is saying that the reign of God is everywhere,
and nothing can be done to contain it.
Even if you’re not a cook or a gardener or a farmer,
you know about dandelions.
You don’t have to plant them.
They grow everywhere.
When Jesus told this story to the people of Galilee,
they would have known that he was using hyperbole—
exaggeration to make a point.
And they would have been surprised
to hear God’s domain compared to a tiny seed,
even if not the smallest.
They also would have known
that a mustard seed does not grow into a tree.
Sure, it’s a big plant, three to five feet high, but not a tree.
They would have picked up on the fact
that Jesus was poking fun at the mighty cedar of Lebanon
and the apocalyptic tree of Daniel that reaches to heaven,
with its branches that cover the earth.
And they also would have picked up on the weed and its seed
as representing the poor,
the despised tax collectors, and the sinners—
invasive pests in the ordered garden of society
where the predatory birds attack and devour them.
And his audience would have chuckled at the comparison
and gone home uplifted and inspired,
understanding that, as Jesus told them,
the reign of God is here, among you.
You—the outcasts, the bottom of society,
the outsiders at the Temple—
you really are God’s people, chosen and beloved.
Now, what about us, as we hear this gospel?
If the reign of God spreads as easily as mustard or dandelions,
what is it that we’re doing, or not doing,
that keeps God’s presence from ruling our world?
What kind of poisons are we spreading
that inhibit the growth of God’s reign?
When I examine my own conscience,
I see easily that my actions and inactions
contribute to the greatest moral issue of our time—
pollution of the earth
to the point that our very life as a species is seriously harmed.
Sure I live frugally, and recycle,
and don’t use drive-through windows,
and turn off the lights when I leave a room.
But I leave a great big carbon footprint
from the fossil fuels I use
to heat my home and drive my car
and mow my lawn and cook my meals—
a footprint way bigger than my fair share on this planet,
cutting off life right now
in impoverished communities around the globe,
and in the future for all of humanity—our great-grandchildren.
This coming Thursday Pope Francis will promulgate
his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Sii—Praised Be!
Even before it’s released, it’s drawing anger and condemnation
from those who profit most
from the degradation of our environment.
But I’m hoping that it will be a prophetic call
heard by all of us, Catholics and everybody else,
to care for creation.
The Toledo Chapter of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests
has put together a series of meetings,
every other week for five weeks,
to look at the encyclical and discuss it,
starting at Lourdes University this Thursday.
I’ll be there.
I want to hear what others have to say,
and I want to think about it seriously,
and I want to find out what I can do.
Today Jesus is telling us the same thing
that he told those folks
who gathered around him at the lake that day.
Each one of us is a dandelion in the lawn, mustard in the field.
One person, yes,
but God’s reign is here among us,
and we spread its seeds
by the way we live.
Just like Jesus.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor

A Human Rights Plea to Pope Francis

a741e-smallcopylogoglbtsaints200pxoriginalThis article from Francis De Bernardo of  Newwaysministryblog shares the story of the fate and courage of a Ugandan Roman Catholic Priest,Fr. Anthony Musaala who ministered to the GLBT community and, documenting violence against gays, calls for a world wide “sexual refugee” program. It also makes a plea to Pope Francis to lead the church and the world in Christ-like acceptance of the dignity of all human beings. The World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September would be the ideal place to speak  the Gospel truth of God’s love for all people.

Ugandan Catholic Priest Calls for a Worldwide “Sexual Refugee” Program 

by Newwaysministryblog

A Ugandan Catholic priest who has been barred from celebrating the sacraments is calling for a worldwide refugee program for LGBT people fleeing discrimination and violence in their home countries, as he witnesses hundreds of such Ugandan individuals fleeing across the border to Kenya.

Father Anthony Musaala, a priest from the Ugandan capital of Kampala, was speaking at an LGBT ministry forum at All Saints Catholic Parish, Syracuse, New York.  A Religion News Service story published on The Christian Century  website said Musaala spoke of rapes, evictions, beatings, and job losses for people because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or because they support LGBT people.

Musaala called the exiles “sexual refugees,” and said he recently met with United Nations officials to discuss ways to support those who flee their countries.  For Ugandans who go to Kenya, life is not that much better, Musaala observed.  One reason is that Kenya already is housing 650,000 refugees from other African nations, but another reason is the Ugandans’ LGBT status. The priest noted:

“When their status is revealed, the police are quite brutal.”

Unfortunately, Musaala’s  work is not supported by his archdiocese. The news report explained a bit of his background and experience with church officials:

“He was ordained in 1994 in the Archdiocese of Kampala and began ministering to gay and lesbian and people in 1999. His archbishop considered that work ‘not in step with the church,’ Musaala said.

“In March 2013, Musaala wrote a paper challenging priestly celibacy and criticizing African priests who abuse minors or father children and abandon them. His archbishop, Cyprian Lwanga, said the paper ‘damages the good morals of the Catholic believers and faults the church’s teaching.’ He suspended Musaala indefinitely from priestly duties, which means the priest cannot celebrate the sacraments. . . .

“Musaala now works with Ark Communes, which creates safe housing communities for LGBT people in Kenya, and he used his talk as an occasion to ask for donations for the organization.”

The record of Catholic officials in Africa supporting anti-LGBT legislation in Africa is shameful. While there have been a few who have spoken up courageously to defend human rights, the great number are often on the side of repressive lawmakers.

Rev. Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest who works for Political Research Associates, has examined  how the role of African Catholic  leaders and of political leaders here in the U.S. have had in anti-LGBT measures in Africa.   In his report entitled,  Kaoma stated:

“Much blame has been placed on the shoulders of conservative American evangelicals, but U.S. Roman Catholic right-wing groups are equally guilty of exporting homophobia and sexism to Africa. This was illustrated in February 2015, when Roman Catholic Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of the Diocese of Oyo in Nigeria claimed that Nigeria’s failure to rescue the kidnapped girls (the Chibok girls taken by the Islamist group Boko Haram) was due to lack of support from the Obama administration, resulting from its opposition to an anti-LGBTI law passed in Nigeria in 2014. While the media cited Bishop Badejo for this statement, the claim was originally made by a U.S. conservative: Rep. Steve Stockman, who in August 2014 argued, ‘We have information that would help the Nigerian military take back their country and get back those girls. The mistake on our side—the United States’ side—is that we have laws preventing us from sharing that information with the Nigerian military. And one of the reasons is that we don’t like some of the social policy of the Nigerian government.’

“The passage of Nigeria’s 2014 anti-LGBTQI law, which applies a 14-year jail sentence for same-sex marriages and prohibits advocacy of sexual minorities’ rights, was celebrated by Nigerian Roman Catholic Bishops. The bishops commended the government for its ‘courageous and wise decision’ to fight ‘the conspiracy of the developed world to make our country and continent the dumping ground for the promotion of all immoral practices that have continued to debase the purpose of God for man in the area of creation and morality, in their own countries.’ Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama went as far as saying ‘thank God that this bill was passed.’ The failure of the Vatican to oppose or counter such statements implies approval; its hide-and-seek game essentially sanctions the persecution of sexual minorities in Africa and other parts of the world.”

Kaoma has called on Pope Francis to use his platform at the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September to speak out for the human rights of LGBT people.  Kaoma stated:

“As the World Meeting of Families draws near in Philadelphia, human rights advocates anxiously await a public statement from Pope Francis on human sexuality. If the event centers on the definition of ‘family values’ promoted by U.S. Roman Catholic and evangelical conservatives, then the Pope’s visit will further sanction the demonization, scapegoating, and persecution of LGBTQI individuals around the world. U.S. conservatives—from lesser-known characters like Matt McLaughlin and Scott Lively to big name leaders like Franklin Graham and Rick Warren—are awaiting the Pope’s visit to advance their global anti-human rights agenda.

“The Pope’s upcoming visit to the U.S. provides another opportunity for the advancement of human rights for all people. The persecution, violence, and trauma caused by religiously sanctioned homophobia demands a statement from Pope Francis on LGBTQI rights. His words have the potential to either sanction continuous violence, rape, criminalization, persecution, and killings—or bring long-awaited and desperately needed acceptance of sexual minorities across the globe.”

New Ways Ministry has been calling on the pope to speak out on human rights abuses against LGBT people for a while now.  Perhaps it is time that we revive our#PopeSpeakOut campaign where we asked people to tweet to Pope Francis messages which ask him to speak out against repressive and discriminatory laws. Find out more by clicking here.  Please send a tweet today!

Finally, many thanks to All Saints Catholic Church for hosting Fr. Musaala’s talk.   Their example shows how important it is to have LGBT ministries in Catholic parishes.  New Ways Ministry is proud to include them on our gay-friendly parish list.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Celebrating Our Body of Christ-Especially our Graduates at the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community

At the end of our celebration on this feast day of the Body of Christ we celebrated some of our own members achievements.

Most notably our Efe E. Jane  Cudjoe was graduated from Brown University with Honors. She is pursuing a Research Fellowship and will then go on to Medical School. Rather than focus on herself today she jumped right in and taught our Junior and Middle School class and chaperoned three of our children as well.  She is a light set upon a hill and her light shines on all of our young people saying “Keep going-come on up here”.



And, our Natasha Terrell completed her Freshman year at FGCU and is now a sophomore. She continues to be our Lector and also to help with the little children. She has a part time job. She is deciding on a Major and thinks she wants to be a social worker!!! Way to GO, Natasha!


Keeron Jones is now a High School Senior. Today he said that he was thankful for his gifts of intellect and athletic abilities and prayed to use his gifts well. He would like to teach sports to younger children. We are proud of him. There are so many negative roads to take but his feet are planted on the narrow road.


Keeondra Terrell was graduated from the eighth grade and plans to attend Dunbar or Lehigh High School. Her spirit is one of love and kindness and she works hard on all she does. When I ask for a volunteer she is always there. Way to Go Keeondra!

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All of our Middle Schoolers were promoted. Now Jakeriya and Jakein Maybin are entering the 7th Grade and Marcella Randazzo and Aleigha Longstreth are entering the Eighth Grade.

IMG_0017IMG_0048100_3957WAY to GO!

Our Little ones were promoted to the First Grade> IMG_0115

And all of our Grade Schoolers were promoted! IMG_0261IMG_0061ANDIMG_0054,

Jon’Est Smith had his sixth Birthday!


IMG_0049Love and blessings, Pastor Judy Lee and Pastor Judy Beaumont and All of the Good shepherd Family on this wonderful and holy Feast of the Body of Christ

A RC Woman Priest’s Homily for Corpus Christi Sunday: Life Saving Blood -6/7/15


 Homily for Corpus Christi-6/7  2015: Life Saving Blood Transfusions

Today we celebrate the Body of Christ, the fullness of what Jesus, the Christ, gave for the life of the world and the fullness of what we, as members of his Body, the church, are to give to one another and to the poorest and “least” amongst us.

The readings for this Sunday speak of ancient and current rituals and deep symbolic meanings.  In an era when some theology chooses pretty and ethereal words like ‘stardust’ and ‘cosmic Christ’ and evoke beautiful pictures from the Hubble telescope to capture the essence of who we are and who Christ is, this Sunday the church focuses boldly and solidly on “the most holy body and blood of Christ” or the solemnity of Corpus Christi, literally the Body of Christ.

How truly amazing, complex and beautiful the human body is. From infancy through old age, in health and in illness, beauty and grace and wonder are embodied in us. When one part of the body is hurt we can still see how other members compensate for that loss and the body still functions. After major stomach surgery two and a half years ago I am still going strong. Not the same as before, but strong. How resilient the body is.  We can see the face of God in one another. The body, not the stars above, is the single greatest metaphor for the miracle of creation and life. What an amazing miracle to have God embodied in Christ and giving God’s self for the world, and that our God knows intimately what it is to laugh and fear and hurt, and to love, to suffer and bleed as we do.  We too are embodied and far from being celestial our bodies often remind us of how precious and fragile life is.

IMG_0158Pastor Judy Beaumont and Stella Odie-Ali with Claire Powley.

And some of our precious little ones.


It is a temptation to choose only feel-good words as God-words and to avoid words like body, blood, broken, poured out and death lest we offend or lose the faint- hearted. I literally use the word ‘faint’ as I recall that my beloved Grandmother, the tree of life and faith for me, wanted me to become both a missionary( there were no women clergy back then) and a nurse (she didn’t know any women Doctors either). In High School I thought that would be my path until my best friend sustained a major cut on her hand while preparing food. There was no car available so her sister and I wrapped up her hand, put our arms around her and walked her quickly one block to St. Mary’s Hospital.  I was fine until they began to sew the wound and blood spurted out. I fainted then and there.  When I woke up we were all outside and she was ready to go home. I knew then I would not be a nurse because I could not deal with blood. Yet we miss the true meaning of the Gospel today if we cannot deal with blood. And by now, I see blood in a totally different light.

When my Grandmother was operated on for what turned out to be a cancer that had already spread out of control the family was asked to donate blood as she had many transfusions to keep her alive. Each one did and it was not enough. Then one by one the members of my young adult group at the church came forward and gave their blood.  Some of them were as repelled by blood as I was, but it didn’t matter- they came through.  I was so thankful for them. They could not save her life, but their selfless gifts may have saved someone else’s life. And most importantly their love surrounded us and helped us to get through the worst time of my young life.

In our work with the homeless we learned that many must sell their blood to survive. One man, Mike, explained to me that he no longer needed to sell blood after his Social Security and Veteran’s benefits started, but he continues because he knew that his gift would save lives. He felt that he had little else to offer but was thankful to be alive and to have a home now and he wanted to continue to give something back so others could also live. I was thoroughly moved that this person who had been through so much wanted to give the best he had to help others. Remarkably he also cares for the many stray cats in his apartment complex.


In 2005 Pastor Judy Beaumont was diagnosed with a rare type of Leukemia called APL.  Her white cell count bottomed out and her blood was unable to nurture her body. This was a time of much prayer of the faithful and much love for her. Some of our church members also gave blood to be banked for her. She had massive infusions of chemo and was hospitalized for almost a month when she sustained infections during this time of lowest immunities.  She needed blood and platelet transfusions.  As I sat with her through these I could see the color return to her face and the energy return to her body.  I could literally see the life giving properties of blood.  I could hear the old hymn in my head “There is power, power, wonder- working power in the blood, of the Lamb….”  While I cannot hold with sacrificial atonement I accept that it was an early belief of God’s Hebrew people and I know for sure that there is power in the blood, and in the giving of blood for love.  Now, I welcomed the sight of blood and thanked God for it. And, within two years, thanks be to God and prayer and an excellent Cancer Doctor, James Reeves, she was pronounced cured of this cancer. She has now been free of it for ten years and remains an active and energetic servant of God.

Her understanding of the role of Christians before, during and after her bout with leukemia is to follow Christ- “body broken, blood poured out”. This simply, and not so simply means, to give your ALL in loving and serving God and one another.  As she said in a sermon given in 2012, “(We put ourselves in the bread and in the wine to be changed even as the bread and wine are changed into Christ we too are changed into the body and the blood of Christ)…. Just think of what a different world we would have if all those who claim to be Christian really make it important to be life-giving to others. So when today you hear the words: You are the Blood of Christ, say back your AMEN (I agree) and mean it-YES, I believe I am the blood of Christ and I will be life-giving for others. This change of bread and wine, of you, of me, of the church, of us-such change is possible because Jesus says so: “This-and you- my body. This and you-my blood. Do this and remember me”.  And we will answer by saying AMEN to what we are.

Theologian Megan McKenna (author of On Your Mark: Orbis Books, 2006) tells a story from the Viet Nam war era that corresponds to the Gospel (Mark 14) where Jesus offers his own life, his body and blood, as symbolic of the new covenant. During that tragic war an orphanage was bombed. One little girl was losing blood fast and needed a transfusion.  The other children were asked and were too frightened to comply. Finally one little boy came forward. He cried and watched the little girl’s face to see if new life was entering her. Finally a Vietnamese woman was able to talk with and comfort him. When asked why he was finally able to calm down, she explained that he thought he was dying because she got his blood and his life. “Then why did he do it”, the doctors asked? He said simply: “She’s my friend, I had to help her”.  Ah yes, this is exactly what Jesus did, as he said (John 15:13-14a) “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends, and you are my friends….” (TIB).

I reflect here too on the transfusions the church needs to really be the Body of Christ. It needs to be compassionate to all, a friend to all, including all and excluding no one at the Table. It needs, as Pope Francis has said, to return to simplicity and a priority for serving the poor. It needs to become more Christ-like. “It “ I say, but I simply mean “we”. We need the transfusion of the holy blood of Christ to become life giving as Christ was.

The readings from Exodus (24:3-8) and Hebrews (9:11-15) speak of blood as sealing the first covenant and the new covenant between God and God’s people.  We still say important promises are “sealed in blood”, though we do not mean it literally. The Gospel (Mark 14:12-16, 22-26) shows how far God was willing to go for God’s friends-for us. For telling the truth and showing us how to love God and one another, Jesus met painful rejection, suffering and a violent death. Yet his essential non-violence and selfless giving wins out in resurrection and life eternal, for him and for us. McKenna quotes theologian David Hamm reflecting on this Last Supper:  “Now they are quite literally given Jesus’ cup to share. Continuing to be his disciples will entail a full giving of self somehow like his. Such laying down of one’s life-in a loving service that may or may not include martyrdom-is the life-blood of the covenant community called the body of Christ.  Jesus’ giving of his blood provides not only the model but the source of this new covenant life….Sharing in the sacramental body and blood entails behaving as one body by donating the gift of life to one another. (“The Word’, America, May 24, 1997).

Reflect with me on how it feels to give yourself away so others may live. In our Tuesday ministry this week Lauretta, a formerly homeless woman who had as she describes, “been to hell and back” shared that she was full of joy because she was welcomed to do volunteer service at a local food bank.  Everyone listened and clapped as she described what she did and how happy it made her feel to give others food and hear that it was appreciated. Roger was the first man we helped out of homelessness in Fort Myers, some seven years ago now.  His unstable diabetes is still life threatening.  He said that he has found meaning in his life by helping other needy people like Jesus did and as our ministry does. He brings a donation in a white envelope every time he comes and it is marked as “Roger’s Foundation for the Poor”. He asks that we give it directly to someone in need and we are very happy to do so.  Gary, formerly homeless and an elder in our church who leads Sunday Liturgy with us, listened carefully as I told the group of my recent emotional and spiritual struggle with violence and drive by shootings in our community and how it depleted my energy until I realized that there was nothing I could do about it except to keep on serving, preaching and loving with the heart of God.  I could not change people’s loyalty to the “ghetto code” of tolerating violence out of fear and misplaced loyalty, but God could.  Gary literally beamed and said that he was so glad I would keep loving “our people” with the heart of God because that gave him strength to do that too-we needed each other. Indeed, he has to live where the bullets fly but he is not afraid anymore because he is consumed by love. All I could add was AMEN!

IMG_0036Mr. Gary, Roger and Linuel with Pastor JudyL

But here I can add that loving with God’s heart, serving God’s poor and struggling people, is  often as hard as it is joyful and only through prayer and the support of all of the Body of Christ can we do it. And so, before you take Holy Communion and hear those words again ask yourself “Am I willing to be the body and blood of Christ? And if you are, give yourself away and start praying.

Love and blessings,

Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP

Co-Pastor the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community

“Our Kind of Priest”

One of our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community members,Patricia Byrne, sent us this story about a wonderful people’s priest in Boston. She said “this is your kind of priest”, and she is right. It is by Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe,June 1, 2015. As we pray for vocations let us say thanks for Fr. Dan Finn and pray for many more women and men like him to answer the call to the priesthood and to serving all of God’s people,especially the poorest and most outcast. Thanks to Patricia for sending this.

Love and prayers,

Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP

Parishoners said goodbye to Father Dan Finn after 22 years at St. Mark’s in Dorchester.
Parishoners said goodbye to Father Dan Finn after 22 years at St. Mark’s in Dorchester.

By Kevin Cullen GLOBE COLUMNIST JUNE 01, 2015
The rain was holding off and the people who had attended the Spanish Mass at St. Mark’s were holding on, enjoying the vibe at the back of the church and on the steps overlooking Dorchester Avenue.

Some stayed for the noon Mass, too, because it was Father Dan’s last at St. Mark’s.
Staying at any one church for 22 years is a rarity these days. The Rev. Dan Finn arrived at St. Mark’s the same year that Bill Clinton arrived at the White House, and he had a much longer, better run.

Father Dan’s last Mass was more than a celebration of one priest’s service. It was a metaphor for a changing Boston, a changed Dorchester. Father Dan’s replacement is a terrific 44-year-old priest, the Rev. Linh Nguyen, who moved from Vietnam to Dorchester with his family when he was 15.

One of the first priests he met in Dorchester was Father Dan, then at St. Peter’s. He was still learning English, but Father Dan’s smile was easy to understand in any language.

Father Linh is the first Vietnamese pastor in Dorchester but won’t be the last. It’s a natural transition, the ecclesiastical equivalent of the Irish pubs giving way to Vietnamese restaurants from Savin Hill to Ashmont.

On Sunday, as Father Dan made his way to the back of the church for the opening procession, spontaneous applause washed over him. He blushed.

There’s an old joke that people were loath to hang their winter jackets near the door at St. Mark’s because Father Dan would give them away. Except it wasn’t a joke. He really did that. He let homeless people sleep in the church, too.

“What’s the use of recognizing Jesus in bread and wine in here if we don’t recognize him out there on the street?” Father Dan said, pointing toward Dot Ave.

A church, any church, is useless if it is defined and confined by walls. That’s why he had his own version of the Freedom Trail painted down the middle aisle at St. Mark’s, leading outside.

“We should always be trying to make the connection between the sanctuary and the street, the church and the world,” he said.

On the altar, Father Dan was surrounded by priests and deacons whose faces were black and white and yellow and brown. The congregation was the same mosaic. There were even red faces in the pews; Irish construction workers are not big on sunscreen.

Father Dan paid tribute to Archbishop Oscar Romero, shot dead in El Salvador 35 years ago.

“He stood for the poor and those on the margins,” he said.

You could say the same of Father Dan Finn. In part because he is an immigrant, Father Dan was especially kind to newcomers. He ran citizenship and English as a Second Language classes at the church.

“You don’t have to join the Navy to see the world,” he said. “Just come to St. Mark’s.”

Because he is Irish, Father Dan couldn’t resist singing from the pulpit. He serenaded us with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Love Changes Everything.” He quoted Emily Dickinson, then urged us to “see with the eyes of the heart.”

When the Mass had ended, Elizabeth Metelus, a native of Haiti, embraced Father Dan at the back of the church and said she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry because she felt in between.

On the steps outside, people recreated a group photo from years ago, lest the bean counters question the vitality of their parish. Father Dan stood in the middle of them, a Dorchester rainbow, smiling.

Passing cars on Dot Ave honked in approval.

There was a reception waiting in the church hall, but everybody lingered, daring the rain, hugging Father Dan.

The bagpipes faded and people clamored around Father Dan, posing for photos. Old ladies hugged him so tight it looked like he might break.

Somebody asked him how he felt.

“Blessed,” Father Dan Finn said, looking around one last time with the eyes of his heart. “I feel blessed.”

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeCullen.

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