A Time Of Celebration: September at Good Shepherd Ministries
As summer slowly marched to a close we have had cause to celebrate many blessings and special occasions at Good Shepherd Ministries of Southwest, Florida. We were able to add a Minister to the Sick to our team just in time as we had several hospitalizations and hospice calls from our people. We helped a family travel to Florida to join their Mom’s cancer support team. We celebrated an adult baptism and five birthdays and we continued to develop our work with families, children and youth. We helped twenty young people from 5-21 get a good start in school. We also helped to reestablish a home for an evicted family of seven and helped others to maintain housing by assisting in various ways.
We often pray for laborers to join us in our work. This prayer was answered when one of our recent church members, Patricia Byrne, RN,MA ( a Nurse and former Chaplain, who holds a degree in Pastoral Counseling and Ministry from Boston College volunteered for this ministry. She has been visiting and comforting our sick members, participating in important team meetings at facilities and advocating for the medical needs of our people. We are so blessed to have her with us and welcome her aboard!
Here is our Minister for the sick, Patricia Byrne (left) with Brenda whom she sponsored for BaptismWe met Brenda in our outdoor ministry in the local Lion’s Park in 2007. Brenda loved to attend our worship service and sing hymns for us. Yet, her uncontrolled epilepsy often necessitated an ambulance call or trip to Lee Memorial Hospital which was next to the park. She had no income or medical coverage at the time and moved from pillar to post with other homeless individuals. Within two year’s of shepherding we were able to help her reinstate her Disability benefits, get Medicaid coverage and move to subsidized housing for the disabled. This housing was not in Lee County but we stayed in touch over the years until she returned to us, once again homeless in late March of 2015. By April she had an apartment for her and her little dog and was reconnected to medical services. Her epilepsy is not completely controlled, but is now only one of her medical problems and she is blessed to have Pat as one of her God-Mothers. ( Her other God-Mother is Pearl Cudjoe and God-Father, Hank Tessandori. Brenda elected Baptism to seal her life’s new beginnings with the blessings of water and the Holy Spirit, to affirm her faith and become part of the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community where she is a faithful member assisting us with our Kindergarden and First Graders. Our church was blessed to witness this beautiful new beginning.
Brenda is presented for Baptism
Baptized and Given the White Garment and the Light of Christ
Brenda also shared her Profession as she celebrated her First Holy Communion as part of the Catholic Community
Gina , 5, and members of her “Littles” Class looks on: Our youngest kids are full of joy and every Sunday is a celebration for
them:We love to Celebrate Birthdays Too: Sunday September 13th was our Linda Maybin’s birthday. She assists us in many ways including transporting our youth. Brenda’s Birthday is the 15th and Jolinda Terrell’s 18th Birthday on September 18, so we celebrated all three together. Jolinda, Nesha, is now 18 and also starting her first job at Walmart. She says she is looking forward to voting for the first time and is studying what the candidates are offering to help everyone move forward, not just the well to do. Our teen class this Sunday had a heated discussion about finding the Presidential candidate who was really for the people. The lessons had to do with inclusion and they were also ending their summer unit on justice as a Gospel imperative.
Lauretta and Gary, two of our church “elders”. Celebrating Lauretta’s 55th Birthday.
In our Tuesday Ministry we celebrated Louis’ September 5th Birthday and reflected that he, like Roger were with our ministry since 2007. Roger was the first to ask for prayer and worship in our park ministry. Louis is on the left, then Roger, Robert and Lin. Our work is not finished as one of these, Robert, who was baptized and confirmed in 2014, is still in need of benefits and housing and is moving toward both. Presently Robert is living at the church and is our caretaker. We also celebrated Lauretta’s September 16th Birthday. Lauretta, too, is one of our first members from the park ministry. Her story,like Roger’s is told in my book Come By Here: Church With the Poor (America Star books.com/Publishamerica.com). Her generous spirit and love for others continues and on Sunday she gave Brenda a special Ecclesia Ministry for the Homeless Cross that meant a great deal to Brenda. On Tuesdays we also have Phyllis and her grandchildren, our faithful Mary, and Brenda and her friend Kelly with her child Isabella for a hot lunch and prayer time and social time. And sometimes we have special visitors like Sandra Wenger from Kentucky and her friends from Naples who minister with us.
Thanks be to God for this month of ministering with God’s beautiful people!
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida