Yesterday our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers gathered to celebrate the Second Sunday in Ordinary time where the Gospel is the Wedding Feast at Cana (John 2:1-11) but it was no ordinary celebration for many reasons. First, it is never ordinary when God’s people gather for worship and fellowship. Then,we were blessed with having our visiting Priest from Kansas City, Missouri, Rev. Judith McKloskey celebrating with Pastor Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia and me.And it was also the the Sunday before the birthday celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the World Day of Prayer for Migrants and Refugees, both celebrations so relevant to ur community members. And, last but not least on this day of celebrating the miracle at the wedding feast at Cana, we also celebrated the marriage of our member Maya Rismay to Lamar Cummings. They were married civilly after Lamar graduated from FGCU in December but wanted the blessing of the Church and the community of Christ which we were delighted to give. We also had five birthday blessings to give. What a joyful day of celebration for our community.
Thirty-seven people attended, ranging in age from 1 to 84, black, white, Hispanic, biracial,male, female, gay and straight, well and ill, and the economically poor, formerly homeless, well off and in those between. This included eight people whose families were recent immigrants and some fleeing from oppression from several countries. Fourteen of those attending were under the age of 25 and our hopes for the future of the church were revived. Hank Tessandori who acts as our Deacon said a prayer related to Martin Luther King’s dream. He acknowledged that the times we now live in are not embracing the dream of the unity of all and the dignity of each one, but to be here in this small space with our church helps us lift our hopes once again. Kathy and Bill Carpenter who visited from Cape Cod Mass said they were delighted to be with us and part of the diversity of our church. They attend RCWP priest, Rev. Marie David’s Community in Harwichport and Kathy is studying to be a priest in the Apostolic Catholic tradition.
The Hebrew Scripture text of the day shows our loving God “espousing” God’s people, calling them “My Delight” as young marrieds may call each other (Isaiah 62:1-5). The original Epistle reading (I Corinthians 12: 4-11) emphasizes that God gifts each of us and the gifts are to be shared in the community-not for self but for the community. Our Epistle was I Cor. 13 where the nature of love is beautifully described. In the Gospel Jesus begins his public ministry at a wedding where the wine runs out at his mother, Mary’s request. What he does is amazing, not only does he fill 6 huge jugs used for ritual cleansing with the best wine of the event, thereby saving the dignity of the bridegroom’s family, but he metaphorically substitutes plenty, abundance and joy for an emphasis on legalisms. He BECOMES the best wine that was saved for last. The love and compassion and outreach to the poor, the foreigner, the “unclean” and outcast that follows in his ministry and his challenging of rules that may cripple rather than free shows us what the people of God should do and be-living for love and justice so that we too are God’s delight like Jesus.
The blessing for Maya and Lamar Cummings fit naturally in after the Homily. The love of the young couple embraced all there.
And afterward we enjoyed a nutritious and delicious hot meal cooked by Kat6hy Roddy. And the bride and groom cut and served their cake. And a Birthday cake was served for the five who had birthdays as well. The love of this community was palpable and something we could each take home and savor.
Our next gathering for worship will be on March 2nd.
Thanks be to God!
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Good shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community Fort Myers, Florida
It is with great joy that we report that Dianne Willman, 44, was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest on 1/19/2019 in Klipkerk at Mosaiek, Fairland, Johannesburg, South Africa at 2PM South African time. Bishop Patricia Fresen of Roman Catholic WomenPriests (International RCWP) was the ordaining bishop.The sacred ordination following traditional form was attended by loved ones and supporters filled with the Spirit and happiness for her and for the Roman Catholic Church sorely in need of renewal and new servant leadership. Rev.Caryl Conroy Johnson of the USA, Eastern Region of RCWP also attended the holy Mass. The Mass of Holy Orders is essentially traditional except that the ordinand prostrates herself before the altar and not before the bishop.
Dianne’s ordination to the priesthood fulfills a call that Dianne first experienced as a child attending Catholic School near Durban, South Africa. Before university studies Dianne spent a year of discernment within a religious congregation, the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood. Although life with this Order drew her, her passion for social justice that is lived in the world was the stronger call. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Natal and her Masters Degree in Law at the University of the Witwatersrand. She is currently completing the final stages of a Masters degree in Philosophy/Theology/Spirituality and is undergoing training as a Spiritual Director.
She has worked for 20 years in various legal capacities. During 2012 she served for four months as legal aide to the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations. She participated in the UN Commission on the Status of Women dedicated ato the empowerment of women and the promotion of gender equality. This opportunity deepened her insights in the connections between religion and gender. Dianne is amember of Catholic reform groups like We Are All Church, South Africa. She is also a retreat facilitator and serves on the Board of an integrated spirituality Center known as Bohareng.
A defining moment regarding the priesthood came to Dianne while on a pilgrimage to Israel in 2004. As she walked where Jesus walked she affirmed her call to priesthood. She knew she would fulfill the call when the time was right and purchased her stole , chalice and paten in trust and anticipation. After completing the program of discernment and preparation with RCWP she was ready to answer the call with “with God’s help I am ready”. Her intimate love for Christ and God’s people will now include her continued fight for the dignity, respect and equality of all people and sacramental ministry. Her courage to do this contra legem but with valid Holy Orders guides her every action. Although the personal cost of answering the call is high, on a broader level Dianne strongly believes that the need for action to usher in a new era of the Spirit is higher, where it can be seen that women can represent the image of Christ and all are welcome at the Table. Having experienced life in a country that suffered under the oppressive laws of Apartheid, serving as a lawyer, and loving a church that forbid her priestly participation Dianne is willing to transgress Canon Law because, like the laws of Apartheid, it is unjust law. She believes that such law cannot in good conscience be justifiably obeyed. She stands willing and able to serve God’s holy people, all of them, as a Roman Catholic Priest.
Congratulations Reverend Dianne and thanks be to God!
Rev. Dr. Judith Lee, RCWP
Good shepherd Ministry of SW Florida, USA