Archive | January 2023

The Will To Live- A Parable of a Cat: Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God…..” (Luke 12:6-7-NIV) and in the New American Bible, the translation reads “Yet not one of them is neglected by God”. Both versions go on: “In fact, even the hairs on your head are counted! Don’t be afraid: You are worth more than a whole flock of sparrows”. Another very close version of these words of Jesus are also recorded in the Gospel of Matthew 10:29-31. Clearly, Jesus was interested in conveying the importance of all living things to our loving God, and in telling each of us to remember our importance to God. We are known and we are loved by our loving God. Pause a minute and let that sink in.

Later in Luke 12 (27-29) we are also reminded that The splendor of the lilies and flowers of the field is God’s gift of clothing to them, we are not to worry about what we will wear or eat or drink, because God knows our needs…and provides for all living things. We are to focus on building the world as God intended it -where all needs are met and no one is left out or left behind-for justice in its truest sense-and this is called ” seeking the kingdom of God” which Jesus came to enact, enliven and promote. And we are invited to follow Jesus in this, and in what it takes to make this happen.

But when we are worried about not having our basic needs met, or feeling that no one cares about us, or we just can’t find our way, we may waver in our work for the kingdom to come and become focussed on ourselves in a way that is not healthy for us or for the rest of the world. My guess would be that most of us have sometimes thought “I just feel like giving up”- “It’s all too hard for me”. And it is then that Jesus reminds us how much we are remembered and loved by God.

Even at our lowest, even when most discouraged or frightened or in despair over our lives we are encouraged by Jesus to take heart and buy back into life-to hold fast to the God-given will to live. To LIVE- to really live not go through the motions-not to give up- for God has not frogotten or neglected even the tiniest bird, and we are so known and loved that every hair on our head is counted by God…Wow!

Now buying into life and living every day to build the kingdom of God-the world as it was intended with true justice for all-is not at all easy when things are difficult in our lives. But, as is noted in the passages above about the sparrows and the flowers of the field, we have a lot to learn from all of God’s creatures and creation in trying to do this.


So now I will tell you Frankie’s story to open your heart and to encourage you. Frankie’s full name is Frank Sinatra Cat and he is an older cat with startling blue eyes who has lived most of his life outside and at the mercy of people who would feed him and give him the barest of shelter. Below is Frankie as he is now, but he almost did not make it to this state of health.

I first met Frankie about ten years ago when he followed some other cats to the place where I put out food for the kitties abandoned in the woods behind my house. I love my lake and all of the trees in back of my house. As you may have read in other blogs it is my peaceful and holy place. But I hated the fact that the woods behind the houses on the next street over, across the lake, were full of unwanted cats and kittens. Some had already found their way here, and finding my kitties sitting outside in the sun enjoying their days, attracted them. I felt I could not add any more but one was so persistent. Potsy actually started living on top of my screened lanai until he fell in. By then my cats knew him and in he came. The plight of the cats broke my heart and my cat population and my catching, neutering and adopting out some of them grew accordingly.

The other cats Frankie followed eventually went their own way except for Brooklyn who found his way in by finding and engaging me whenever I stepped out of the house. Brooklyn and Frankie looked very much alike, Siamese, tabby and white, large and blue eyed. But Brooklyn did not like Frankie. He would fight horribly with him and despite my trying to intervene, actually chased him away. One reason I let Brooklyn in was so that Frankie could still come and eat. But Frankie was no where to be seen for several months. Then, over a year later I saw him down the street being fed by some neighbors. He stayed near their garage but did not live with them. Sometimes he sat happily outside of the garage. Sometimes they went away and he did not eat for days or longer. He just laid nearby and waited. Another neighbor and I fed him at those times. So he knew us as people who did care about him, but he was no longer one to approach people. Maybe in our terrible rainy seasons he did stay inside of their garage, maybe not. But he kept on eating there as he could for years. He never came back to visit me at home- perhaps still fearful of Brooklyn, who sadly passed away with neurological disease rendering him unable to walk, in 2020.

About a year and a half ago an ill cared for young cat who lived outside in front of a house where he was sometimes fed developed an awful case of sarcoptic mange. The poor little fellow was covered in scales so that he was unrecognizable as a cat. I saw him once near Frankie but was not even sure what kind of animal he was. I wanted so much to help him but then he disappeared until another neighbor saw him near his “home” and called Animal Control. The officers from Animal Control captured him and said it was the worst case they had ever seen. He would be put down. We were all so saddened by this.

I was worried about Frankie as he was near this little fellow. In a few weeks Frankie disappeared from the place where he ate down the street. We all thought he had died. But, lo and behold, one day he appeared on my front porch. (There are other stories of cats coming here when ill or dying but I will not tell them now. Somehow cats know who will help them. I think maybe God leads them to help). He settled in under a chair and did not leave. He was also infected by the killer mange. But it had not gone quite as far as with the little cat. I built trust with him by feeding and talking with him. Soon he laid down and could not get up. So I was able to get him to our wonderful and caring Vet, Dr. Terry Sutton. Below is how Frankie looked when he got here. The mange covered all of his color and was spreading fast.

Dr. Sutton immediately, skillfully and compassionately went about the challenging process of treating him. From the start it was touch and go. After an initial hospitalization I brought him back for treatment regularly for four months as he continued to live on the porch. He was clearly trying to eat and fighting for his life. In that time we were so gratified to see that his mange was indeed cured. But he languished and tests revealed that he was in the final stage of Feline Aids. His eyes clouded over and he lost his sight. But he was still fighting to live. He would not give up. It was amazing.

I was able to house him in my Aviary,also connected to the house, as he could not bother or get near the birds and it was a sunny, safe and warm spot. There, he slowly improved each day.

His color came back and he could negotiate the area quite well without seeing. He was still fighting and began to eat quite well. He related to me increasingly well, but not closely. When the next awful rainy season came he was flooded out and he came into my bedroom adjourning the aviary and lived under the bed. It took about four months until he came out from under the bed into the rest of the room and in and out of the aviary. He began to actually start enjoying his life and was playing like a kitten!

It took a few more months until he found his way throughout the house. And in the last few months he found his way out of the cat door and he sits on the lanai with the other cats. And, his eyesight has improved. He can see shapes now and perhaps more. He can negotiate the whole house and the lanai. He is a happy cat who simply fought to live and did not give up. He has fit himself into the kitty group here and has a place where he is loved and accepted. I think the urgent,compassionate and immediate care from Dr. Terry Sutton saved him and reinforced his will to live. And the meeting of his basic needs and care here made it possible for him to succeed. But what was amazing was his will to live: he was covered in scales, then weak and blind but he fought on. And here he is today: one happy kitty.

If you have troubles and waver in the will to continue on and really live, take heart. God provides for all of God’s precious creatures and you are even more precious to God than you can ever understand.


Pastor Judy

Rev. Dr. Judith AB Lee, RCWP

Good Shepherd Ministries of Florida

Speak Their Names: Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest

Throughout history women’s names have been omitted from important accounts and their presence omitted from events. This is particularly true in the Holy Scriptures. In using one subject index to the Bible I was only able to count the mention of less than 20 women’s names from the Hebrew Scriptures through the New Testament. And some of the earlier stories were not salutory toward the women who “tempted” the more righteous men, etc. And , as we know, poor Eve got blamed for the “first sin” and had to blame the snake as she could certainly not blame Adam, the man.

The New Testament is not much better. For example, when we read of Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000 women don’t even get to be a number. Both times we read “”…about 5,000 men, besides women and children”. And, “…about four thousand, besides women and children.” So he fed more than twice those numbers if women and children were included as human beings. Just think of all those women who also followed Jesus, heard Jesus, and brought their children to hear Jesus. Just think of the women Jesus healed and included in those near him that the writer immersed in (probably) his culture omitted from the story. In fairness to the Gospel writers we are at least told that some nameless women, including foreign women, were healed because of their great faith. We are told of Peter’s wife’s mother’s healing though neither his wife nor mother-in-law have names.

We are told of some women disciples by name and so we want to remember their names. We are told that Mary of Magdala was healed perhaps seven times and that she became arguably Jesus’ closest and most faithful follower along with his mother Mary and another Mary and Salome, Joanna and Susanna and many other women who were faithful even to the cross and the grave. Jesus appeared first to these women after his resurrection. (See for example, Mark 15:40 and Mark 16, and Matthew 27 and 28.) In Luke 24: 9 we learn that the disciples did not even believe the report of the women and had to go find out for themselves. And finally even within the traditional Church, Mary of Magdala who was sent to tell the disciples of his rising (John 20:10-18) is considered “the Apostle to the Apostles”.

The Apostle Paul has a checkered record regarding women. Several of his pronouncements clearly place women as subordinate to their husbands as was culturally thought, even saying they should be silent in church, (See I Corinthians 11:3 and 14:34 .) But he also recognizes the importance of the couple Priscilla and Aquila in his work, putting Priscilla’s name first which indicates her possible leadership( Acts 18) and he also recognizes Deaconess Phoebe and the leadership of other women who provided homes and provisions for the disciples. He also describes the disciples speaking to groups of women who were responsive to the Gospel. He notes, for example the conversion of Lydia, a business woman influential in the community. And so we have some more names to remember.

But my favorite account of women named by Paul and two of my favorite names called by Paul are “Lois and Eunice”.

Paul, who is ill and in prison, is speaking to his “spiritual son” Timothy of Lystra (modern day Turkey) to whom he is passing on his mantel in doing the work of evangelization of the known world. He says (2 Timothy 1:1-8):

“I am grateful to God…as I remember you constantly in my prayers…I yearn to see you again…as I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and that I am confident lives also in you. For this reason ,I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands…”

Here Paul honors the faith and the work of Timothy’s Grandmother Lois, and Mother Eunice in passing on the faith to Timothy. Paul could then help Timothy to go to the next steps in deepening that faith through Paul’s imparting of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. This is similar to our Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and of Holy Orders. Paul is recognizing that he is building on the faith that was imparted through Timothy’s Grandmother and Mother, and he uses their names Lois and Eunice.



I particularly love this passage as my faith was initially passed on from my Grandmother, Ella, and also in a different way, from my Mother, Anne. I was blessed to grow up in my Grandma’s little house in Brooklyn, New York on the border of Bedford-Stuyvesant, with my mother and two Uncles, Jack and Warren. My Grandmother, Ella Adelaide Shotwell Robinson Weinmann, was on fire with her faith in Jesus Christ and passed it on to all in her sphere, even the neighbors and church members she sat on the stoop with at the end of the day. It seemed to me that everyone in our large extended family and in the neighborhood came to my Grandmother with issues regarding the need for faith. And often after listening to them she would pray with them.

My Mother, Anne Marie Weinmann Beach, taught me how to pray every night before I went to bed. She would say the prayers with me. Her gentleness and acceptance of me and all people, her love of animals, and her endurance under the fire of her own demons and the loss of my father to abandonment when I was two, and the pressures of entering the work world where women were still objects, could go unnoticed. She could appear fragile but her strength and faith were never lost. She was beautiful from the outside in and the inside out and her beauty brightened our world. Her love of art and poetry and education nurtured my spirit and her conversation and attention grew my intellect.

My Grandmother prayed with me often as she read the Scriptures. I was blessed to read the Bible twice with her, just about in its entirety, by the time I was fourteen and she taught me as we read. I was so blessed! I can see my wonderful Pastors, Rev. Dave Ver Nooy and Rev. Melvin G. Williams and my Youth Group leader and mentor, Grace Thorpe (Brathwaite) visiting with her and kneeling down on the floor with her as she led them in prayer. Indeed Nana encouraged me to go to church regularly and passed me on to them for the next steps even as Lois had passed on her grandson Timothy to Paul. I learned viscerally of Jesus love from her. She had courage as well and would not move us when the neighborhood turned from mostly white to nearly all black. She loved our neighbors and stayed put with a lesson I shall never forget as all of our nearby relatives moved away. I first met Jesus there with her kneeling on that linoleum floor. Her love of Jesus and all of God’s people was all encompassing and her teaching gentle and full of wisdom and compassion. She often sat at the front window and I knew all was well when I saw her there. All of the neighbors greeted her with love and respect, and she greeted them likewise. I was so blessed! Grandma at her window:

Grandma, ELLA, whom I called both Grandma and Nana, was sitting on the stoop reading her Bible when Uncle Jack brought her flowers for Mother’s Day!

Below is my beautiful Mother, ANNE

Above Anne has just been exhibiting at the Washington Square Art Show and had sold a painting! and below -our shared love of animals.

Below is my first mentor in the faith, GRACE Thorpe Brathwaite, our much loved Youth Group Leader at a reunion of our Youth Group in 2002. Grace was brilliant, had two theological degrees, and knew and taught us the Scriptures with a love and energy that made them irresistible to even teenagers and young adults. And we also had a great deal of much needed fun with her. She left us to go to the Sudan as a Missionary. When she returned she helped me to enter Hunter College where she had gone as an undergraduate. Her support in this was essential as it was a new world in Manhattan for me. It was hard to let her go but we kept in touch afterward and throughout our lives. She had a hard time accepting my gayness/ orientation once I finally knew it at age 30, but she wrestled with it and with Pastor David’s help eventually accepted me fully again. She is bottom left and her sister Evelyn is in back of her next to me. Jackie and Pat Copeland from the Youth Group are there as well, and the then current church Pastor Genevieve Brooks.

Below in 2015 Grace and Evelyn and Judy Beaumont and I are visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The picture is slightly out of focus but precious to me. Like Ella and Anne, Grace has now gone home to God, as has Evelyn and my friend Pat Copeland.





Perhaps you will reflect on your life and sing the names of your leaders in faith. If you like, hit Comment here and list their names and then we can have a compendium of faith filled women who passed it on to us. They should be named and cherished forever.

Bless you as you pass it on to others,

Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP

Rev. Judith AB Lee, Good Shepherd Ministries of Fort Myers

Like Saul on the Road to Damascus: Life after Death-Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest

This week in the readings of the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian denominations we experience the totally dramatic conversion of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus (Acts 22:3-16 and Acts 9:1-22). Saul, a very devout Jew was zealous in persecuting the followers of Jesus, followers of The Way. On this day he was going to Damascus to capture Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem in chains for their punishment. But God had other ideas. Saul says “about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me:’ I replied ‘Who are you, sir?’ The reply came “I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’ My companions saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me. I asked, ‘What shall I do, sir’? The Lord answered me, ‘Get up and go to Damascus and there you will be told about everything appointed for you to do’.”

Saul was blinded for three days and ate or drank nothing until the disciple of Jesus, Ananais, was sent to him and explained what was happening to him. Ananias laid hands on him to receive his sight and said “be filled with the Holy Spirit”. After recovering his sight and strength Saul (who became the Apostle Paul as we know) stayed a while with the disciples of Christ in Damascus and “began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. All who heard him were astounded…” and “confounded” as he convinced them of the living Christ.

How amazing was this experience of Saul! The living resurrected Jesus appeared to him as he was on his way to do still more persecutions of Christ followers. And, indeed, with the power of this experience he immediately turned his life around and followed Jesus, the Christ ,he had met on the road. The rest of his life was testifying to his experience with the living Christ. Saul became Paul and was the major instrument of opening the Good News of Jesus Christ, to people of all religions , races and nations-to the Jews and to the non-Jews, the Gentiles, throughout the known world.

Now, I am a Priest and a Pastor, I have known faith and the love of Jesus since my childhood and youth. For many reasons thereafter I had a steady but bumpy road in faith and service. God held on to me on the roller coaster life can be, and I held on. I grew closer to our loving God once again in my forties. But I have never been one to seek such “inexplicable” experiences like Paul’s or to fully understand them. I am aware how hard they are to believe- but know first hand that they do indeed happen as God finds ways to reach us and turn our lives around and prepare us for next chapters.

Now, I will share with you an amazing experience of my own.

On January 1, 2018 my beloved life and ministry partner of 29 years, Rev. Judith Beaumont, peacefully and beautifully went home to our loving and waiting God. Her faithful sister, Jill Bergner and I held her hands as she blessed us with her final breath . Our cat Timothy who also had cancer remained at her side. Within moments of her dying Jill and I said to each other , “she has gone home–she is risen”. We knew this.

Judy Beaumont, a former Benedictine Sister of 34 years, was a peace activist imprisoned for her Trident Nein Plowshares actions, and the Executive Director of My Sisters Place in Hartford, Ct, a four tier program for homeless women and children as well as mentally ill women and men. She was a selfless worker with the church in Fort Myers including administrating a large Hispanic parish and a being a revered Faith Formation Director in another large parish. She was the most courageous, holy, and amazing woman I would ever know. With deep ingrained humility she would never want me to sing her praises, but others may be challenged and changed by knowing her story. A selfless, untiring, dynamo for God’s loving service all her life she also had experienced four cancers in the last fifteen years. Treatment for the first three probably led to the fourth which was AML, but she was faith filled as ever and so thankful to get through those cancers. After the first one, a rare Leukemia called APL, she was well again and by 2007 was moved to start and develop Good Shepherd Ministries with me. Her presence as we served the homeless and poor in Fort Myers, in the local park and then in a home we bought for a church and transitional shelter called Joshua House was nothing short of holy. She touched life after life that was turned around. She was dearly loved by all.

By 2012 she felt the call to Sacramental ministry and was ordained a Roman Catholic Woman Priest in the company of nearly 400 people who joyfully attended her ordination.

Her Ordination was just in time as she then had to carry our Good Shepherd Church alone for periods of time as I experienced two cancers from 2012-2016. Finally we were both healthy , but this did not last long. In later 2016 she was diagnosed with MDS, a blood disease that could turn into cancer. For many it does not. For her the diagnosis of AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) was in full force by 2017. Yet even as she fought for her life she continued to serve and until her end she blessed others. If you like you can read about her amazing life in her own words and mine in The Courage to Love and Serve: The Life Story of Rev. Judith Ann Beaumont–A Roman Catholic Woman Priest And a Saint For Our Times. (Judith A. B. Lee, 2020, Outskirts Press).

It is an understatement to say that I was devastated by losing her though I was relieved that her suffering was over and her new life with the risen Christ had begun. While I felt like I had lost my life and inspiration, with God’s help and the help of the Good Shepherd Community and my sister priests, Rev. Judith McKloskey of Kansas City and Rvda. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia, formerly of Colombia, who served with me ,and some close others I was able to keep Good Shepherd going even after Covid 19 hit. And I kept going as well. But in many ways I was running on empty.

Chapter 18 of The Courage to Love and Serve is called “The Long Walk Home”. I will summarize, excerpt and reflect on the part of Chapter 18 that relates to my understanding of what happened to Saul on the road to Tarsus-and on life after death. .

Fr. James Martin, SJ in his excellent book Jesus: A Pilgrimage ( 2014:Harper One) discusses “unexplainable encounters with the divine”. He is describing the Annunciation to Mary in this context. He notes that metaphors are often used to try to explain the mystical experiences some may have that are difficult to explain (p.46). I am not going to use a metaphor here and I will try to explain, but I will fall short unless you can read with the eyes of faith. I tell this in the context of faith. This is my experience of seeing Judy fully alive and blessing while I was at an Ordination of two deacons ten months after Judy went home to God.

Judy Stood Blessing the Deacons Fully Alive

“In October of 2018, while participating in the Ordination of two deacons in the Eastern Region of the Roman Catholic WomenPriest Movement, I was given the most special and unexpected gift that assured me of Judy’s life and of eternal life and resurrection beyond a doubt or worry.”….

“This was the first time I gathered with our group of priests since her transition home and it was a very hard time for me. Judy and others had been remembered in a Memorial Mass the day before. I was pleased to be with my priest sisters and at the Ordination especially,but being there without her made me feel lonely and sad.

When we sing the Litany of Saints as part of the rite of Holy Orders our deceased priests are added to the list of saints. When I heard Judy’s name in the Litany I began to cry quietly but visible enough that the priests near me, Marie and Marilyn, comforted me. When Judy’s name was prayed so beautifully by the cantor, Karen Murphy, it was clear that she was now among our saints and we were imploring her and them to pray for us. My heart had to realize: she is really there among the saints. And then I realized she is really here praying for us.

I went up and joined the group in laying hands on the deacons-to-be, Fran, a former Sister whom I would be mentoring, and young and brilliant Celie. I sat down and prayed for Celie and Fran. Fran was in my direct line of vision, maybe fifteen to twenty feet away, and suddenly I looked up at her as there was a long break in the line of people blessing her. The sun from the window was very bright around Fran but it became immeasurably brighter and whiter as our beloved Judy Beaumont, fully alive and whole, full of health, and very much herself as if in the prime of her years, stepped forward and placed her hands over Fran’s head. She was her best self with clear skin, not etched in lines or badly bruised and marred as at her end, with short dark rich wavy hair and bright hazel blue-green eyes shining, twinkling. She was in a startling white robe, maybe her alb, or another robe, no stole and no glasses. Her outstretched hands had no discolorations of the awful AML Leukemia. Her smile at Fran was beautiful and she and Fran were gently glowing. And then she turned directly toward me and smiled at me, her eyes loving and joyfully happy, looking at me and giving me her wonderful smile. Judy was so close I could easily move forward and touch her but I remained fixed in my seat. I was immediately filled with her love and life as her smile was just for me and I smiled back. I gasped aloud and felt the joy that she lives now, whole, beautiful, and joyful and full of blessing-even more fully blessing others now than when she lived on earth.

And suddenly I knew what Paul felt like when he was knocked off his horse on the road to Damascus as he saw, heard and encountered the living Jesus engulfed in the brightest of lights. The experience could not have been more real for it was the essence of reality. I was so reassured and so happy that she blessed the Deacons and appeared to me for those few moments, fully alive and whole. I was amazed, stunned and so deeply happy. She lives! She lives and blesses us!”

And so it was that God bestowed on me in the midst of my grief the gift of seeing my loved one, fully alive and whole and blessing our deacons. And so it was that a miracle occurred on that ordinary October afternoon in upstate New York. I had not wavered in my belief in resurrection but it was affirmed and made real to me a thousand times over by this experience. And from then on, I would give testimony to the reality of eternal life , from then on Jesus’ promise of eternal life for believers and doers of his word was completely real here and now-not something in the “bye and bye”. In John 11:25 Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life, s/he who believes in me will live, even though s/he dies.” And there she was fully alive!

” I was not surprised that she appeared in the holiness of the Ordination and not in a dream as I have had no dreams of seeing her and no other moments with this profound level of reality. Judy was holy and perhaps it was also all of us praying and the prayers and the holiness of the moment that brought her through the thin space that separates us from the other side. She came to affirm the ministerial priesthood of women that she so loved. She came to bless Fran and Celie…. And , she came to assure me in the depth of my faith and grief and missing her during the holy times that we shared together, that she is fully alive as Jesus promised she would be.”

“THANKS BE TO GOD for this great and unexpected gift!”

“I shared this experience in an email the following day to the other priests as I could not speak of it right away. Another priest present, Rev. Theresa Chabot wrote me that she too experienced a special and amazing white glow around Fran when there was a lull in the people blessing her. She thought it was when I saw Judy. And our sister priest Rvda. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia who was there but could not see me during the Ordination, told me that she too was overcome with tears during the sacred ceremony after the Litany of Saints and she thought it was because of Judy’s presence.

And so, by faith in Christ, in life eternal and the resurrection, and by the power of this experience I affirm joyfully that eternal life is real and “she lives” once again.

Judy’s life was totally fruitful and her death was the same. She imparted her spirit of love and seeking peace and justice to us to cherish forever and give to others. The full fruits of her life and death are yet to be reaped. They will be fruits of faith, of service, of justice and activism for peace and for the least among us-for inclusion. Perhaps those reading this will take hold of Judy’s love and the rich fruits of her life and carry it on-into their own lives and their families’ lives, into other places and lands. Yes, carry it on! ….

What a gift , for all of us, forever! AMEN!

Take heart, especially if you have lost a loved one!

Be blessed as you hold on to life and serve one another,

Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP

Good Shepherd Ministries of Fort Myers, Florida

This week in the readings of the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian denominations we experience the totally dramatic conversion of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus (Acts 22:3-16 and Acts 9:1-22). Saul, a very devout Jew was zealous in persecuting the followers of Jesus, followers of The Way. On this day he…

Women Renew the Church: Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest

This week I had the pleasure of visiting Rev. Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan, Bishop in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. In 2007, after I first heard her speak at a Mass in someone’s home in Southwest Florida, the world of Roman Catholic Women Priests was opened to me. She had been ordained a Roman Catholic Woman Priest in 2006 in the first ordination in the USA. An excellent, impassioned and dynamic speaker and homilist she talked of her call and how the Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement began.

It started on the Danube River in June of 2002 when seven extremely well prepared qualified women were ordained on a ship on the Danube River by a Roman Catholic Bishop in good standing with apostolic succession. Two women were ordained as Bishops shortly thereafter as the identity of the male bishops will be revealed after their deaths and the line will be passed on through the women bishops. There are many more bishops and ordained priests now and they are part of the international movement of Roman Catholic Women Priests.

It is twenty-one years after the Danube Seven were ordained and there are almost 300 ordained women priests and deacons throughout the world . I was ordained in 2008 and with Rev. Judy Beaumont,ordained in 2012, developed Good Shepherd Ministries of Southwest Florida that exists to the present time. It became a large ministry and church with the poor and homeless and formerly homeless of Fort Myers, Florida along with many supporters. Each of the almost 300 ordained priests has her own church or ministry and the movement continues on. You may wish to find out more about it.

Please see RCWP-USA- and for information ; and see bridgetmarysblogspot and and also for many stories of the ministries of Roman Catholic Women Priests.

There are several books written about the RCWP Movement by now but I will note two here: Women Find A Way: The Movement and Stories of Roman Catholic Women Priests by Elsie Hainz McGrath,Bridget Mary Meehan and Ida Raming, (, 2008) and Womanpriest: Tradition and Transgression in the Contemporary Roman Catholic Church by Jill Peterfeso, (Fordham University Press, 2020).

Here are some RC Women Priests in action:

Bishop Patricia Fresen ordaining Diane Willman in South Africa

Below are some Members of the Eastern Region of RCWP after and Ordination in Morristown, New Jersey

The baptism of Mr. Robert Swanson, one of 30 people baptized by Pastor Judy and Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Church


Below we have Rvda Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia in Ecuador

Mass in Ecuador

Christ Be Our Light, with Pastor Judy Beaumont, RCWP

Below we have Good Shepherd members Brenda, Ellen,Stella, and Pearl gathering outside with Pastors Judy and Marina Teresa during Covid

Some Members of the Good Shepherd Community in Fort Myers, Florida

I hope your interest is sparked and that you will go to the websites and books noted above and others to find out about the Roman Catholic Woman Priest Movement.


Rev. Dr. Judith Lee, RCWP

Pastor Good Shepherd Ministries, Fort Myers, Florida

A Parable of the Ducks: Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest

We have so much to learn from all of God’s creatures. When I moved to this unincorporated part of the Fort Myers area of Florida almost 25 years ago I was looking for something. I loved my home in Connecticut near the West Hartford campus of UConn where I taught Social Work for fourteen years. That was a big change from the New York City high rise where I lived when I taught at NYU. And I was a city girl, born and raised in Brooklyn and living in Manhattan for many years. In Manhattan I missed the yards, green grass and trees of Brooklyn. In one older NYU faculty housing building I was on the third floor and just loved the tree touching my window. Then I moved to a larger apartment on the 24th floor and green was gone. But I gained a literal bird’s eye view on the world and loved that too. Yet, the city was increasingly busy and I found myself longing for nature more than busy-ness and crowds.

West Hartford, Connecticut restored my green and that grounded me in a very basic way again. But for many reasons, after fourteen years, it was time to leave for a warmer new world and a new teaching job brought me here. As my partner, Judy Beaumont and I looked for a home near FGCU where I would teach again and develop the Master in Social Work program, we walked off the beaten path that the Real Estate agent gave us and found a big solid house with a small lake behind it.

The house appealed to us, but as we stood out back and felt the power of the little lake with its many creatures, the words of the 23rd Psalm came to me, and the voice of God whispered: “I am leading you beside still waters to restore your soul”. Judy B felt the peace of this little lake as well. And it was here that our souls were indeed restored. Together and singly each of us returned to our call to serve the homeless and to renew our relationships with our loving God and God’s people, especially those living on the margins. And as we did this our spirits were fed as we lived by and with our little lake and its creatures. Whenever life was difficult I went out to the lake and immediately a spirit of “Thank You God!” filled me. Whenever I was so distracted by life’s events that I forgot my Thank You to God, it would be quietly and strongly renewed right there. What a holy place!

I call this a “parable” , or story with a spiritual lesson like Jesus taught, “of the ducks” but all types of waterfowl and the peace and activity of the little lake teach me daily. This small lake seems to attract the young ones and the old ones of many sorts of water fowl.

Above, near our “decoy” duck, a family of Moorhens gather. These little birds develop bright red beaks when mature and they compete with the ducks and ibises, young egrets and herons and much larger birds for food and nesting spots. The Moorhen parents are courageous and slip right into the feeding sites to get food and feed the little ones. The little lake sustains them but in the winter particularly there are so many new species stopping by on their way south that my little feeding station where proper waterfowl food is provided is most welcomed. From the Moorhens we learn size does not matter-find a way to do what you have to do!

Below is a young Cormorant. She dives deep for her food and sometimes travels alone, unlike many other birds. She darts and dives and after eating will spread her wings to dry them. She lets us know that it is also possible to be a single self, a beautiful self sufficient being who enjoys life in the fullest.

Below is a family of beautiful brown ducks. Unlike the Cormorant or Anhingas who also dart and dive and appear as singles, brown ducks-wood ducks or mallards or other types of brown ducks love staying in groups. Family groups and groups of agemates and groups of varied ducks love to swim and eat together.

They are somewhat shy and skittish however and back up when the larger Muscovy ducks or a group of ibises are around the feeding station. They seem to gather their courage and approach and get some food. Yet, it is remarkable to note, they often fight among themselves and discipline one another such that the other birds will get the food. When they are finished chasing another brown duck away, most of the food is gone. I try to feed them when few are around and even then they are busy having tiffs with each other.

What if the brown ducks could cooperate more or at least not chase each other away when food is available? With some animals dominant members do that with the less aggressive members of the group. But I can not tell if this is about dominance or just a way of life for these beautiful little creatures. I do know that the other species at the feeder get lots more of the food. Selah- we shall pause and think that over.

Above is a single Ibis-rarely seen as they travel in groups.

Below is a Mama Muscovy duck and her young. She was a happy regular for quite a while and trusted this place enough to have her young here. She hatched them right next to my house behind some bushes. It was a thrill to actually see them hatching and emerging into the world under her watchful care. The father Muscovy sometimes kept watch in front of the bushes but mostly she was a single Mom. She was so proud of her ducklings and loved taking them for a swim. Sadly a few weeks after they had learned to swim and forage Mama duck was killed, possible by a small alligator that came into the lake. We saw her going under with the ducklings not far away. We only actually saw a small gator a few weeks later and, thankfully, he left as quickly as he had come. The ducklings kept together and grew and survived for a while longer but slowly, one by one, none were left. I like to think they found safety, but I was so saddened by this. I angrily said to myself that Mother Nature is not the protective mother that Mama Duck was. For a while I was out of sync with my lake, having seen enough of death and loss in recent years I did not want to see it there, in my “Holy of Holies” place. Papa Muscovy was a lone figure for a long time. But, recently he has returned with a new young lady friend, actually two of them but one more favored. Wishfully, I have wondered if they are not two of his now grown ducklings that he shepherded to a safe spot. The life on the lake remained and grew strong. And in time I realized that God was still there. Life went on and, still remembering Mama Duck and her family, each day I continued to communicate with God there as before.

Mama Duck and Family

Below are the Ibis coming to eat. Usually there are many more and they are so fast running between all of the other birds that they steal food right out of their mouths and catch anything dropping to the ground. Perhaps because they come in large groups they need to be adept at getting the food. The numbers of them overwhelm others who have to back up and let them in, even much bigger birds. They do not compete with each other but together approach a larger bird eating. they are sure to get at least some of it. So if you are smaller and hungry, running in a group makes victory possible. They are like an organized community and thereby they are successful at getting what they need and want. There is a lesson in that for us.

Above two Whistling Black Bellied ducks , perhaps from Mexico or Latin America, stop by for a month or so and join the Ibis and other ducks in resting by the side of the lake. It is amazing that all of these varied visitors are peaceful with one another. All get to rest as needed and to eat in the lake and at the feeder. On somedays they are all at the little feeding station together and, as my dear Grandma would have said it is a League of Nations of birds! But notably, they are not fighting or even disagreeing, they are sharing space and resources together. And there is a parable if I ever heard one!

Bless you in this New Year as you inhabit the earth with so many varied and beautiful others each with so much to teach,

Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP

Good Shepherd Ministry of Southwest Florida-1/13/2023