Today we hail Jesus with palm branches and prepare for him to enter the holy city of Jerusalem, throwing our clothes on the little donkey to soften his seat and in front of his path on the road. The religious leaders ask Jesus to tell his disciples to quiet down, stop the joyful noise and “shut up”. Jesus replied that if they were quiet, “even the stones would cry out”.(Luke 19:28-40). The disciples and followers are on fire, the universe has a moment of joyful praise for God, for the love of God shown in the acts of healing and mercy that Jesus has shown, for the love Jesus has shown and will show even in the face of the betrayal and torture about to come. This joy and hope cannot be silenced for even the stones would cry out. Today we welcome the king who soon will be crucified. Evil forces cannot tolerate such love and joy. So next on this same day the Church also has us read the Passion, the account of Jesus’ last moments and crucifixion. ( Luke 22:14-23:6). And ultimately we are left to contemplate the meaning of all of this: of the joyous welcome and the apparent tortuous defeat of the goodness of God, of Christ. In hindsight we will also anticipate the resurrection.
But not today, not on Palm Sunday. Today we contemplate the best and the worst of our responses to the intervention of God’s love in our world- to the being of Jesus the Christ, very God and very man-shouting with joy for a moment and then standing by during his love and sacrifice under the most horrendous of actions, hanging him on the cross. This is our introduction to Holy week; to Holy Thursday and washing of feet and the Last Supper, Good Friday and the unbelievable cruelty of the crucifixion, and Jesus’ amazing love- even from the cross. And finally after being in the grave for three days, he will rise and Easter finally comes. Oh, thank God for Easter, for his rising again, for our rising again. But we cannot get ahead of the account.
This Palm Sunday Pope Francis focused on the forgiveness of Christ as contrasted to the “save yourself” of those who tortured him. Indeed our world is characterized by a save yourself mentality while God’s love is characterized by unceasing mercy and forgiveness; even to Jesus’ words from the cross: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Not only does he forgive but he pleads for us saying we do not know what we are doing. Pope Francis stresses that violence and war crucify Christ again and again. He suggests an Easter truce in the Ukraine. We can only pray for this and for the cessation of that horrific war and crucifixion of the innocent. The Pope closes with “Father forgive them. Now let us do the same”. The challenge this Palm Sunday is for us to learn and practice forgiveness even from our crosses, and to cease from our violence that crucifies Christ again. It ends on a note God’s great love for us. Let us feel that love now. (,Some websites for the Homily of Pope Francis this Palm Sunday are: https://www.vatican.va>francesco ;
As we begin Holy week it is good to begin our meditations on Palm Sunday together. In past years we have reflected on Palm Sunday from a variety of perspectives that may interest the reader. For example https://judyabl.blog/2020/04/05-palm-sunday-triumph-hope-and-betrayal-sunday-april-52020/ . For a reflection of three women priests : https//www.judyabl.blog/2017/04/09/palm-sunday-reflections-by-women-priests- 4917/
May God bless you as you contemplate this Palm Sunday and the events of Holy Week,
as you go through this holy week with Christ,
with love and prayers,
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida
Live NOW and Forever! All Saints and All Souls Celebration of The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community with Three Roman Catholic Woman Priests
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida celebrated All Saints and All Souls day a bit early this year. On Saturday afternoon, October 16, 2021, twenty-seven people of all ages, races, sexual orientations, and social class and cultural backgrounds, met outside in East Fort Myers where several members live, to give thanks to our Loving God for those who have gone before us. Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP, was assisted by Co-Pastors Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia, RCWP and Marilyn E. Rondeau, RCWP, from Maryland. Rev. Marilyn gave greetings from The Living Waters Inclusive Catholic Community in Baltimore and Thurmont, Maryland and was warmly welcomed to our Good Shepherd Community. We also named those with Birthdays during this season and said we would celebrate those important events today as well.
We especially remembered and honored the faithful Mother and Grandmother of our Good Shepherd Community who made her transition home to God in August of 2021 after battling cancer for four years, our beloved Jolinda Harmon,70. Nine members of her family attended, including a daughter, Yolanda, eight grandchildren, Quayschaun, Natasha, Keeondra, Jolinda La Faye, Ni’ya, Ri’ya and Ki’ya, and Isaiah and Isaiah’s 5 year old son. Four of the young adult grandchildren present recalled that they were baptized with or after Grandma Harmon as she made sure they became a living part of our church community. We also recalled how Grandma Harmon brought all of the children and grandchildren and their friends that she could bring regularly, and how she was Grandma for everybody. Two other grandchildren who were baptized with or just after with her were not able to attend today, Jakeriya, who was home preparing a birthday party for her son Jamir and Jakein who is living and working in Alaska. While three Good Shepherd members attended her Funeral in August when Pastor Judy co-presided with Pastor Tommy White of Jolinda’s mother Lessie Ivory’s Missionary Baptist church, this was the first time we could celebrate our dear sister as a Good Shepherd Congregation. We lit a candle in her memory and her Grandson Quay placed her picture on the altar along with that of his mother, Linda Maybin, also our beloved member who went home to God in 2017.
We celebrated our dear Linda as well as Nathaniel Chester, who lived where we were worshipping until his death in 2016 and Michael Murray, Lauretta Rasmussen, Richard Duncan who made his transition home in 2021, our great supportive brother,Jack McNally, 93, in December of 2020 and other church members, along with our beloved Pastor Judy Beaumont who left us to return home to God in January of 2018. Each one was remembered. We recognized that we are a part of the vast Community of Saints who surround us with their love and guidance, especially those who welcomed Christ as their Beloved here at Good Shepherd.
We began with the hymn Revive Us Again as Pastor Judy introduced the theme of the day, to LIVE now and be assured that we will also rise again according to God’s love for us expressed in the Scriptures of the day. Pastor Marilyn read the first reading from Isaiah 25:6-9 where we learn that God will remove the mourning veil forever, and destroy all death forever, wiping away the tears from every cheek. Our elder, Mr. Harry Lee Peter Gary led us in the Responsive Psalm33-“May Your faithful love be upon us ,O God as we place all our hope in You”. Pastor Marina Teresa read from the Epistle to the Romans (6:3-9) where we hear that Christ was raised from the dead so we may lead a New LIFE and be raised from the dead as well.
We then sang and claimed the ground before us and ourselves and our neighbors as “Holy Ground” before singing ALLELUIA before the Gospel. Pastor Marilyn then read from the Gospel; John 6:37-40-“Whoever comes to me I won’t turn away…but rather raise them up….this is the will of my Abba (Father): that everyone who sees and believes in the Only Begotten will have eternal life….and be raised on the last day. ”
Pastor Judy then preached on LIVING NOW and the assurance of our rising again. She asked the congregation to reflect on their lives and to share what can keep us from really living now, can keep us as if we were dead. Grief was the first thing first mentioned…how it is so hard to let go even when we believe in the rising again of our loved ones. Then stress and money problems and health issues, and loneliness and other worries were mentioned. As we all owned the things that deaden us, Pastor Judy asked that we let them go and trust in our loving God and God’s people for support and compassion.
She went onto say that our faith in God’s love through Christ can give us the strength to let go of our heavy burdens of grief and worry and give us the strength to really live fully now. And we can turn to our brothers and sisters in Christ to give us the support we need to let go of death and embrace life. We have each other, we are not alone. The prayers of our loved ones and all the saints gone before us can enliven us again. Our God is the God of the living and our loved ones live with God and want us to live too, now and forever.
Our intercessory prayers included our loved ones and all gone before even as they pray now for us. Joelle White age 14, now taking college classes in her first year of High School, who grew up in our church read special intercessions for victims of war and conflicts, hunger and basic needs unmet, and victims of AIDS, Malaria, Covid-19 and other infectious diseases especially those who died without adequate care. This is Joelle next to Mr. Harry Gary and her mother Debbie and friend Felicia, and niece Courtney Bolt. Mr. Gary was Joelle’s Godfather at her baptism at Good Shepherd ten years ago .
We prayed for all our deceased members and loved ones who sleep in Christ and for families and individuals locked in grief, that God will give relief and consolation to them, and that we may minister to one another in this. This is Grandma Harmon and her grand and great grand daughters in 2018.
We welcomed all present to the Table of Plenty prepared by Jesus at his Last Supper. And we sang Thank You, God, and I’m So Glad Jesus Lifted Me as Holy Communion was received.
Before we concluded we gave Birthday blessings and gifts to Kathy Roddy, Natasha Terrell, Jolinda LaFaye Terrell, Keeondra Terrell, and Ni’Ya, Ri’Ya and Ki’Ya Battle who were ten in the picture above and 13 now and seven year old Courtney Bolt. We also recognized the presence of Ellen McNally at 91, our CTA President who continues always to support Good Shepherd. All received a big hand, especially Ellen McNally. She is on right in mask here with Mary, Gary, Pearl, Brenda and Kathy. And below are the three Pastors of the day together after we concluded with a mutual blessing and Mr. Gary sent us forth to continue our service.
May you be blessed as we celebrate All Souls and All Saints day this year. May you realize the fullness of your life and service to our loving God and others every day and live in the hope of the resurrection as you remember and celebrate the life of your loved ones.
In The Risen and Living Christ,
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Yesterday , February 17,2021 was the first day of the Lenten season or Ash Wednesday. It is the day Christians gather to begin the forty day journey with Christ to the Cross and to resurrection, to ever new life. We begin assessing our lives and admitting to the many ways we can find to move away from God and God’s ways to focus on ourselves alone and to avoid opportunities to show love to God and to our neighbors. We take to heart, to the depths of our hearts, the words of the Prophet Joel: (Joel 2:2-18 The Inclusive Bible Version-Priests For Equality)
“Even now-it is Your God who speaks-
return to me with your whole heart,
fasting, weeping, mourning.
rend your hearts, not your garments.
Return to Your God, who is gracious and merciful
and ready to forgive…..”
We pray Psalm 51 together asking;
” God, create a clean heart in me,
put into me a new and constant spirit.
Do not banish me from Your presence,
do not deprive me of Your Holy Spirit.
RX Have Mercy O God, in Your goodness
Be my savior again, renew my joy
keep my spirit steady and willing;
Open my lips,
and my mouth will speak out Your Praise.”
Just take a moment and ask where has your joy gone lately? Because of Covid isolation and the personal things each of us face, life can often be described more as drudgery or obligation than joy or willing and ready spirit, filled by God’s Holy Spirit. We thank God for the opportunity to come together as best we can, some only by zoom, some in small groups, and some alone, to focus on what is happening in our lives and spirits. We thank God for this time of Lent to get our bearings again. To ask God for the joy of salvation, for the wisdom and strength to clear out the debris and begin again in love of God and follow Christ as he makes his way toward the inevitable cross-and then-to the life beyond the cross. How we all need that life!
We hear from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth: (2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2) that we are ambassadors for Christ,”as though God were making the appeal directly through us. Therefore we implore you in Christ’s name:be reconciled to God…..As Christ’s co-workers we beg you not to receive the grace of God in vain…..’Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of Salvation!”
And why not now? Why not now to reignite the joy of salvation within ourselves and our communities. Indeed, NOW is the acceptable time….and Thank God for NOW!
When we receive the ashes on our foreheads there are two sets of words that may be used: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” To remember our mortality and our fragility-perhaps easier to do in the midst of this pandemic when there is loss at every level including loss of life, all around. And “Repent, and believe in the Gospel”. I choose to say “Repent and believe in and live the Gospel”. In the original sense of the word “believe” living and following is implied but in our modern language believe can be divorced from actions- so I remarry it. With both sets of words at the imposition of ashes, we are reminded to turn our lives around, to get them back on track where they have fallen off and to “live Jesus” as the Salesians say. I do beleive that there are those who are living in grace and living lives full of Jesus. But I also know how easy it is for my own life to fall off the track as I remember grief and loss more than life and joy-and as I put myself and my “needs” above the needs of God’s children in a suffering yet so beautiful world. And so I am thankful for the ashes, for the time to remember to put God and all God’s creation first again. I am so thankful.
When the sign of the Cross in ashes is placed on the forehead, those receiving it are saying “I love you Jesus, and I am sorry for my sometimes shoddy behavior and uneven faith”. And because it is an obvious sign , they are willing to live their faith out loud, in public, visibly. And yet in the Gospel (Matthew 6:1-6,16-18) Jesus warns us not to “practice your piety before others to attract their attention; if you do this, you will have no reward from your Abba God in heaven.” He tells us to give charity quietly, without trumpets, and simply, and to pray in our closets in secret, not for public attention, and not to moan if we are fasting or making other sacrifices for the kin-dom of God to come on earth, and “our God who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.” Leave it to Jesus to tell it like it is and give us a way to handle the ways even our good acts can go off track.
We shared the wise words of Pope Francis in his Lenten Tweet and meditated upon them. We ask you to do the same:
“Today we bow our heads to receive ashes. Lent is a humble descent both inwards and towards others. It is about realizing that salvation is not an ascent to glory,but a descent in love. It is about becoming little”. vatican.va/contentfrance
LET US CONTINUE THIS DESCENT TOGETHER during this blessed Lenten Season.
And, moving to today’s readings (Deuteronomy 30: 15-20; Psalm 1; and Luke 9:22-25) let us choose LIFE over death, every time and in every way we can. “Today I have set before you life and success, or death and disaster… Deuteronomy ” CHOOSE LIFE…. “Happiness comes to those who delight in the Law of YHWH (God)….They’re like trees planted by flowing water-they bear fruit in every season….YHWH watches over the steps of those who do justice; but those on a paths of violence and injustice will find themselves irretrievably lost… (Psalm 1)” Well we might desire and try to live following the law of loving God first in our lives and loving others like ourselves, but now is a time to assess how hard that actually is and how we can with God’s help live more closely to the spirit of the Law Jesus gave us. And we can assess too the ways in which violence and injustice may flow from our mouths if not from our hands. Jesus tells us in the Gospel to deny ourselves and follow in his steps. If we are honest with ourselves, how hard is that?! He adds that if we lose our lives for his sake we shall find them.
.Let us find our lives this Lenten season, rediscover them where they have become lost in daily living and struggles, or even find them for the first time. What a wonderful opportunity we have this Lenten season to find our very lives, to choose life! To what Pope Francis said:” It is about becoming little” I humbly add “It is about becoming Love”.
AMEN , AMEN.
Here are some moments from the past about becoming Love for the world- May each of us find our own way of doing and being this this Lenten season
With love and blessings,
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Rev. Dr. Judith A.B.Lee
The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida
I am so glad to be back on my blog after a long hiatus of taking care of business during this time of “coronavirus” and the necessary staying home where I remain. I am ministering still mostly from home and “keepin’ on keepin on”. I have been blessed to have the loving support of new friends and old during this time though family is far away. Support makes all the difference.
My prayers are with all who have been touched by the Covid19 virus who do not even know the long term effects. First I pray for all those who went home to God as a result of this siege, especially the many Religious communities and members/residents of Nursing Homes whose whole communities were hit and diminished. The Felician Sisters of Pennsylvania where thirteen were lost at one time comes to mind, and we also lost a dear friend of Pastor Judy Beaumont’s, Sr. Johnette Sawyer O.S.B. from St. Scholastica Priory in Chicago. I can see them laughing together in Heaven now and shepherding us too!
Two family members and two Good Shepherd Community members (to my knowledge) have been through it and all are well enough now after a frightening siege. At both ends of the age spectrum, Jack in his 90’s and Jakeriya, 19, a young mother, were hit hard, sent to the ER then quickly sent home to be treated and quarantined, and thanks be to God, they are well now. Yet our prayers and love remain with all touched by this scourge and their caretakers and loved ones.
Please wear masks, use good sense, and observe distance until this plague passes.
AN Important and Revolutionary NEW BOOK
I am delighted to share that the prominent Catholic Theologian John Wijngaards has a new book out about why women must be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. As he is a Scriptural scholar I can’t wait to read all of his arguments, they will be persuasive. the book is called “What They Don’t Teach You in Catholic College: Women in the Priesthood And the Mind of Christ” (Acadian Press, 2020) 216 pages, $16.95.
Here is an article announcing Wijngaard’s exciting new book from NCROnline by Hille Haker who teaches Theological Ethics at Loyola University of Chicago. Here’s THE LINK:
There is also another important book written this year (2020) by Jill Peterfeso published by Fordham University Press, New York. It is about our Roman Catholic WomanPriest Movement and it is aptly called :
“Womanpriest: Tradition and Transgression in the Contemporary Roman Catholic Church”
This book, like the now classic “Women Find A Way: The Movement and Stories Of Roman Catholic WomenPriests” edited by Elsie Hainz McGrath, Bridget Mary Meehan, and Ida Raming (2008,VirtualBookworm.cpm Publishing, Inc. ) tells the stories of many women who have been ordained as Roman Catholic Priests since the beginning of the Movement on the Danube river June 29th, 2002. While the edited book contains stories written by several of the ordained priests (including myself) Jill Peterfeso did extensive research and presents her findings with many quotes from priests. There are nearly 300 ordained Roman Catholic women Priests and Deacons who reside all over the world now.
Below are pictures from an Ordination (of Rev. Dianne Willman) in South Africa. The presiding Bishop was our beloved Patricia Fresen, one of our RCWP founders. Fr. Roy Bourgeois is also in the picture. His unceasing support of women priests got him officially laicized but his priesthood is more powerful than ever as he continues to courageously stand for justice for all.
Below Priests of the Eastern Region in the United States
Here (below) I am with our Priests from Columbia South America, Rev. Judith Bautista Fajardo and Rev. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia and Rev. Maria Elena Sierra Sanchez. Below this are Pastor Marina Teresa and I with some members of our Good Shepherd Congregation
And before closing on Books for now, I humbly but heartily encourage you to get my book about Rev. Judith Ann Beaumont as the story of her lifelong service and fight for justice and peace will give you much inspiration and greater detail of a life lived for Christ and culminating in the Priesthood.
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 by Judith A. B. Lee, (Outskirts Press, 2020) Here is the LINK:
FINALLY a few words for our unsettling times –I quote a sage on politically fomented discord:
“Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war
in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor,
for patriotism is indeed a double edged sword.
It both emboldens the blood
just as it narrows the mind.
And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch
and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed,
the leader will have no n eed in seizing the rights of the citizenry.
Rather, the citizenry,
infused with fear and blinded with patriotism,
will offer up all of their rights unto the leader,
and gladly so.
How do I know:
For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar”
This is attributed to Julius Caesar, and a word to the wise and those seeking peace and justice with love, is sufficient.
Love and Peace, Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
Pastor, Good Shepherd Ministries, Fort Myers, Florida
The US Capitol
Waiting for the Plane
We follow Jesus and we follow LOVE. We want to learn the history of justice making in the United States and in the world. We are part of the legacy of Jesus the Christ as manifested in many persons throughout history, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Freedmen and women and slaves, and John F. Kennedy and the Kennedy brothers and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, to name just a few. So we wanted to go to Washington DC where so much of American history and herstory and our story was made and remembered. For us, representing the teens and young adults and all members of our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Church of Fort Myers,Florida this trip was a FIRST in so many ways. Four of us were born and raised in Fort Myers and we never saw another State, or flew in a plane, or took a subway, or even a bus. We wanted to see more of the world and we got to do all of this! This is a little of what we did and saw. We are Natasha Terrell, 18 and Felice Rismay, 21, the working and College students. And we are Jolinda Terrell, and Keeron Jones, High School Students and Keeondra Terrell, an eighth grader. Our Pastors, Roman Catholic women priests Judy Beaumont and Judy Lee were our guides for this amazing trip. Our church and The Father’s Table Foundation and individual donors made this adventure into life and justice available to us and we are so thankful.
OUR DREAM IS TO BUILD THE BELOVED COMMUNITY OF JESUS and DR. KING
The Lincoln Memorial where Dr. King made his I Have A Dream speech Abraham Lincoln (At the Capitol)
At the Memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King ,Jr.
WE WANT TO HONOR DR. KING AND ALL FREEDOM FIGHTERS
It was exciting to see and go to the top of the Washington Monument and understand how the United States of America came to be.
It was very special to go inside of the White House. We hoped to see a glimpse of President Obama or his family but they were not home. We learned that Malia and Sasha can go into all of the rooms that we were able to see whenever they want to. They also have their own movie theater.
Pastor Judy B and Felice are near the statues of a couple struggling with poverty and Felice is near the statue of one of her heroines, Eleanor Roosevelt .The group members are standing on the bread line that marked the great depression and homelessness and hunger today as well in the USA and world-wide.
Keeron Jones standing under FDR’s Pledge of the New Deal that still helps people today.
The Arlington Cemetery was a hallowed place. We prayed before going there and as we saw a funeral in progress there. We prayed at the site of the eternal light at President John F.Kennedy’s grave and at the graves of all the Kennedys. We tried to understand how so many members of one family gave their lives for freedom and equality.
We also went up the hill to the “impressive” house owned by the Washington-Custis-Lee family. We were truly impressed, however, as we visited the slave quarters in the back and learned that the Washington’s personal maid was able to buy freedom for her son by sharing the story of his death with a reporter as she was with him as he died. It was difficult to witness slave history but we learned of the courage and accomplishments of the slaves. We also learned that slaves were treated better by the Washington’s than by the Robert E. Lee family. We were able to feel the reasons for the Civil War and see the bravery of those enslaved.
It meant even more to understand who Frederick Douglas was after viewing this history.
We also visited The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic Cathedral in the United States where we prayed and were amazed at the stories in the pictures. It was overwhelming to some of the group but very beautiful. All of the paintings and the statues told the story of Christ and of God’s love for all people and for justice and equality. The paintings and statues of Mary, the Mother of Jesus with Jesus showed Mary and Jesus as Chinese, Czech, Native American, African and Mexican and dark and light and of many Nationalities. Keeondra and Natasha were in awe while Jolinda said that she was happy that we have a much smaller church where we can all know and love one another. When we lit a candle to pray for a sick family member Keeron questioned why I put money in the box, did we have to pay to pray here? We explained that we never had to pay to pray but that was a love offering like we give in church on Sundays. Yet, his question was astute. He and Jolinda were not comfortable with all the gold and glitz, and I told him that he is in good company for neither is Pope Francis. As we traveled in Washington we saw many homeless people. Our group members appropriately questioned why homelessness was everywhere, even in our Nation’s Capital. The Pastors were pleased to see that this moved our young people who dug in their pockets to be helpful. But once again they asked good questions. Indeed we pray that their questions and answers may help bring the reign of God to all people here and now.
This trip was well worth every effort that it took and we are thankful to all who helped it to take place. We will post other aspects of this journey in a separate post. Thanks be to God for these young people who follow Christ! Rev. Dr. Judy Lee and Rev. Judy Beaumont, Roman Catholic Women Priests and Co-Pastors of The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida.
Below are the women at the Cross
Rev. Maureen Mc Gill, ARCWP Ordained January 18,2014 Sarasota, Florida with Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan and Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia, Maureen is on the left in Ordination Picture
On the left Maureen is at the hospital bed of Gloria Laracuente in Tampa with Rev. Judy Beaumont and Gloria’s Family members
Women Priests Ordained in Sarasota, Florida
by Yoselis Ramos, WGCU, NPR
News polls show a majority of American Roman Catholics believe women should be allowed to become priests. A group of women in Sarasota who are doing just that—with or without permission from the Roman Catholic Church.
The sun shone like a beacon through the windows of the St. Andrew United Church of Christ in Sarasota. It started off like a regular Catholic mass but instead of men wearing the deacon slashes as they walked down the aisle it was women.
This isn’t a regular mass. It is a ceremony for ordaining women priests and deacons. Two women were joining the more than 145 women priests around the world. They’re a part of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. It’s a part of a movement that started in 2002 with the ordination of seven women at the Danube River in Germany. They were ordained by an episcopal male bishop whose own ordination was not considered valid by the Roman Catholic Church.
Actually, the Vatican punishes women who seek ordination with excommunication. It’s a crime against the church as severe as priests who sexually abuse children. But excommunication doesn’t intimidate this group of women. Maureen McGill of Pensacola is one of them. She was ordained a priest in Sarasota.
McGill found the association through the internet after leaving the Catholic Church for a few years.
“At that point, nobody in the family was going to church”, McGill said. “We were just done with church. We had a bad experience at my mother’s funeral and we kinda just left.”
To McGill, this community felt right.
“I was home but there was none of the rigidity, there was openness to women, openness to birth control, openness to divorced Catholics, openness to gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual people”, McGill said. “It was a totally open experience and I think that’s what I had been looking for for 67 years.”
But this group is not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. Frank Murphy is a spokesman for the Diocese of St. Petersburg.
“The diocese of Venice does not recognize them at all”, Murphy said. “It’s just a group of people making a claim that’s just not valid within our church.”
Pope Francis has said the door of allowing women in the priesthood is closed. McGill says she understands that doors close.
“But they open, they do open”, Murphy said. “And if you knock loud enough and hard enough and keep going at it, that door might open.”
Some folks like Murphy, don’t see that door opening anytime soon.
“I think that the ordination of a woman to priesthood, I think it involves a teaching of the church which is for men only at this point in time and I think it will continue to be that way”, said Murphy.
Even so, McGill holds out hope as she jokes often with her husband.
“He said the other day, ‘you’ll never live to see women completely accepted in the church’ and then he looked at me and he says, ‘given your genes, you probably will live to see it’”, laughed McGill. “And I will crawl to the Vatican with my walker if I have to on that day if they do accept us.”
But history may be on her side.
A recent poll conducted by Bendixen & Amandi for the Spanish-language network Univision, showed Catholics internationally are split on a variety of issues including gay marriage, divorce, and abortion. Specifically, 59% of the Catholics surveyed in the United States believed women should be ordained into priesthood.
On Sunday August 4, 2013 Co-Pastors Judy Lee and Judy Beaumont,Roman Catholic Women Priests serving the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida blessed thirteen of our young people who were returning to school this week. The young people represented enthusiastic pre-schoolers, Fourth – seventh graders, three High School students and one College Student. We have five students in College but only Efe Cudjoe, a Junior at Brown University on Full Scholarship was with us today. Efe, who was our Youth Leader and Teacher for three years returns as often as possible to help us with the children she loves. Today she taught the Junior Class after Mass while Pastor Judy Lee taught the Teens. Natasha Terrell our High School Senior had a full summer taking three online courses and volunteering at a local Day Care Center. She received a stipend from Good Shepherd for some of her volunteer hours there and was glad to learn about teaching toddlers.
They received the blessings of the Pastors and the Congregation during Mass and they also prayed for God’s blessings in their respective classes. They discussed today’s Gospel about the Greedy Farmer and reflected on how they can share their gifts and talents and school supplies with others. School supplies were given and each family given school start up support according to their need. Our young people are eager to start school again and accept the challenge to do the very best they can do and to help other students by being the Christ Light for them.
Pastor Judy Lee, ARCWP
Rev. Judy Beaumont, Roman Catholic Woman Priest Presides at Magdala Celebration On Thursday July 18th,2013 Southwest Florida Call To Action members and friends gathered to celebrate the Eighth Annual Magdala Celebration. Eighteen enthusiastic and thoughtful participants included representatives of Pax Christi, Rev. Joe Irvin’s Bootstrap Ministry of Cape Coral, the Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, and the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers where Judy Beaumont,and Judy Lee, Roman Catholic Women Priests are Co-Pastors. Rev. Judy Beaumont put together and led an inspiring liturgy that celebrated Mary of Magdala as Apostol to the Apostles and other woman leaders noted in the Scriptures as well as the nineteen women who were auditors at Vatican II. These diverse women were called to represent the world-wide church born anew in the promise of the Council. They paved the way for female theologians and for the increased participation of women in the life of the church.
Mike and Imogene Rigdon of Venice led the group in a rousing chorus of “Standing On The Shoulders” written by Joyce Rouse. As they sang “Standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us, we are stronger for their courage,we are wiser for their words…” each one present recalled the people in their lives, well known and unknown, who led the way for the new and sometimes revolutionary roles of women and the laity in the church. The shared homily included these reflections. Cardinal Leo Suenans was remembered as one of the Bishops who spoke at the Council of calling for the participation of ” the other 50% of the human race”. Some also remembered pre-Vatican II Catholic Action Movements including Pat and Patty Crowley and their Catholic Action and Christian Family Movement. All of this paved the way for Call To Action to form in Chicago in the late 1970’s. Reflections included the sentiment that the shoulders of those present would be there “to hold the ones who follow us”.
Judy Beaumont presided at the Eucharist and all said the words of consecration and wore stoles to symbolize the priesthood of all believers. The assembled closed with blessing one another, asking the Spirit of God to aid them to “warm frozen hearts and subvert frozen structures for the sake of the Kin-dom.
By Ellen McNally and Judith Beaumont as shared with Rev. Dr. Judy Lee
Photo by Michael Rigdon
Rev. Olga Lucia Alvarez, Roman Catholic Woman Priest from South America Attends Annual ARCWP Meeting and Ordination
Roman Catholic woman priest Olga Lucia Alvarez traveled from Colombia,South America to join twenty eight other members of ARCWP for their Annual Meeting and the ordination of five women in Falls church ,Virginia. The women came from all over the United States. Michele Birch-Conery, another international member came from British Columbia, Canada. The meeting was led by Dorothy Shugrue, of Connecticut, the Circle Leader. After electing Board Officers and welcoming new Board members, the large group broke into small groups and considered a series of Scriptural and theological questions related to call and justice and peace,the charism of ARCWP. The reflection was deep and the participation was full and enthusiastic. Olga Lucia challenged us to share our ministry with the poor and the outcast. Her ministry in Bogota and the Good Shepherd ministry of Judy Beaumont and Judy Lee in Fort Myers, Florida are two examples of justice oriented ministry. Judy Lee and Olga Lucia talked about the place of doubt and anger in developing the kind of love and compassion needed in service with the poor, especially in affluent countries. Janice Sevre-Dusynska attended two protests against Drone warfare and for peace during her time in the D.C. area. Her activism is an example of ministry risked for peace.
While in the D.C. area, priests Olga Lucia, Judy Beaumont, Judy Lee and Dotty Shugrue visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. and Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorials. These were profound meditations on the power and wisdom of gifted leaders in the fight for economic, social and racial justice. Olga Lucia reflected on hatred and the violence in Colombia and the violence in America as she visited the King Memorial and the graves of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. We reflected on the difficulty of justice oriented ministries and the challenge of living Matthew 25:31-46 and Luke 4:16-20 ministries. Throughout our time together it was affirming to be with those who share the charism and the charge of enacting peace and justice as we seek to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Joleane Presley, 40 of Virginia and Barbara Duff of Georgia were ordained Roman Catholic women priests. Marianne T. Smyth of Maryland and Mary Therese Streck of New York and Mary Collingwood of Ohio were ordained Deacons. You can see their joy in the photos above. The joy of their sister priests and deacons in ARCWP is also apparent in the picture of the group members able to attend this holy and joyful event. All blessings on the newly ordained and their ministries.
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP