When Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Cali, Colombia was ordained Priest in Sarasota Florida on January 18,2014 she made one request. She wanted Judy Beaumont and I to take her to see our people where they lived and worshiped. She said that the presence of our community of African Americans and others who participated in her Ordination procession and in blessing her made all the difference to her. She did not want to tour the tourist attractions of SW Florida and there are many,but she wanted to minister with us. So she and Rvda. Olga Lucia Alvarez went with us to visit a family in Tampa that we have ministered to and with for many years. And she visited two families with us in Fort Myers and visited our church. As she witnessed the joy and the pain seeing the hopes and the spirituality of our people she blessed them and brought great joy.
Here Rvda. Marina Teresa is in front of our Good Shepherd Church in Fort Myers,Florida
Here we are with Miriam,89, who lost her daughter Nancy to a sudden diabetes related death almost two years ago. Miriam has a very hard time living on without Nancy but loving visits sustain her. We have told part of Miriam’s story in this blog earlier when our other new priest Maureen McGill visited with her. We visited and prayed with Miriam and also took her out to a Spanish culinary feast.
Here Rvda. Marina Teresa is singing Spanish folk tunes with Miriam along with a singer that came to our table and played requests. To see Miriam’s tears turn to singing and laughter was a great joy for all of us.
Then we took Miriam to visit her sister Gloria in the Nursing Home. Here Gloria is singing the 23rd Psalm with us.
And Gloria’s sadness also turned into joy and hope.
Rvda.Marina Teresa and Linda,mother of five of our children, felt connected immediatley. They were drawn together by the Mothering Holy of Spirit of God. Here we enjoy a meal with Linda and her children. When Rvda Marina visited Linda’s home she blessed and prayed for the family. She also encouraged the young women to find the call that God has for each of them, particularly the call to serve the community.
Rvdas. Mejia Sanchez and Alvarez with Keeron Jones, 16, Efe Jane Cudjoe 21, our Brown University Junior in Pre-Med, Natasha Terrell, High School Senior and Keeondra Terrell,13. Pearl Cudjoe in the background.
The Good Shepherd Community and their priests were truly blessed by the visit of our priests from South America. Alegria-joy-was shared and experienced by all. The four ministering priests agreed: the reason for the priesthood is to serve the holy people of God, especially the African American and Afro Colombian Community and all who struggle for equality and dignity in their own lands and wherever they are immigrants and strangers.
Bendiciones, blessings, to Rvdas. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia and Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea as they return to their own full ministries in Colombia. We are all the better for your visit.
Love and prayers,
Pastors Judy Lee,ARCWP and Judy Beaumont, ARCWP
And the Good Shepherd Community of Fort Myers, FLorida and Tampa, Florida