Caracol TV Follows Roman Catholic Woman Priest Olga Lucia Alvarez in Colombia with Priests Martha Aida and Marina Teresa Included
One does not have to speak Spanish to understand the scope and importance of this excellent TV coverage of the activities of ARCWP priest Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea in Colombia, South America. Also included as she ministers to her people, is woman priest Martha Aida Soto Bernal.The Ordination of priest Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia in Sarasota Florida is included. All three are from Colombia- from Medellin, Bogota and Cali. We are blessed to have these women of deep faith and courage as our sisters in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.
Olga Lucia shares that there are over 180 in the women priest movement and this is growing daily. She says that from her baptism she was called to be a a priest and man-made rules cannot change this calling. She says that “excommunication” which is a form of “self-excommunication” means nothing as she has not broken herself off from the church or from the people of God whom she serves. She shares her ministry and we see her baptizing a baby, serving the Eucharist , preaching, relating warmly to children and families and doing the things that all priests do with love and joy.
Let us remember that Pope Francis, from Argentina, speaks Spanish fluently and may be watching this video right now. If so, he will see the love and affirmation Olga Lucia gives him as a Pope of the poor. If he reflects and searches his heart and conscience this Lenten season he may also find the mandate from the people and from his own heart, and the courage to ask for change in the rules made by men in the 12th century. This is not expected or needed but it would be a great surprise to the people of God.
Olga Lucia was ordained in Florida in December of 2010. Martha Aida Soto Bernal was ordained in Colombia in March of 2011. And Marina Teresa was ordained in Florida in January of 2014. There are other candidates from South America who will likely be ordained this year. We are so thankful for our South American sisters who are leading the way in Latin America.
Please click on this link to see the video:
con esperanza y gracias y bendiciones,
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP
Co-Coordinator with Olga Lucia Alvarez for Hispano Parlantes
Mr. Harry Lee Peter Gary with Hank Tessandori (left) and Judy Alves,Mr. Gary’s Sponsors, with Pastors Judy Lee and Judy Beaumont
When Mr. Harry Lee Gary who is 63 years old asked me to baptize him I was stopped in my tracks. My first feeling was what John the Baptist said to Jesus “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”(Matt 3: 14). I did say that to him and he shared the story of his baptism about eight years ago by a young person who reached out while he was initially homeless. He did not feel that he was “truly” baptized nor was he welcomed into a church or faith community. He is a man of great faith who has been worshiping with us in our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community since we had Church in the Park in 2007. At that time he was homeless. He asked me if we would have a ministry in which people could participate as readers and if I would teach about Jesus. He became our regular Lector and he did prompt me to preach and teach about the God of Love that I know well, and the Christ who knew what it means to be homeless and poor,who chose the outcast instead of the religious leaders to hear and spread the Good News.
As we talked together he responded to my counsel to forgive and reconcile with his family. He moved in with his son and was happy to be reconciled with his whole family. In time he was fully eligible for Social Security Disability due to his severe and chronic spinal stenosis and he also got his own little townhouse through Goodwill housing, a wonderful and rare resource for the physically disabled. He became an Elder in our church,not by age but by faith commitment and faithfulness to the Gospel.We have been in our church in a house since 2009. He is our regular Psalm leader and he also preaches after I do when I invite “the word upon the word” of the day-in interactive homily. People who suffered as he did and overcame as he did, or those who hoped to do so, found his testimonies lights to Christ. He is my right hand in reaching out in the homeless community and mentoring our youth. The little children love him as a Grandpa. Yes, if I needed to be baptized he is one who could baptize me!
But he convinced me that there was an emptiness within him still to be filled by Baptism and later by Confirmation with our church members. It was our church preparing for Confirmation that had prompted his opening up about his baptism. He identified with Peter “who made a lot of mistakes but loved Jesus” and chose that as his new name. I humbly agreed to baptize this strong man of God.
Mr. Gary and I are praying before his baptism
Blessing the Water
Given the Light
Filled With Peace and Joy
Filled with the Spirit and ready to serve!
This insightful blog is from our sister priest, Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea of Colombia,South America. She wrote it in March of 2010 and shares it with us now. I have edited the English sometimes loosely but the thoughts are all hers.She is saying that all of us prodigal daughters, sons, parents, spouses, partners and friends are longing for love and affirmation from our loving God and one another. Thank you, Rvda. Olga Lucia!
As I read Olga Lucia’s beautiful words I thought about a young person who is part of my church. She rarely attends as she is fearful in crowds and was agoraphobic, remaining in her room for many years, until fairly recently when caring,love,began to thaw the iceberg that became her heart. She was abused physically and emotionally by an angry father until he finally left the home. She left school after the ninth grade. She began hearing voices in later adolescence. She hardly ever left the house. Her family attends our church and I had intermittent pastoral contact with her over the last few years. But something happened to bring us closer together. My surgery for the GIST(slow growing low level malignant tumor in my stomach) a year ago caused me to stop and reflect on many things. I reviewed my ministry and I identified that this one young adult was neglected by me in the midst of those clanging cymbals that made a lot more noise. I wanted to try harder to reach her-God laid her on my heart and I could listen to my heart because I was not very active nor running around with the ministry or life. I also realized that I could no longer take care of my large aviary adequately.
I guess that I had reached her enough for her to come out of her room to greet me and express her pleasure that I was getting better when I visited her family. That was a big step for her. I spent some time with her and asked if she liked birds and if she thought she could get to my house and help with the birds. We were both amazed as she thought she could, and she did come to learn how to do this. She was gentle and happy with the birds and she enjoyed this job. We talked a little each time she came. She was able to accept a referral to the Mental Health Center and also to begin seeing her general practitioner. She opened herself to the possibility of other friendships very slowly but surely. We saw the iceberg melt. We saw the fear recede. We saw a whole person developing with courage and in response to caring. Recently there was a setback when a physical problem required serious medical intervention. She tried to retreat and move back into the iceberg again. But soon she started coping with it “because you and my doctors and my friend are so persistent”. It is such a blessing to witness her growth into life. For Valentines Day we gave her a card with pictures of the kittys and birds in it. Today she brought me and Pastor Judy Beaumont a beautiful card that said “People as kind and as loving as you are God’s Valentines to the world. Happy Valentine’s Day”. And in her own hand she wrote:” thanks for all the help and support. You both are wonderful. Happy Valentine’s to both of you and the birds and cats are great, I love them.” Wow-unfrozen by love! How wonderful to experience it. Rvda. Olga Lucia is right!
love and blessings,
Pastor Judy Lee,ARCWP
The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Florida
The Hunger of the I Love You in The Parable of The Prodigal Son by Rvda. Olga Lucia Alvarez
This text ,Luke 15:11-38 would call it the hunger of the “I love you”. When you have never had the warmth of a hug, a kiss, a loving detail, we become sullen, hard, frozen as icebergs. But if you meet this friend / or that support, this companions kind hand, that solidarity , that fraternity, you realize what you’re worth when someone cares. If you were a block of cement you’d melt like the opening of a a dam. See it fall lovingly, soft or hard, crystalline buds cascade of love and “I love you” spontaneous, fearless, free as the wind.
Some have had the experience of being concrete blocks, others perhaps never were, but one day the love they lost or never had, for whatever reason, unfounded fears, frozen by fears, by blockages in training, block out the experience of love. But like the prodigal son, and others somehow recognize and realize that in the house of my Father/Mother there is affection, a party, gestures of love hugs and kisses, and large or small details in pretty paper the bonds of love are wrapped. After thinking a while, we push and we run, with an open heart willing to melt in the loving embrace that receives and welcomes us because we are their daughters and sons and to God we are alike.
There are so many heartbreaks, causes of many diseases, and family violence. There are so many broken homes that create icebergs. Yet God’s great love is without fear and without reserve. You are melted by it and you feel violence, hatred and revenge that has brought us so many dead giving way and relenting.
It is the responsibility of all of us, of you and I of all who were born to ask for forgiveness, because this world, this life, and being distracted in our internal conflicts, we have not been able to sweep, shake and make ourselves as new. If you are sensitive to what I am saying here, I say it is because you have encountered the love of God, sometimes in another person.
Women and men need affection,it is the love of God that moves us to love. But, just as we know it, we are afraid. We may need a messenger to show us the face of God.
You have to be hungry for the “I love you”, you have to give them to receive them, you have to break the ice.
Leticia, I care about you, Get well; William;! I love you, Teresa, you’re great! Laura, God gave you that smile, so beautiful!. David! I hug and kiss you, Maru, thanks for the “I love you” I love you too, Camilin, Maria; my teachers, I love them! Diego! You’re the most beautiful thing God has given me in life, your presence, your friendship! Machelina, sister and my friend, how nice to have you in this life. Camilo, Inés, Benton, were thankful for that company. Blanca, Catalina, Charo, although they are far they are closer.
My life wants to be a hymn to life, I ask forgiveness for the times I have not loved, and I’ve offended, for the times I made you suffer and grieve someone this close or this far. To my family, my ancestors, my mother Earth, Air, Water, Fire, because I have abused them by not loving them and taking care of them as I should. I love you, I love you and I thank you. My greatest expression of love, commitment and responsibility towards all , is to show the face of God, that you recognize and find. May we, as we are, big, small, old or young, see the face of God. Run eagerly seeking your love and experience “I love you” like the prodigal son.
Thank God my spirit, because as they say, that when someone writes the soul walks. Mine escaped and went to recess and enjoy this day. .
Olga Lucia Alvarez B Rvdas. Olga Lucia and Judy
Bogotá, March 9/10
How do we prepare for God’s coming into our midst? Some suggest that we establish empty and quiet places in our hearts and lives, spaces that the Christ-child may fill again on Christmas and spaces that prepare for Christ coming again to establish firmly the reign of God in peace, justice and love on this earth. The suggestion of quiet and emptiness is counter cultural as people become busier and busier in the Christmas and Holiday season. Similarly, actions that risk anything at all for peace are counter cultural. But then, Jesus is counter cultural from the start. To prepare for the coming of Christ the Scriptures for Advent 1 tell us to become people of peace and not dissension or militarism.
Our Hebrew Scriptures for the first Sunday of Advent herald an age of peace when nations shall beat their swords into plowshares and study war no more(Isaiah 2: 1-5). Nations will come to God’s house on the highest of mountains for instruction in God’s ways so that we may “walk in God’s paths”. Clearly that instruction is instruction in the ways of peace and God’s path is the path of peace. (Is 2:3b) The Epistle reading (Romans 13:11-14) tells us not to live in dissension-in quarreling and jealousy. Rather we should be clothed in Christ. To do this we have to become alert and awake from our sleep. To me, waking from sleep here means conscientization-to become aware of the injustice and lack of peace in our world, near and far. As near as our hearts and homes and as far as the corners of the world where terror and exploitation reign.
Rev. Gerard Darring ( http://liturgy.slu.edu/1AdvA120113/main.html ) in discussing the day’s readings from the Perspective of Justice, suggests: Since Christ is coming at a time least expected, what if Jesus the Christ returned in 1994 when there were still nearly two and a half billion people living in countries where the annual per capita income is less than $400 or less? Or when 40,000 people died every day from hunger? Or when one fifth of the human race still do not have adequate housing? Or when billions do not have adequate medical care? Or when the neglect of the earth produced death of all sorts? What if Christ returned now ? Would we be found unprepared for the coming of the Promised One? What do we have to do to bring the kin(g)dom of justice and peace to earth right now?
Rev. Beverly Bingle has some thoughts on being prepared:
“Over at Claver House this week the conversation turned to basketball,
and one of the guests, Matt, was talking about LeBron James of the
Miami Heat, the 6’8” kid from Akron, Ohio. On the off season, Matt
told us, LeBron works hard. He trains by running uphill in the snow.
He spends his vacation time studying every play to figure out how he
could have done better. He practices. A lot. That’s why he’s ready
when the season starts, why he’s been the NBA’s Most Valuable Player
four times. There’s a lesson there for us.
In today’s Gospel Jesus tells parables about being prepared. People
are going about their daily business. Some of them focus so much on
the details that they are not alert, not aware, not ready. Not ready
for the flood. Side by side, folks are at work, out in the fields, or
inside, grinding grain. We know it’s not the end times—some are left
behind. Jesus tells his disciples—and us—to be vigilant, be
prepared. We don’t know when salvation is coming to us. But we can
be sure we’ll miss it if we’re not ready.
We know how to be prepared in everyday life. In school we think about
the subject before class even starts; we do the homework on time; we
read extra materials when we’re on break. When the test comes—even a
pop quiz—we’re ready. We don’t just hop in a car with a Highway
Patrol officer and take the road test on our 16th birthday. We spend
time learning the rules, taking the class, practicing with a licensed
driver. Or when there’s a baby coming. We read the baby books. Talk
with family and friends who’ve been through it. We get diapers ready.
Lots of them. When the baby comes, we’re not taken by surprise.
It’s like the parable of the 10 women waiting with lamps for the
wedding feast. We know that we need to have oil in our lamps. Once
the wedding party gets there, it’s too late.
During Advent we have time to make sure it won’t be too late for each
of us. The season invites us to practice so we can be ready for
Christ to be born in us, ready for the reign of God in our world here
How did Jesus get ready for the crowds, the healing, the mission? He
went off and prayed. He watched what was going on, and thought about
it, and took action. He listened, and he even changed his mind,
putting justice and compassion ahead of his own ethnic prejudices,
like when he listened to the Syrophoenician woman pleading for healing for
her daughter, and he yielded to her pleas. That’s how we can do it:
we know the way—Jesus has shown us. We just have to practice.
Now it’s true that LeBron James is a multimillionaire. He donates a
lot of money to the Boys & Girls Club and the Children’s Defense Fund.
He established the LeBron James Family Foundation, that holds
bike-a-thon in Akron every year to raise money for various causes. He
does a lot of good.
But we don’t have to be athletes, or public figures, or even wealthy
people to do good. LeBron is doing basketball right, and he’s doing
philanthropy right, but that’s not our job. Our job is getting
Christianity right. And our impact can be even greater. Our actions
can bring the reign of God to life, here and now, for everyone we
meet. We can change the world.
So let’s get ready. This Advent, let’s each of us pick one thing to
practice our Christianity on. Like setting aside some extra prayer
time. Like actively listening to someone. Like smiling at strangers.
Even smiling at friends and family, which can be a lot harder.
In the next four weeks, we’ll be putting together the decorations and
the gifts and the tree and the feast. We’ll be getting ready for
Christmas. As we do that—that everyday stuff, that holiday stuff—we
can practice being Christian—welcoming Emmanuel—God-with-us—in
everything we do and everyone we meet”.
We’ll be ready.
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Rev. Bev Bingle, Pastor
And, I add, there are some of us who have the courage to be activists for peace-who take the swords into plowshares scriptures more literally. Rev. Daniel Berrigan and his brother Philip were the sainted leaders of the Plowshares Movement for non-violent action for peace. In the early 1980’s now ARCWP woman priest Judy Beaumont then a Benedictine Sister, participated in a “Plowshares Action” called Trident Nein” to demonstrate the immorality of Trident submarines. The price of one of those could wipe out poverty in large sections of the USA or the world. She was imprisoned for several months for this crime. During her time in prison she worked on prison reform for women. Later she wrote”Prison Witness: Exposing the Injustice” in Swords into Plowshares: Non Violent Direct Action For Disarmament” edited by Arthur J. Laffin and Anne Montgomery (Harper and Row,Publishers, 1987). Currently there are several wonderful activists, including ARCWP woman priest Janice Sevre-Dusynska,(support person) who participate in Plowshares Now and have risked breaking laws and standing trial for peace. They stand for peace and against activities like drone warfare where, in the name of all of us in the USA many thousands of innocents are killed. Rev.Janice is currently on a year’s probation in which she cannot participate in another “illegal” action for peace. This is a hard sentence for those who get it, something like bridling John the Baptist. Others who have courageously acted against nuclear stockpiling with Plowshares Now here in the USA at the Oakdale Nuclear Reservation in Tennessee including elderly Religious Sister Megan Rice and Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed await trial and probably severe prison sentences. It is not easy to take this kind of stand for peace, and we are thankful for those who are doing so and keep them in our prayers especially during Advent.
For ourselves, we can study how our nation is currently making war and support those candidates and leaders who truly are peacemakers. In our own lives we can be peacemakers, turning away from malicious gossip and tensions that divide families and communities and the people of God and those who serve the people of God. We can support Pope Francis in his pleas for peace and for priority on the poor while turning away from the ways in which those in power in the church and in the governments represent the interests of the rich and powerful, and embody them. We can embody peace, tolerance and radical love in all that we do and say. That is enough challenge for this advent season. Even so, Come Christ Jesus, Come. As Rev. Bingle says “we will be ready”.
One cannot remember what or whom one does not know. Ecclesiastes 12:1- to remember your creator in the days of your youth is only possible if you know your Creator in the days of your youth. The Message translation of Proverbs 2:22 is clear: “Point your kids in the right direction-when they’re old they won’t be lost”. Most probably, though I sometimes may be disoriented, I am not lost today because of the wonderful teachers,pastors and examples from the church of my youth. Our kids are our passion. At our Good Shepherd Church we work hard so our children and youth will know the love of God and the way of the living Christ.
This reflection begins with a picture of the teen class at Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida on Sunday 10/20/13. These smiling teens (13-18) meet with me on Sundays after church and the Sunday meal. They are energetic and enthusiastic learners. They pray, they read the Scriptures on their own and they even do homework as it is assigned. They know the Great Commandments and try to live them. They are getting to know God and Christ in relationship. They are learning to serve and not be served. Some of them have been attending our Sunday class since 2009. Then, when I asked them and some of the younger kids who appear in the next picture: “Who created our universe? Who was born on Christmas? and What happened on Easter?” they did not know the answers.
Now all of them know the answers in their heads and,more importantly, in their hearts. I have baptized twelve of our Sunday school kids. Some have graduated from the Sunday class and and now in their twenties are working or attending college. We have, perhaps, lost one young man to the lure of the gang,weapons, and drugs. I say perhaps because we are not going to let him go so easily. In the world these kids live in people are shot right in front of their homes. Economics is a very real problem and gangs promise alternate ways to get money as well as belonging and love. That we have only lost one so far is a small miracle, and one that we are working hard to continue. The love and support we offer to them and their families, the love of Christ, trumps violence and poverty and negative influences. It also trumps X Boxes and Nintendo/PlayStation/Smartphones type games that addict and supplant other forms of growth producing activities. There are many challenges we have to meet along with our kids. My heart is lifted every time I meet with these kids.
Each child or young person is special to us, from the youngest to the oldest. It is our challenge to be the face of Christ to them so they can be that for each other and in their families,schools, and neighborhoods. Teachers Pearl Cudjoe and Linda Maybin are also in this picture.
Below is Mrs. Pearl Cudjoe and the wonderful Junior class. They are fourth through 6th graders (10-12). their growth and excitement is contagious and they love their Sunday class and teacher.
This is a time when many contend that the church is losing ground. Young people rarely attend and the relevance of church to youth is questioned:
Yet, emergent forms of church seem to be working. We are a renewed Catholic church. We bought a house in the heart of the poorer community and converted it into a church. We have women priests, validly ordained servant priests. Our form of liturgy and Eucharistic celebration is communal. All are welcome at the table of Christ, who is on the Table,at the Table and around the Table.
Within the last two weeks five new youngsters joined our worship and Sunday school. We are so pleased to have these new kids with their families. We pray that each child may know that she or he is loved and precious to our God as each grows and matures.
Pastor Judy Lee, ARCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and all supporters of ordaining ALL who are called to serve God’s people celebrate the ordination of three women of God. On Sunday September 15, 2013 Mary Theresa Streck was ordained Priest and Maureen McGill and Mary Sue Barnett were ordained Deacons. Here is a summation of the event by our Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan and an article and link to read more about it. Please also see http://www.inclusivecatholiccomunity-albanyny. if you’d like to see pictures of the event and also follow the community of our new priest, Mary Theresa Streck.
Thanks for your prayers and loving support.
We had a joyous ordination of Mary Theresa Streck, Mary Sue Barnett, and Maureen McGill in Albany.
Approximately 350 people attended. Church was packed to overflowing.
The website for the Inclusive Catholic Community of Albany is now up. See blog for link and article.
Albany diocese told priests and nuns not to attend under penalty of being fired from diocesan jobs!
However, there were a few courageous dissenters who came and stayed out of media coverage!
See article and television coverage in link below.
Bridget Mary Meehan
Sunday, September 15, 2013
NEWS Stories: Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests: Ordination of 3 Women in Albany, New York/Sept.15,2013
Albany Times Union: “Group installs female priest:Grass-roots organization ordains nun, but Catholic Church won’t recognize her”
By Bryan Fitzgerald
People gather inside the Unitarian Universalist Church for the Liturgy of Ordination celebrated by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013 in Albany, NY. (Paul Buckowski / Times Union)
“There was no air of controversy inside the First Unitarian Universalist Society on Washington Avenue Sunday afternoon — only jubilation.
In an ordination ceremony that will not be recognized by the Catholic Church, a woman was ordained as a priest.
Despite the Catholic Church’s stance on female priests, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests says the Sunday ordination of Mary Teresa Streck was legitimate and that the longtime nun is now one of about 160 female Roman Catholic priests in the country. None of them are recognized by the Vatican.
“It is with great joy I present to you our newly ordained priest,” BishopBridget Mary Meehan told the excited crowd after Streck’s ceremony was completed.
Streck, a nun for 18 years before launching the Ark Community Charter School in Troy, was greeted with thunderous, rock-star-like ovations at various times during the nearly three-hour-long ceremony.
Two female deacons, Mary Sue Barnett and Maureen McGill, were also ordained during the service.
“This is a very joyful day,” Streck said after the ceremony. “Nothing but joy.”
The leaders of the Catholic Church have been unwavering in their assertions that women have important roles in the church but are not recognized as priests, often saying there is no theological basis for their ordinations.
Meehan and others in her grassroots group say there is no theological basis for barring women from the priesthood, adding that women were ordained in the church’s earliest years.
In July, Pope Francis told USA Today that “the church has spoken and says no … that door is closed,” when asked about female priests.
Churches have disciplined and even expelled priests who have so much as attended ordinations recognizing women as priests. Meehan said that the Albany diocese sent out a memo telling its leaders not to attend Sunday’s service under threat of reprimand, though the diocese could not be reached Sunday to confirm or deny Meehan’s claim.
The church has also said that any woman who is ordained is excommunicating herself from the church.
Streck said she the threat of excommunication never deterred her.
“I do not consider myself excommunicated,” Streck said. “I hope other women consider this path.”
While speaking to crowd at length, Meehan, who lives in Florida, often likened the women priest movement to civil rights activism, invokingRosa Parks on several occasions and saying the ancient guidelines the church says forbids women priests are outdated.
“Rules of those times had nothing to do with love and compassion,” Meehan said. “The Catholic Church needs to wake up.”
Catholic sect ordains female priest
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