Saturday, January 3, 2015

Homily by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP : Ordination of Georgia Walker as a Woman Priest in Kansas City, Missouri on Jan. 3, 2015

left to right Colleen Simon, Susie Roling, Georgia Walker, Bridget Mary Meehan, Henry Stoever Prayed the Eucharistic Prayer at Ordination Liturgy

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, the glory of Our God is rising on you.” Sisters and brothers in Kansas City, Missouri today we celebrate the glory of our God arising in this community as we ordain Georgia Walker, a prophetic woman of peace and a leader who has worked with justice seekers from all races, ages and creeds.

In solidarity with a growing chorus of voices, we are piercing the darkness of hatred, racism, and sexism. Malaysian Muslim activist, Zairah Anwar sums it up: “God cannot be God if God is unjust.” (Calling on Faith to Defend Women's Rights)
http://www.cartercenter.org/video/Default.aspx?youtube_id=4Zj30a10S8Q&category=Peace&filter=Human%20Rights

The Feast of the Epiphany reminds us that God’s family includes everyone. God’s love is infinite, boundless and embraces all and is in all beings, all creation, all of us. We are called to live as co-luminous revelations of our God in our world in everything we think, say and do each day!

The Good News is that God cannot be put into a box, and, that God is calling women to serve the people of God in inclusive, empowered, egalitarian communities today.

Georgia chose this day for her ordination because she entered into the Sisters of St. Joseph on the Feast of the Epiphany, so it has many special memories for her. Georgia writes: “It feels special to me because of the strong image of light...not just a reflective kind of light marking the incarnation of Jesus as God's LOVE in the world, but a kind of luminosity shining out from us as the embodiment of the Divine in our world. As co-heirs and co-creators, we are compelled to bring hope and dignity to all without exception, especially those who are on the margins of our church and society.”

In 1985, Georgia Walker experienced a major conversion and became a Roman Catholic. For twelve years she was a Sister of St. Joseph during which time she pursued course work for a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis. She is now the co-founder and Executive Director of Journey To New Life, an agency that specializes in serving homeless men and women who suffer from addictions, mental illness and chronic health conditions as they come out of prison. She currently serves on the Board of Peace Works-Kansas City, engages in nonviolent civil disobedience and volunteers at a local Catholic Worker house. Ordained a deacon in July 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio, she is currently working on a Doctor of Ministry Degree.

Georgia plans to minister as a priest with men and women in five Missouri state prisons located in the Kansas City-St Joseph Diocese. In addition, she hopes to begin meeting with individuals in Kansas City who are interested in creating a local inclusive community where all will be welcome at the table and all will be co-equal in their participation in liturgy, service and governance

In an article by Joshua McElwee in the National Catholic Reporter, Pope Francis announced the increased presence of five women on a prestigious theological commission.” The women,” he said, "are the strawberries on the cake, but we want more." The presence of the five women, the pope said, "becomes an invitation to reflect on the role that women can and should play in the field of theology." (“Pope tells Vatican Theological Commission to respect diverse views”) http://ncronline.org/news/theology/pope-tells-vatican-theological-commission-respect-diverse-views


On December 16th, 2014, after a major investigation into the lives and ministries of U.S. nuns, the Vatican issued a positive report affirming the Sisters for their selfless service to the people of God—which reflected the social justice agenda of Pope Francis.

Kudos to the thousands of Catholics who stood in solidarity with the nuns, writing letters of support to the Vatican and showing up at nun-justice rallies! What an example of justice rising up in the community of the baptized!
http://bridgetmarys.blogspot.com/2014/12/vatican-praises-thanks-usnuns-extends.html

While Pope Francis recognizes inequality as the root of social sin, there is a disconnect in his mindset. I cringe at some of his jokes – for example, telling nuns not to be “old maids” or “spinsters”, and using phrases like “strawberries on the cake” to refer to women theologians. http://bridgetmarys.blogspot.com/2014/12/seven-reasons-some-women-wince-when.html

In my view, our beloved pope needs some strong feminist friends to help him transform his chauvinistic view.


As baptized members of the church, we are all related, family, sisters and brothers. Therefore, we cannot be separated or thrown out of the church by excommunication. Even though Bishop Finn has threatened Georgia with excommunication, he cannot cancel her baptism. Let’s recall that Joan of Arc was declared a heretic, burned at the stake and later canonized a saint. And, Pope Benedict canonized two formerly excommunicated nuns Mother Theodore Guerin and Mother Mary McKillop. Therefore, one could say that he made excommunication the new fast tract to canonization!

Like a deer caught in the headlights, Cardinal O’ Malley defended the indefensible sexism in the Catholic Church in his recent 60 Minutes interview with Nora O’Donnell. He said: “If I were founding a church, I’d love to have women priests. But Christ founded it, and what he has given us is something different.”

Cardinal O’Malley and the hierarchy cannot continue to blame Jesus for the sexism in the Catholic Church because it contradicts the life and teachings of Jesus in the Gospels and the Vatican’s own scholarship!

In 1976, the Pontifical Biblical Commission released a study examining the exclusion of women from the ministerial priesthood from a Biblical perspective, stating: "It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate."

Check out Jimmy Carter's most recent book, "A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Oppression,” published by Simon and Schuster and reviewed by woman priest writer and activist, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, in the Dec. 5th edition of National Catholic Reporter.

"Carter who supports women's ordination and women's equality in all religions, finds it 'ironic' that women are welcomed into many professions 'but are deprived of the right to serve Jesus Christ in positions of leadership,' as they did in the early Christian churches. Such 'sustained religious suppression of women as inferior or unqualified," he said, "has been a major influence in depriving women of equal status within the worldwide secular community as spelled out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The former president reminds us that Jesus, breaking the taboos of his time, treated women as equal to men, and that these details are reported in Gospels written by men."


I believe that on a deep spiritual, mystical level women priests are beginning a healing process of centuries-old misogyny in which spiritual power was exclusively invested in men. In order to be equals in our church at this moment in history, we need to open all positions to women including ordination as an issue of justice. Women priests are a holy shakeup whose time has come!

Women often weep when they attend a woman-priest led liturgy for the first time. All, including divorced and remarried, LGBT and former Catholics, those of other faiths or none, are welcome to celebrate sacraments in our inclusive communities of equals.

Let me share a few recent examples of how the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests is a luminous manifestation of God’s all-embracing love serving the people of God today.

Recently, one of our catacomb deacons called to tell me about her new ministry. A catacomb deacon or priest is one whose identity is not revealed because of her position within the church. She ministers quietly until the time comes when she can go public with her ordination. We have catacomb nuns as well as pastoral ministers who cannot go public for obvious reasons. One of our catacomb sisters lives in a nursing care facility and no one knows that she is ordained. One evening, a nurse came to her and asked if she would pray with and anoint a person who was dying. She went immediately, held her hand and prayed with her until she died. The nurse told her later that something inside her moved her to ask our catacomb sister to pray with this woman so she would not be alone. http://bridgetmarys.blogspot.com/2014/12/arcwp-catacomb-deacon-ministers-to.html

On Nov. 30, 2014, Maureen McGill, a priest who co-presides at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community and an Ecumenical Catholic Community in Florida, officiated at the blessing of the marriage of a gay couple, George and Paul. The two men were married in another state and asked Maureen to bless their marriage in Largo, Florida.

As co-pastors in their Heart of Compassion Ministries, deacon Barbara Billey and priest Michele Birch-Conery of Windsor, Ontario Canada collaborate with religious leaders of many faith traditions and with community groups in fostering the empowerment of disenfranchised persons living in Windsor's inner city, including offering memorial services for the poor and marginalized. As part of this initiative, they are inviting women of all ages and religious traditions into Wisdom Women Circles of Compassion to discover their personal and political voice, leading to activism towards systemic change for the most vulnerable women in their community.

Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea, who is the first ordained woman in Colombia, South America co-presided with a married priest at his 11 year-old granddaughter’s First Communion. Mari Jose describes her beautiful day in these words: "My grandfather, who is a married priest, and my mom give me Holy Communion. Olga Lucia explains why they give me Communion: ‘''For Father Gerardo as grandfather and priest, and Maria Elena, as a mom, it is they who in the home have cultivated the seeds of faith and Christian values, Maria José "'.

There are many more stories of women priests and our inclusive communities living as the light of God’s love in our midst.

Now we look forward to more stories of Georgia Walker rocking the boat in a holy shakeup here in Kansas City, Missiour! As you know, she has been a leader in the efforts to remove Bishop Finn, who was convicted of failing to report suspected sexual abuse allegations. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/29/robert-finn-vatican-investigation_n_5902966.html.


"Arise, shine, for your light has come, Georgia Walker. The glory of Our God is rising on you, in you and all around you in the people of God as you witness for peace, equality and justice in our world.

With Joyce Rupp, we affirm you as “a Light-bearer for others, a clear window of ...eternal starlight.”

Namaste! !

Bridget Mary Meehan, D.Min., a Sister for Christian Community, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 31, 2006. She was ordained a bishop on April 19, 2009. Dr. Meehan is currently Dean of the Doctor of Ministry Program for Global Ministries University, and is the author of 20 books, including Living Gospel Equality Now: Loving in the Heart of God, The Healing Power of Prayer and Praying with Women of the Bible . She presides at liturgies in Mary, Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida. Dr. Meehan can be reached at sofiabmm@aol.com

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Media Release: Historic Ordination of First Kansas City Roman Catholic Women Priest on Jan. 3rd, 2015

Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Historic Ordination of First Kansas City, Roman Catholic Woman Priest: Georgia Walker: 2PM  Jan. 3rd, St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church, Kansas City, MO

See:

Contact: Janice Sevre-Duszynska, D.Min. (Media)

Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, sofiabmm@aol.com
703.505.0004

Georgia Walker, gkwalker@juno.com 816.572.3453

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
www.arcwp.org



Like Pope Francis, Women Priests are calling for a radical renewal of the Catholic Church to follow the heart of Jesus in the Gospels  -- who stood on the margins with the marginalized, including women. 

Georgia Walker will be ordained a woman priest by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan at 2 p.m. on January 3rd at St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church, 3800 Troost Ave., Midtown Kansas City. All are welcome.

Like Pope Francis, we are leading the church into a new day of Gospel equality and inclusivity: a radical discipleship of equals where the entire community of the baptized celebrates sacrament and lives the call to witness Gospel compassion and justice.

We invite Pope Francis to read Georgia Walker’s position paper on women’s ordination which includes the thoughts of our ARCWP community:

1. What is the reason that women are seeking ordination despite the threat of excommunication?

The Spirit’s call is strong and we are responding, “Yes.”

Ours is a prophetic witness for justice. God is a God of justice.

We are choosing not to continue in our own oppression by denying our call.

Joan of Arc was declared a heretic, burned at the stake, and later declared a saint by the church. Pope Benedict canonized two formerly excommunicated nuns, Mother Theodore Guerin from the United States and Mother Mary MacKillop from Australia. Therefore, you could say excommunication has become a new fast track to canonization!

The treatment of women in the Roman Catholic Church directly influences the treatment of women everywhere. By answering God’s call to ordination even when the Church has a law against women being ordained, we are empowering women everywhere to follow their conscience by speaking truth to power and acting upon it.

We love the church, we are dedicated to serving the people of God, and we preside at sacraments within inclusive communities.

Jesus never ordained anyone but did travel with men and women who listened carefully to his life-giving message. These men and women went to cities, towns and villages to bring the Gospel message to all who would hear it, and the story continues to the present day.  We are from the line of Gospel bearers, and as ordained women we are part of a long history of men and women who were ordained to ministry in the early Church.  We encourage our church leaders to read the theologians of the 21st Century and open the door to dialogue for a new model of church.

As we looked back on our lives, this step into ordained priesthood was our response to the Lover God who has been beckoning us into ever and deeper relationship.

When we realized that some close friends were recognizing our priestly vocation, we also realized that this woman priest movement at this particular point in history was carved out especially for us. The calling for us was twofold: the priestly part and the justice part.

We do not accept the legitimacy of excommunication of women priests.  God does not practice the art of patriarchy. 

Why would the hierarchy excommunicate priests who are following their call from God to priesthood, while the hierarchy does not excommunicate bishops who protect pedophile priests or priests who are pedophiles?

  
2.  What would the benefits to the Church (people of God) be if the hierarchy accepted women’s ordination?

We would bring forth and take forward our model of priesthood: non-clerical, inclusive communities where all will be welcome and all will be co-equal in their participation in liturgy, service and governance.

Inclusive liturgies with feminine as well as masculine images of God (who is beyond gender) would support girls’ and women’s images of themselves as being created in God’s image, thus strengthening their psyches and souls. The benefits to men’s souls and psyches would be that they would be more in touch with their own feminine and be inclined to be more cooperative and less inclined to hubris, competition and violence.

Women at the table imaging the imago dei in our sacred bodies would strengthen women’s images of themselves as coming from the Divine and perhaps lessen femicide and the murder and violence toward girls and women. Perhaps seeing women at the table would help men to reinforce their respect for women and our sacred bodies.

The people of God need to hear the Gospels interpreted from our (women’s) living and dying.  The Gospels are grounded in social justice. Men and other women need to hear our stories of how justice-making heals and how injustice causes suffering.  Women’s voices need to be heard in our families, local communities and our world community.

We as women priests want to bring new life into a dying Church by making it a place where diversity is welcome and all people have an equal voice.

There is a connection between the oppression of women in religion and violence done to women (and their children of all ages) in the world. We must see the connections among sexism, racism, militarism, nationalism and capitalism.

God does not practice patriarchy. Jesus teaches us liberation from the domination/subordination pattern in any relationship. We are to empower each other in healthy relationships.

The Church could relieve male priests from their service overload to parishioners so they would not have to serve multiple parishes simultaneously.

Fewer local parishes would have to close when female priests and deacons could share the service.

Sacraments could be made available to more people on a more regular basis in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes and other group living situations.

Maybe many of the 33 million ex-Catholics in the United States would return to a more inclusive and co-equal Church that empowers and liberates the people of God.

It is time to open all the windows!

3. What is it about the hierarchy (Church) that upsets women?

Women have been caring for people in their families, in society and in their parish without due equality in power (say-so) and wages.

We are saddened and scandalized by doctrines and teachings that oppress, exclude and diminish the lives of anyone. We are ashamed of a Church that is unwelcoming to women, LGBTQ, divorced or anyone else who is living life in dignity and love. We do not find Jesus in such exclusions.

When the priesthood of women is rejected, the Church suggests that our God does not want what we are longing to give, thereby warping the image of God for all who accept that teaching, in a particularly pernicious way.
  
We cannot believe that it is women priests who must be reconciled to the Church, rather it is hierarchs who need to be reconciled to the people of God (the Church).

We are embarrassed by collectivities of men who meet behind closed doors and develop positions and edicts that have devastating effects on the lives of women, children and families without having women present to represent their experience.
We as women priests want to bring new life into a dying Church by making it a place where diversity is welcome and all people have an equal voice.






Sr. Ilia Delio OSF Releasing the Love that is inside us


“...All disasters stem from us. Why is there war? Perhaps because now and then I might be inclined to snap at my neighbor. Because I and my neighbor and everyone else do not have enough love. . . . Yet there is love bound up inside us, and if we could release it into the world, a little each day, we would be fighting war and everything that comes with it.”
 We are created for love and until we return to love as the root source of life, we will continue to unravel. If we want a different world, we must become a different people. Perhaps that is why Jesus left us the law of love, that we may live from a deeper center, a new mind and heart; to become a new people, to co-create a new world of justice and peace.

May 2015 be the Year of Love.
[Ilia Delio, OSF, a Sister of St. Francis of Washington, D.C., is Haub Director of Catholic Studies and Visiting Professor at Georgetown University. Her recent publications include From Teilhard to Omega: Cocreating an Unfinished Universe and The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution and the Power of Love.]

Monday, December 29, 2014

Help Woman Priests Rock the Catholic Church: Donate Now

Go to website and hit donate button

 www.arcwp.org

Women Priests Rocking the Catholic Church

Building Inclusive Communities of Equals
Where Justice is Rising Up

FOR ALL
FOR POOR AND MARGINALIZED PEOPLE
AND FOR WOMEN WORLDWIDE AND IN THE CHURCH


Donate to ARCWP:Join our movement by supporting Women Priests Living Justice and Gospel Equality in Church and World NOW!

MAIL: ARCWP
3041 Stuart Drive
Macon, GA 31402




What Do You Think About this New Vatican Video on Women's Concerns Released by Pontifical Council for Culture? Sincere? Clueless? ???

http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/3595/pontifical_council_for_culture_stumbles_with_clueless_video_aimed_at_women.aspx
They took down the English version,, but here is the one in Italian!
"The two-minute video was produced by the Pontifical Council for Culture in preparation for the February 4-7, 2015 Plenary Assembly in Rome. The theme of the assembly is“Women's Cultures: Equality and Difference”. In the opening moments of the video a coquettish blond woman tosses her ringlet capped head about and chirps: At the Pontifical Council for Culture, in the Vatican, they have taken inspiration from Pope Francis’ openness and are reflecting on women’s cultures and the place for women in societies today, between equality and difference. At what point are we today, as women?” A scan of responses to the YouTube video include “ghastly”, “repulsive” “painful” and “an attempt to be hip.”The goal of the Council was to invite women the world over to send them one minute videos of their own assessment of women’s concerns: “In cultures around the world today women have countless joys and hopes, fears and anxieties, gifts and ideas. Tell us yours with a photo or a video. We want to know!”

Bridget Mary's Response: The full equality of women in church and society is the will of God in our times. Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy at Sun City for New Year's Eve Celebration by Katy Zatsick, ARCWP

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community at Sun City Center
Thanksgiving and Gratitude
New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2014
“Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and showing appreciation. It is a mindful acknowledgment of all that we have been given. When we focus on the abundance in our lives, we discover a greater capacity for generosity, cheerfulness, and contentment.”

ALL: In the name of the Source of all being, Jesus our brother and Sophia, the Holy Spirit who calls us to thanksgiving. Amen.

Opening Prayer ALL:
Loving God you who live outside of time, and reside in the imperishable moment, we ask your blessing this New Year’s Eve upon your gift to us of time.  May our calendar remind us of birthdays and other gift-days, as they teach us the secret that all life is meant for celebration and contemplation.  Bless Loving God this New Year, each of its 365 days and nights.  Bless us with new moons and full moons.  Bless us with happy seasons and a long life.  Grant us O loving God the new year’s gift of a year of love. Amen.

First Reading: from ---Andrea Axtell, Nez Perce Elder and American Indian. 
The release that my family is finding is going back to the spiritual ways.  We have a longhouse.  We don’t have services, it isn’t like a set service where you go in there at ten and you are out by eleven.  It’s just a process where we all get together.  We are not in a hurry.  That’s everybody else’s problem, we go and sit and visit.  Then we sing our songs and then we’ll eat our traditional foods.  Every time we get together, we thank the Creator for water, salmon, our venison, and our roots, our berries, and then we’ll sing and thank again.  Thank the water again, without the water we could not exist.  Then afterwards, we sit and visit again.  This too is the Word of God All: Thanks be to God

From Psalm 34
Response: I will always thank my God

I will thank our God at all times,
I will always praise God’s name.
My soul will boast of our God;
Those who are poor will hear and be glad.
Response: I will always thank my God

Join with me in the praise of our God;
Together we shall sing God’s praise.
I called, and God answered my plea;
From my fears our God set me free.
Response: I will always thank my God

Look to God and shine with joy;
You will never be ashamed.
I begged God to listen to me;
God took my burdens and fears away.
Response: I will always thank my God

Second Reading
Several years before his death in 1972, a remarkable rabbi, Abraham J. Heschel, suffered a near–fatal heart attack from which he never fully recovered.  A dear friend visiting him found him woefully weak.  Just about able to whisper, Heschel said to him: “Sam, when I regained consciousness, my first feeling was not of despair or anger.  I felt only gratitude to God for my life, for every moment I have lived. I was ready to depart. “Take me, O God,” I thought, “I have seen so many miracles in my lifetime.”  Exhausted by the effort, Heschel paused then added: “That is what I meant when I wrote (in the preface of his book of Yiddish poems): “I did not ask for success; I asked for wonder. And you gave it to me.”  This too is the Word of God All: Thanks be to God

Gospel: Matthew 11:25-26
Then Jesus prayed, “Abba God, Creator of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever, you have revealed to the youngest children.  Yes, Abba, everything is as you want it to be.”
This is the Good News of Jesus our brother
All: Praise to you Jesus Christ.

Dialog homily: sharing from your gratitude list for 2014

Intercessions:
Response: All: Loving God, giving you thanks; hear our prayer.

Offertory:
Blessed are you, God of all creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer which earth has given and human hands have made.  We give you thanks individually and as community. This bread is our community with Sofia at our center coming together to worship you with grateful hearts.  This will become the bread of life for us.
All:  Blessed be God forever.
Blessed are you, God of all creation.  Through your goodness we have this juice to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. This drink is our never ending desire to offer you thanksgiving for all life brings for us.  We know you hold us in unconditional love. This will become our spiritual drink.
All:  Blessed be God forever.

My sisters and brothers let us pray together that these our gifts may be acceptable to God our Creator.
All:  May God accept these gifts from our hands, for the praise and glory of God's name, for our good and the good of all the People of God.

Presider:  Ever gentle God, Jesus was born of Mary to share his Presence-Emmanuel-“God with us,” and your Spirit of Power.  Accept these our gifts and our gratitude.  By offering ourselves may we be filled with your Spirit of Compassion as we minister to others in our coming year we ask this through Christ, our brother.  All:  Amen.

Canon from sheet 
Our Father and Mother holding hands
The Sign of Peace, sung “peace is flowing…love is flowing…Alleluia…

The Bread is Broken.
All: This is the Lamb of God Jesus who heals our brokenness and that of our entire world.  You are our brother, may this bread we eat from one loaf nourish thankfulness in our lives each day.  How blessed are we who are called to the supper of Jesus. May we be who we are—the Body of Christ.  May we be what we eat—the Body of Christ. Amen.
Please say “We are the body of Christ, we are the blood of Christ” when passing the bread and wine.

After Communion meditation:
May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, And pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.-- St. Theresa of Avila

Community prayers of thanksgiving
 
Closing
May YHWH, who through the childbearing of Mary willed us great kindness to heal the human race, be pleased to enrich us with God’s blessing.
All: Amen
May we know always and everywhere the protection of Mary through whom we have been found worthy to receive the author of life. 
All: Amen
May we who have devoutly gathered this night, carry away with us 
the gifts of spiritual joys, God’s peace and heavenly rewards. 
All: Amen
And may the blessing of Almighty God, Jesus our brother and Sofia come down on us and remain with us forever.
All: Amen
 
Our liturgy has ended; let us go forth to welcome our New Year.
All: Thanks be to God and A Happy New Year!  Alleluia.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Litany of Gratitude for 2014
If you can, from 2014 make a gratitude list, one for each letter of the alphabet. Go back further if you need to.
A:

B:

C:

D:

E:

F:

G:

H:

I:

J:

K:

L:

M:

N:

O:

P:

Q:

R:

S:

T:

U:

V:

W:

X:

Y:


Z: 

Homily on Holy Family Sunday for Inclusive Catholic Community in Bloomington, Indiana, Dec. 29, 2014 by Deacon Annie Watson, ARCWP

Deacon Annie Watson ARCWP, second from left
Father Daniel, Pastor 
“Never Underestimate Small Bundles of Joy”
Luke 2:22-40
December 28, 2014
Deacon Annie Watson, ARCWP
His parents are doing everything right. The Law says he is to be circumcised on the eighth day. Check. The Law says the new mother needs to go and make a postpartum sacrifice so that she can be declared ritually clean after giving childbirth. Check. The Law also says every first born son is to be consecrated to God. Check.
On their way in to the Temple, however, they are interrupted by a man named Simeon. Can you imagine a total stranger walking up to you and demanding to hold your baby? After all, who would harm a baby?
We are not as trusting with our babies today as people have been in the past. In the BBC television series, Call the Midwife, mostly impoverished women in a 1950s London eastside neighborhood turn to midwives and nuns to help them bring their babies into the world.  
The expecting mothers arrive at the convent’s clinic for prenatal care. Surprisingly to modern viewers, they often leave their other children, even toddlers, outside the clinic, unsupervised. The toddlers sit in their baby carriages unattended. Today we would call Child Protective Services if someone did this.
We live in a world of distrust when it comes to our babies and children. Because of this, my special needs daughter, Megan, doesn’t understand why she can’t pick up babies in public places like grocery stores or restaurants. Megan is fascinated with babies. She is instinctively drawn to them and sees all of them as beautiful, even the ones who resemble Winston Churchill.
What happens in the Temple is strange to us. And yet Mary and Joseph do not even flinch. Simeon takes the baby Jesus in his arms and basically says, “Now I can die. I’ve seen the Messiah.” If this happened today, we would think the person is mentally ill, and we certainly wouldn’t allow him to grab our baby in the first place!
But these were different times with different expectations. Simeon, and then, a minute or two later, an elderly widow named Anna, were looking for something. The Holy Spirit had opened their eyes to the possibility that the Messiah of God, God’s anointed one, was in their presence. They had learned to pay attention to detail, to the smallest detail. And what they saw was as plain as the nose on their faces: the face of the Messiah in a small bundle of joy.
For modern readers, this story has no ring of truth to it at all. We can’t just look at babies and know what the future holds for them. So maybe there is more to this story than meets the eye. Maybe there are deeper messages here that we too can see if we also pay attention to the smallest details.
The first detail is this: do everything right. Remember what I said at the beginning. Mary and Joseph are doing everything right. They are following the Law. These are Jewish laws, of course. They don’t directly apply to our tradition, and yet what we can take away from this is the importance of being true to our tradition.
Because you and I are hoping to one day gain acceptance and even validation within the larger Catholic community, it is important, I believe, to be as true to our tradition as we possibly can. If we want to continue to call ourselves Catholics, then we should be Catholics.
That doesn’t mean we can’t be critical of Catholicism when Catholicism falls short—in fact, the best way to be effective in one’s criticism of a religious tradition is to be part of it. No one can stand outside of a tradition and critique it in a way that matters to anyone else.
So, no matter how much we are, or aren’t, accepted or validated within the larger Catholic community, let’s do everything right.
A second small detail I see in this story is that the Gospel writer, Luke, provides gender balance to the story. I see this in two places. First, I see gender balance in the fact that both the male baby Jesus and his mother Mary are required to seek purification according to the Law of Moses.
Second, notice that a man, Simeon, and a woman, Anna, are the ones who see something special in Jesus. Notice also that Simeon is simply called a “man,” whereas Anna, a widow, is referred to as a “prophet.” Is this Luke’s “sneaky” way of validating women in ministry? Is this Luke’s way of introducing his readers to the principle of inclusiveness?
A third minor detail I see is the one that is as plain as the nose on our faces. If Captain Obvious were reading this story, he would say, “Obviously, this story teaches us that we should never underestimate little bundles of joy.”
Do you recall the parable of the mustard seed? Today’s story is that parable fleshed out. Sometimes something very small and insignificant becomes larger than life. That’s Jesus in a nutshell, or in this case, a mustard seed.
Luke confirms this when he writes, “The child grew in size and strength. He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was with him.” Just like the mustard seed grew to become a great tree.
What is just as obvious to me is that this is also true about this community. For now, you are a little bundle of joy, doing everything right, and you are doing so with a sense of inclusiveness and grace. Those of us who are here, who are intimate with the community, see the potential and promise. Like Simeon and Anna, we are open to the possibility that something wonderful is happening right in front of our noses.
And yes, just as Simeon predicted that this baby would grow up and become a source of consternation for some, you and I seem to be in that same vein.
The fourth and final little detail I see in this story is faithfulness. So far in Luke’s Gospel, everyone has been faithful. Mary is faithful in terms of her unexpected pregnancy. Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, are faithful. The shepherds in the field are faithful. Everyone is faithful.
Now Mary and Joseph faithfully fulfill their responsibilities, and Simeon and Anna—well, as one writer puts it, their “faithfulness takes the cake.” It’s not like they had the proclamations of the angels to rely upon! They just kept their eyes open, day after day, perhaps checking out every baby that came through the doors of the Temple, waiting to be enlightened and inspired. Can we be as faithful in our setting?
And what does this faithfulness look like? It looks like keeping our eyes open to the smallest of details. Check. It looks like doing everything right, staying true to our tradition. Check. It looks like being passionate about our commitment to inclusiveness. Check. It looks like learning to never underestimate the smallest bundles of joy. Check.


"Inside the Vatican" 60 Minutes - Inequality and Poverty Major Issues for Pope Francis


http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-presents-inside-the-vatican/
Poverty rooted in global inequality is a major concern of Pope Francis.  Since women and their dependent children make up two-thirds of the world's poor, the issue of women priests and sexism in the Catholic Church must be addressed. God cannot be a God of inequality or injustice. God created women and men in the divine image as equals therefore, gender equality is the will of God for all people, everywhere.  Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org

Sunday, December 28, 2014

"Woman in KC Intends to be Kansas City's First Female Priest"/Associated Press/TV/Video Links

http://www.kctv5.com/story/27711449/woman-in-kc-plans-to-defy-church-become-a-priest

Video TV Clips of Interviews with Georgia Walker:
The Denver Channel

Woman in KC plans to defy church, become a priest
So she joined the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a group within the Catholic Church. Instead of leaving the church, they hope to ...
https://www.google.com/alerts/share?hl=en&gl=US&ru=http://www.wlox.com/story/27711449/woman-in-kc-plans-to-defy-church-become-a-priest&ss=gp&rt=Woman+in+KC+plans+to+defy+church,+become+a+priest&cd=KhQxMzk1NTczMzI3NDQ0MDAxMDg3MzIaNTRkMmI2ZTVkMjk5NzRmOTpjb206ZW46VVM&ssp=AMJHsmVMrubrl32xzECm55r8l3zKGxK1Sw https://www.google.com/alerts/share?hl=en&gl=US&ru=http://www.wlox.com/story/27711449/woman-in-kc-plans-to-defy-church-become-a-priest&ss=fb&rt=Woman+in+KC+plans+to+defy+church,+become+a+priest&cd=KhQxMzk1NTczMzI3NDQ0MDAxMDg3MzIaNTRkMmI2ZTVkMjk5NzRmOTpjb206ZW46VVM&ssp=AMJHsmVMrubrl32xzECm55r8l3zKGxK1Sw https://www.google.com/alerts/share?hl=en&gl=US&ru=http://www.wlox.com/story/27711449/woman-in-kc-plans-to-defy-church-become-a-priest&ss=tw&rt=Woman+in+KC+plans+to+defy+church,+become+a+priest&cd=KhQxMzk1NTczMzI3NDQ0MDAxMDg3MzIaNTRkMmI2ZTVkMjk5NzRmOTpjb206ZW46VVM&ssp=AMJHsmVMrubrl32xzECm55r8l3zKGxK1Sw




Seeking to restore life to church, Catholic woman wants to become KC's first female priest
She said she has support from The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. “This movement for women priests is saying no we're not leaving ...
https://www.google.com/alerts/share?hl=en&gl=US&ru=http://fox4kc.com/2014/12/26/seeking-to-restore-life-to-church-catholic-woman-wants-to-become-kcs-first-female-priest/&ss=gp&rt=Seeking+to+restore+life+to+church,+Catholic+woman+wants+to+become+KC's+first+female+priest&cd=KhM1MjA1MjMzOTIyMTUzNTY5OTM4MhoxMmNkMGRkZTEyYmQ1OWVmOmNvbTplbjpVUw&ssp=AMJHsmXQJmlFz6nobiY05Id60MDXcKkIww https://www.google.com/alerts/share?hl=en&gl=US&ru=http://fox4kc.com/2014/12/26/seeking-to-restore-life-to-church-catholic-woman-wants-to-become-kcs-first-female-priest/&ss=fb&rt=Seeking+to+restore+life+to+church,+Catholic+woman+wants+to+become+KC's+first+female+priest&cd=KhM1MjA1MjMzOTIyMTUzNTY5OTM4MhoxMmNkMGRkZTEyYmQ1OWVmOmNvbTplbjpVUw&ssp=AMJHsmXQJmlFz6nobiY05Id60MDXcKkIww https://www.google.com/alerts/share?hl=en&gl=US&ru=http://fox4kc.com/2014/12/26/seeking-to-restore-life-to-church-catholic-woman-wants-to-become-kcs-first-female-priest/&ss=tw&rt=Seeking+to+restore+life+to+church,+Catholic+woman+wants+to+become+KC's+first+female+priest&cd=KhM1MjA1MjMzOTIyMTUzNTY5OTM4MhoxMmNkMGRkZTEyYmQ1OWVmOmNvbTplbjpVUw&ssp=AMJHsmXQJmlFz6nobiY05Id60MDXcKkIww

http://fox4kc.com/2014/12/26/seeking-to-restore-life-to-church-catholic-woman-wants-to-become-kcs-first-female-priest/

http://www.fox8live.com/story/27711449/w oman-in-kc-plans-to-defy-church-become-a-priest



Woman intends to be Kansas City's first female Catholic priest
That steadfastness is a trait of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a growing movement of people who see the church as too ...
https://www.google.com/alerts/share?hl=en&gl=US&ru=http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article4986519.html&ss=gp&rt=Woman+intends+to+be+Kansas+City's+first+female+Catholic+priest&cd=KhQxNDM2MDM3ODA3MTg2OTcyMjU4NDIaNTRkMmI2ZTVkMjk5NzRmOTpjb206ZW46VVM&ssp=AMJHsmVqCRtlbTqWy6A8E7QzYD8SbJqSgw https://www.google.com/alerts/share?hl=en&gl=US&ru=http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article4986519.html&ss=fb&rt=Woman+intends+to+be+Kansas+City's+first+female+Catholic+priest&cd=KhQxNDM2MDM3ODA3MTg2OTcyMjU4NDIaNTRkMmI2ZTVkMjk5NzRmOTpjb206ZW46VVM&ssp=AMJHsmVqCRtlbTqWy6A8E7QzYD8SbJqSgw https://www.google.com/alerts/share?hl=en&gl=US&ru=http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article4986519.html&ss=tw&rt=Woman+intends+to+be+Kansas+City's+first+female+Catholic+priest&cd=KhQxNDM2MDM3ODA3MTg2OTcyMjU4NDIaNTRkMmI2ZTVkMjk5NzRmOTpjb206ZW46VVM&ssp=AMJHsmVqCRtlbTqWy6A8E7QzYD8SbJqSgw
Kansas First News

Woman in KC plans to defy church, become a priest
Walker is part of a movement called the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. Instead of leaving the church, they hope to change it from ...
https://www.google.com/alerts/share?hl=en&gl=US&ru=http://kansasfirstnews.com/2014/12/26/woman-in-kc-plans-to-defy-church-become-a-priest/&ss=gp&rt=Woman+in+KC+plans+to+defy+church,+become+a+priest&cd=KhQxNDM2MDM3ODA3MTg2OTcyMjU4NDIaNTRkMmI2ZTVkMjk5NzRmOTpjb206ZW46VVM&ssp=AMJHsmVxOyIGfFjzqJU5ikzMR8zfaBPVHw https://www.google.com/alerts/share?hl=en&gl=US&ru=http://kansasfirstnews.com/2014/12/26/woman-in-kc-plans-to-defy-church-become-a-priest/&ss=fb&rt=Woman+in+KC+plans+to+defy+church,+become+a+priest&cd=KhQxNDM2MDM3ODA3MTg2OTcyMjU4NDIaNTRkMmI2ZTVkMjk5NzRmOTpjb206ZW46VVM&ssp=AMJHsmVxOyIGfFjzqJU5ikzMR8zfaBPVHw https://www.google.com/alerts/share?hl=en&gl=US&ru=http://kansasfirstnews.com/2014/12/26/woman-in-kc-plans-to-defy-church-become-a-priest/&ss=tw&rt=Woman+in+KC+plans+to+defy+church,+become+a+priest&cd=KhQxNDM2MDM3ODA3MTg2OTcyMjU4NDIaNTRkMmI2ZTVkMjk5NzRmOTpjb206ZW46VVM&ssp=AMJHsmVxOyIGfFjzqJU5ikzMR8zfaBPVHw
http://www.tonyskansascity.com/2014/12/tkc-breaking-news-lets-celebrate-kansas.html



.."For years Walker has been a deacon, still visiting prisons, but also accepting ‘Ex-Catholics' who left for their own reasons. ... “I want it to be more inclusive. I want it to welcome everybody to the table.”So she joined the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a group within the Catholic Church. Instead of leaving the church, they hope to change it from within. From there she started her journey to become Kansas City's first female Catholic priest.“I decided I needed to go forward and I would stand with the marginalized. I would be one of the marginalized...” 

Walker said..”When contemplating the decision to become a priest, Walker wrote a petition paper describing why she is making the choice. That letter was delivered to a friend living in Rome and has since been delivered to the Vatican for Pope Francis' review “I asked a friend to just drop it in the mailbox for the Pope, so he would just hear from a woman who's making the decision to stand up. I don't think he will answer me,” said Walker with a smile..."

Walker's ceremony will be held at the Saint Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church, 3800 Troost Avenue, at 2 p.m. Jan. 3.