Archive for June, 2010


Dear friends of St. Junia’s House,

Going to Texas was my first experience with these two organizations and it has been electrifying for me, both in the content of the program and meeting people who have participated for decades. But probably the greatest impact is realizing the essential ingredient in sacramental Christianity which was not a consistent part of my past experience: community. Prior to the past six years, my faith practices had been in the evangelical/protestant world, and in settings that did not foster much intimacy. And a unique quality of community bonding was characteristic of  the Christian movement at the very beginning. Not minimizing the witness of many good protestant communities, this is simply something that had not been fulfilled in my experience ever before.  Perhaps I was not ready, or perhaps their zeitgeist of community and worship was just not a match for me. And even when  I entered into a sacramental view of Christian experience, the mode in independent catholic communities to which I was exposed had  tended to be very isolated.  Ecumenical relationships were articulated as a goal, but the reality was — insulation and isolation. So, I’m learning — not just on an intellectual or theological level, but on an experiential one many things I did not understand about sacramental Christian communities.

For those who are not familiar with them, CORPUS [see Corpus.org] was originally composed of married Roman Catholic priests and their partners but is now expanded to include others who are interested, including those still in the Roman Catholic Church working for change as well as those who are part of the universal church but who have sought alternative faith communities. I am awed by the journeys some of these folks have had over the past 20-40 years.  The personal stories I’ve heard over beer in the evenings have been amazing. There is so much for me to learn here.

FCM (Federated Christian Ministries) also includes many folks who were previously in the RCC, and who are now ministering in many venues, including hospital or hospice chaplains, teaching, spiritual mentoring, as well as those with house churches or small parish ministries.  Several of our local folks from St. Matt’s are long-term members and had introduced me to FCM and  also attended, including Bishop +Peter Hickman of St. Matthew ECC Church and his wife, Mirella, and +Peter’s son, Andrew.  Dr. Nick De Los Reyes+ and his wife, Mary, and their daughter, Kayla were also here.

Anthony Padovano was the keynote speaker on the first evening. His wife, Theresa, was also here. He was the first President of CORPUS and held that position for ten years. He is a renowned international speaker and not having grown up in the Catholic world, this was my first exposure to him. I can see why he is so esteemed. He’s both gutsy and humble. He is a distinguished professor of literature and philosophy and has been a visiting professor of theology at 25 American colleges/universities. The stories I heard about him from those who had him for a professor in the past were inspiring in his dealing with each of them as individuals, not as a collective. He has presented at UN Conferences in NY, Geneva, and the Hague. Since 1968 he has served as pastor of the Inclusive Community in Nutley, NJ.  His personal and professional papers are archived at the University of Notre Dame. There’s no way I can do justice to capturing his address, but his wife, Theresa, said that she would make it available to me in the near future. When it becomes available,  I’ll be sure to put a link to it on line. I was fortunate to be able to speak with him briefly after his talk and to have a “photo opportunity.”  He is very supportive of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests and all women priests.  On Friday night, I was so stoked after hearing Anthony that I couldn’t sleep! And the second day of the conference was equally powerful.

On Saturday, the second speaker was also electric, Father Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest who has been very active in pursuit of human justice issues all over the world, but especially Central and South America. He is a strong proponent of women’s ordination for which he has been rebuked.  I will post a letter written to his Maryknoll brothers about this issue as soon as I can which he has given me permission to pass on to you.  I also obtained his DVD  documentary on issues involving the U.S. Government funding and training military in South America [Shut Down the School of the Americas, in English and Spanish]  which I have added to the collection available for loan to anyone in the ECC – see media library on the website. This movement of protest began in protest of the four women religious who were raped and killed by Salvadoran soldiers in 1980.  Thereafter Father Roy became an outspoken critic of U.S. policy in Latin America and he spent over four years in U. S. federal prisons for nonviolent protests against the training of Latin American soldiers at Fort Benning, Georgia. In 1990, he founded the School of Americas Watch, that does research on the U.S. involvement in training thousands of soldiers from Latin America in combat skills at U.S. taxpayers’ expense.  Each November, tens of thousands of people converge on Fort Benning to demand the closing of the school. The DVD includes both an English and a Spanish language presentation:  Shut Down the School of the Americas: A Compilation of Films to close the SOA/WHINSEC and to Change U.S. Foreign Policy. More resources are available at www.SOAW.org.

There were other very worthwhile presentations. A most incredible one was on Saturday night. I had not realized that Anthony Padovano is also a playwright, and he wrote a trilogy of one-act plays based on his book, Conscience and Conflict, dealing with keys issues concerning the Church and contemporary spirituality. At last year’s conference, the play based on Martin Luther was performed. This time, the play called “Winter Rain” based on Thomas Merton was performed by Jason McCool, who is a music professor and who also has quite an acting resume in the New York and Washington, D.C. areas. Notably, his father, Joseph, is a married Catholic priest as well as a licensed psychologist and his mother made the introduction before Jason’s performance.  Afterward, Anthony and Jason answered questions raised by the audience, which was quite stimulating. I talked with Joseph and Jason over a beer later that night. Anthony wrote a dissertation and has published works on Thomas Merton. This was a profoundly incisive depiction of Merton with which the audience could deeply identify in both his humanity and his spiritual journey.

When I returned to California, I immediately went to Amazon.com and ordered a copy of Anthony’s Trilogy of plays and some of his other works.  The third in the trilogy, on Pope John XXIII, possibly may be performed next year at the FCM/CORPUS meeting.

And I roomed with an old friend, Carol Wagner, from Elgin, Texas, who was also a member of my previous religious order which had been based in Tacoma, Washington.  Carol had resigned a year before I did.  We were previously forbidden to have contact with members of the group who had exited, and it has been helpful to be with her again and to sort through some of our shared past, both the parts that were positively  influential in our journeys — never to be discounted, lost or forgotten — and those things for which we are completing our grieving and seeking continued healing for ourselves and others who were involved. We continue to pray for our former bishop and the one other remaining community member. As we have been told by others with similar experiences, small IC groups commonly implode on themselves, and so we are sorting things through but also very much moving on. Both of us have found very good new communities that are more “public,” or “visible,” and “ecumenical” as well as “accountable.”

Coming to the FCM/CORPUS meeting was an incredible mind-expansion, to come to appreciate what our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters have gone through over the years since Vatican II, and to meet many of the movers and shakers who have continued to work toward a married priesthood and priesthood of women.  There is a broad support base out there that because of my experience being primarily in tiny insulated IC groups and limited exposure to fully functional  sacramental communities,  I didn’t see the whole picture.  It has been a real education for me.  So,  my previous sense of isolation as a woman priest is rapidly dissipating.  There was an immediate spiritual affinity with many of the folks at this meeting; over 80 people from around the country were in attendance, plus a few from out of the country.  I had already joined FCM, and now plan to also join CORPUS.

On my webpage, under the photo albums, I am working on an album of some of the highlights from  the FCM/CORPUS meeting. Hopefully, I’ll get it all put together shortly, but right now, it is in somewhat of a disarray and the descriptions of photos are not complete.  And I will post important documents from this meeting as soon as I am able. At the moment, I’m in the middle of forensic psychology cases that are taking most of my attention, but hopefully I will come up for air soon.

Peace and blessings,

M-J+

This blog and website would not be happening without the cool, knowledgable Bill Hanzel, who is patient beyond belief! Bill builds websites for folks in the ECC including his own parish in Colorado. Blessings on you, Bill! M-J+

Meanderings 6/16/10
Dear friends,
It has been almost exactly three months since I reached out to the St. Matthew’s Church and the ECC Community. Such a short time, but so much has transpired! My world was turned upside down on 12/27/09 when I was in a freak pedestrian accident in a shopping mall parking lot. We had Sunday Liturgy and lunchtime at St. Junia’s House and after everyone left, I went to the shopping center to shop for a couple of items. I was in a rush, and, walking rapidly alongside and cutting around a parked car, I did not see the six inch concrete barrier in front of it. I hit with an impact and sailed through the air, landing chin-first on another barrier a couple of feet away. With nothing to cushion the impact, both my mandibles were broken and my bridgework considerably rearranged, resulting in puncturing beneath my tongue. I bled profusely, but was not knocked out. Paramedics and police thought it was such a stupid accident that they asked me if I had been drinking! Oh, I was so humiliated!

But, long story short, I ended up in the hospital for several days, and my jaws were then wired shut for a month. The pain was unbearable and narcotics were necessitated for a couple of weeks. Coming off the narcotics, I was still having cognitive and emotional fluctuations that meant to me that I had probably suffered a mild concussion. When the wiring came off the jaws, the surgeons sent me to Walker Physical Therapy Center, located in the very same complex as St. Matthew’s Church for therapy three times weekly. Was this simply chance? I don’t think so! This was a miracle for me!
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