Archive for March, 2011

Dear friends,
Questions periodically arise about who we are and our mission, so I thought I’d post some brief information. For those familiar with the Ecumenical Catholic Communion (ECC), you already know that we have three categories of ministries by which groups or priests enter our system: The most common is a parish. Another group is comprised of those working as hospital or hospice chaplains. And the third is known as a “specialized ministry,” which could be a number of things. St. Junia’s House falls in this latter category. Each ministry incorporates itself and attains a non-profit 501c3 status in becoming part of the ECC. Each is responsible for its own finances. You should know that as pastor of St. Junia’s House, I receive no salary and no income. This ministry is supported out of my own pocket and those of generous friends who are able to help us from time to time.

So, our mission is kind of a pot pourri. We’re not a parish and likely will never become one, because our house church ministry is focused on young adults who attend our weekly Mass. They come from both Roman Catholic and evangelical backgrounds. Because of their ages and life stage, we know that many of them will move on in a few years. We try to keep up with those who have left, and some of them come back to visit when they’re in the Southern California area. We strongly encourage their involvement at St. Matt’s, which is only 12 minutes away, so that they may learn that we are part of a much larger faith community. In our previous IC affiliation, we were quite isolated, so we are gently trying to remediate this problem. Some of our participants have visited at St. Matt’s and we will continue to develop the relationships there. If you’d like to visit St. Junia’s House, just let me know. We need to “count noses” in advance if possible because we serve lunch to everyone after Mass, and have some really good discussion time.

Another ministry of St. Junia’s House is a weekly email of the lectionary scriptures and a written homily, with study notes. We aspire to offer fresh perspectives on our lectionary scriptures. We sometimes modify the readings, because the Roman Catholic lectionary which we follow will cut or skip certain verses. We utilize perspectives across the entire religious spectrum and try to encourage people to study and to think for themselves. Those attending St. Junia’s House  automatically receive it as do some of those who have moved on, and a larger group of adult supporters from a number of different churches. Or, anyone who asks can be put on the list. If you’d like to receive them, just let me know.

We also conduct occasional group seminars or day retreats that are open to anyone at St. Matt’s, or from any nearby ECC community, or anyone who is interested. The last one we did was in February, where we watched a live webinar from Princeton Seminary on the topic of the Atonement, led by professors and priests from the Orthodox Church. We are now planning another one for early June in which we’ll watch a webinar with Fr. Richard Rohr+ (more on this soon). If you’d like to be on a list to be notified when these are coming up, let me know.

We also will host individual or couple retreats which can be a day-length or overnight. These can be guided retreats or self-directed ones where you use St. Junia’s House as holy time and space. If you want to schedule one, let me know.

We serve as a “bed and breakfast” for traveling clergy who are here to see our Bishop or to participate in activities at St. Matt or other ECC communities. We’ve also had clergy from other denominations who used us as a “respite.” Let me know if you have a need.

Because M-J+ is also a licensed psychologist, she has been able to apply that set of skills in ministry too. We are able to make counseling/psychotherapy available for a few people who lack the means to pay for services elsewhere. We also offer evaluations for applicants into the ECC who are seeking ordination or incardination — ECC requires a psychological evaluation of every candidate. We donate the fees received for this service to the ECC.

M-J+ also is a volunteer in the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) group, which provides free legal representation and psychological evaluations for asylum applicants into the U.S. These are individuals who have been persecuted or tortured in their home countries, for whom return may be unsafe. They include those who are persecuted for political or religious reasons, women who have been genitally mutilated, gays/lesbians who have been abused and who risk death if they go home, women who have been raped/’molested/assaulted, etc.

So, it is probably worth saying a few words about what we are not. We are not in competition with any local ECC community. We don’t seek to spirit anyone away from their own communities.  We also regularly have visitors who are not a part of the ECC.  We think this is the meaning of “ecumenical” in our name! M-J+ regards St. Matthew as her own spiritual home, participating in activities there on a regular basis, and encouraging others to do the same if they live in our area. Otherwise, we hope to provide help and support to any of our local ECC parishes. If you have questions, please feel free to post and comment!

Blessings, M-J+

Dear friends of St. Junia’s House,
Today, I received an email from Fr. Greg Singleton+ of the ECC Order of St. Francis of Reconciliation in Chicago. I was so struck with it that I asked and received permission to pass it on to you. There’s food for thought for all of us here in this Holy Season:

Dear Sisters and Brothers (mostly Franciscan but a few others as well),

I love the vision, ethos, spirit, and mission of Francis, but after my Lenten reflection last night I came to the clear realization that in my moments of greatest honesty I am fully capable of uttering the following prayer:

Lord make me a disturber of the peace.
Where there is inanity, let me sow logic,
Where there is passive-aggressive behavior, confrontation,
Where there is dissimulation, truth,
Where there is ignorant certainty, informed skepticism,
Where there is manipulation, unmasking,
Where there is Pollyanna optimism, realism,
Where there is bland oblivion masquerading as happiness, indignation.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to console as to challenge,
To be understood as to catalyze,
To withhold truth in order to be loved as to say hard truths with love.
For it is through integrity that we stand ready to love,
It is though love that we embrace difficulties in life and accept inevitable death,
It is through death that we are born to eternal life.

Pray for this poor excuse of a Franciscan on his Lenten journey, and I will pray for you on yours.

I am fine, dear friends, neither sad not depressed nor in despair. I am just honestly assessing where I am during this season of introspection. Indeed, after this epiphany I went to sleep serene and happy last night. I have given words to what I essentially am and have embraced it. And I indeed know enough about the Seraphic Father to realize that quite often he was in exactly the same place. I can almost hear him say, “Yes, Greg, you are a bad ass. It is your charism, your gift, and your vocation.”

On the other hand, I may just be an old guy who needs and attitude adjustment.


For those interested in tracking our professor in residence in the ECC — otherwise known as the Resident Old Curmudgeon, his various venues are cited below.  Blessings, M-J+

Gregory Holmes Singleton, ofr
Community of St. Francis, Chicago
St. Bonaventure Virtual House of Studies
Franciscans of Reconciliation
Ecumenical Catholic Communion
Professor of History, Emeritus
Northeastern Illinois University
In All Venues 

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."
Charles Darwin, DESCENT OF MAN

Dear friends,
Our brothers and sisters in Poland have just concluded their Synod and have voted to join the Ecumenical Catholic Communion! If you’d like to “meet” them, I refer you to You Tube and several videos by eliszam and there is also one link on my Facebook page. I understand that there are several communities in Poland, Belgium, and Vienna who are coming together and will become a part of the ECC. We are overjoyed! Our Presiding Bishop will be planning a trip to welcome them into the ECC. There is also a community in Lithuania he will visit where there is a man who was previously ordained a Deacon in the ECC who will be a part of this visit. Our Deacon there is the father of one of our priests, Fr. Zilvinas Jakstas, who has a Lithuanian-American ECC Parish in Poway, California. I understand that Fr. Zilvinas will be asked to accompany Bp. +Peter on this episcopal journey as he knows a number of languages and, of course, is well experienced in traveling throughout Europe.

Blessings, M-J+