Last month when I was at the National Catholic Worker Gathering in Las Vegas, a man said to me, “women priests, gay marriage – these things are just distractions. Discipleship is what we are really about.” It wasn’t until the next day that it occurred to me that the person saying that was both male and straight! It can be pretty hard to hear the cries for justice of the people right around us, especially when we can’t see our own position of privilege.
This week holds three anniversaries. I’m writing this on November 16, the 22nd anniversary of the martyrdom of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter at the University of Central America in San Salvador, because they were speaking for the rights and dignity of the poor. Tomorrow, November 17, is the tenth anniversary of Mary Ramerman’s ordination at Spiritus Christi. Denise Donato, Patti La Rosa, Rachel McGuire and I will all concelebrate with Mary at Thursday Night Mass that evening at Spiritus. And finally, November 19 was the day we began celebrating a regular, once-a-week Sunday Mass at St Romero’s last year.
Clueless though he may have been, that man in Las Vegas had a point. Our strides for justice must not be for ourselves alone. This week of anniversaries might be a good moment to be aware of the movement that is happening around the world, this almost invisible movement of little churches, of women priests, of communities coming into being, springing up like the bits of green that sprout in early spring, almost imperceptibly, but bringing promise of the summer to come. What shall we be? Shall we be connected with each other, holding hands as we go forth into the world? Our joining the Federation of Christian Ministries was a step in that direction. How else can we be connected? Can we build strong bridges between the Roman Catholic Womenpriests, and the ECC, that Mary and Denise were ordained in? Can we love and support each other without recreating hierarchy? And then, what? My dream is that we will be a church – a larger, connected, interconnected church – that is aware of the great disparity between those like ourselves who have what we need for life, and those who struggle in extreme poverty and oppression --- that even as we free ourselves from our own chains of sexism and clericalism that we turn and extend our hands to those still oppressed by poverty and the inequities of a system that has so consistently put people of color last.
As we remember the great joy of November 17, 2001, let’s harness that energy and use it for good. Use it to transform the world. It is never, ever, a Christian attitude to say, “we got ours.” Celebrating what we have and how far we have come, lets keep looking around and see who is being left out, and bring them on in to the party… the party of justice and freedom and life for all.
As we move into the beginning of our second year of weekly Masses, I am moved to remember all that has happened, and how many people have helped along the way. Eli Woodbeck was my “right-hand man” in his months at St Joe’s. and now Rachael Morlock is my “right-hand woman.” Each of them has been such a blessing. I am so grateful to Librada Paz, without whose help Iglesia de San Romero could not have been. I am grateful to Joe and Caroline, whose early support of the Migrant Mass was like training wheels in our tottering early days, and to Peter Veitch whose later support has made it possible for us to offer Religious Ed to our one young church member. I am grateful to Michael for showing up no matter what, and to Leo whose leadership in the migrant community provided the welcome we needed to keep the Migrant Mass going. I am grateful to Jim Callan for all his encouragement and wisdom. And finally, I am grateful to those whose financial support has helped with gas, various necessary items and a land-line telephone for our guys in the Alternatives to Detention program. And, of course, to all the community of St Joseph’s House of Hospitality, who let us use the dining room for Mass each Sunday. We are so wonderfully, incredibly blessed. Thank you all!
And now we will start something new. On Sunday, November 27, we will welcome those from Iglesia de San Romero who are staying here for the winter, and celebrate our first bilingual Mass in the dining room at St Joe’s at 11 am. I hope you will consider coming that day, and possibly more, so that we can offer a loving, welcoming community on Sunday mornings this winter.
I do not know where we are going, but I know that God has done wonders already. A branch shall grow from the stump, a flower shall bloom in the desert, a light will shine in the darkness, living water will flow.
Come help pour it!
Blessings and love to all,
Bread for All, the job training program at St Joe’s, is offering Thanksgiving pies for $10. Call 775-9135 by this Sunday, November 20, if you’d like to order one. More complete information is on the attached flier.
Oscar Romero Church
A Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620