At a recent community meeting at St Joseph's House of Hospitality we realized that there was a need to look at one of our rules, which didn't seem to be working well. After talking about it for a while, we realized that the people who would be impacted by the decision needed, not just a voice in the decision, but as much as possible to make the decision themselves. So today we gathered the people most affected, and sat in a circle together. What a world of difference it makes, talking as equals. There's just a whole different spirit when we can say, "let's talk together and find a way that is just and that works for everyone," instead of one person or group imposing rules on others.
When we do that at St Joe's, we are not only making a decision that is owned by the people it impacts. We are also providing an opportunity for people who don't have much power in our society to see themselves as people who have an equal voice, who can make decisions. I hope that such a way of doing things not only has a positive effect on St Joe's, but on everyone involved, and that it plants a seed that will bear fruit in the slow, day-by-day transformation of our society.
I don't believe that the world will be healed without the empowerment and self-determination of the people who are currently on the bottom economically and socially. I don't believe that healing will happen without people like me and you sharing the power that we have. Very few of us are totally at either the top or the bottom of the heap. Most of us are somewhere in between, having more than some and less than others. We need to both claim our own power, never buying into seeing ourselves as "less than" because we are women or poor or physically challenged or young or old or because of the color of our skin or the language that we speak ---- and at the same time we need to be aware of our own power and not treat others as "less than" because of our own level of education or authority or financial comfort, and mindfully walk in equality with all.
This is why it is so important that as we move into a time of transformation in the church (and I absolutely believe we are in such a time!), we are not only about justice, inclusion of all, empowerment of women, --- but also about equality in the church. Healing is not going to happen without individuals discovering the power that is within them, and where better to nurture that discovery than in church? Let’s see the gifts in each person and call them forth. Everyone has something to offer.
I am grateful for organizations like Call to Action, or We are Church over in Europe, where lay people are so clear that it is the people who are the church. I look forward to exploring what that means for us in practical ways as we grow at St Romero’s. May our little church be whatever God is dreaming for it to be!
Come and celebrate with us some Sunday. It’s different every week, but we are always here!
Blessings and love to all, Chava
This coming Monday, May 30, is Memorial Day. Ever since the war in Iraq began in 2003, Karen Keenan and Tom Moore have been organizing "A Memorial in Time of War" at 9 am at the Sister Cities Bridge at Genesee Crossroads Park, behind the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Downtown Rochester. You are welcome to join in this moving ceremony and pray that it will be the last time we need to do it.
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Church in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14603