Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Vatican's Wild and Crazy Synod on the Family by David Gibson

Francis himself also made it clear at the end of the meeting that he wants the church to be open to "new things," and he ordered that the "defeated" proposals still be included in the text. It is likely that over the next year or two, he will also appoint more like-minded cardinals and bishops who will push for changes...
Amid all the lobbying and armchair analysis, it's important to step back and realize that in the three decades before Francis was elected pope, bishops, priests and theologians could have been investigated, censured, silenced or fired for many of the ideas that were being openly discussed at the synod.
That is perhaps the real earthquake, and it's one that Francis himself wanted.
On the other hand, be careful what you pray for. Francis has long urged Catholics to say what they think without fear of reprisals. Opening the synod, he again reminded the participants that he had just one condition for their talks: "Speak clearly. Let no one say: 'This you cannot say.' "
And by all accounts, they did, with great passion inside the synod hall, but even more sharply in the press. The various interest groups seeking to influence the discussions were often much less diplomatic. As one cardinal put it to the Catholic news site Crux, at a certain point, open discussion becomes "chaos."....

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My Response to Pope's homily/Article on Vatican Synod-Report Narrows Open Tone, Pope Calls for Middle Path by Joshua J. McElwee NCR

Bridget Mary's Response to Pope Francis' closing homily:
As Pope Francis admits the Synod was a "journey of men." Herein lies problem number 1!! Women belong to the family and should be decision-makers at this Synod and in all church issues. Really, celibate males, some of whom according to the Pope, were outright hostile, should not talk the talk as if they walk the walk!  They have a major credibility gap on this and other issues too! As the youth today say-lol Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

..."But calling it "a journey of men," the pope said "there were also moments of desolation, of tension and of temptations, of which you could mention some possibilities."
Listing those temptations, the pope began with "the temptation of the hostile rigorist."
Such a person, he said, has "the desire to close inside the script (the letter) and not be surprised by God, from the God of surprises (the Spirit); inside the law, inside the certainty of what we know and not of what we still have to learn and reach for."
"From the time of Jesus, it is the temptation of the zealots, of the scrupulous ... considered -- today -- 'traditionalists' and even 'intellectualists,'" he said.
The pope then warned against "the temptation of destructive do-gooding, which in the name of a false mercy bands wounds and cures them without first medicating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and roots."
"It is the temptation of 'do-gooders'  ... considered 'progressives' and 'liberals,'" he said."

Monday, October 20, 2014

St. Andrew UCC, Sarasota Celebrates October Fest/"God Laughing Out Loud"

"In the beginning God enjoyed herself. She laughed out loud and laughed some more because it was good. She sat back and smiled.  She clapped her hands in glee...She did nothing but enjoy and it was everything...:Light years later, when creation came into being and people began to toil and sweat their way, she noticed that her first principle had been replaced by work and pain. So she sent a reminder of her legacy. She gave it several names: celebration, recreation, fun, pot luck dinners, fellowship. Some thought it was a vestige of days gone by. But God knew it was the real thing.  She called it salvation. " Mary Hunt,, "God Laughing Our loud"  Concilium International Journal for Theology,2000/4)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bishops scrap welcome to gays in sign of split By NICOLE WINFIELD and DANIELA PETROFF/Follow your Conscience!

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Catholic bishops scrapped their landmark welcome to gays Saturday, showing deep divisions at the end of a two-week meeting sought by Pope Francis to chart a more merciful approach to ministering to Catholic families.
The bishops approved a final report covering a host of issues related to Catholic family life, acknowledging there were "positive elements" in civil heterosexual unions outside the church and even in cases when men and women were living together outside marriage.
They also said the church must respect Catholics in their moral evaluation of "methods used to regulate births," a seemingly significant deviation from church teaching barring any form of artificial contraception.
But the bishops failed to reach consensus on a watered-down section on ministering to homosexuals. The new section had stripped away the welcoming tone of acceptance contained in a draft document earlier in the week.
Rather than considering gays as individuals who had gifts to offer the church, the revised paragraph referred to homosexuality as one of the problems Catholic families face. It said "people with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and sensitivity," but repeated church teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman.
The revised paragraph failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass.
Two other paragraphs concerning the other hot-button issue at the synod of bishops — whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion — also failed to pass.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the failure of the paragraphs to pass meant that they have to be discussed further to arrive at a consensus at a meeting of bishops next October.
It could be that the 118-62 vote on the gay paragraph was a protest vote of sorts by progressive bishops who refused to back the watered-down wording and wanted to keep the issue alive. The original draft had said gays had gifts to offer the church and that their partnerships, while morally problematic, provided gay couples with "precious" support...."
Bridget Mary's Response:
I think the church  is on its way not only to a more positive attitude toward LGBT, but to a change in the teaching as well. 
As the above article states, the church  is throwing in the towel on the ban on birth control. Now it affirms that  Catholics must follow their consciences. on this issue .  The majority of Catholics  have being using artificial birth control  for many years as everyone knows! 
"Follow your conscience" is wise counsel for all - including the Vatican!
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

"But What is God's ?" by Judy Lee, RCWP
Give To God What is God’s
But, What Is God’s?
“ Then the Pharisees went off and began to plot how they might trap Jesus by his speech  ….they asked is it lawful to pay taxes to the Roman emperor, or not ?…..At that, Jesus said to them give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”. (Matt 22:15-21)
This Sunday Jesus tells us to give to God what is God’s. And what is God’s is
 his sole focus even as he deals with those who do not “get it” once again. 
In this text we see Jesus artfully dodge another bullet and evade still another trap the religious and political leaders set for him.  The context for this new trap is that Jesus has passed triumphantly through the gates of Jerusalem a short while ago.
 In doing so, he fulfilled Messianic prophecy and also continued in his way of turning the world of power and religious piety upside down. He entered not as royalty but in humility sitting astride a donkey’s colt. The people were wild for him.  Then, he entered the Temple and literally turned it upside down, freeing the sacrificial animals and birds and throwing the vendors and the money changers out. He claimed God’s house as a house of prayer and also defined what it was not for-not for commerce and animal sacrifice. Now, one can speculate, the authorities were really livid at him. To add to that he told three parables about the untrustworthy workers in the vineyard, the need for the work of the vineyard to be done, and a commentary on the people killing the prophets that God sends, including the son of the vineyard owner. The religious leaders were getting furious by this time.  Yet the people followed him, so the leaders looked for a way to discredit him with the people who were tired of oppression and not wanting to pay taxes. If he said it was not according to Jewish law to pay Roman taxes the authorities would have him. If he said it was lawful the people would lose faith in him. The religious leaders and the Herodians (those who uphold Rome’s power) fail to trap him and retreat. The zealots who want to overthrow Rome may not have liked his answer about what belongs to Caesar (the Roman coins) but he succeeds in telling the leaders and the people to give to God what is God’s.  Jesus knows that he is coming down to the finish line. He has explained what God is like and what God wants of God’s people: justice seeking, compassion, and inclusion: love.  Soon he will boil all 613 Jewish laws down to loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself. Although some midrash, rabbinic commentary, does the same, these religious leaders just don’t get it. And now he says “give to God what is God’s”.
I am not sure how the people in Matthew’s first century church thought about what is God’s. (Nor Mark’s or Luke’s intended audiences for this account and the preceding events described above are consistent in all three synoptic Gospels).  They may have known Psalm 24:1 “The earth and everything on it-the world and all who live in it-belong to YHWH.”  They may have known that all life belongs to the God who gave it. It is important for us to struggle with how we hear “what is God’s” today. The first reading (Isaiah 45:1,4-6) shows God calling a foreign power, King Cyrus of Persia to liberate God’s people from the Babylonians. The text reads that Cyrus’ role is messianic and God IS Cyrus’s God. “Apart from me, all is nothing.  I am your God, there is no other”.  Here God is calling an “outsider” to do God’s work and making the way clear for him to do it. So the whole world is God’s even those that do not know God. All life belongs to God. And yet, how careless we are with all things living from the green earth to animal and even human life, how complicit in destroying life.
The Psalm (96) asks the people to pay tribute to God, to bring offerings and recognize God’s reign, to recognize that God is coming to rule the world with justice and truth (96:13). What kind of tribute, what offerings are pleasing to God? Matthew’s listeners would have known the words of the 8th century prophet Amos who, preaching in a prosperous time, said that God did not want burnt offerings(animal sacrifices) or endless hymns, liturgy, but justice and righteousness (Amos 5: 23-24).  Amos was concerned about greed and religiosity while “they trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed” (2:7) and “they oppress the poor and crush the needy….”( Amos 4:1). God wants us to work for justice for the poor and needy and all those who are oppressed and exploited.  God wants what Paul calls in his letter to the church at Thessalonika, our labors of love. “We call to mind before our God ….how you are proving your faith by your actions, laboring in love, and….hope” ( I Thess. 1:1-5).
What is God’s? All of life is God’s. What does God want from us? That which is life- giving instead of death- dealing-for all, especially those on the bottom and the margins of death dealing structures.  God wants our labors of love and hope to build God’s reign of justice here and now. That is our tribute to God, our lives filled with love and activities for justice. And that is not so easy to give, it is much easier to give a money tithe or other in kind donations than labors of love. For each of us the answers to the questions “how can I live my life for God, and how can I live love and justice?” are unique. Look around and see what you see that speaks to you of that which is not life- giving and that which exemplifies injustice.  Then find ways to speak up and speak out and act for justice and life.
Early this week I was in New York City, home for my first 43 years, where ordinary people are priced out of housing and space is at a high premium like never before. Neighborhoods that housed low income people and their communities have been “gentrified” and are now “upscale”. Crowds gather to celebrate these new areas. But where do the ordinary folks and poor folks find housing? Even the massive housing projects have waiting lists that are years long.  Unemployment continues to be highest in minority communities. Added to that is the death-dealing systems of drug trafficking, sex and human trafficking and the exploitation of “illegal” labor. All of this demands a justice response. Once again homeless men and women and families are sleeping openly on the subway grates for warmth and you can pass by the same ones day after day. For a while in the 1980’s many helping systems were developed and homeless people were truly housed and helped. Now their presence is painfully obvious once again. But this is true of almost every city and some rural places as well. It is true in other countries. When I was in Medellin, Colombia in 2012 I
 drove down a main street with a religious young man and other priests. 
As we drove I noticed rolled white plastic everywhere.  Intuitively I asked about it, and no one knew what it was. One roll of plastic moved, turned over, feet visible but nothing more and I said to them these are your homeless, who is serving them? The young man tried hard to name someone he thought was serving them and came up with a mission that he knew about. Addicted, or mentally ill, or just poor, lost and homeless, we did not know and it would not have mattered if we did. They were there, rolled in white plastic, un-noticed in the middle of the day.  And here in Fort Myers, the bushes and woods and deserted houses are alive with homeless people. Violence toward homeless people is often in the news, a few weeks ago a thirteen year old boy killed a homeless man in what appeared to be a rite of gang initiation. And, the violence is also in tolerating homelessness. Once our Good Shepherd pastors went to pick up a homeless man to take him to his new home, subsidized housing for the physically disabled in his case. We picked him up at his abode-a garbage dumpster and waited as he said good-bye to the cats he had befriended there who were too feral to come with him.  Our ministry is dedicated to homeless and hungry people and to eradicating homelessness one person at a time.  We do try to include homeless animals in this effort as well. We are approaching the housing of nearly 100 people and their children and pets in the seven years that we have been doing this ministry. It is only a dent in the problem. It is a justice issue that remains.
Another justice issue in our area, as in other areas where there are gangs and drug traffic, is violence and murder.  This week a fifteen month old girl in New Jersey was playing with her little siblings and giggling as she jumped on the bed. They had just moved into their new apartment home.  Suddenly shots rang out and this baby was immediately killed by bullets coming through the wall. Instead of the house warming party there is a funeral.  Again, this week in Fort Myers a beautiful and active five year old boy, Andrew Faust, Jr. was killed as a drive by shooting sprayed bullets into his home as he played. This precious child was a cousin to two of our children. This type of random horrific violence has already hit our church community two other times this year with deaths of young adults to drive by shootings. In order for this to stop the community has to rise up and seek justice by telling what they know about the murder. And much is known here but like the people in New Jersey, the people are afraid to tell. Andrew’s family is rallying the community to come forward to name the killers. Barely able to bear their grief, they call for courage, hope and faith with zero tolerance of gun violence. I will be doing the same on Sunday. And as I work with my youth in the Sunday school I will be very clear that to follow Christ is to turn your back on gangs and violence. I will ask them to give their lives back to God and to God alone, turning away from death- dealing loyalties. And we will pray.
Let us pray together that each of us may find the way to honor life and the God of life in our own communities.
Love and prayers,
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Celebrates Liturgy, Book Club and Birthday Party for Terry Binders

Katy and Mielo co-preside at liturgy
Mindy Lou Simmons, Music Minister at MMOJ
Theme: Render to Caesar what is Caesar's but give to God what is God's
Opening Prayer: God of all that is and that will be, you call us your children to discover your kindom within our hearts. Give us the wisdom we need to determine our debts to Caesar and to sift through the threat of swords and slavery. Let the values of the gospel rise clearly about the calls of our culture. Make us a humble people; sure of your love for every person and thing you have created. All praise to you, God our mother and father, living one with Jesus and the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen.
 Prayer for 29th Sunday, "Peoples Companion to the Breviary " p. 415. 
Book for Oct. Discussion
Sally, Mielo, Terry, Mary Al, Marie, Janet

Alicia proclaims the Gospel

Janet and Terry (front, who was celebrating her birthday)

Mary Al, Marie, Sally, Donna and Terry
Terry celebrates birthday
Billy and Bridget Mary
Mary Al, Sally, Cheri

"Synod's Actions Mean Improvement on Some Fronts-Where's the Movement on Women? " by Maureen Fiedler

"OK, the working document from the synod on the family was indeed a "pastoral earthquake" for the gay and lesbian community (no mention of transgender folks, as far as I can tell) and for divorced and remarried Catholics. The tone from the Vatican was so positive that I was conjuring up memories of the tone of the church at the time of the Second Vatican Council.However, nothing in this document addresses the key issue facing the contemporary church: the role of women. In this case, the synod needs to affirm the equal status of wife and husband in the family: their equal responsibility to support the family, care for children, make financial decisions, maintain the household. It's important for such an affirmation of equality to be heard in North America and Europe, but it is perhaps even more important in the developing world, where the status of women is often regarded as officially secondary to that of the male. Of course, the synod itself has an inequality problem, just like the church as a whole. One hundred percent of the prelates in official attendance at the synod are male. They are not representative of families, which usually, but not always, have one of each: a woman and a man. The synod is, to put it mildly, not representative of family reality. Women and married men are totally unrepresented. The married couples in attendance are a step forward, yes, but they are observers and occasional speakers; they cannot vote..."

Bridget Mary's Response:
I agree with Sister Maureen Fiedler's analysis of the Synod. The issue of women's equality is the elephant in the Church. Until the Vatican affirms women as equal images of God and opens all ministries to women, including the priesthood, women will be second-class citizens. The international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is leading the way toward gender equality in our church by ordaining women to serve as equals in  inclusive communities where all are welcome. We are the "Rosa Parks" of the Catholic Church! Bridget Mary Meehan,

Friday, October 17, 2014

Prison Should Not Be For Profit: Please Sign Petition

End the practice of "taxing" the poor and minority families of prisoners. 
Terminate private for-profit prisons. When the state deprives someone of their liberty it is the state's responsibility to care for them, not to put inmates into a for-profit system. 
Terminate any system to collect fees from depositing funds from families to prisoner's accounts. 100% of the money sent by a family must be deposited for their loved ones. Those families did not intend to grant any gift to the corrections department. It is nothing less than extortion to force a poor family to pay a fee to send money to a loved one in prison or jail. 
End profits on prison telephone calls to home. Communication with family is a necessary component of rehabilitation that should be the primary goal of the justice system, and not a profit center that limits rehabilitation based on a free world families financial position. 

Prohibit any jurisdiction in the State of Florida from charging a prisoner for room and board. You lock someone up, taking care of them is a public responsibility. 

Establish commissary prices not to exceed a 1.5% profit over actual wholesale cost of goods sold to prisoners. 

Florida CURE

That's why I signed a petition to The Florida State House, The Florida
State Senate, and Governor Rick Scott.

Will you sign this petition? Click here:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Vatican Alters Draft Report Translation About Gays/Conservatives Block Compassionate Attitude Toward Gays, Divorced and Remarried/Nothing Decided until Oct. 2015

"Meanwhile, during the press conference the Italian-to-English translator translated "intrinsically disordered" as "intrinsically messy," which will undoubtedly lead to a new line of T-shirts. For more on this controversy, see the report from Joshua J. McElwee.
Group A has "serious questions about the presentation of the principle of graduality." They want to make clear that it is not "the graduality of doctrine of faith and morals, but rather the gradual moral growth of the individual in his or her actions."
On Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, Group A bluntly says, "We did not recommend the admission to the sacraments of divorced and re-married people."
On the other hand, Group B calls for "the clear affirmation of the indissolubility of a valid sacramental union" but also stresses "the strong desire to invite and embrace sincere Catholics who feel alienated from the family of the church because of irregular situations." They recommend the "examination of possible paths of repentance and discernment by which, in particular circumstance, a divorced and remarried person might participate in the sacraments."
The 12-member drafting committee is now poring over the input from these and other language groups as it attempts to put together a revised report that will be voted on by the entire synod on Saturday. This final document will provide the starting point for further discussions in the church prior to the next synod in October 2015. So stay tuned -- nothing is settled yet."
[Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @ThomasReeseSJ.]

"The Life of Scholar Activist Rosemary Ruether by Mary Hunt

..."Rosemary, along with colleagues Mary Daly and Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, shaped feminist theology from their various Catholic starting points. Unfettered by ordination, they were able to devote the full measure of their talents to theology, philosophy and biblical studies, respectively. Sadly, the kyriarchal church does not appreciate, or perhaps even notice, their work. But the rest of the community is deeply in Rosemary's debt, beginning with the National Catholic Reporter, which has published more than 185 of her articles.
Rosemary has always been a self-identified Catholic, but never one confined by the institution. She claims herself in communion not with recalcitrant bishops, but with those who struggle for justice in both church and the wider cosmos. She wisely and consciously confines her Catholic work to 10 percent of her intellectual production, a tithe, as it were.
Letting the failures of the kyriarchal church, rather than the needs of the world, shape her priorities would have truncated her work on so many other vital issues. Heaven knows there is enough to do to reshape the institution that she could have focused exclusively on it and still not made much progress. Instead, Rosemary sees herself as an ecumenical, interreligious Catholic seeking out and creating "good church" wherever she can...."

"Going Home" by Rev. Judy Lee, RCWP

As I get older I sometimes long for home, and a time and place long before this place that is now home. If you have read the story of my first home and early years: The House on Sunny Street, you will know that going home to that exact physical location and visiting with my beloved family of origin there can not happen any more. But, I have learned that, thank God, there are many ways to go home again. Going home is any time we can connect with members of our chosen or given families and loved ones wherever they may be. And going home is when we can return to the place of our birth ,growing years, and earlier lives. Home for me now is in Fort Myers, Florida and it has been becoming my home since 1998 when I retired from fourteen years of being a Professor of Social Work at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. Then I made my home near the school in West Hartford, Ct. Before that I was on the faculties of Columbia University SSW and NYU SSW and Manhattan was my home.   And before that for thirty-three years Brooklyn was my home. Our Good Shepherd family members and other chosen family here are home for us now. Yet, for me home will always be in Brooklyn, New York and New York City and in connecting with those who were part of that home and will always have a home in my heart. Thomas Wolf was wrong: you can go home again.
When we took our Good Shepherd kids to Washington D.C. in September I was able to connect with a sister friend from my youth,Martha Andrews Gentry. We were close friends throughout our teen years. Martha and I last saw each other at the second reunion of our Bethany church Youth Group in 2007.  Since then both of us faced and overcame serious life threatening illnesses and we both attribute our healing to faith in our loving God as much as to today’s advances in science and medicine. We were so happy to see each other as these photos show.  IMG_0131
We were also so happy to share our friendship with our Good Shepherd Youth. Martha is an artist and taught High School art as well. The teens were so happy to be welcomed into her lovely home, replete with her art and that of some of her students. It was exciting for all of us to join the very senior members of the Bethany Youth Group with the Good Shepherd Youth, coming full circle in a very special way.
IMG_0129Our Girls at Martha’s house with Martha in the background. 
IMG_0128How wonderful to be with Martha again! Martha is also a lay minister in her church, so here are the three pastorsIMG_0132
Also wonderful was having my closest cousin/sister Jackie Weinmann Marion of Colombia, Maryland join us in Washington for two days.  This was the icing on the cake!
Jackie with Felice and Natasha
IMG_0133It was also a blessing to meet with RCWP Bishop Andrea Johnson who gave a blessing to our young people.
IMG_0157Pastor Judy Beaumont and Bishop Andrea Johnson 
From October 10th -13th Judy B and I  were blessed to be able to go home to New York. The first person we were privileged to see was 90 year old Sim, or Aunt, Way Kam Lee. Sim is my former husband’s paternal Aunt and Sim and I had many wonderful experiences together in the 1960’s and in later visits . We laughed a lot as we helped each other with language and aculturation to each other’s cultures. This is Sim with the literal fruits of her summer’s labor. She grew these extraordinary fruits in her garden in Baldwin, New York and has just finished harvesting them.  Not only are they huge but they are heavy and yet she got each one into her basement for safe keeping. Here she is giving a “shark fin soup melon” to our driver Edward who is also Chinese. She also informed us that last year she got tired of waiting for painters to come so she painted her house inside and out-at 89!!!  She also works out at the gym every other day. She is truly amazing!
Sim, Way Kam LeeIMG_0024IMG_0027IMG_0026
Our next stop was our hotel in Westbury, LI where Cousin Pat Sullivan-King picked us up to pick up Cousin Dorothy Shotwell Stewart in Oakdale for a celebration in Sayeville for the whole family. We were celebrating Cousin Dorothy’s 92nd September 20th Birthday and Cousin Bobby Robinson’s 80th Birthday on October 9th. We were also celebrating the coming together of five generations of Shotwells and three branches of this family that has been in America since 1650. We were overjoyed at  having so many of the younger members joining with us.
IMG_0053This is Cousin Bob with his wife Barbara and Cousin Pat and Cousin Dorothy(seated). Cousin Dorothy is the daughter of our Grandmother Ella’s brother Henry Shotwell. Cousin Pat is my Grandmother Ella’s sister Augusta’s (Gussie’s) granddaughter. We met each other about eight years ago through the genealogical studies of Bob, and Dorothy’s sister, Lorraine Edith Shotwell Walton, now gone home to God, and Pat’s daughter in law, Beth. How blessed it is to be united with family. At 92 Cousin Dorothy is still doing her very beautiful and accomplished art work and caring for herself and her cat. Her sons and grandchildren live nearby and visit often. She is also truly amazing. And suddenly Bobby and I feel young!
Here I am with Bob’s family, his daughter Kathy and son Ken and his wife, Lisa, and Kathy’s children, Jordan, just returned from Naval deployment in Afghanistan,Michelle and Travis Jay,15, and his grand children withViviana Arcos, Jordan’s Colombian wife and and Efren Johannes Knoppert, his great grand son.  IMG_0049
This is Ken and Lisa, Kathy and George and Lori Whitlatch Post, who was present at my Ordination and visits us in Florida. IMG_0046
This is Bob and me with Richie Dougherty and Lillian Dougherty Ebner,our cousins. 
This is Lillian with her daughter April and her son Mason Gerald who is just a year old.
IMG_0030These are our newest cousins meeting for the first time, Efren Johannes Knoppert and Mason Gerald Andresen. 
IMG_0051 And this is our five generations of the Shotwell clan and spouses gathered for a group photo. What a blessed evening! 
The next three days were spent in New York City and Brooklyn. Here we stayed in an apartment of a friend of Danny’s on the 32nd floor in the WestVillage.This is the view from the window. We could also see the Empire State Building and both rivers!
IMG_0056  This is Bob and Danielle and Laura our chosen family members. Danielle is a retired social work practitioner and educator and long time special friend. When 911 occurred she was one of the social workers who gave her time to work with those who experienced tragic losses. Her other passion is youth group work and she is looking forward to meeting our Good Shepherd teens. She and Bob contribute generously to our ministry. Bob is a retired Distinguished Professor of Business at NYU. Danielle and I met Laura when we worked with homeless women in New York in the early 1980’s. Through a series of events Laura, a devout Jew found herself in a women’s shelter. We helped her to move on and she in turn gave her life to helping others who faced homelessness. Her mitzvot life teaches us about giving oneself for others. Each time we come to New York  Judy B and I visit with her and she is our inspiration.
Here we are exploring the HIgh Line Park in Chelsea, an area turned into an urban forest like garden on an elevated railroad track. And so we learned that even a big city can become green and change for the better. IMG_0058Judy B. with Danielle and Laura
Of course, Brooklyn never lags far behind Manhattan and the next day we explored DUMBO, the new waterfront area of Brooklyn Down Under Manhattan Brooklyn Overpass, meaning under the Brooklyn Bridge. This area is reclaimed from garbage, and decayed buildings and rats. It is now very upscale, but one wonders where the ordinary folks can afford to live. We also wondered about the many homeless people sleeping in the streets in lower Manhattan. Some of it is attributable to the affordability of new and powerful synthetic street drugs but, as Laura said in outrage, this is unacceptable. We reflected that to have a home is a blessing and a human right that everybody deserves.  Encountering the number of homeless sleeping on the streets of the city is how I was called by God to serve the homeless in the early eighties. I just could not tolerate the inhumanity in permitting this. It is clear that homelessness remains a major social justice issue NOW. How sad-and what a challenge!
One of my joys was to visit the NYU faculty housing where I initially lived while teaching at NYU.   I loved this third floor apartment with the tree in the windows and balcony over the court yard. This bit of green kept me sane in the city.
It was hard to leave my beloved New York City and extended family there, but I was equally happy to get home to Fort Myers and my family here.
with love and prayers,
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP,
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers