Learn More About the Upper Room Community

Welcome to the web site of the Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community. Click here to learn more about this intentional Eucharistic community whose goal is to achieve full equality for all people through the vision of Jesus in a renewed Roman Catholic Church. Please consult the Calendar (click above) for time and place of Liturgies.

Ordained members of the community are available for ministerial  services such as weddings, baptisms and funerals. To request a service or speak to a member, please call 518-952-4172.

To join our email group, send an email to icc-nyscapitalregion+subscribe@googlegroups.com

Advent Reflection with Roy Bourgeois December 6

 

Friends of ARCWP informational meeting

All are invited to a Friends of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) informational meeting on Wednesday September 12 at 7:00 pm. The location is yet to be determined. Please RSVP to donna.arcwp@gmail.com <mailto:donna.arcwp@gmail.com> if you plan on coming to the meeting. We would like to know how many people to expect. We will give a brief overview of the current status of our movement and will answer questions. Please pass this information to anyone you think may be interested in hearing more about our movement. Being a Friend of ARCWP is not necessarily a financial commitment. It is a way of supporting our work.
Thank you,
Donna Rougeux

Lynn Kinlan’s Ordination Saturday, September 8

LYNN KINLAN, A MEMBER OF THE UPPER ROOM INCLUSIVE CATHOLIC COMMUNITY, WILL BE ORDAINED A ROMAN CATHOLIC WOMAN PRIEST ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2018, AT THE FIRST UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CHURCH AT 405 WASHINGTON AVENUE IN ALBANY AT 1:00PM.

Lynn Kinlan, area educator, and one of the pastoral leaders of the  Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community at 916 Western Avenue, in  Albany, NY , will be ordained a Roman  Catholic priest by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan of the Association of Roman Catholic Woman Priests at 1:00 PM on Saturday, September 8 at the Unitarian  Church located at 405 Washington Avenue in Albany, NY. Lynn is following in the footsteps of courageous women who are  claiming their rightful place as equals in the Roman Catholic Church.  In the words of Bridget Mary, €”We are leading the church, not  leaving the church.€”

Women priests are a major reform movement working for gender justice in inclusive communities like the Upper Room. In a recent letter to the editor appearing in the Albany Times Union, Rev. Mary Theresa Streck, a  pastoral leader of the Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community wrote, €œRoman Catholic Church members are forming small, inclusive faith  communities of support where all are welcome at the Eucharistic table.  The Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community in Albany is among the  growing number of faith communities in the United States modeling a  new church structure rooted in a theology of blessing. Pastoral ministers are women and men ordained through the Association of Roman  Catholic Women Priests. Change is happening at the ground level. Roman  Catholics who still wish to be part of a prayerful community are encouraged to join with these smaller groups. It may be the only way  the church will survive. This is a public ordination. All are welcome to attend.

 

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests https://arcwp.org/

People’s Catholic Seminary  https://pcseminary.org

Mary Magdalen Celebration, Sunday July 22nd

Sunday, July 22nd is the feast day of Mary Magdalen, The Apostle to the Apostles

You are invited to join the Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community of the Capital Region as we celebrate her life and unique role at our regular Liturgy:

Sunday, July 22nd, 10 AM,
In the Fellowship Hall of New Covenant Presbyterian Church
916 Western Avenue, Albany, NY (map)

Lynn Kinlan Ordination, September 8, 2018

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
joyfully invites you
to the Priestly Ordination
of
Lynn Kinlan
Saturday, September 8, 2018
1:00 PM
First Unitarian Universalist Church
405 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12206
****************************

Our celebration continues following the ceremony in Lynn and Bernie’s backyard in Guilderland: 123 Kennewyck Circle Slingerlands, NY 12159.

As the party will be catered, we will need your RSVP by August 28th
by email to Joan Chesterfield at jcc1941@hotmail.com

Out of Town Guests:

A block of rooms has been reserved at The Fairfield Inn located at 1383 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12206. These rooms will be held for Friday 9/7 and Saturday 9/8 at a rate of $109.00 per night inclusive of breakfast. Reservations may be made online at Book your group rate for The Upper Room Guests may also book a room by calling The Fairfield Inn at (518) 435 – 1900. The block of rooms will be held until  8/17 /18.

[The Upper Room] Upper Room Liturgy lead by Michael Morwood

The Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community and the People’€™s Catholic Seminary’ sponsored a weekend retreat lead by Michael Morwood from June 1-3, 2018 in Albany, NY. The liturgy below concluded a weekend on God, Jesus and Prayer for the 21st  Century Christians.

Michael has over 40 years’€™ experience in retreat, education, parish and adult faith development ministries, and is the author of 10 books, the most recent being Prayers for Progressive Christians. Michael’€™s particular interest is in helping adult Christians examine what we believe and why we believe it, what we imagine and why we imagine the way we do.’
In his prophetic voice, he is raising the right and obvious questions that all Christians must face. In his response he provides fresh and perceptive possibilities for a modern and relevant faith.Like many of the prophets before him, he has paid a very high price for articulating Christian faith in ways that resonate with a contemporary understanding of our place in the universe.*
*Click on the links below to get a glimpse of what we experienced this weekend. “Jesus through a 21^st ‘ century lens (Part 1-3).’ ‘ https://youtu.be/ghdcvoT2VZQ* *https://youtu.be/qGV3X2Oay80*
*To learn more about Michael, visit his website at’ www.morwood.org <www.morwood.org/>.’ Bring him to your progressive Christian Community!!!*
*Liturgy: ‘€œThe Gifts We Are*
*Michael: Welcome and Theme* *’ ‘ * *Opening Prayer*:*’ In the Name of All That IS* *https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR38ZBpAXZ8&sns=em* by Jan Novotka
*In the name of all that is we come together.’ * *In the name of the stars and galaxies; in the name of the planets, moons and the sun;’ * *in the name of all that is we come.*
*In the name of all that is we come together.’ * *In the name of the ocean and the sea; in the name of the mountain, desert and plain;’ * *in the name of all that is we come.*
*In the name of all that is we come together.’ * *In the name of the buffalo and bear; in the name of the turtle, eagle and whale;’ * *in the name of all that is we come.*
*In the name of all that is we come together.’ * *In the name of the cactus and the fern; in the name of the flower, tree and the herb;’ * *in the name of all that is we come.*
*In the name of all that is we come together.* *In the name of the elements of life; in the name of the soil, water and air;’ * *in the name of all that is we come.*
*In the name of all that is we come together.’ * *In the name of the children of earth; in the name of the Spirit breathing in all things;* *in the name of all that is we come.*
*First Meditation:’ We Who Are Alive Today by Jan Phillips*
*We who are alive today are the eyes and ears,* *the hands and feet of the Creative Force.*
*We are Thought Incarnate, Word made Flesh, Love materialized.* *We are the consciousness of the earth:*’ *the universe knowing itself, seeing itself, singing to itself.*
*We are prophets of a new time, makers of a new myth,* *where our Source dwells not on some heavenly throne* *but in the very breath of living things: among us and within us.*
*We are made of heaven and earth, starlight and clay,* *minerals and meteor dust.*’ *We are the Infinite Wave transformed into finite particles,’ spacetime compressed into the spec of a lifetime.*
*As the Cosmos multiplies and expands forever outward* *so does it expand forever inward*’ *evolving us into beings of higher consciousness.*
*We who are alive today came here with a purpose,’ * *are in service to a mission: to extend mercy, to bring forth justice,* *to re-member ourselves and converge as one.*
*We are creating’ tomorrow’ with our thoughts and words.* *We are shaping ourselves and families, our communities and cities,* *our cultures and civilizations by what we do and failed to do.*
*We are ascending into our potential, evolving into our God-ness,* *co-creating the Whole that is the sum of our parts.*
*We who are alive today; let us sing out that the heaven we seek* *is already around us, that wherever we look,* *the Holy One is there, looking right back.*
*No matter what storms batter and buffet us, let us not lose heart,* *for we are One with All and life holds us firmly in the palm of its hand.*
*These are the words of Jan Phillips and we affirm them by saying, AMEN!*
*’© Jan Phillips 2013*

*Second Meditation: ‘€œThe Gift You Are’€ by John Denver* *https://youtu.be/RG31OE6tKRY*
*Imagine a month of Sundays Each one a cloudy day Imagine the moment the sun came shining through Imagine that ray of sunshine as you Remember your darkest hour With dawn still far away Remember the way that you longed for morning’s light And think of yourself as a candle in the night Make believe this is the first day Everything all brand new Make believe that the sun is your own lucky star And then understand the kind of gift you are
* *[Chorus:] The gift you are Like the very first breath of Spring The gift you are All the joy that love can bring The gift you are All of our dreams come true The gift you are The gift of you
* *You are the promise of all the ages You are the Prodigal Son You are the vision of prophets and sages You are the only one Dream of a bright tomorrow Know that your dream will come true Carry your dream in a sparkling crystal jar Then you will know the kind of gift you are
* *[Chorus] The gift you are Like the very first breath of Springtime The gift you are All the joy that love can bring The gift you are All of our dreams come true, yes they do The gift you are The gift of you The gift you are The gift of you*
*Shared Homily ‘€“ Michael begins with homily starter.’ *

*LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST*
*Michael: Let us now celebrate in prayer the gifts we are and commit ourselves once again to being faithful to what we pray.*
*Prayer before Communion’ */(From Prayers for Progressive Christians, Michael Morwood, p. 53)/** /(community prays prayer alternating sides)/
*We gather here conscious of the gift* *each one of us is.* *We are gifts of the universe* *unfolding for billions of years* *to produce a wondering and wonderful life-form* *with awareness, appreciation, and creativity.*
*We are gifts of the universe,* *bringing us forth* *to sing, to dance* *and to be joyful* *on its behalf,* *on behalf of all of creation.*
*We are gifts of the Great Mystery,* *permeating* *penetrating* *and embracing* *everything that exists,* *and coming to human expression in us.*
*We are gifts of human love,* *of commitment* *of risk* *of hope* *of trust* *of promise* *of dreams of what could be.*
*We are gifts* *of all the joy that love can bring,* *of dreams come true,* *of Divine possibilities.*
*We are earthen vessels,* *gifted* *with the power and impulses* *that drive the universe.*
*We are earthen vessels,* *charged with the Great Mystery* *at work everywhere* *in the vastness of the universe.*
*We are gifts* *to be opened and shared,* *called to be co-creators* *of an evolving humanity,* *enablers of the ‘€œkingdom of God’€.*
*We come to this gathering* *to affirm our commitment* *to expansion, to risk* *to possibilities* *to the gift we want to be, and can be* *for anyone whose lives we touch.*
*All: We gather around bread and wine* *and the story of Jesus* *who lived the gift* *of human existence wholeheartedly.*
*We eat and drink today* *thankful for every person and for every influence* *in our lives* *that have helped and opened us* *to live beyond our fearful inner voices* *and have led us to embrace life wholeheartedly.*
*We eat and drink* *as a public sign of our readiness* *to BE the gifts we are,* *open to the Spirit of Life and Love* *moving in our hearts and minds.*
*To wherever the Spirit of Life and Love* *may lead us* *we give our, Amen.*
*Michael: Introduction to Communion’ * *In the Eucharistic ritual, we use bread and wine as symbols to ritualize our personal commitment to follow the dream of Jesus. It is our commitment that is sacred and precious’€¦ and the bread and wine symbolize for us our public willingness to be faithful followers of Jesus.’ */(Prayers for Progressive Christians by Michael Morwood, p. 41)/** /Four stations are set on a round table in the middle of the circle. Four people approach the table at one time. No line is formed./
*Communion Meditation: The Beauty of the Dancer by Sara Thomsen* *https://youtu.be/Lax7fxdOnVU*
*BLESSING*
*_Michael:’ _**Please stand as we’ pray together our blessing:* /(raise your hands in blessing)/
*All: May we continue to BE the gifts we are,* *open to the Spirit of Life and Love* *moving in our hearts and minds.* *And may our name be a blessing in our time!’ ‘ Amen.*
*Closing Song:’ **Canticle of the Sun By Marty Haughen* *https://youtu.be/-2R180JStUM**’ *
*Other songs used during the retreat:*
*Everything is Holy Now by Peter Mayer* *https://youtu.be/KiypaURysz4*
*Galilee Song by Frank Anderson* *https://youtu.be/bdh1QH3sbQU* * *
/ /

Michael Morwood Retreat – Albany NY – June 1-3

*God, Jesus and Prayer through a 21st Century Lens.  A weekend retreat with Michael Morwood, Adult Faith Educator

June 1-3, 2018  –  $95  – includes Friday Evening wine and cheese reception and lunch and dinner on Saturday.

Holiday Inn Express and Suites  –  16 Wolf Road  –  Albany, NY   –  518-459-3600

Seating is limited – book now!

About the Presenter: Michael Morwood€’s particular interest is in helping adult Christians examine what they believe and why they believe it, what they imagine and why they imagine the way they do. He is the author of ten books including Praying a New Story, Children Praying a New Story and It’€™s Time: Challenges to the Doctrine of the Faith. Michael Morwood resigned from priestly ministry in the Catholic Church in 1998 following the banning of his book Tomorrow’s Catholic: Understanding God and Jesus in a New Millennium by the then Archbishop of Melbourne, Australia, George Pell.

  • RETREAT SCHEDULE:
  • Friday, June 1  – 5:30pm -7:00pm  Wine and cheese reception
  • 7:00pm -9:00pm €“ Presentation and discussion
  • Saturday, June 2 – 9:00am -€“ 12:00pm two presentations and discussion with breaks
  • 12:00pm -1:00pm – Lunch
  • 1:00pm 5:00pm – two presentations and discussion with breaks
  • 5:00pm – 6:00pm Dinner
  • 6:00pm – Informal gathering for follow-up questions
  • Sunday, June 3 – 9:00am – 10:30am – Presentation and discussion
  • 11:15am – 12:15pm – Liturgy
  • 12:15pm – Conclusion of retreat

The retreat is sponsored by the Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community and People’s Catholic Seminary. For more information: upperroomicc@gmail.com

TO REGISTER: Download the flyer by clicking here: Michael-Morwood-flyer-June-1-3-2018-FINAL Print the flyer, cut off the bottom section and return with your payment as directed.

RESERVATIONS: Please send retreat payment and completed form (below) by April 1, 2018 to Upper Room, PO Box 421, Watervliet, NY 12189.  Please make checks to: Upper Room. To book a room for the weekend, please contact hotel for group discount under the name of Upper Room.

Name: ___________________________________________

Phone: _________________________

Address: __________________________________________

Email: __________________________

NEW, AFFORDABLE MASTER IN PASTORAL MINISTRY DEGREE, APPLY NOW

If you are interested in this degree, there is scholarship money available at: http://www.womensordination.org/programs/scholarship

NEW, AFFORDABLE MASTER IN PASTORAL MINISTRY DEGREE, APPLY NOW *It is with great joy that we announce a new adventure between Global Ministries University (www.globalministriesuniversity.org ) and People’s Catholic Seminary (www.pcseminary.org ). Beginning in January, 2018, we will collaboratively offer a Master in Pastoral Ministry degree. The degree will be granted by GMU and PCS will provide the courses. This affordable master’€™s program is designed for those who are walking the pathway to ordination, the ordained, and members of our inclusive communities who seek to continue their education within an interactive supportive seminary environment. Credit is awarded for life experience and previous education. Global Ministries University is an accredited member of the International Association of Distance Learning.  For more information about the degree, please contact Bridget Mary Meehan and Mary Theresa Streck at peoplescatholicseminary@gmail.com <mailto:peoplescatholicseminary@gmail.com>.

* ** * * ** ** **** **** * * **** ** **** ** ** ** **

GLOBAL MINISTRIES UNIVERSITY and PEOPLE’s CATHOLIC SEMINARY

MASTER IN PASTORAL MINISTRY

COURSES: (Descriptions below)

100 Introductory / Foundational 101. Contemporary Theology for the People of God

102. Feminist Introduction to the Bible

103. A Feminist Sacramental Theology

200 Jesus, Life and Teachings

201. Rediscovering Jesus in a Companionship of Empowerment

202. Parables as Subversive Stories

300 Women and Religion

301. Spiritual Encounters with Women Mystics

302. Women in the Hebrew Scripture

303. Women in the Gospels

304. Women in the Early Church

400 Sacraments

401. Sacraments: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

402. Eucharist: Embracing an Open Table

403. Baptism and Confirmation

404. Reshaping the Priesthood as a Discipleship of Equals

405. Marriage, Sexuality and Just-Love

406. Anointing of the Sick

407: Sacrament of Reconciliation

500 Future Church

501. Future Church: Evolving, Empowering and Egalitarian

502. Social Justice and Ethics

600 Pastoral Development

601. Homiletics and Preaching

602. Spiritual Direction: Spiritual Companions on a Journey

603. Spirituality of Art

700. Final Ministerial Project

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

MM101. Contemporary Theology for the People of God This course introduces pastoral leaders in inclusive communities to an accessible contemporary theology that presents a tapestry of the Divine Presence Who lovingly invites us into the fullness of life for all creation, explores the diverse and fuller naming of the Divine that encompasses the full reality of women and men of all races and classes, and illuminates a rich variety of theological approaches to compassionate living in our work for peace, justice and ecological wholeness.

MM102. Feminist Introduction to the Bible This course presents a comprehensive, biblical reading of the Scripture and introduces the message using historical/critical tools to understand the different authors.

MM103. A Feminist Sacramental Theology This course offers a feminist analysis of the main dimensions of sacramental theology –those have to do with the body, with symbols, and with ethics, exposes how women because of gender are given a place on the margins- outside of the sacraments proposes that women involved in sacramental ministry contribute to sacramental theology through their commitment to the wider church, and reimagines a feminist sacramental theology for the 21st century.

MM201. Rediscovering Jesus in a Companionship of Empowerment This course introduces the deep wisdom of recent biblical scholarship on the life and teachings of Jesus and the challenges it presents to believers today, and reimagines the Christian call to live as co-creators and empowered individuals within an egalitarian church community.

MM301. Spiritual Encounters with Women Mystics This course explores the Christian’s call to be a visible mystic and agent of prophetic witness in the church and world community through a ministry rooted in contemplation and action.

MM302. Women in the Hebrew Scripture This course recounts the stories of women in the Hebrew Scripture as an inspirational example of women’€™s empowerment, encompasses scholarship of feminist theologians on the background and context of women in the bible, and offers women as role models for contemporary women and men in living fully and courageously.

MM303. Women in the Gospels This course studies the stories of women in the Gospel as companions and equals with the male disciples, incorporates feminist theological scholarship on the background and context of women in the Gospels, and explores women in the Gospel as role models for contemporary women and men in ministry.

MM304. Women in the Early Church This course covers the stories of women in the early Church as liturgical leaders and preachers of the Gospel, reflects feminist theological scholarship on the background and context of women in the early Church and to explore women in the early Church as role models for contemporary women and men leading the church today toward a new model of partnership, equality and inclusivity.

MM401. Sacraments: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow This course presents sacramental development throughout history, exposes how church fathers and scholastic theologians misinterpreted ancient texts to prove Catholic doctrine, introduces critical analysis of sacramental theologies that no longer meet the needs of contemporary Catholics and re-imagines sacramental experiences and rituals in a diversified global church.

MM402. Eucharist: Embracing an Open Table This course covers the development of the sacrament of the Eucharist from atonement theology to a theology of blessing, supports pastoral leaders in developing and praying contemporary Eucharistic celebrations through the liturgical year and builds a database of creative resources for a contemporary lectionary.

MM403. Baptism and Confirmation This course explores the development of the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, articulates the commitment to Gospel living by integrating theological reflection, spirituality and ministerial experience, and supports pastoral leaders in developing contemporary baptism and confirmation rituals for their Christian Communities that reflect the heart of the call to live the Gospel as mystics, prophets and sacramental celebrators of life.

MM404. Reshaping the Priesthood as a Discipleship of Equals This course examines the role of the international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement in reshaping and redefining priestly and pastoral ministry as a discipleship of equals in the 21st century.

MM405. Marriage, Sexuality and Just-Love This course provides an overview of the development of the sacrament of marriage, and presents Christian sexual ethics within a just-love framework. It integrates theological reflection, spirituality and ministerial experience in order to support pastoral leaders in developing contemporary marriage rituals for their Christian Communities that reflect the heart of the call to live the Gospel as mystics, prophets and sacramental celebrators of life.

MM406. Anointing of the Sick This course explores the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick as an encounter with divine healing love that energizes and transforms body, mind, and spirit, reflects on meditation as a tool in self-healing and vitality, and creates create contemporary celebrations of Anointing of the Sick that respond to diverse pastoral needs.

MM407. Sacrament of Reconciliation This course presents the sacrament of reconciliation as an encounter with Divine healing and transforming love, reflects on role of priest and community, and creates a contemporary celebration of reconciliation that responds to diverse pastoral needs.

MM501. Future Church: Evolving, Empowering and Egalitarian The course proposes a visionary framework for understanding the evolution of religions and specifically the transitions that continue to evolve in Christianity. Paul Smith, author of Integral Christianity introduces the integral approach that Jesus advocated in his time and that traditional Christianity has been unable to see. This course invites participants to analyze this framework and apply it to the present evolving changes occurring in Christianity, specifically the Roman Catholic Church.

MM502. Social Justice and Ethics This course explores issues and theologies of social justice and ethics that build a just society; reflects on the scriptural foundations of Catholic social teaching, and examines the social and moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church in light of concrete issues such as human rights, refugees, peace-building, war, violence, discrimination, environmental degradation, economic exploitation, reproductive rights, racism, sexism, and homophobia.

MM601. Homiletics and Preaching This course creates inspiring homilies and implements effective delivery, incorporates contemporary scholarship of scripture for preaching and introduces various approaches of sermon development and performance.

MM602. Spiritual Direction: Spiritual Companions on a Journey This course provides an introduction to the ancient practice of spiritual companionship or spiritual friendship in the Christian tradition. It gives helpful input about what to look for in searching for a spiritual director, how to prepare to be one, and how to help those who are called to this distinctive ministry.

MM603. Spirituality of Art This course provides a path to creative expression of the Divine Presence and oneness of all people and creation. Through readings, videos, art-making, students will express their mystical, prophetic, sacramental vision of ministry for the 21st century.

MM700. Master in Ministry: Ministerial Project (6 credits) A student will choose a primary focus of ministry that is related to the student’€™s interests and/or practices of ministry as the topic of the Master of Ministry Project. The written reflection on this Master of Ministry Project should state the goals of the selected ministry action, and clearly demonstrate the student’€™s knowledge and skills in the practice of ministry. This project should also describe the context of ministerial action, and integrate the learning from course work and readings in the Master of Ministry program. It should articulate the student’€™s vision of ministry, a description of personal gifts, opportunities, challenges, hopes and dreams for self and others involved in the project. The reflection paper should also describe the participation of people/faith community in the project and conclude with an annotated bibliography of sources used in the ministry project. The student should work closely with the administrators during this phase of the program.

Mary Theresa Streck, Ed.D., D.Min.

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

www.arcwp.org

People’s Catholic Seminary

www.pcseminary.org

People’s Catholic Seminary opens new course on Baptism and Confirmation

PCS 601: Baptism and Confirmation

Welcome to PCS 601. The purpose of this course is to reflect on baptism and confirmation as sacraments of welcome to the Christian community and commitment to Gospel living. The course integrates theological reflection, spirituality and ministerial experience.

The two main resources for this course are from Ilia Delio and Greg Boyle. Ilia Delio, in a YouTube lecture, presents her reflection on what it means to live the Gospel in an age that is global, plural and scientific. Greg Boyle presents what his baptismal call and confirmation commitment look like in his work with gang members from LA.

The course is divided into 6 sessions over 12 weeks. Each session is two weeks in length. During the first week, participants listen to, or read, the resources. In the second week participants write a reflection based on the questions in each assignment. This is an interactive experience and participants are encourage to read and respond to each other’s inspired words.


Course Facilitators:
Bridget Mary Meehan, D. Min.
Mary Theresa Streck, D. Min.

Registration is ongoing.

Cost of program: $100 (financial aid is available)

Register now at peoplescatholicseminary@gmail.com

Mail check or money order to:
People’s Catholic Seminary
PO Box 421

Watervliet, NY 12189

Other courses available at www.pcseminary.org


Mary Theresa Streck, Ed.D., D.Min.
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

People’s Catholic Seminary Programs

People’s Catholic Seminary and Christian Mystics

People€™s Catholic Seminary (PCS), a seminary without walls, offers programs  in theology and spirituality for groups and individuals. Program facilitators accompany groups and individuals throughout the programs.
Currently PCS is offering a 12 week program on the Christian Mystics. This program explores the life of six mystics using text from Bridget Mary Meehan€™s book, Praying with Visionary Women, along with supplemental materials from YouTube and Blogger, an on-line vehicle for sharing information. Through the use of Blogger, participants post responses to assignments. Other participants are able to read the posts and respond to them. This cohort model is a great learning opportunity for those who like to work and interact in groups.
Courtney Allen is currently enrolled in the mystic€™s program. Her response (below) to an assignment on Catherine of Siena is a very good example of the quality of work submitted by the program participants.
About Courtney Allen

 Courtney Allen is an Italian-American Catholic with a deep and abiding love for the faith, and for the ways it can grow through the gifts of inclusive visionaries.  As a former academic medievalist, she has a special place in her heart for women mystics and is delighted to explore their modern-day relevance with the ARCWP.  Courtney currently resides in Southern California and enjoys a career in the museum field, while she discerns God’s call regarding how she can be of most useful service.

Catherine of Siena by Courtney Allen
The treatment of body as sacred space is prehistoric.  In Greek thought, the concept for development of mind, body, and spirit toward virtue was termed €œarete.€  Arete meant striving for the highest good, the most excellent self, that state of holiness in which one desired to dwell.  This process required an integrated approach, with the improvement of all components depending on each other and leading one€™s quest to the most sacred purpose: contemplation.  Henri Nouwen refers to this intersection of mind, body, and spirit as €œthe heart,€ the place within ourselves where we can best listen to God.  From ancient to contemporary, mystics have offered testimony on the sanctity of self-unity.
Much medieval Christian theology builds upon the foundations of ancient philosophy; however, attitudes of body positivity did not always make the transition during this period, and were replaced in some cases with mortification practices.  Catherine of Siena did not ascribe to contemplation through integration.  In fact, she believed the exact opposite €“ that the body and spirit are in fundamental conflict, as evidenced in her Treatise of Prayer (18. Light of reason), in which she states: €œthe fragility of the body is a cause of humiliation to the soul.€  Today, we may deem Catherine€™s separation from her body as unhealthy, rather than a method of discipline to heighten the spirit.  We might note in her Dialogue (particularly Treatise of Prayer, 19) the obsession to become €œperfect,€ as a sign of body dysmorphia.  We may ask why her family would enable such behaviors, or point to them as a cause of her lack of confidence in her own control or agency.  We might ponder how plague throughout her family changed her relationship to life and death, and thereby her body.  We could simplify Catherine€™s piety as self-loathing, pointing to her Treatise of Divine Providence (7), in which she claims that €œself-love€¦is the principle and foundation of every evil.€  
However, there is a more telling issue at the center of these discussions, and that is the aversion to our own discomfort.  As people of faith, God asks us to sit with people who are in pain, including self-inflicted pain or inescapable pain that lives inside them.  Places of discomfort and pain are where God is most present, and where we are most needed.  Naturally, this is not as comfortable as sitting with someone like Hildegard €“ someone whom we, through our contemporary lens, identify with as strong and empowered.  Or with someone like Julian, who encourages us to believe in our goodness by virtue of being made in God€™s image.  We can learn from Catherine in a different way.  Catherine€™s vulnerability holds up a mirror to our own souls in a way we would rather not acknowledge.  Everyone feels less than worthy of God at some point, forgetting our belovedness, forgetting that God€™s love is not something we can earn but rather something that is freely given.  In those moments, I would hope to be reminded of my belovedness, not judged for my insecurity.
Furthermore, women are often judged by their bodies and their relationships to their bodies, while men are judged solely on their work.  Rather than accuse Catherine of being complicit in her own oppression, without regard to the historical context, a feminist perspective asks us to focus on Catherine€™s strengths and her offerings to us!  We can glimpse this best not through her treatises, but rather her letters.  Of the approximately 385 letters that remain, possibly the most powerful are her letters to Pope Gregory XI from around 1375-1378, at the end of the Avignon Papacy and approaching the Western Schism.  Catherine holds the Pope responsible for the divided Church, stating in her first letter to him that €œtemporal things are failing you from no other cause than from your neglect of the spiritual.€  Catherine believes that the Church has come to hold earthly wealth too dear, but that Catholics (including some clergy, though not all) may return by God€™s healing.  She encourages the Pope to let go of conflict and forgive with kindness, reminding him in her second letter that €œthese sheep€¦cannot be won back by wrath or war.€  Pope Gregory XI eventually does relocate the Holy See to Rome, but does not heed Catherine€™s pleas; consequently, she declares €œyou should use your virtue and power: and if you are not willing to use it, it would be better for you to resign what you have assumed.€ Catherine masterfully walks a fine and dangerous line, writing directly about her concerns, but in a conversational tone that indicates she is trying to engage, rather than berate, the letters€™ recipient.  Catherine speaks truth with love, and with a long vision toward unity.  She reminds the Pope that action is required for change: €œIf you want justice, you can execute it.  You can have peace.€  Justice, peace, and unity require conscientious work.
The same conscientious work is needed in the Church today.  While the Church remains united and rooted in its progressive stances on such critical issues as charity, pluralism, and the environment, we are in the midst of another sort of schism.  The Church is diversifying and growing globally, and yet the same system exists that enables organizational, doctrinal, and policy power to be held by a select few, while large demographics (such as women and LGBTQ folks) are not recognized as being called by God to the same leadership roles.  This inequality alienates Catholics from our religious home.  When we think about reform in the Church today, what we really mean is radicalism, returning to our roots: a community of disciples in which individual and differing voices are heard, represented, celebrated, and loved.  Respectful, kind, and open communication is critical to building unity; however, dialogue requires a place at the table.  A place at the table requires the constant presence and persistence demonstrated by Catherine.  We can use her tools: initiating brave conversations with a wide range of people, including those in power; voicing our ideas repeatedly and in written form, especially when they are not solicited; and building allies for support.  We do this out of love of our faith and the belief that it can and should be more inclusive.  That we can do better.  That the body of the Church should be striving for arete.
Catherine, you led a life peppered with self-doubt.  Yet through your trials, you surrendered your heart to God.  You accepted God€™s call to €œrise out of yourself,€ from an interior life that at times was tumultuous, in order to bravely speak truth with love.  Guide us to transform our feelings of brokenness into belief in belovedness, and to share the message of belovedness with others through service.  Remind us to love God in our wholeness, in our bodies, and in our imperfection.  Give us strength, bravery, and compassion to open difficult dialogues and to advocate for inclusion.  Help us to grow each day in our understanding of the €œtwo things [necessary to be] blessed: who we are, and who God is.€

For more information about PCS, contact Bridget Mary and Mary Theresa at peoplescatholicseminary@gmail.com or visit the PCS website at www.pcseminary.blogspot.com. Individual programs are available on request. Group programs begin again in the fall.