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.

To speak to a member or leave a message, call (518) 952-4172.



							

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

Join us for our Mary Magdalene Celebration! Thursday July 20 at 7:00pm

We invite you and your friends to a Eucharistic Celebration in honor of Mary Magdalene. Our celebrant will be Fr. John Kirwin. Please call Joan Horgan with questions and to volunteer. She may be reached at the Hubbard Sanctuary at horganj@mail.strose.edu or call 518-454-5296.

Thursday July 20, 2017 at 7:00pm
Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary,
959 Madison Ave
College of St. Rose, Albany, NY

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.

ARCWP Albany Ordination – July 8, 2017 – All Are Welcome

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
joyfully invites you

to the
Priestly Ordination
of
Lindy Sanford

And the
Diaconate Ordination
of
Lynn Kinlan
Margaret Alderman
Anne Keller

Ordaining Bishop: Bridget Mary Meehan
********************
July 8, 2017
2:00 PM
First Unitarian Universalist Church
405 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12206

*******

Reception
Fuller Road Firehouse
1342 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12205

Reception Reservations:

Please RSVP by July 1, 2017.

Please send a check for $26 per person made out to the Upper Room ICC to
Joan Chesterfield
12 Oakwood Boulevard
Clifton Park, NY 12065-7414

Peoples’ Catholic Seminary – Spiritual Encounters with Women Mystics for the 21st Century

Spiritual Encounters with Women Mystics for the 21st Century invites you to catch the living spirit of amazing women witnesses to the inbreaking of the Holy One’s infinite love in our midst and to our oneness with all creation.

In the reflections, discussion starters, and prayer experiences from Praying with Visionary Women that accompany each woman’s story, you are invited to reflect on her words and actions in light of your own life experience and the Spirit of God working within you.

In prayer and journaling, you dialogue with these soul sisters, and contemplate their wisdom, compassion and courage as a reflection of the feminine face of God for all times. Their words and actions are a rich source of inspiration and renewal in our prophetic commitment to work for justice, peace, and equality in our world.

As the bondage of sexism, racism, militarism, and ageism continues, this course offers us a rich variety of resources to nurture your inner mystic and calling to be a courageous disciple of Gospel justice and empowerment in the 21st century.

This on-line course opens the week of May 1, 2017 and concludes the week of July 17, 2017. The course is presented in six sessions. Each session is two weeks long. In the first week participants read and reflect on course materials and in the second week, participants write a refection on the session’s theme.

Course Faciloitators:

Bridget Mary Meehan, MA, DMin, ARCWP

Mary Theresa Streck, Ed.D., DMin

Cost: $100 (financial aid available)
Register now at peoplescatholicseminary@gmail.com

Mail check or money order to:
People’s Catholic Seminary
PO Box 421
Watervliet, NY 12189

For further information, call 518-441-9649

 

Stop the Hate Interfaith Prayer Service

PEOPLE’S CATHOLIC SEMINARY OPENS NEW COURSE ON JESUS

REDISCOVERING JESUS IN A COMPANIONSHIP OF EMPOWERMENT FOR THE 21st CENTURY


Course Description: In this course, adult faith seekers will primarily use Diarmuid O’Murchu’s text Christianity’s Dangerous Memory: A Rediscovery of the Revolutionary Jesus along with supplemental materials available on the Internet. This course provides a liberating spirituality for a companionship of empowerment rooted in compassion, justice and equality that expands what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the 21st Century. Class participants will explore a Christian faith that is much bigger, deeper and more challenging than churches have ever acknowledged or proclaimed.

This on-line course opens the week of January 30, 2017 and concludes the week of April 10, 2017. The course is presented in six sessions. Each session is two weeks long. In the first week participants read and reflect on course materials and in the second week, participants write a refection on the session’s theme.
Registration closes January 27, 2017

Course Facilitators


Bridget Mary Meehan, MA, DMin, ARCWP, a Sister for Christian Community, is one of the founding members of the People’s Catholic Seminary. She is a member of the pastoral team at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida. Bridget Mary presides at liturgies, officiates at weddings and offers sacramental ministry. She is an author of twenty books. Her work in communications media include programs about women priests on Google and YouTube. Bridget Mary was ordained a priest in the first USA ordination in Pittsburgh on July 31, 2006 and was ordained a bishop in Santa Barbara, California on April 19, 2009.

Mary Theresa Streck, Ed.D., DMin, is one of the founding members of the People’s Catholic Seminary. She is a member of the pastoral team at the Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community in Albany, NY. She presides at liturgies, officiates at weddings and offers sacramental ministry and is a member of the ARCWP Program of Preparation team. She earned a Doctorate in Education Leadership from the Sage Colleges and a Doctorate in Ministry from Global Ministries University. She was ordained a priest on September 15, 2013.

Cost: $200 (financial aid available)
Register now at peoplescatholicseminary@gmail.com

Mail check or money order to:
People’s Catholic Seminary
PO Box 421
Watervliet, NY 12189
(paypal coming soon!)

Christianity’s Most Dangerous Memory​ – ​
Book Review from www.amazon.com

Drawing from the best contemporary scholarship, bestselling author Diarmuid O’Murchu deconstructs the history of Christianity, and specifically the life of Jesus Christ, as it has evolved over the past two thousand years. With rich language and clear metaphors, O’Murchu speaks to every Christian who is fed up with a revisionist Christian doctrine based on banal ideas and who desperately seeks affirmation that the Christian faith is a much bigger, deeper, and more challenging institution than churches have ever acknowledged or proclaimed. According to O’Murchu, Jesus was never an earthly prince, but rather the first rebel, a countercultural outsider who sought to empower the oppressed and marginalized while questioning the core beliefs of longstanding institutions—and ultimately paying a mortal price for his convictions. Using this portrait of Jesus, each chapter addresses a range of common human problems that Christ himself overcame, such as understanding others, resolving hostilities, discovering empowerment by suffering, and preserving personal identity in a globalized world. O’Murchu’s stunning conclusions serve to reintroduce the world to the revolutionary Jesus, giving His story new life and relevance for the modern age.

Visiting Israel

Kathie Ryan, ARCWP, and member of the Upper Room Community in Albany, NY, recently visited Israel.

Here are two pictures she sent from Israel:

The is the Upper Room in Jerusalem. Below is King David’s tomb and above is a mosque. Very inclusive.

sea-of-galileeSunrise on the Sea of Galilee

 

People’s Catholic Seminary – Course 401-Sacraments

People’s Catholic Seminary will begin a new on-line course the week of November 7. This course aligns with Unit 4 in the ARCWP Ordination Units and is free to ARCWP candidates and their program companions.
Registration closes November 1.
Many blessings,
Bridget Mary and Mary Theresa

http://pcseminary.blogspot.com

401: Sacraments
Facilitators:
Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP
Dr. Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP
The course opens the week of November 7, 2016 and concludes the week of December 19, 2016.
Cost: $200 (financial aid available)
Register now at peoplescatholicseminary@gmail.com

Course Overview

Course participants will engage in dynamic conversations about sacraments for the 21st century through on-line blog postings.
The primary text for the course is “Deconstructing Sacramental Theology and Reconstructing Catholic Ritual” by Joseph Martos. Other supplemental material for the course will be posted in the interactive blog. Class discussions will focus on the material presented in Joseph Martos’ book.

According to Martos, Catholic sacramental doctrine has lost much of its credibility. Baptized people leave the church, adolescents stop attending shortly after they are confirmed, supposedly indissoluble marriages regularly dissolve, few go to confession, and many do not believe in transubstantiation.

Drawing upon his decades-long study of the sacraments, Martos reveals how teachings that seemed rooted in the scriptures and Catholic life have become unmoored from the contexts in which they arose, and why seemingly eternal truths are actually historically relative.

After carefully constructing Catholic teaching from the church’s own documents, he deconstructs it by demonstrating how biblical passages were misconstrued by patristic authors and how patristic writings were misunderstood by medieval scholastics. The long process of misinterpretation culminated in the dogmatic pronouncements of the Council of Trent, which continues to dominate Catholic thinking about the church’s religious ceremonies. If the sacraments are released from their dogmatic baggage, Martos believes that the spiritual realities they symbolize can be celebrated in any human culture without being tied to their traditional rites.