My beloved, Ms. Conroy, delivered the homily for this wonderful occasion and, I must say, she did a very fine job. Well, see for yourself. Her homily is posted below. Ms. Conroy has been a professed member of that fellowship since 2006 when she transferred her membership from the Order of Jonathan Daniels. She tells me that there are now 21 members in the AF.
I know you are dying to know just what the Anamchara Fellowship is all about, so here's what it says on their website:
The Anamchara Fellowship one of the new expressions of modern monasticism. Founded in the tradition of the Episcopal Church, with a Celtic spirit. Anamchara fellowship has received canonical recognition by the House of Bishops' Committee on the Religious Life. We strive to be an inclusive community, welcoming men and women, clergy and lay, married, single, or partners in a committed relationship. Members of the fellowship may live in their own homes or in groups as the ability for that arises. Each member must be self-supporting, and we are bound to each other by common ideals and a commitment to prayer and service. Our primary ministries focus on catechesis, pastoral care and spiritual direction.
For more information, please visit http://www.anamcharafellowship.org/)
The Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist
Chew’s Landing, NJ
August 8, 2009
Sr. Barbara Clare, AF
Back up in the “North Country” known as the Diocese of Newark, The Episcopal Church of St. Paul has a tradition started by our rector and pastor of writing a love letter to every person who is baptized there.
It is a well-loved tradition and the letter is given to the family to save and then share with the child at a later date – perhaps at Confirmation – so that the story marking the beginning of their Christian journey can be better understood as they prepare to reaffirm the promises made for them as infants or children.
So, today I have borrowed that tradition and have written a love letter for Bill to mark a very important step that he is making in his Christian journey. You are all invited to listen in.
Did you ever think today would arrive? Did you ever dream that you would be asking to be received as a member of a Christian community? Specifically, Anamchara Fellowship?
Ah, it is truly God’s sense of humor and your persistence that has made today a reality.
Your journey so far has had many twists and turns, many highs and several lows – from your childhood in the Bronx, your Catholic school early education, your service in the Army, failed relationships, your successful career at AT&T, your coming out as a gay man, your side-step into despair and your strength and determination to become the person who you are created to be, loved and whole.
Today marks an important sidebar in your journey. You are choosing to further discern your vocation as a member in Anamchara Fellowship. Today you will make promises to God and witnessed by us all in which you will strive to live a life of simplicity, to honor fidelity and to cherish obedience.
Simplicity – is already in your portfolio (except maybe that motorcycle!). You only have what you need, and of course, that includes hundreds of books. You do live simply and you have gifts that we all can learn from.
You freely share what you have and are quick to help anyone who is in need. This is marked by your work at the Red Cross, your powerful ministry with people with Alzheimer’s and your humility at being the only male on the Altar Guild!
Fidelity – You are one of the most loyal folk I know. I have never found you deceitful or ever questioned your truthfulness. I know you to be faithful to seek the truth and you search for the answers to the deep questions – researching, reading, questioning, challenging – all in an effort to better understand what you believe.
Obedience – Ah, a little work needs to be done! Taking time to quiet the mind, so that God’s spirit can speak to you and you will listen and hear what She has to say. I know you are working on it, and it is a struggle, but the peace that will be yours when you strive for that quiet space will be well worth it.
We as a community have embraced you as a Brother. We support and pray for you and will continue to offer help and guidance in the next part of your journey. I know you will be a blessing to us, as I hope we will be to you.
So, get ready – seatbelt on (or helmet if you are on the bike) – prepare for the ride.
It’s going to be a blast!
P.S. The back of the Service Bulletin for Bill's clothing contained this information about Pelagius - from whence cometh Bill's religious name "Morgan".
Pelagius (ca. 360 - 420 c.e.) was a Welshman or at least a Celt from the British Isles. His name Pelagius is a Graeco-Roman form of his surname, Morgan, meaning "Son of the Sea." His friends called him "Brito".
After leaving a confession of things to be left behind on the altar, and forgiving all who come between him and Christ's call, Bill made the following vow:
"I give myself without reservation to God, the Three of limitless love. I seek to know Christ better and make him better known, to live simply that others may simply live, to overcome evil with good and to follow the examples of Columba, Brigid, Cuthbert, Hilda and all of the Celtic Saints.
I commit myself to simplicity, fidelity and obedience, honoring those to whom I am responsible.
I undertake, as God permits, to follow a daily rhythm of prayer, work and re-creation, to meet with my spiritual director regularly and to attend the Annual Gathering of Anamchara Fellowship.
I will pray for and meet with my Anamchara during this time of formation, and will use the Fellowship's patterns of prayer each day.
The Abbess then said,
May the Father's heart be yours;
May the Christ-like qualities of Columba, Brigid, Cuthbert, and Hilda be yours.
May the signs and wonders of the Spirit be yours.
In stillness or in storm, be always vigilant, waiting, sharing, praising, and blessing. Sail forth across the ocean of God's world, knowing both the frailty of your craft and the infinite riches of your God.
Ah, 'twas a lovely thing, indeed.
Congratulations, Bill. We're all very proud of ya, laddy!