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The Community of All Angels

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  • brotherstephenbernard
    Relatively new to the group, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about what I feel God has called me to do in this
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 24, 2004
      Relatively new to the group, I wanted to take this opportunity to
      introduce myself and tell you a little bit about what I feel God has
      called me to do in this Episcopal Church of ours.

      I started out my journey as a Roman Catholic and went through
      seminary (up to the second year of my M.Div. at Union Theological
      Seminary in Manhattan and two formation programs in religious life,
      the later of which was as a candidate to the Jesuits. The year I
      was to enter the novitiate for the Louisianna Province, the Superior
      General with increasing pressure from Rome expelled Rev. John
      McNeil, SJ, (well know for his public ministry to the gay and
      lesbian communities), and a young scholastic in California who
      published the results of a research study he did indicating that 60%
      of the Roman clergy and religious were homosexual in orientation.
      Like the old testament writers tell us to discern God's voice by the
      writing on the wall, I thought why embrace a manner of living where
      by its nature I would never be fully welcomed or accepted unless I
      didn't ask, didn't tell, didn't embrace the least of the children of
      God...(not just our community but anyone else that disagreed with
      the "official" Roman line.

      So in 1989, I was received into the Episcopal Church by the Bishop
      of New York at St. Michael's in Manhattan. At the time I was living
      with the Anglican Franciscans at Saint Elizabeth's Friary in
      Brooklyn who were simply amazing in their hospitality and ministry
      to me and others like me. Because of my student loan debt and HIV
      status at the time, I was an unlikely candidate for the Society of
      Saint Francis, so with their help and responding to God's call, I
      formed The Community of All Angels: Benedictines in Exile. What
      are we exiled from? The Body of Christ! It was clear to us until
      recently that the welcoming of homosexual persons in the church and
      the ministry was largely dependent upon the openness of the
      individual clergy and parishes, thereby making some places
      unwelcoming of who we were. Religious life is an after thought in
      the Anglican communion but was I believe my authentic Gospel call to
      live a life centered on Christ and the Rule of Saint Benedict so
      that is exactly what I have set out to do...establish a Benedictine
      monastic religious order specifically for gays and lesbians and
      others marginalized by mainstream Christianity. Saint Benedict
      calls the monastery a "school for the Lord's service." I made my
      life profession in 1992 and this year will be receiving our first
      novice, a friend of mine for the past 22 years who at this point in
      his life is generously responding to God's invitation and returning
      to the Episcopal Church after years (30 or more years) and becoming
      a religious. We also have a handful of oblates that were invested
      and are very supportive, including my mother and my boss (so much
      for prophets not being accepted in their own home?)

      We have purchased a monastery (a former Roman Catholic convent in
      Maine) to begin our ministry in a more substantial and dedicated
      manner. Actually in the Benedictine tradition our monastery will be
      known as a priory (a religious house whose superior is a prior or
      prioress). Due to our employment in South Florida and our attendance
      at university (I'm in a doctoral program and my friend in a second
      master's program) it is unlikely that we will be able to spend our
      time at the monastery full-time. For this reason, I am looking for
      former Benedictines (Catholic & Anglican) to assist us in this
      endeavor. I know many Roman religious in advanced years who are
      looking for transitional communities to which they might belong in
      the event they decide to leave the Roman communion as part of
      their "sacrament of coming out." It is my hope to assist them in
      this in every way possible. It was painful for me when I did it and
      the Society of Saint Francis allowed me to fumble things during my
      formation and were as patient with me as though I had just started
      nursery school.

      I've attached our mission statement and hope that if you run into
      anyone who might be interested in our ministry to provide them with
      my contact information.

      Pax et Bonum,

      Rev. Brother Stephen Bernard, C.A.A.

      Prior

      The Community of All Angels: Benedictines in Exile

      Our Lady, Queen of All Angels Priory

      (954) 610-2358 - Cell
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