Taking a New Path – the Continuation of a Sacred Journey

This will probably be the last I speak on this particular subject. I’m tired and moving on…

This is not, by any means, an objective observation of my encounters but is instead a true and faith-filled accounting of my experiences within the “Independent Catholic Movement (ICM)” (also known as the “Independent Sacramental Movement (ISM)”).

The Old…

I started my path of service in the ministry as a small child growing up in the Roman-lead Church. I never looked at people as liberal or conservative – they were all simply people with needs. Theirs, like my own, were hearts exploding at the seams waiting for someone to love them, or else souls desperate for the embrace of the +Creator.

No matter the reason, every person I encountered was on the Road to Emmaus and like everyone else, sought transformation and healing, and were equally deserving of respect and dignity.

I embraced that philosophy throughout my life and ministries, no matter if I took a path in or outside the church. For a while, I took the path most traveled; I entered a Roman Catholic seminary where my soul fractured. I left after witnessing many types of abuse in seminary and within my Diocese.

From there I walked within the ICM and was, in short order, ordained. But slowly the old abuses became more obvious. Once I allowed myself to take off the rose-colored glasses, changes were necessary. The same held true for each subsequent organization – some more abusive than others, but all filled with people who wanted their fiefdom – and they were “painfully” obvious. In more than 20 years of service, a bishop threatened to shove the Eucharist shoved down my throat and another took the word of a drugged-out superior. I’ve been lied to, demoralized, and gaslighted. I’ve even been thrown out for standing up for the truth. I continue to witness person after person projecting their problems onto others thereby avoiding their own. I recognize it because for a short while, while I was under another church, I did the very same.

Out with the Old…

Image by Jesse Zhou on Unsplash
Image by Jesse Zhou on Unsplash

It is not my intent to demean or otherwise degrade the entirety of the ICM/ISM. There are/were some beautiful people scattered throughout the independent movements, but they were usually relegated to backbenches or the shadows; repressed so their lights were obfuscated by the glow of repression.

The last entity under whom I traveled, while not overtly abusive, was no less demeaning – everything was about their greatness and how the success of others was their doing (not to mention the low-brow bitch-fests, micromanagement, and truly inappropriate comments). After more than 20 years of active ministry, I thought I finally faced a day I would seek laicization as a means to escape abuse within the church.

While still in discernment, though, a voice in the desert cried with me – not at me. The voice offered hope where mine diminished. I asked myself over and over, “Do I want to trust again?” Something, though, was different about the voice. It sounded excited, vibrant, and alive. But then something completely out of the ordinary happened – the voice challenged me to keep them, too, in check; that if the day came where they became like the others – to face them and help them find the way back to compassion and love.

In with the New…

Challenge accepted!

In so doing, I am not turning my back on my past but am instead moving forward on a parallel course. I’ve left the ill-health of the ICM/ISM and will celebrate life down more mainstream paths. I’m not kidding myself, though. I know the current path is independent of their own history and I am fully aware that ill-health will exist within any organization but at least in this one, there is the challenge to help foster good mental/emotional health in the ministers themselves.

I’m no Calvinist, but I do tend to side with the Protestant and reformer mindset – not in the sense that I intend to reform anything, but more to re-form back to the teachings of the +Christ. We have lost the path and believe we must heal ONLY the poor and downtrodden. In so doing, we inadvertently (or intentionally) trod on and abuse others at the expense of “looking like” we are doing the +Creator’s works.

So – I am now well beyond the crossroads. I am back on a path of healing and wellness not only for myself but also for my community and ministry – and it’s about time. I’ve still a lot of fear to overcome, but so much has already washed away and trust is present. I’ve got a good feeling about the future – in all possible respects – and I look forward to continuing to learn, grow, and develop ministry with positive mental health at the forefront.