Good Shepherd Companions - An Ecumenical Catholic Ordinariate
Building Bridges of Faith, Hope and Love
Good Shepherd Companions, (GSC), are inspired by the Spirit of Jesus as were His companions along the road to Emmaus. Our hearts burn within us. We believe in the Divine Presence active in men and women around the globe. We envision a new invigorating movement of conscious care for the earth and all its creatures. We are on a journey as companions building bridges of faith hope and love. Will you join us for a time to journey together?
GSC started in Flushing, New York as an outreach to the mar-ginalized of society. Since then, it has grown into an interna-tional network of caring.
Specific Aims of GSC:
- to embrace new models of spiritual interaction and service, utilizing the spiritual gifts of both men and women, and supporting the priesthood of men, women and mar-ried priests;
- to collaborate with ecumenical groups and institutions to break down hostilities among religious believers and to respect other cultures;
- to strengthen family life through wholesome activities, and opportunities, respecting moral choices of married couples, and supporting the divorced and remarried;
- to participate in educational efforts which recognize the intrinsic relationship between religion and science, and to protect the earth from abuse and ignorance;
- to cultivate attitudes of equality, peace and justice by encouraging cultural systems to move away from war, poverty and abuse, (most often victimizing women and children,) to a sustainable egalitarian system.
- to encourage a review of the penal system in the USA.
Spirituality, Faith, Inspiration
Spirituality pulsates throughout creation. It is an awareness of our unity and respect for the world around us, clarifying and nurturing all relationships, recognizing that everything is more than mere objects for our use. GSC models Jesus’ spirituality. We live an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit, and all creation. Jesus invited his followers to live in unity with each other.
Faith is more than adhering to doctrine. GSC is a new call to see God as intimately present and active in our lives, not as a dominant patriarch, or demanding king. Faith inspires loving men and women to believe in new visions and possibilities.
Inspiration is living with awareness of God’s Spirit empowering our actions. It is sometimes counter-cultural and works towards bringing real peace and justice to all. God’s Spirit is a gift, not an illusion, private, remote, nor a reward. It is not other worldly. Empowered with the Spirit, GSC hopes to break down artificially constructed social and religious barriers, and build new bridges to support all life.
Modeling New Ministries and Building Bridges
House Churches were a basic structure of the early Christian Movement. Jesus’ ministry often occurred in sharing a meal with men and women. The early church understood this sign of equality and intimacy as a way to build up the family of God. The small setting encourages prayer, dialogue and hospitality.
Hospital ministry integrates treatment for the whole person, physical, spiritual, emotional. Effective healthcare integrates spiritual faith with human touch. Jesus is probably best recognized as a healer of physical and spiritual brokenness. Healing begins with extending healthcare to all.
Weddings, celebrate not only a special day, but a lifetime of love and service to one another and newly extended families. In a variety of settings, wedding celebrations build bridges between families. They are often occasions of social healing and spiritual reconnection. To develop ministries which continually support marriage is essential.
Counselling brings together the expertise of the counse-lor and the spiritual experience of the counselee. For-giveness, healing of relationships, renewal of self are steps in the integral journey to mental health and healthy rela-tionships.
Poor children in the USA, Central America, Africa, and India are a deep concern. Together we hope to develop new ways of addressing this need, along with supporting active ministries already in place.
GSC members engage in healing, the most damaging wounds of Christianity’s history: the dividing of Christ’s Body, the Church.
The Arts, wellsprings for growth and modeling new minis-tries, celebrate our shared humanity.
GSC participates with other renewal groups like Interna-tional Federation for a Renewed Catholic Ministry; Feder-ation of Christian Ministries, Married Priests Now!, and local Ministerial Associations.
What does "An Ecumenical Catholic Ordinariate" Mean?
Good Shepherd Companions describe ourselves as an Ecumenical Catholic Ordinariate building bridges of understanding and cooperation for the common good of the Human Family. As an international, transformational community rooted in the long history of Christianity, east and west, we are more than a territorial diocese. With the same aspiration to unite the Roman Church with the Anglican tradition through establishing Ordinariates, GSC members feel the call of God’s Spirit toward Ecumenical and Interreligious unity.
Being Ecumenical, we are open to all the followers of Jesus, and working toward reunion of all the Baptized. Catholic—sharing the beliefs and vision of the Ecumenical Councils. Ordinariate—purposely and distinctly formed with the hope of being recognized as a specialized member of the global Catholic community.
Governance and Structure
Deacons, Priests, and Bishops of Good Shepherd Companions generally follow a work-er priest model for their own financial support.
The Bishop Ordinary serves as President, and has an elected Board for consultation and planning. The Bishop Ordinary and Board appoint assistants and committees as needed.
Synods are meetings of all members to discuss important issues and ministerial ser-vice. Along with clergy, each community elects 2 non-clergy members to be voting members of the synod.
Good Shepherd Companions and the Catholic Church: A Historical Parallel in Early Christianity
To help achieve the unity outlined in our vision statement, we believe that there is a paradigm for this in the early days of Christianity called “the community of the Beloved Disciple”—a community which bequeathed to the Church the Gospel of John, which taught the church that the Holy Spirit speaks not just through bishops but through all who loves Jesus and keeps his commandments. The Community of the Beloved Disciple Raymond Brown (Paulist Press, 1979)
Father Raymond Brown the foremost authority on this subject, points out: the community of the Beloved Disciple had a hard time being integrated into the established Church—mainly because of the greater role they assigned to the Holy Spirit, a spirit they called the Paraclete. No doubt the Catholic Church also claims that this same Holy Spirit is behind all its major decisions, such as the official acts of Church Councils and the statements the pope makes ex cathedra. But the difference, says Father Brown, lies in church structure: the community of the Beloved Disciple did not have authoritative church officials in the same way as the rest of the official Church, with bishops in charge who could control doctrine by the very nature of their office (“The Community of the Beloved Disciple,” p. 158). The Johannine community had a hard time accepting this idea of a church where certain persons, just by virtue of their office, were given prerogatives that, for them, belonged to the Paraclete alone, who dwells in the hearts of everyone who loves Jesus and keeps his commandments (ibid., p. 87).
Similarly, the Good Shepherd Companions, have a hard time accepting some of the pronouncements coming out of Rome banning such things as the ordination of women and the blessing of gay couples. The Vatican may be promulgating one thing, but our hearts tell us something different, prompting us to ask: “How can this be God’s will?” In fact, it is true to say that most of us would not be in the Good Shepherd Companions if the Spirit in our hearts had not spoken more forcefully about these matters than the official magisterium of the Church.
After much wrangling, the historical conflict in the early Church was eventually resolved: the community accepted the apostolic authority of the larger Church--but the larger Church also accepted the authority of the community’s trailblazing charism, the Gospel of John.
How the case of the Good Shepherd Companions will be resolved with our practice of ordaining women as well as men, single as well as married--along with our distinctive mission of open-table inclusiveness--remains to be seen. We have applied to the Holy See for a semi-autonomous prelature along the lines of that granted to the Society of Pius X. As we have seen with the paradigm of the Community of the Beloved Disciple: the process is long and arduous, but it is not without hope.