Saturday, January 24, 2015

Five Takes on Five Dances

Recently my friend Raul and I watched Five Dances, a 2013 film written and directed by Alan Brown.

Featuring dancers Ryan Steele, Reed Luplau, Catherine Miller, Kimiye Corwin, and Luke Murphy, Five Dancers tells the story of Chip, a young, impressionable and somewhat troubled dancer from Kansas, and his first foray into the contemporary dance world of New York City.

Following is the description of Five Dances from the film's official website.

The classic tale of finding success and romance in the big city is given a contemporary, and unconventional, spin in Alan Brown's new film, Five Dances. Collaborating with internationally renowned choreographer Jonah Bokaer, writer-director Brown has taken five gifted New York dancers, and fashioned a story about Chip (Ryan Steele in his first film role), an extraordinarily talented 18 year-old recently arrived from Kansas who joins a small downtown modern dance company. In his first weeks of rehearsal, Chip is initiated into the rites of passage of a New York dancer's life, where discipline and endless hard work, camaraderie and competitiveness, the fear of not being good enough, and the joy of getting it just right, inform every minute of every day.

Shooting in and around a Soho dance studio, Brown and his longtime cinematographer Derek McKane capture the exhilaration and emotional turmoil of a small dance company, and all of Chip's poignant firsts—the forging of friendships, being chosen for the important solo, his first ever love affair—with the intimacy and immediacy of a documentary. The result, Five Dances, is Brown’s most dynamic film.

So here's my take on Five Dances: Overall, I definitely appreciated and enjoyed it – especially its beautifully filmed dance sequences.

My sole disappointment with the film is its poorly written dialogue, a shortcoming that no doubt accounts for the wooden acting of the cast, with the exception of Catherine Miller (right). She really stands out in the acting department as her performance is the most nuanced. Because of this, her character, Katie, is the one that I think viewers would relate to most; she certainly comes across as the most grounded, aware and proactive of the five characters.

At one point I thought I'd like to watch the film again with the sound turned off. That way I could skip the clunky dialogue and just focus on the sublime dancing. But then I realized I'd miss the film's beautiful score composed by Nicholas Wright.

But enough of what I think of the film. Following are four takes on Five Dances written by professional film reviewers.

The hard work and copious sweat that go into rehearsing a new dance piece is captured with visceral effect in Alan Brown's sensitive drama set mostly within the confines of a Soho dance studio. Centering on a newly arrived 18-year-old Kansas innocent who discovers love, friendship and an awareness of his physical gifts, Five Dances should well impress dance aficionados even if its skimpy narrative proves less than inspired. . . . The film is more notable for the impressively filmed and edited dance sequences which also effectively convey the interpersonal dynamics within the group.

The title refers to a series of dance sequences (choreographed by Jonah Bokaer) being rehearsed in the small studio by five dancers, including Chip (Ryan Steele), whose withdrawn, taciturn demeanor hints at an inner turmoil that is occasionally revealed in anguished phone conversations with his mother who begs him to come home.

Having arrived in the big city via a scholarship, Chip is so broke that he secretly spends his nights sleeping at the studio. That is, until a female fellow dancer (Catherine Miller) takes pity on him and invites him to spend a few days in her apartment.

Chip’s sexuality is hinted at by his not coming on to his lissome roommate. When a male dancer, Theo (Reed Luplau), not so subtly reveals his romantic interest, Chip reacts with overt hostility. But eventually his barriers are broken down and the two embark on a torrid affair.

That’s about it in terms of the film’s storyline, except for such minor subplots as a married female dancer’s affair with the dance company’s captain coming to light in an ugly exchange. The film is more notable for the impressively filmed and edited dance sequences which also effectively convey the interpersonal dynamics within the group.

Despite such attempts to provide depth to Chip as having him occasionally demonstrate his comical gift for ventriloquism, the character largely remains a cipher. The feeling is only accentuated by Steele’s repressive performance which is not nearly as impressive as his athletic dancing. But then again, that’s appropriate for this film in which the characters express themselves far more vividly with their bodies than words.

Frank Scheck
The Hollywood Reporter
October 7, 2013

An extraordinary dancer, Ryan Steele, dominates Five Dances, the camera pivoting on his every sinewy stretch and turn. Almost all of writer-director Alan Brown's latest feature transpires in a Soho studio where a small troupe is rehearsing five pieces choreographed by Jonah Bokaer. But rather than adapting the pieces to conform to his paper-thin narrative, Brown explores the tensions and contortions of dancers expressing fresh emotion through a pre-existing art form. The result avoids docu-style randomness while furthering only the most rudimentary story and character points, allowing the dance to speak largely, and magnificently, for itself.

Much as they did with Shakespeare’s text in their similarly gay-themed Private Romeo, Brown and longtime cinematographer Derek McKane trace complex configurations of confusion and desire in a densely resistant art medium. Steele is cast as Chip, a kid fresh from Kansas whose dancing talent is as immediately obvious as his naivete. Broke, he secretly sleeps in the studio until invited by fellow dancer Katie (Catherine Miller) to crash at her place. Tearfully threatening phone calls from his gin-soaked mother, whom he must constantly placate lest she follow him to New York, represent bridges yet unburned.

To a great extent, Chip’s baby-chick quality encourages the other dancers’ protectiveness and mitigates the jealousy they might otherwise have felt toward his superior talent, which quickly earns him an important solo. When Theo (Reed Luplau), another dancer in the two-woman/three-man troupe, makes a sexual overture, Chip instinctively shies away, angry and defensive, only to come back, apologize and melt in his arms. Unsurprisingly, the sex scenes are shot with the grace and complexity of a choreographed dance, the movements of the intertwined bodies confined to a much smaller space, the leaps, lifts and twists internalized.

The five dances of the title are surprisingly short. Oddly, Brown makes little distinction between parts and wholes, and the broken-down individual moves prove just as compelling as their final configuration in the choreography, sometimes even more so. The sensual movement of bodies through space creates a visual language whose infinite variations seduce and fascinate over the course of the film’s numerous rehearsals. The clean, open spaces of the loft-cum-dance studio lend the entire film a clarity echoed in all aspects of the staging and production, from the costumes to the amiable camaraderie of the troupe.

Ronnie Scheib
November 12, 2013

Five people rehearsing in an otherwise vacant dance studio: That pitch may not appeal to everyone, but fans of the movement arts and ensemble acting will appreciate the possibilities.

Yet few of those possibilities are explored with any depth in Five Dances, a promising though static new film that never leaves its taciturn shadows for a single emotionally gripping moment.

Ryan Steele plays a newcomer joining the cast of a dance work choreographed by Anthony (Luke Murphy) in the fiction, Jonah Bokaer in reality. The dances are arresting, moving from a cold angularity to more fluid partnering; they are captured by an unobtrusive camera and are easily the film’s strength.

Mr. Steele has a truthful restraint as the quiet new guy, Chip, but his story is never dynamic, and his fellow players are either too tangential or too nakedly used as props. (Moments of the film approach soft-core pornography.) The few narrative turns feel contrived, and the cast is never allowed to jell like a company.

Five Dances, written and directed by Alan Brown, does provide unusually luxurious quiet, punctuated by squeaks and thuds of feet on the floor in the dancers’ stop-and-start rehearsals. There’s an interesting vibe there, but it’s not enough to save what seems like a failed experiment.

David DeWitt
New York Times
October 3, 2013

Five Dances might be the least talky movie I've seen in months — but it's plenty expressive. What it says, it says silently, or at least non-verbally, in the music-and-movement language of Jonah Bokaer's haunting choreography, which speaks of solitary strivings and the brief, passionate connections that punctuate them.

In fact, the quiet appeal of Alan Brown's sensually photographed film (Derek McKane is the cinematographer) is in the way it extends that vocabulary into its non-dance scenes; it's a gentle, if slight, narrative full of fraught looks and knowing silences — which, frankly, might grow tiresome in another context — that communicate mood and character as clearly and lyrically as a fine dance piece.

. . . This isn't a breakthrough film for anyone, I don't think. What it is: a lovingly shot valentine to work and body and art, and a generous, ultimately happy little story of a lost boy finding a community and a kindred soul.

Trey Graham
October 4, 2013

Related Off-site Link:
Making Love: An Interview with Gay Filmmaker Alan Brown – Gary M. Kramer (Gay City News, October 2, 2013).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Dancer and the Dance
The Art of Dancing as the Supreme Symbol of the Spiritual Life
The Premise of All Forms of Dance
The Soul of a Dancer
The Church and Dance
The Naked Truth . . . in Dance and in Life
Carlos Acosta Recalls the "Clarion Call" of His Vocation in Dance
Recovering the Queer Artistic Heritage
Gay Men and Modern Dance

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Quote (and Question) of the Day

Pope Francis confounds me. How can a man who is so eloquent and obviously heartfelt when he talks about global poverty and injustice and income inequality start spouting such a collection of reheated papal clichés and utter nonsense when he starts talking about women and sex?

– Patricia Miller
Excerpted from "Pope Francis, Breeding Bunnies and Ideological Colonization"
Religion Dispatches
January 20, 2015

Related Off-site Links:
Pope Amuses and Insults with Remark on Parenting – Elisabetta Povoledo (The New York Times, January 20, 2015).
Pope: Catholics Need Not Breed Like ‘Rabbits’ – Really? – Jerry Slevin (Christian Catholicism, January 21, 2015).
The Catholic Church's Complicity in Glyzelle Palomar's Suffering – Jamie Manson (National Catholic Reporter, January 21, 2015).
Pope Francis Might Not Be As Awesome As We Thought He Was – Asher Bayot (, January 18, 2015).
Pope Francis Calls Marriage Equality "Ideological Colonization" to Destroy Family – Ross Murray (GLAAD, January 16, 2015).
What to Make of Pope Francis’ Latest Comments on Marriage? – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, January 17, 2015).
Pope Francis Slams Capitalism and Those Who Criticize Him For It in His Best Interview Yet – Ryan Denson (Addicting Info, January 11, 2015).
The Trouble with Francis: Three Things That Worry Me – Mary E. Hunt (Religion Dispatches, January 6, 2014).
Pope Francis’ Stinging Critique of Capitalism – James Downie (The Washington Post, November 26, 2013).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
How the Pope's Recent Remarks Highlight a Major Discrepancy in Church Teaching
On the Issue of Contraception, the Catholic Clerical Caste Does Not Speak for "the Church," Let Alone "Religion"
Robert McClory on Humanae Vitae
One Couple's "Evolving View of Natural Family Planning"
Quote of the Day – November 29, 2010
Stop in the Name of Discriminatory Ideology
Italian Cardinal Calls for a “New Vision” for Sexuality
Quote of the Day – January 14, 2012

Monday, January 19, 2015

For 2015, Three "Generous Promises"

Yeah, I know . . . I really should take down my Christmas tree.

But with this cold wintry weather we're experiencing, my colorful and glittery little tree definitely adds a lovely warmth to my home, don't you think? So maybe I'll wait another couple of days or so.

Actually, my friend Kathleen said it's quite okay to wait a bit longer before taking down my tree. She reminded me that in some older Catholic Christian traditions, Christmas lasted until February 2. This date marks the end of the 40 day-long "Christmastide," which corresponds to the 40 days of Lent. As I'm sure many of you reading this would know, on February 2 the Church celebrates the day that Mary entered the temple when her days of "purification" (as defined by the patriarchal Mosaic law) were fulfilled after giving birth. It's also the occasion when Simeon and Anna made their well-known pronouncements about Mary and Jesus. The day is known as "Candle-mas" because of Simeon's prophecy that Jesus would be a light for all people.

Stirring the fire

Speaking of light, on Saturday, January 3 I participated in "Stirring the Fire," the annual spiritual retreat for and by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates – St. Paul Province. As I think most of you know, I'm a consociate member of this particular Catholic order.

This year's day of reflection focused on "inner stability and outer mobility," and although these particular words are not ones I would chose to use, what they signify is nevertheless very meaningful and important to me. That's because in terms of both the physical and spiritual dimensions of life, "inner stability" is all about balance, groundedness, harmony, and a strength of core cultivated and maintained by mindfulness and a listening heart. All these things require time, dedication, and discipline. "Outward mobility," as explained at the retreat, speaks to me of journeying and of outreach to and compassionate engagement with others. It involves openness, flexibility, and a prayerfully discerned sense of focus and direction.

At one point during the retreat, it was noted that inner stability and outer mobility are the defining characteristics of a mystic, of one desiring transformation via union with the Sacred Presence that dwells both within and beyond us. I appreciate and resonate with this insight.

An intentional and mindful practice

Another important component of the Stirring the Fire retreat was its focus on the Examen or examination of conscience, the ancient practice of thoughtfully reviewing our actions, thoughts, and experiences of the day. It's a practice that can help us in our relationship with God through its invitation to discern the things we are grateful for, the things that feed and replenish us; the things that drain us; the things we want to change; and the things we need to work on.

One of the retreat facilitators reminded us that the way to start the Examen is by visualizing and feeling oneself embraced by God's unconditional love. We then begin reflecting upon our day, identifying when and where we felt connected to others and God, and when we felt disconnected. Such mindful reflection invites us to name our struggles and fears; the resources we possess and/or have access to that can guide, strengthen and calm us; our gifts; and the various pathways that are open to us. The Examen also provides us with an opportunity to discern the value of our various commitments. Over time, we can also begin to discern patterns in our lives and our spiritual journey. In short, the Examen helps us be in communion with the totality of our being – our strengths and weaknesses; our gains and losses; our hopes and dreams; and our frustrations and disappointments. Through such an intentional and mindful practice we place ourselves in communion with our deepest self and thus the Sacred Presence within us.

I found the retreat's focus on the Examen very helpful. It confirmed for me something I've known for quite some time: I lack discipline in a number areas of my life, including my inner spiritual life, and, perhaps no doubt related to this, I lack direction in my outer life in the world.

In some ways, a good visual representation of this lack of discipline and direction is the following photo of my room, taken at around the time of my participation in the Stirring the Fire retreat. As you can see, it's a mess!

True, I was working at the time on the first installment in my series of posts documenting my twenty years in the U.S., and so I had been shifting and sorting through several boxes of old files, photos, and papers.

The need for discipline in my spiritual practices and clarity and direction in my vocation/career has been somewhat of a recurring theme in my life throughout the past four years or so. (See for instance, here, here, here, here and here.) Indeed, it would probably be more accurate to say that rather than discerning this need, I was reminded of it at the retreat on January 3. For when we were invited to write down what it was we hoped for in 2015 in relation to the theme of inner stability and outer mobility, I wrote: Spiralling forward with focus, direction, and energy.

I very consciously chose spiralling as I think it describes well the nature and trajectory of my spiritual journey. There's often something circular, cyclical about it; yet I nevertheless discern and experience progress, a forward momentum.

I also appreciate how spiralling brings to mind the graceful and focused movements of the whirling dervishes of the Sufi tradition, a tradition with which I deeply resonate.

Three generous promises

We were also asked on January 3 to generate "generous promises" for ourselves, promises that reflect God's generous love and which would help and guide us in embodying the hopes we have for 2015. I came up with three:

• To stay open and responsive to the invitations all around me to spiral forward with focus, direction, and energy.

• To create sacred time and space to experience the Divine Presence as together we spiral forward with focus, direction, and energy.

• To trust that even when I feel it's not happening, I am in some beautiful and mysterious way spiralling forward with focus, direction, and energy.

Since the Stirring the Fire retreat I've slowly been putting into practice the many wise and helpful insights shared and the "generous promises" I made to myself. I've started doing an Examen every night, in unison with the practice of keeping a journal. Tomorrow evening a commence a yoga class, something I've been wanting to do for some time. Oh, and I've started getting my room back in order . . .

If you have decided to make the new year a time of renewal and recommitment in some way, then my thoughts and prayers of loving support are with you. May we all, in our own unique and beautiful ways, spiral forward in making our lives, relationships, communities, and the world an ever-radiant manifestation of God's transforming spirit of justice and compassion.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
All 'Round Me Burdens Seem to Fall
A Guidepost on the Journey
Threshold Musings
Seeking Balance
May Balance and Harmony Be Your Aim
Memet Bilgin and the Art of Restoring Balance
Clarity, Hope and Courage
Prayer and the Experience of God in an Ever-Unfolding Universe
Karl Rahner on the Need for Prayer
There Must Be Balance
"Then I Shall Leap Into Love"
As the Last Walls Dissolve . . . Everything is Possible
Prayer of the Week – November 24, 2014
A Discerning Balance Between Holiness and Wholeness: A Hallmark of the Resurrected Life
Sufism: The Way of Love, a Tradition of Enlightenment, and an Antidote to Fanaticism
Active Waiting: A Radical Attitude Toward Life
In the Garden of Spirituality – Parker Palmer
The Most Sacred and Simple Mystery of All
The Source is Within You

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Quote of the Day

Michael Sam, the first professional football player to come out as gay, proposed to his partner at the Vatican last week just as Pope Francis made his harshest comments against same-sex marriage since he became the pontiff.

. . . Sam’s engagement announcement comes as Pope Francis also claimed there is an “ideological colonization” of the family occurring, a statement . . . more troubling than his criticism of marriage equality. Sam’s latest act is not a ‘colonization,’ but extends a liberating witness to the Vatican of the goodness and holiness present in the relationships of many LGBT people. In bringing the love of a same-sex couple to the heart of institutional Catholicism, Sam and Cammissano are not colonizers . . . but bridge builders.

. . . In being open and authentic, Michael Sam adds his courageous voice to those calling the Catholic Church to greater welcome and acceptance of LGBT people. These include Irish Fr. Martin Dolan who came out to his parish during Mass and Belgian Bishop Johan Bonny who called on the church to formally recognize same-sex couples.

As Bondings 2.0 wrote previously, courage breeds courage. Perhaps Sam and Cammissano will inspire more couples to propose at the Vatican in 2015 – or at the very least, to let church officials know of their love and commitment.

– Bob Shine
Excerpted from "Gay Football Player Michael Sam
Proposes Marriage Atop Vatican
Bondings 2.0
January 18, 2015

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Marriage: "Part of What is Best in Human Nature"
Quote of the Day – December 30, 2014
Rediscovering What Has Been Written on Our Hearts from the Very Beginning
Quote of the Day – May 31, 2014
Catholic Church Can Overcome Fear of LGBT People

Monday, January 12, 2015

"A Token of Wildness and Intractability"

As anyone remotely familiar with this blog would know, I'm rather an admirer of the Poldark series of novels by Winston Graham, and have been since my teenage years.

There's still no word yet of when the BBC's new adaptation of the twelve Poldark novels will be screened on PBS here in the U.S. I'm thinking it will probably be shortly after the series premieres in the U.K. in March. (1/14/15 Update: Poldark will air on PBS Masterpiece in the U.S. in June 2015. The first episode will be shown on Sunday, June 14 in the prime slot of 9 p.m. To view the trailer, click here.)

Above: The principal cast members of Poldark (2015). From left: Jack Farthing as George Warleggan, Kyle Soller as Francis Poldark, Heida Reed as Elizabeth Chenoweth, Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza Carne, Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark, Ruby Bentall as Verity Poldark, and Caroline Blakiston as Agatha Poldark.

The new adaptation stars Aidan Turner as the series protagonist, Ross Poldark. A member of the landed gentry of eighteenth-century Cornwall, Ross Poldark often finds himself at odds with his own class over the social and economic status quo which impoverishes local miners and many others of the working class. In the first novel of the series, which Graham originally intended to call The Renegade before deciding on Ross Poldark, the young Captain Poldark is introduced as a battle-scarred veteran of the American War who, upon returning in 1783 to his derelict family estate on the windswept coast of Cornwall, discovers his widowed father dead and the woman he loves engaged to his cousin. Bitterly disappointed and close to financial ruin, Ross nevertheless vows to make the most of what he has.

The first TV adaptation of the Poldark novels was originally broadcast in the mid 1970s. It was hugely popular and starred Robin Ellis (left) as Ross Poldark, a distinguishing physical characteristic of whom is a prominent scar on one side of his face. Recently, Debbie Horsfield, the screenwriter of the new adaptation, explained to The Power of Poldark facebook group why the facial scars of Robin Ellis and Aidan Turner are on opposite sides.

In Ross Poldark, the first time the scar is mentioned, there is no indication of which side of the face it is on. The description just says "with a scar on his cheek". However, in Jeremy Poldark there is a more detailed description as follows: "The scar was more than half-hidden by the long side hair, but all the same the tail of it down his cheek was a token of wildness and intractability". Again there is no mention of which side the scar is on but the suggestion is that it is not across the cheek but down it and close to the side-hairline. The actual look and creation of the scar is designed by our Makeup Designer Jacqui Fowler who is taking as her reference the source material rather than the previous adaptation.

I might add that in Warleggan, the following is said about Ross Poldark's scar:

His scar was very noticeable this morning. Often it was as if that chance sword-thrust in Pennsylvania remained with him and had become a symbol of the nonconformity of his nature, the unabiding renegade.

Yes, that Ross Poldark! He's definitely a hero of mine, and I'm so looking forward to seeing this complex renegade-of-a-hero (or is that a hero-of-a-renegade?) brought to life for a whole new generation through the BBC's new series.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Return of the (Cornish) Native
Passion, Tide and Time
Time and Remembrance in the Poldark Novels
"Hers Would Be the Perpetual Ache of Loss and Loneliness"

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Something to Think About . . .


Related Off-site Links:
Charlie Hebdo: The Danger of Polarised Debate – Gary Younge (The Guardian, January 11, 2015).
Charlie Hebdo: We Must Grieve the Dead Without Misconstruing Racism as Democratic Ideal – Christen A. Smith (Truthout, January 9, 2015).
Mourning the Parisian Journalists Yet Noticing the Hypocrisy – Rabbi Michael Lerner (The Huffington Post, January 9, 2015).
Why I Am Not Charlie – Scott Long (A Paper Bird, January 9, 2015).
I Will Grieve. I Will Laugh. But I Am Not Charlie – Josh Healey (Common Dreams, January 13, 2015).
Lassana Bathily, Muslim Employee at Kosher Market, Saved Several People During Paris Hostage Situation – Braden Goyette (The Huffington Post, January 10, 2015).
Ahmed Merabet's Eulogy is the Most Important Thing You'll Read on Charlie Hebdo – Max Fisher (Vox, January 11, 2015).
Stop Saying "Islamic Terrorist"The Boeskool (January 10, 2015).
Some European Bloodbaths Are More Interesting Than Others – Jim Naureckas (FAIR, January 11, 2015).
Unmournable Bodies – Teju Cole (The New Yorker, January 9, 2015).
How Muslim Scholars View Paris Attack – Shari`ah Staff (, January 8, 2015).
Leading Muslim Scholar Tariq Ramadan: Attack on Paris Magazine "a Pure Betrayal of Our Religion"Democracy Now! (January 7, 2015).
The Lesson of Charlie Hebdo: The World Only Cares If You Kill White People – Margaret Kimberley (Alternet, January 15, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Doris Lessing on the Challenge to Go Beyond Ideological Slogans
Sufism: A Tradition of Enlightenment, the Way of Love, and an Antidote to Fanaticism
What Muslims Want

Image: Khalid Albaih, a Sudanese artist. (For more cartoons from artists responding to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, click here.)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Quote of the Day

Cardinal Raymond Burke [pictured at right getting his ring kissed] thinks young boys need to be raised with a strong sense that the roles open to them [in the church] are open only to them because of their incipient manliness; I think it is bad to impose arbitrary gender-role boundaries on children before they've had any chance to develop a sense of self based on their individual gifts and inclinations. Burke, or his fellow traditionalists, would reply that the boundaries they value are not arbitrary. But if so, why do they require such effortful reinforcement? Burke points to the pernicious influence of "radical feminism," but he seems to mean just "feminism." I don't deny that there's any significance to gender or sex in personal development. But I have faith that the non-arbitrary boundaries that will guide my sons into their future lives as men will assert themselves without much help from me. It's the assumptions they will make about where women fit into the picture that I'm worried about.

In short, I don't want them to look at the world the way Cardinal Burke seems to, as though women were not worthy of much consideration at all.

. . . What undergirds [Burke's] arguments is not so much a conviction that women don't need as much from the church as men do; it's a confidence that the church, properly constituted, doesn't need as much from women.

That perspective says something frightening about how Burke and others like him understand women's participation in the body of Christ. But it says something even worse about what they think of men. If it's true that male egos are so fragile that having to share space with women will naturally drive them away from God, then the church that depends exclusively on their service and leadership really is in crisis.

– Mollie Wilson O'Reilly
"Cardinal Burke's Vision of a Manly Church, and What It Leaves Out"
January 8, 2015

Recommended Off-site Links:
Cardinal Raymond Burke: ‘Feminized’ Church and Altar Girls Caused Priest Shortage – David Gibson (Religion Dispatches, January 7, 2015).
Cardinal Burke: Serving at Mass is a 'Manly' Job – Michael McGough (The Los Angeles Times, January 9, 2015).
Does Catholicism Have a ‘Man Crisis,’ or is Cardinal Burke Paranoid? – Kaya Oakes (Religion Dispatches, January 7, 2015).
Jesus, Please Send Us More Manly MenQuestions from a Ewe (January 9, 2015).
Ministry, Not Maleness, is the Theological Starting Point for the Priest – James Moudry (The Progressive Catholic Voice, February 18, 2009).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"Spiritual Paternity"
More on "Spiritual Paternity"
“We Are All the Rock”: An Interview with Roman Catholic Womanpriest Judith McKloskey
The Real Crisis
Officially Homophobic, Intensely Homoerotic

Friday, January 09, 2015

The Gravity of Love

Find the one who'll guide you
to the limits of your choice.

– From "The Gravity of Love" by Enigma

Every now and then at The Wild Reed Friday evenings (and sometimes Saturday's) are "music night." Accordingly, I share tonight the video that Lady Aislinn II has made for the song "The Gravity of Love" by the "musical project" known as Enigma.

By itself, the song conveys drama aplenty, but Lady Aislinn adds even more by artfully pairing the music with scenes from Báthory, a 2008 historical drama written and directed by Juraj Jakubisko and billed as an alternative take on the legend of Countess Elizabeth Báthory.

To be honest, I'm not particularly interested in either the actual Countess Báthory or this film about her. Both seem rather violent and bleak.

However . . . there's a subplot in the film that depicts the artist Caravaggio briefly (but passionately) as the countess's lover. Caravaggio is played by Hans Matheson, who I, er, admire in many ways . . . as does it seems Lady Aislinn. Her video, after all, is largely devoted to scenes involving Hans as Caravaggio and Anna Friel as Countess Báthory.

I don't know about you, but as a single guy I must admit I sometimes find myself longing for that type of intensely passionate and sensual relationship depicted in the scenes from Báthory that Lady Aislinn has used to accompany "The Gravity of Love." Indeed, they are scenes that evoke depths of desire and passion that complement not only this song's title but its overall message: that in order to truly live one's life and experience the "gravity of love," one must be prepared to lose oneself in one's passions and desires.

. . . Don't think twice before you listen to your heart,
follow the trace for a new start.
What you need and everything you'll feel
is just a question of the deal.
In the eye of the storm you'll see a lonely dove.
The experience of survival is the key
to the gravity of love.

"O Fortuna velut Luna"

The path of excess leads to the tower of Wisdom.

Try to think about it.
That's the chance to live your life and discover
what it is, what's the gravity of love . . .

Of course, not everything that is passionate is necessarily loving. I appreciate Lucasta Miller's insightful observations on this often inconvenient truth when, in writing about Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, a novel about perhaps the most excessively passionate, at times transgressive relationship in English literature, she notes that it's about a relationship that "generates tensions – between dream and reality, self and other, natural and supernatural, realism and melodrama, structural formality and emotional chaos – but leaves then unresolved." This lack of resolution, says Miller, "is, perhaps, what makes it so haunting."* (Mmm . . . I guess if I had to draw from English literature to epitomize the passionate relationship I seek, I'd opt for Ross and Demelza over Heathcliff and Cathy! And I should add that the gender of those involved in the type of relationship I'm talking about matters not one iota. Gay people are just as capable of finding and building a passionate, loving relationship as straight people. And just as capable of screwing it up.)

In his film about Countess Báthory, Juraj Jakubisko has clearly sought to express and convey the Wuthering Heights types of tensions; and judging from the scenes contained in Lady Aislinn's music video, I would say he's succeeded.

One last thing before sharing the video: In his invaluable book Sons of the Church: The Witnessing of Gay Catholic Men, Thomas Stevenson raises some important questions for gay men and even suggests some distinctions that can be made when discussing promiscuity. He writes, for instance, that:

[One] way to speak of the distinction being made about promiscuity is to say, in a manner that will appear tautological, that there is a difference between losing oneself and losing oneself. On the one hand, our witnesses are concerned with the ways in which promiscuous behavior can leave one with a sense of emptiness, or destroy one’s self respect or even one’s life. These are very real possibilities of losing oneself. On the other hand, there is the losing of oneself in an ecstasy of giving and receiving persons. Whereas the first way of losing oneself tends to lead, in matters of degree, to nothingness, the second tends to lead, in matters of degrees, to fullness and bliss. (But then, approaching things from yet another angle, it can happen that in taking the path of pursuing empty relating, one realizes one’s need for redemptive love. . . . [A]ll roads can lead to God).

. . . or as Enigma expresses it in "The Gravity of Love," the path of excess leads to the tower of Wisdom.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"Make Us Lovers, God of Love"
Sometimes I Wonder . . .
In the Garden of Spirituality – James B. Nelson
In the Garden of Spirituality – Diarmuid Ó Murchú
Hypocrisy, Ignorance, Promiscuity, and the Love that is the Center of Catholic Christianity
Sons of the Church: A Discussion Guide
In the Garden of Spirituality – Toby Johnson
Passion, Tide and Time

* From the preface of the Penguin Classics' 2003 edition of Wuthering Heights.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Quote of the Day

I do not wish to lend our voice to notions which might suggest that same-sex couples are a threat incapable of sharing relationships marked by love and holiness and, thus, incapable of contributing to the edification of both the church and the wider society.

– Bishop Robert Lynch
Quoted in Bob Shine's article
"Florida Bishop Says Church Should Respond
to Marriage Equality with 'Patience and Humility'
Bondings 2.0
January 8, 2015

Related Off-site Links:
Church Needs Patience, Humility in Light of Same-sex Marriage – Bishop Robert N. Lynch (Tampa Bay Times, January 6, 2015).
Belgian Bishop Advocates Church Recognition of Gay Relationships – John A. Dick (National Catholic Reporter, December 30, 2014).
Dublin Priest Receives Standing Ovation After Saying He is Gay During Mass and Calling for Marriage EqualityThe Belfast Telegraph (January 9, 2015).
A New Welcome for Gay Catholics in the Church – Francis DeBernardo (CNN, October 13, 2014).
It's Time for Our Bishops to Think Outside the Box About Effective Pastoral Leadership – Christine Schenk (National Catholic Reporter, January 8, 2015).
Pope Francis Wins a Battle to Welcome Gays in the Church – Barbie Latza Nadeau (The Daily Beast, October 20, 2014).
Homosexual Relationships: Another Look – Bill Hunt (The Progressive Catholic Voice, September 8, 2012).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Marriage: "Part of What is Best in Human Nature"
Quote of the Day – December 30, 2014
Something to Think About – November 4, 2014
Pope Francis' Understanding of Catholicism: An Orchestra in Which All Can Play!
Why I Take Hope in Pope Francis' Statement on Gay Priests
Quote of the Day – May 31, 2014
Jonathan Capehart: "Catholics Lead the Way on Same-Sex Marriage"
Catholic Church Can Overcome Fear of LGBT People

Yes! . . . And of "Soul Dancers" Too!

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Soul of a Dancer
The Art of Dancing as the Supreme Symbol of the Spiritual Life
The Premise of All Forms of Dance
The Church and Dance
The Dancer and the Dance
The Naked Truth . . . in Dance and in Life
Carlos Acosta Recalls the "Clarion Call" of His Vocation in Dance
Recovering the Queer Artistic Heritage
Gay Men and Modern Dance

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Monday, January 05, 2015

CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis (Part 6)


The cover of the September 30, 1994 issue of Gaze Magazine, featuring Dignity Twin Cities president Brian McNeill (center) and CPCSM co-founders Bill Kummer (left) and David McCaffrey.

In sorting through material for the writing of my recent post "20 Years Stateside," I came across a copy of Gaze Magazine from September 1994. Gaze no longer exists, but back in 1994 it was an LGBT-focused print publication that served the Twin Cities area.

The September 30, 1994 issue of Gaze featured a cover story that examined "local GLBT Catholics' twenty-year struggle with the hierarchy." Specifically, this cover story, well-written by Zoé Diacou, interviewed people associated with Dignity Twin Cities, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary that year. I'd joined Dignity within weeks of my arrival in Minnesota, and its welcoming environment provided me my first opportunity to meet other gay Catholics. Diacou's article also includes insightful comments from two of the co-founders of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM), the organization I've served as executive coordinator since 2003. Both these co-founders, Bill Kummer and David McCaffrey, have since died (Bill in 2006, and David in 2011).

It's quite interesting to read this article twenty years after it was written (yes, twenty years – Dignity Twin Cities recently celebrated its 40th anniversary!) As you'll no doubt ascertain, many aspects of what it means to be gay and Catholic have changed, while others remain very much the same. The article is especially meaningful to me as it provides a very detailed and, at times, poignant snapshot of the Twin Cities' gay Catholic community of 1994, my first year in Minnesota.

A sidebar to Diacou's article publicized the upcoming October 27-29, 1994 visit of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton to the Twin Cities. As I document and discuss here, my participation in helping organize this visit was my first involvement with CPCSM. Writes Diacou: "A dialogue with gay and lesbian people, along with their families and friends, will be the hallmark of a visit to the Twin Cities by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit. . . . For the dialogue that will mark [the five events comprising his visit], Bishop Gumbleton will be invited first to listen and then to comment on how wholeness in sexual expression – as experienced by the people of God – is a value that is deeply human and truly spiritual."

It was a honor to be part of the planning of Bishop Gumbleton's October 1994 visit to the Twin Cities (right). Without doubt, it was an important and, in many ways, unprecedented event for both the local gay Catholic community and the church in general. Diacou's article in Gaze, reprinted in its entirety below, not only helped promote Bishop Gumbleton's visit, but also provided a helpful historical context for it.


Crossing the Catholic Church

Local GLBT Catholics' 20-Year Struggle
with the Hierarchy

By Zoé Diacou

Gaze Magazine
September 30, 1994

Many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons who once considered themselves Catholic are now "recovering Catholics." What about GLBT individuals for whom being Catholic is still a meaningful part of their identity? The upcoming 20th anniversary celebration of Dignity Twin Cities, the local chapter of a national organization of GLBT Catholics, offers a time for reflection on some of the paths chosen by local Catholics in our community.

The path of least resistance is where you go to mass, but never come out to your fellow parishioners – and probably never wrestle with issues involving gender, sexual orientation, or liberation theology. Following another path, you wander all over the theological map, or you give up on the church entirely. Perhaps you take the path to another, more welcoming Christian denomination, and try to find a compromise as a non-practicing Catholic. Opting for yet another path, you very vocally work for change from within the church structure, with or without the support of groups such as Dignity.

"A home for my spiritual self"

Beth Hentges, the current Treasurer and previous Outreach Director of Dignity Twin Cities, has a typical member's story to tell. She first started attending Dignity worship services, then held at the Lutheran/Episcopal Center at the University of Minnesota, in the fall of 1987, when she moved here from Michigan. Hentges was raised in a Catholic household and attended a Catholic college.

"When I came out," says Hentges, " I had to search my inner soul, and decide if I believed what I had been taught about gays and lesbians, particularly in respect to Christianity. And then if I didn't believe it, I had to decide if I was simply changing my attitudes and beliefs for my own convenience, or was what I had been taught really wrong?

"I was concerned that I was being wishy-washy, and that I might change all of my beliefs simply to suit me. I wondered how strong my faith really was. It finally came down to one question: what was Jesus' message? The answer was really very simple: to love. Therefore, how could loving be wrong?

"When I came to the Twin Cities," Hentges reveals, "the image that I had in my head was that lesbians were poor, pagan, and non-monogamous, and I didn't want to be any of those things. When I found Dignity, I not only found Catholic Christians, but I found men and women who were in long-term, committed relationships, and it was a great sense of relief." She laughingly admits that she's "still working on the poor part."

Hentges continues, "I felt I had found a home for myself, especially my spiritual self. I went to one of the 'gay' churches and felt accepted as a lesbian, but not as a Catholic." She then joined a Catholic parish in Richfield and got involved in a music group. But she felt virtually non-existent in that church even after a year.

"Most of the people I consider my close friends in the Twin Cities are people that I've met through Dignity," observes Hentges. "It has become a family to me, and is one of my homes. Not only does it provide me things which I need, but through my participation, I feel that I'm providing things that others may need. I am very conscientious about making people who are just coming out feel welcome at Dignity. It's such a big step, and we hope to provide a home for them, a home for their spiritual self."

Reforming church teaching

Since 1974, Dignity Twin Cities has been a place where many GLBT Catholics have found healing from their guilt-ridden consciences and the isolation imposed by the Church. However, the stated purpose of the organization is somewhat different. According to its mission statement, "Dignity is organized to unite gay and lesbian Catholics; to develop leadership; and to be an instrument through which we may be heard by the church and society." The traditional focus of Dignity USA, the national organization – using the strength-in-numbers philosophy – has been to build local chapters with as many official paid memberships as possible.

While that focus remains essential to the Twin Cities chapter, local president Brian McNeill believes, "We need to move politically into the churches, and tap support that exists there for gay and lesbian people in order to pursue the national organization's goal of reforming the church's teachings on gay and lesbian people. Many who get involved in other parishes are content to sit in their pews without addressing the larger political issues of our oppression in the Catholic Church."

"Dignity is our 'power base' where we can energize ourselves while we go out and work in the parishes," McNeill goes on. "We run into serious opposition, even from well-intentioned liberals, when it comes to risking a parish's name or reputation, or risking the displeasure of the archbishop. Straight people won't do that without a great deal of encouragement from gays and lesbians. When push comes to shove, [straight people] don't really think gay and lesbian people are truly oppressed, and thus won't risk anything."

"Archbishop [John] Roach has stated that as individuals we are welcome in any congregation in the Twin Cities, but Dignity as an organization is still not welcome. The direction we want to head in," note McNeill, "is to accept Roach's welcome, and go into the parishes to organize them to take stands that publicly welcome gay and lesbian people."


The history of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese's response to GLBT Catholics dates back to at least 1977, when many claim it was due to heavy last-minute lobbying by the church that the first major attempt to legislate a state human rights amendment including gays and lesbians failed. In 1980, because Archbishop Roach refused to meet with Dignity as an organization, six individual members of the GLBT Catholic community – Donna Chicoine, Father Herb Hayek (a co-founder of Dignity), Bill Kummer, Donna Kurimay, David McCaffrey, and Cynthia Scott – arranged to meet with him to share their stories. Out of this meeting grew the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM).

Today, CPCSM co-chair Bill Kummer reflects, "That meeting was a mistake. It set the tone for keeping us under control. It was a facade, a show. When all was said and done, we really had very little to show for it. CPCSM co-chair David McCaffrey adds, "The only good thing was that he didn't come out openly against us as gays and lesbians." Kummer states that "it was both a strength and a weakness that CPCSM wasn't an official part of the church, but mostly it was a strength."

CPCSM was organized to supplement what Dignity was doing. "Dignity was wonderful as a source of support for gay men [and some lesbians] just coming out of the closet," recalls McCaffrey. "Especially those from the pre-Vatican II era."

But many needed something more. "The Seventies were the golden era of the chapter -- both in the number of activities and the number of people involved [easily reaching 150 to 200 at one mass]. It has been more of a transitional place for most people. Many came out of a sense of guilt, and had issues to deal with, and after dealing with them, and experiencing some sense of reconciliation, they no longer had that need. others who thought more 'hierarchically' wanted the 'real' church, and thus returned to their parishes."

While active with Dignity, Kummer organized monthly luncheons at various parishes hosted by the local pastors, and attended by priests and other Dignity members. After the first year, the luncheons were opened to women (primarily from the religious communities and lay ministry). Within a few months, most of the priests stopped attending. In Kummer's words, "I think the priests stopped because the women were much more emotionally and intellectually honest with the issues, and the men couldn't handle such brutal honesty. The irony is that we were probably better off when they stopped coming. When we were dealing only with the priests, we were essentially still only dealing with the hierarchy, and weren't dealing with the gut-level issues of either [the priests'] own or their parishioners' sexuality."

Those parish lunches became the launching point for CPCSM. McCaffrey explains that for some of the Dignity members, "Our energies started turning towards those who hadn't made it to Dignity, and for the family and friends still in the parishes hearing degrading and demeaning things. People were coming to us, especially after the parish luncheons, wanting to know what they could do." As Kummer puts it, "There seem to be two churches. Between what goes on with the average parishioner, priest, or nun, and what goes on with the hierarchy, there exists a big gap."

"A place where I'm comfortable being gay"

McNeill, who was Dignity's official spokesperson from 1987 to 1991 during the court battle with the archdiocese after the group was evicted from the Newman Center, is very articulate about the seeming dichotomy in Dignity over the years. His story, while typical, is also different, as he has been able and willing to grapple with many of the theological and political issues which have created strife within the community. He had been in a seminary in New York, and returned to Minnesota to take care of his father, who had suffered a stroke. About that time, McNeill made the decision not to become a priest, and he wanted to be out as a gay man. Because his faith was still very important to him, he sought out the local Dignity chapter when he moved back here in 1985.

"It's been a faith community for me. It's been a place where I'm comfortable being gay. The relief that I felt in being in a gay environment was real important to me in the beginning, after moving in a het environment the rest of the time. It's become a family to me, and I would miss it if it weren't there.

"However, Dignity is not for everyone, It's focused on being gay and Catholic. It's small, and some people may not like certain personalities in the organization. For some, it's a scheduling problem; for others, they don't feel comfortable about attending without being paid members, but they can't afford the $50.00 annual membership fee. [NOTE: Dignity Twin Cities no longer has membership dues.]

"On average there are 20-30 people at a service. There are currently about 40 paid members to Dignity USA from the Twin Cities. Membership gives you the national, regional, and local newsletters, and mailings from a few other organizations, like Women's Ordination Conference or New Ways Ministry. The membership peaked in 1987, with about 100 and 200 people attending services at the Newman Center."

Too conservative for some, too liberal for others

In McNeill's opinion, two factors account for the decrease in membership over the years: first, the official condemnation in Cardinal Josef Ratzinger's 1986 letter On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, and, second, Dignity's internal struggles with feminist theology, and the role of women in Dignity and in the church. "After being pushed out by Roach, many decided, 'forget the church,' and decided to cut their losses. With more women entering the group and assuming leadership roles, they had problems with the white male language and hierarchy, and rightfully so. That pretty much eliminated many of the more conservative men. Others left because they didn't want to spend Friday nights in theological debates, and many women lift because the chapter wasn't moving fast enough."

Hentges agrees. "After getting kicked out of Catholic space, some members thought they should be really good Catholics on every issue except for this [the gay issue], and if we show them what good Catholics we are, maybe they'll invite us back. Others decided that since we've been kicked out, we're now free to decide what being Catholic means, and to experiment and find the types of worship that works for us. Many of the men held the first view, and many of the women held the second approach to having been kicked out.

"So, the upshot was that many people left Dignity across the board." Hentges continues, "some because Dignity was being too conservative for them, others because Dignity was being too liberal for them. Also, Spirit of the Lakes was really getting going then, and we lost some members to them.

"We eventually came to the consensus of having worship under two different formats, utilizing both traditional and non-traditional liturgies. We meet the second and fouth Friday of every month. On the second Friday there is usually a Catholic mass, and the fourth Friday is often a non-traditional liturgy which is lay-led. That service is often thematic, sometimes resembling the eucharist, sometimes a reconciliation service. Sometimes it's a soul-searching prayer service, sometimes we have special speakers. Recently, speakers have come from PFLAG and Lambda Justice Center."

Hentges points out, "Then, those who were only comfortable with one format could choose to go to only one or the other. Most of us who attend regularly, however, go to both, and are comfortable theologically with it."

"For that reason, this chapter is ahead of most of the other chapters across the nation on women's issues. Most other chapters simply come together for mass, and haven't really thought through as a chapter many of the theological issues in Catholicism, like what about women being ordained; what about women or Protestant ministers presiding at eucharistic services; what about other forms of prayer other than mass or eucharistic services; what about a concerted effort to use inclusive language in the services, both in reference to God and to people. While Dignity USA has a women's concerns committee, most chapter members are still predominately male.

"The Twin Cities chapter has worked through these issues to the point where we've either reached an agreement, or at least have come to the current working format in order to meet the needs of all of our members," Hentges observes. "It's not a male/female issue, but historically the division has fallen along those lines."

Adds McNeill, "Those who stayed valued the organization and the people in the organization more than their theological positions. All of us are occasionally unhappy with the form of prayer we have from time to time, but recognize that you can't have it your way all the time."

"One of the most exciting things that's been happening," notes Hentges, "is our recent work with local parishes who are considering becoming a 'reconciling parish' [meaning that gays and lesbians are welcome to participate in all aspects of parish life, that the parish even allows holy union ceremonies and provides information in the religious education of children]. But we continue to struggle with how to reach out to other GLBT Catholics [or 'sexual minorities'] and their friends and families in the community, to tell them that it's okay to be gay and Catholic, and here's a place where it is okay."

Moving beyond the hierarchical model of church

CPCSM's mission has changed over the years, though sometimes in ways similar to Dignity's. About three years ago, "A conversion of heart took place for CPCSM," as Kummer describes it. "We realized we'd been focusing on the wrong place. Instead of trying to 'convert' or educate the hierarchy, we finally said, 'who cares what the archbishop thinks?' and started realizing that we needed to create our own model of church. The hierarchical model is not the only one. The church is the people. It doesn't have to start at the top and filter down, but it can start with the people and go up." McCaffrey concurs. "It's my church as much as the pope's."

Though neither Kummer nor McCaffrey has felt able to worship regularly at any parish, primarily as a result of personal and spiritual burnout and betrayal, they have steered CPCSM toward working with local parishes through seminars, lectures, and videotapes. They want to revive the support group for families of gay and lesbian Catholics which was formerly sponsored by the archdiocese. Kummer and McCaffrey – looking to begin a group for Catholic GLBT teens, and to reach out to the adult children and heterosexual spouses of GLBT Catholics – are working jointly with a group of Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and a Christian Brother.

McNeill and his partner are members of St. Frances Cabrini Church in southeast Minneapolis. Hentges and her partner belong to St. Stephen's in Minneapolis. Current Dignity members also attend the Basilica of St. Mary and St. Albert the Great, both in Minneapolis. Other parishes which have had CPCSM seminars, and have now gone beyond to begin their own exploration of gay and lesbian issues, include St. Joan of Arc and St. Olaf in Minneapolis; St. Stanislaus and St. Cecilia in St. Paul; Pax Christi in Eden Prairie; and St. Stephen in Anoka.

– Zoé Diacou
Gaze Magazine
Issue 226, September 30, 1994

Above: Beth Hentges, pictured in 2013 with her and her partner's two boys.

Above: Brian McNeill – June 2013. Brian currently serves as the webmaster for Dignity Twin Cities' website.

Above: David McCaffrey in November 2004, pictured with me and my friend Raph, who was visiting from Australia at that time.

In Zoé Diacou 1994 article it's noted that David McCaffrey felt unable to worship regularly at any parish, "primarily as a result of personal and spiritual burnout and betrayal." Thankfully, by the time of his death, David had for many years found a welcoming and supportive spiritual home at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in St. Paul. Indeed, at his funeral mass on July 15, 2011, a beautiful portrait of David and his partner Michael adorned the sanctuary (above), the same sacred space from which Michael delivered a heartfelt eulogy to his partner of thirteen-and-a-half years. To read this eulogy and for images of the mass, click here.

Above: Two years before his death in 2006, Bill Kummer fulfilled a longtime goal of becoming a Consociate of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet – St. Paul Province. Pictured above (from left): Ginna Webb, CSJ; Tom White, Brigid McDonald, CSJ; Martin Dohmen; Mary Lynn Murphy; Darlene White; Bill Kummer; Florence Steichen, CSJ; Chuck Rice; Alice Rice; and Kate McDonald, CSJ.

Bill's journey with the CSJs definitely inspired my own journey. I was welcomed into the CSJ community as a consociate in 2007 (see here and here).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (Part 1)
CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (Part 2)
CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (Part 3)
CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (Part 4)
CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (Part 5)
How Times Have Changed
For the Record
CPCSM’s Year in Review – 2006 (includes an announcement of the January 29 death of CPCSM co-founder Bill Kummer.)
Sad News (The Wild Reed's July 10, 2011 announcement of David McCaffrey's death.)