Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cuban Pilgrimage

 By:  Marcia Sweeting-Somersall

The idea of visiting Cuba has been on my "bucket list" for five decades. Unfortunately, for political and legal reasons it has been an impossibility for me. So when US policy on church groups traveling to Cuba changed, and when I read that Bishop Leopold Frade was making a mission trip - his final one - to Cuba, I had to get on board.

I was blessed to have had the opportunity to join 42 others in a pilgrimage journey to Cuba. We visited three different provinces of Cuba: Havana, Mayabeque and Mantanzas. The architecture was spectacular and beautiful, albeit decayed, and reminiscent of New Orleans.

Cuba reminded me in some degree of the island of Key West, only 90 miles away.  It brought back memories of growing up in Key West in the early sixties.  The free roaming dogs in Cuba reminded me of Key West's dogs of the early 60s roaming free around the street just like our chickens and roosters are doing today.  We have similar tropical fruits in common. However, the sugar cane is grown more plentifully in Cuba.   The cemetery is above ground like in Key West.  The Cockfight and domino playing in the street are still prevalent in Cuba; whereas,  cockfights were prevalent for a time growing up, but it is illegal in Key West, now.   Cars that were made in the 1950s could be seen everywhere that we went.  One evening, coming out of the Melia Cohiba Hotel,  the group was surprised to see 14 convertibles, all from the 50s,  lined up in front of the hotel waiting to take us to the Paladar Jardin de los Milagros restaurant.   The smell of the engine was very strong.  At another privately owned restaurant, Paladar Los Guijones, we met the Ambassador to the USA.   At this same hotel, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Executive Producer of “Finding Your Roots” was met him getting on the elevator.  He was very friendly and pleasant.  On a different outing we met the Ambassador of Nassau, Bahamas.

The most  integral purpose of the mission  to Cuba was to bring gifts and financial help and support to Episcopal churches and their communities.  We were greeted with warm, friendly smiles and hugs, from the lay people and Clergy of the various Episcopal churches that we visited after getting off the bus.  We learned about Emilio Planas, an Afro-Cuban born in 1868 and spent his early childhood in Key West.  He was the first black person to be ordained in the Anglican/Episcopal priesthood in Cuba and he founded the Episcopal Churches  since Afro-Cubans were not welcomed in the Roman Catholic churches in Cuba in the 1800s.  Segregation was prevalent between the Caucasian Cubans and Afro-Cubans.   Father Planas  retired 3 months prior to his death in 1937.  –At the Episcopal Cathedral, we watched some parishioners lined up with bags of vegetables and fruits of their labor in lieu of money for their offering.  The crops that they grow were placed in the basket at the altar.  They did not have much, but they gave what they can  afford. 

The very last night that we were in Cuba, after dinner at Cafe del Oriente  in Old Havana, we had a cultural night at a fabulous club where we saw an excellent show with beautiful costumes and very talented Cuban dances and singers.  It reminded me of the fictional Ricky Ricardo from the tv. show "I Love Lucy" when he performed at the “Tropicana” in Cuba; a venue which is still in existence.

I can truly say that I am blessed and thankful to God to be able to fulfill yet another dream on my bucket list.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

St. James Children’s Center decorated 50 bags for Veterans Day

Picture of Charlotte from the Key Largo VA office
St. James Children’s Center decorated 50 bags to be filled by St. James the Fisherman Church with goodies/toiletry items collected by parishioners for Veterans Day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

St. Gregory’s Parishioner Nominated for Woman Volunteer of the Year Award

Boca Raton, FL, November 3, 2015 Madonna Turner, a dedicated St. Gregory's parishioner and volunteer with Family Promise of South Palm Beach County, was nominated for Woman Volunteer of the Year, an award given by the Junior League of Boca Raton. She and other nominees will be honored at the Junior League of Boca Raton’s 28th Annual Woman Volunteer of the Year Luncheon on Friday, November 6 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. The finalist will be chosen at the luncheon.

About Sue Turner: Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Madonna Suzan Turner has lived in South Florida for the past 25 years. She has a long history of serving others, and is passionate about enabling others to live full, rewarding lives. In Ohio, Madonna was a Sunday School teacher for six years, and worked with Meals on Wheels, delivering meals to senior citizens year round.  In Florida, Madonna has been equally active and involved. She is a realtor and thrives in the role of ensuring that people are getting what they need. It is this ability to connect people and opportunities that has allowed Madonna to make such a significant impact in the lives of others.  Madonna has worked with Family Promise of South Palm Beach County (FPSPBC) as the Volunteer Donation Coordinator for four years. She also oversees the administration of the 260 House, owned by St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church. This house is where many of the families that come to Family Promise SPBC stay, and where they are cared for by volunteers from local churches and synagogues. She ensures that the house is cleaned and that the families have everything they need while they are staying there, including linens and non-perishable items.

Through her work with Family Promise SPBC, Madonna set up Past Perfect, which is a consignment furniture store.  Donations are made to the store, which provides Family Promise SPBC a monthly income. She has also established a close relationship with Habitat and those two programs allow the graduating families to acquire items they need for their new homes, such as furniture and dishes. In her role as realtor, Madonna is often able to locate rental homes for graduating families so she is truly able to support them in many different ways, but ultimately with the end goal of ensuring that they have a home and the resources to become financially secure.

As a board member of the Eastburn Advisory Committee, Madonna is involved in the annual grant-making process from the bequest of Jeffrey Eastburn to support the St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church ministries that assist Family Promise of South Palm Beach County and the South Florida Haiti Project.  Madonna is also actively involved in various other volunteer projects, one of which is her son, Nicolas Turner’s ministry “Surfers for Salvation” that helps children and families in Nicaragua. They help children and families by providing them with book bags, school supplies, clothing, shoes and funds.

Madonna is passionate in her volunteer work and a staunch supporter of the families that graduate from the Family Promise SPBC program, as well as the Executive Director and entire team who make the promise of a new life a reality for very deserving families. 

Collection from Bishop Eaton's Ordination

We are delighted to announce that the collection at Bishop Eaton's ordination in May totaled $10,361.17. This represents something of a record for collections on occasions of this kind, and we give thanks for the extraordinary generosity of all who gave.

As Bishop Eaton promised, all this money will go to those ministries in our diocese who give direct services to the poor, and the money will be distributed shortly to these organizations.

Please continue to pray for all those in any kind of need in our society, and please keep in your prayers all those who work so selflessly to fulfill that promise of our Baptismal Covenant that we "respect the dignity of every human being."

Bishop Coadjutor Meets Florida Political Leaders in Washington

While in Washington for the Installation of the new Presiding Bishop, the Most Reverend Michael Curry, Bishop Eaton met with several leaders in Congress, including those who represent Florida.

Bishop in Congress with Rep. Illiana Ros-Lehtinen 
Bishop Eaton was able to spend time with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Rep. Frederica Wilson, and Senator Bill Nelson.   He also met with Mr. J R Sanchez, Senator Marco Rubio's Senior Policy Advisor, as Senator Rubio was away from Washington.   Bishop Eaton was also able to meet with some others with whom he has had a long relationship, including Rep. Diana DeGette and Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.  Rep. Frederica Wilson introduced Bishop Eaton to the Chaplain of the House of Representatives, Father Pat Conroy SJ.

"It was very good to meet some of our Florida political leaders," the Bishop said, "and I am delighted that there are a couple of Episcopalians among them.   It is important for us to know each other so that we can find ways to work together for the well-being of our communities in the diocese, and I am looking forward to meeting our leaders from other parts of our region.   I am very keen that our political leaders know of our experiences and concerns, and I was pleased to be able to tell them of the good work that so many of our congregations, schools, and other ministries are doing."

Several of the Florida elected officials expressed their hope to be able to attend Bishop Eaton's Seating in January.

View photo gallery here. 

Bishop Coadjutor in a meeting with Rep. Frederica Wilson

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bishop Coadjutor Blessing of the Animals & Luncheon with Heads of Schools

On Wednesday, October 6, St. Philip's hosted the Right Reverend Peter Eaton, Bishop Coadjutor for the diocese.  Bishop Eaton participated in the Wednesday Eucharist as well as the blessing of the animals.  Following the Eucharist, Bishop Eaton attended a planning meeting for the Diocesan Festival to be held at St. Mark's Palm Beach Gardens in early March.

At noon, St. Philip's hosted Rector's, Heads of Schools, and other school administrator's for the Bishop's luncheon.  During the luncheon, Bishop Eaton spoke to all attendees and fielded questions.

Friday, October 9, 2015

A 60th Anniversary Celebration ~ St. Faith's Style!

St. Faith's, Cutler Bay enjoyed a huge party weekend, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the parish. Parishioners and guests had a blast at the dinner-dance on Saturday, October 3. The church was also full on Sunday, where the choir and organist delivered the festive music, supported by a brass ensemble. 
The Rev. Jennie Lou Reid cuts a rug with choir member Juan Rodriguez!

At the barbecue in the parish hall afterwards "the last" in line had to find a chair and sit along the wall! The service was indeed crowded and blessed. Finally, The Paul Brothers entertained with Caribbean music on Steel Drums. Both days St. Faith's was blessed with the support many well-wishers from other parishes -- thier extended family in Christ.

View all photos on their website:

Special thanks to the Rev. Jennie Lou Reid for sharing this article!

All Saints' Jensen Beach Celebrates with Bishop Coadjutor

The Right Reverend Peter Eaton and his wife Kate celebrated with All Saints', Jensen Beach on Sunday, September 27. VIEW photos from the glorious day. All Saints' is the oldest church in Martin County and the northern most point in the Diocese of Southeast Florida. 

20th Annual Blessing of the Animals Draws Record Crowd

St. Joseph's, Boynton Beach celebrated its 20th annual Blessing of the Animals last weekend with the largest number of attendees (and animals!) they have ever had. VIEW the press coverage and the beautiful images of the day!

Holy Family Church Hosts a Funding Workshop

The Episcopal Church of the Holy Family recently hosted the Live Healthy Miami Gardens Funding Opportunity Workshop. A partnership of the Health Foundation of South Florida and the City of Miami Gardens, Holy Family hosted community and church members in the newly renovated Clinton Brown Educational and Cultural Resource Center, on the campus of the church. The project seeks to create programs in the city to develop a more healthy lifestyle. The Rev. Horace Ward, Rector of Holy Family, is the Co-Chair of the Host Council that directs the development of the project. The group incorporates people from the entire South Florida area. 

Pictured speaking: Thamara Labruse, Project Director, Live Healthy Miami Gardens.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

St. Mary Magdalene Parishioner Receives Outstanding Award

The Urban League of Broward County recently recognized DIOSEF's own Mr. John Ruffin, as one of the "40 Stars for 40 Years” at their 2015 Red Gala. Mr. Ruffin currently serves the diocese on the Property and Loan committee, and is a past Chair of the Commission on Ministry. 

Mr. Ruffin is currently the Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees for Florida Memorial College, and has dedicated much of his time and leadership as a steward of the United Negro College Fund where he has raised in excess of one million dollars in scholarships. Mr. Ruffin worships with his wife, Dottie, at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs, FL. Congratulations!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pillowcase Dresses Ministry Team Reaches Well Beyond South Florida

On Sunday, September 20, 2015, the Rev. Winston Wright blessed three boxes containing 319 dresses made from pillowcases at Grace Church in West Palm Beach. The dresses will go to Haiti, Jamaica, and Dominican Republic. The goal of this outreach ministry is to provide orphans in developing countries with dresses and related clothing needs by Design and sew dresses from pillowcases and sheets. This ministry also reaches out to Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

Tricia Lujambio of Food For The Poor’s Angels of Hope received the dresses for delivery to the orphanages.

The ministry team will resume sewing this month for another delivery in the near future.

Pillowcase Dresses Ministry Team
Joan Smith
Hirma Llewellyn
Marcia Thompson
Myrna Motta
Marcia Ridgell
Shernette Rutty
Ida Davis
Jean Garvey
Cecelia Fraser
Dorothy Dadd
Marcia Samuels
Lydia Kotei
Jackie McDonald