An Inclusive, Welcoming Faith Community in Santa Barbara


Noozhawk, a free online newspaper covering the Santa Barbara region, bills itself as "delivering the freshest news" in town. True enough! It also carries worthwhile editorials and contributed essays. In February, 2011, it began publishing a more-or-less monthly column of contributions from members of the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes. Our essays are described and linked to their Noozhawk Web pages below, the most recent being first:




Hiroshima Day and the Feast of the Transfiguration: both on Aug. 6?(essay #44)

Thomas Heck finds the contrasts between the Transfiguration and the obliteration of Hiroshima troubling. "Why don’t Christian communities repurpose Aug. 6, making it a Universal Day of Atonement and Reflection? Why don’t we celebrate our Feast of the Transfiguration on some other date — one not so associated with tragedy?"

Imagining the Holy Year of Mercy(essay #43)

Francie Monk finds a lot to like in Pope Francis' "Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy." "When it comes to mercy and all its nuanced meanings, the Beatitudes community has committed to keeping the doors wide open. . ."

House Rules for Planet Earth(essay #42)

Thomas Heck recasts the "ten commandments" in planetary terms. "Ecological stewardship (like most good things) begins at home, where people first learn to get along with one another."

A Parable for Our Time — The Mustard Seed(essay #41)

Christine Haider-Winnett reminds us of another story happening in Catholic communities across the world. "In a world that worships the 'bigness' of things, we are invited to take part in God’s revolutionary smallness: God’s reign of the mustard seed."

The Man Who Rescued John McCain(essay #40)

Diane Fox recalls meeting a unique human being, Mai Van On, in postwar Vietnam. "When McCain was in the sky,” On recalls, “he was an enemy. But when he was drowning — I just knew that I had to save him, that’s all."

Homelessness — What Do We See and Hear?(essay #39)

Harriet Burke meets John and Jerry, homeless guys in a downtown park. She recalls how "A few weeks ago, actress Tiffany Hoover joined our Beatitudes community to perform a monologue about the life of Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement in the 1930s."

Savoring the Wisdom of Songs (essays #37 & 38)

Thomas Heck marvels in Part I at how the proverbial “Great American Song Book” is much more than a collection of sublime tunes and snappy lyrics. It also has some wonderfully wise messages — words that ring true in both the secular and the sacred spheres. Part II discussses six more magnificent songs with lasting moral resonance.

Celebrating the New Birth (essay #36)

Dennis Apel, of the Beatitudes House in Guadalupe has, some important things to say about the Christmas story as we begin the new year. "Did it really happen? Don’t know. Is it true? Absolutely."

Safe Parking Outreach, Women Helping Women (essay #35)

Francie Monk describes the Safe Parking Program in Santa Barbara, which works under the umbrella of New Beginnings Counseling Center. It allows people to legally park in their cars in designated lots from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and use the contiguous facilities. The women of the Beatitudes Community are striving to meet a real need for women to minister to their homeless sisters living in cars. For myriad reasons, they have fallen on desperate times. They are all ages, from all walks of life.

What About Our Afterlives? (essay #34)

Mary Becker offers us all some comforting thoughts about death, with insights from both Scripture and science. She also summarizes some of the wisdom one receives when attending a "Shared Crossing Project" workshop. Might we then paraphrase the words of Genesis to read: “Stardust thou art, and unto stardust thou shall return”?

Two Poems to Ponder (essay #33)

Genie Hoyne shares two more of her spiritually aware poems with Noozhawk readers. All Purpose Saints celebrates some well known and lesser known saintly figures, while Body and Soul describes the joys and sorrows of growing up Catholic in this "glorious and appalling, all too human Church."

Jesus, the Jokester (essay #32)

Mary Becker suggests that Jesus may have had his lighter moments! "If you don’t think so, consider the parable that likens the kingdom of heaven to a farmer who sowed good seed in a field. But then, the story goes, along came an enemy who sowed weeds among the wheat."

Fracking — In the Light of Our Legends (essay #31)

Thomas Heck believes that legends can be a form of wisdom literature. But the oil and gas companies that ravage the earth with fracking seem to be run by people who have never heard of these age-old cautionary tales, or choose to ignore them — at our peril.

Catholic Church of the Beatitudes: Taizé, a Prayer for Peace (essay #30)

Mac Freeman reminds us that a Taizé service consists of a peaceful ecumenical program of chant, silence and meditative prayer. Taken together, these elements provide "a setting for the mind to welcome the dreams of the Oneness of Humankind."

Coping with the Violence in Isla Vista (essay #29)

Suzanne Dunn ponders the recent rampage of violence in I. V. "How do we manage to carry on without the physical presence of our sons or daughters, our siblings, our friends?" Tragedies like this can bring us into "liminal space," where "room can be created for the Spirit to arrive."

Three Poems — Food for Thought (essay #28)

Genie Hoyne shares three of her spiritually aware poems with Noozhawk readers. "Remember" invites you to "take a risk; surprise yourself." "Observe" ponders the difference between crows and larks. And "Best Seller" expresses a longing for the ultimate how-to book: How to Navigate Life.

Are You Worried? (essay #27)

Mary Becker offers us a way to reduce the conflict in our lives. Calling to mind how Jesus said we can't "serve two masters," she invites us live more in the Kingdom of God and less in the Kingdom of Me. "Could it be that taking just 20 minutes to sit in silence each day would ease me into giving myself over to God’s will more — and my will less?"

What Will We Leave Behind? (essay #26)

Thomas Heck asks some BIG questions about what we will be leaving behind. Being selective is a necessary discipline–it's called “winnowing” in Biblical terms, or stewardship. Somebody’s gotta do it! The Lenten season may be exactly the right time to get started.

"The Play's the Thing" — a Poem (essay #25)

Genie Hoyne's poem, "The Play's the Thing," has a surprise ending. It suggests that we are more responsible for our roles in life than we might once have believed. And it hints at the divine in each and every one of us. Good things can come in small packages, dear reader; don't miss this poetic treat!

Will we "take a cup of Kindness, then?" (essay #24)

Thomas Heck, a longtime hospice volunteer, asks some penetrating questions about life and death in his New Year's reflection. Could a proverbial “cup of kindness” play a role in “good death” scenarios? Theologian Hans Küng asserts that, “No person is obligated to suffer the unbearable as something sent from God.” Amen to that!

Hunger Is a Global Tragedy (essay #23)

Lynn Kienzel shines a spotlight on the "food insecure" in our country: about 50 million of us in the United States face hunger or its threat every day, of whom “nearly 17 million are children.” With so many people in our country out of work, is it any wonder that so many are going hungry? On a global scale, statistics show that about 870 million of the 7 billion people on Earth lack food security.

High Court to Hear Local Catholic Worker’s First Amendment Case (essay #22)

Harriet Burke summarizes the story of Dennis Apel, who has long led protests at Vandenberg. "Apel and his peers have protested monthly for nearly two decades in the hope of persuading local citizens and the federal government that there should be an end to missile testing and an abolition of the use of nuclear weapons."

Make music, not war . . . (essay #21)

Suzanne Dunn, RCWP, Pastor of the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes, reflects on how Taize chant and prayer bring peace within, as well as peace to our world. On the second Sunday of each month at 7 p.m., people from many backgrounds gather with us to chant, meditate and pray for peace in our world.

How DivorceCare changed my life! (essay #20)

Beatitudes Community member E. G., motivated by her own experiences, offers tender loving care to those going through the trials of separation and divorce. It’s a peer-to-peer outreach. You are welcome to join us this fall, Thursday evenings at 7pm!


How Well Do We Love Our Mothers and Children? (essay #19)

Ben Palumbo's comparison of America’s maternal and child care today to that of Germany reminds us that we can and should be doing much better. Most of Europe and many other countries are safer for expectant mothers than ours. Here (with due permission from the Common Good Forum to reproduce) is the sad truth. (Contributed by T.H.)


Was promoting the "common good" Jesus' real agenda? (essay #18)

Thomas Heck is intrigued by Jim Wallis' prophetic new message in his book, On God's Side . . . Wallis argues that promoting the "common good" was Jesus' true ministry and message. It's not quite what we Christians were taught in catechism and Bible study, is it?


What are you thinking, Pope Francis? (essay #17)

Genie Hoyne imagines a conversation between the young Francis of Assisi and his mother. “Everything I do seems to upset him.” — “Of course your father is upset! He has the best line of menswear in the trade, and you roam around in that ragged, brown beggars outfit.”


Learning to Let Go (essay #16)

Mary Becker reflects on an essential task of the family: "The family is the place where we are nurtured and taught lessons for our lives. And the family is also the place that lets us go — over and over again . . . I believe that God is constantly letting us go — to learn, to grow, to try, to choose, to fail."

Prodigal Daughters and Sons (essay #15)

Anne Heck unpacks an old parable for today's spiritual seekers: "Those of us who are parents know what it’s like to watch our children leave home. But when all is said and done, do we really want our kids always to play it safe?"

Lent – Six Weeks of Opportunity (essay #14)

Genie Hoyne thinks of Lent as a positive opportunity to live in gratitude: "Only two things are required: sitting quietly with the mystery of infinite love, and calling to mind the many blessings received on a daily basis."

Ever hear of "gun idolatry"? (essay #13)

Thomas Heck offers a perspective on how Americans worship the lethal power of their guns: "It is important for people of Biblical faith, whether Muslim, Jewish or Christian, to revisit, in the light of what happened at Newtown, the sin of idolatry. We need to ask ourselves: What matters most to us?"

What It Means to Be Chosen (essay #12)

Mary Becker reflects on what "being chosen" means: "Do you remember when you were a child and you were with a group of neighborhood kids or classmates when you all decided to play a game? . . . And do you remember feeling such relief and joy when you were chosen?"

Making a Difference for Guadalupe Children (essay #11)

A profile of Hilary Peattie by Genie Hoyne: "Every Tuesday, Hilary Peattie commutes three hours round-trip from Santa Barbara to Mary Buren Elementary School in Guadalupe to volunteer her time and expertise …"

Thoughts on California's Ballot Measures (essay #10)

Lynn Kienzel reflects on some big decisions in November 2012: ".  . . as people informed by our faith beliefs, we cast our votes to the best of our ability for those things that are in concert with our beliefs."

Why I Stay (essay #9)

Suzanne Dunn offers a perspective on our "new way to be Roman Catholic":  "For me, being a part of this movement, as well as leading the Church of the Beatitudes in Santa Barbara, is a daily experience of being inspired by the Holy Spirit and of personally embracing the power of Divine mystery."

The Legacy of Women Activists in the Church (essay #8)

Harriet Burke supports the Leadership Conference of Women Religious: "The Leadership Conference of Women Religious has been in the news quite a bit lately after the Vatican criticized them publicly for not speaking out more on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, ordination of women, and contraception.

A Discussion of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (essay #7)

Barbara Marx Hubbard and Sr. Judy Cauley share their insights. "With Nuns on the Bus making headlines, there is a new spotlight on the “social justice” work of faith groups. This year also marks a major setback in the relationship of the Vatican and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious . . ."

Feeling Shunned by the Institutional Church?  Read on . . . (essay #6)

Thomas Heck draws a parallel between Jesus' experience and our own.  Pete Seeger, the noted folk singer and social critic, was also shunned by his neighbors, he recalls: "In my own neighborhood, I am in a very weak position, and can be knocked down by anyone who wants to tell a few lies about me."

Nuns on the Bus Are Like Prophets in Our Midst (essay #5)

Lynn Kienzel suggests that we pay attention to the social justice message of these nuns. "To consider what a prophet today might look like, check out the nuns who packed themselves into a bus to follow Rep. Paul Ryan around in June 2012 . . ."

Speaking Truth to Power About Women (essay #4)

Genie Hoyne wants to invite the disinvited.  She cites Anna Quindlen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, who stated that "… the Catholic hierarchy has been disinviting people like me, and especially women like me, for so many years that I finally took the hint."  The Catholic Church of the Beatitudes would welcome you!

Where Have All the Catholics Gone? (essay #3)

Anne Heck asks why nearly a third of U.S. Catholics have left the Church. She cites credible surveys by the Pew Forum and by America magazine. The verdict is in: "Too many rules and not enough consultation."  Santa Barbara now has two hierarchy-free "intentional Eucharistic communities" which welcome otherwise "disengaged" Catholics.

Rev. Suzanne Dunn — Pushing the Boundaries of Priesthood (essay #2)

Leslie Dinaberg interviews Suzanne Dunn, Pastor of the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes, who suggests that we are reaching out to the disengaged Catholics to let them know we are here. "We have no desire to tell them what to do. But for those who don’t know there’s another way, we are here."

Disengaged Catholics Welcome Here (essay #1)

Rev. Jeannette Love, Associate Pastor of the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes, invited disengaged Catholics to find a new faith home and to let their voices be heard during March and April of 2012. Our community favors "sacraments, rituals, inclusivity, and the deepening of one's spiritual journey."