20th Anniversary Celebration



Office of Presiding Bishop

Ecumenical Catholic Communion

10 West Lockwood

St. Louis, MO 63119

Bishop Paul Burson: [email protected]


Carolyn Sue Cecil: [email protected]

Mary Vonderheide: [email protected]

30 October 2023


During these past several months, I have had the opportunity to travel and connect with many people and several communities. The Leadership Council joined together for a planning retreat in Estes Park, Colorado where we were able to develop as a team and experience the grace and wisdom of the Holy Spirit leading us in our planning. We were especially grateful for the members of the Light of Christ Community in Longmont who provided hospitality and transportation for us during that weekend of September 23-25. We can already taste the goodness of what will await us next year at the Synod.


In visiting the communities of Charis in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, who hosted a planning retreat for their community and celebrated the ordination of Etchi Besem Oben to the deaconate; the East Coast retreat in Rochester which included their Chrism Mass, liturgy with the communities of St. Mary Magdalen, Gubbio House; Holy Angeles in Santa Ana California; and fundraising gatherings in Denver and Santa Ana for the Mary Magdalene Society, I feel like I have been buzzing around the country. The goodness and beauty of all these gatherings is something I wish all of us could experience. It has been such a privilege to enter into fellowship and prayer with so many people and communities around the country.


One of the topics during these visits is how people found our Beloved Communion and how can we invite others who might be wandering around hungering for what we experience find our communities.


During these last couple of months, the Diocese of Mid-America has been going through the process of seeking to elect a new bishop. The process has been anything but smooth and easy. Two parishes, Emmaus and Sts. Clare and Francis, have decided to leave the diocese because of disagreements. The other two parish communities have moved forward in the election process and will soon ratify their parish voting process.   


The shock of war in Israel and Palestine has entered into our consciousness, prayers and desires for right words and action. We urge you to read our upcoming statement concerning this painful reality, become more educated about the history behind this conflict and prayerfully discern how to respond to the crying needs of those innocent people caught up in this war.  


Bishop Paul J. Burson

Presiding Bishop

[email protected]


Thank You To Bishop Denise!

The Communion extends a special word of gratitude to Bishop Denise Donato, Auxiliary Bishop to the Presiding Bishop, for her many years of service in her role as bishop. Due to health and family obligations, she has decided to retire.  

Her insightful, wise, and faithful presence to the Communion has enabled so many communities to feel connected to the bigger whole and enabled Bishop Francis to dedicate time and efforts to organize and stabilize our internal and external structures.  

While retiring from her past role, I am thankful that she has accepted her new position as chaplain to the Council of Bishops.

In my visit to Rochester for the East Coast retreat, I came away so impressed by the beautiful community of Mary Magdalene which she was instrumental in founding and developing into what it has become today.  

Bishop Tomasz, Bishop Armando, Bishop Denise Synod 2022

Bishop Kedda, Bishop Denise

Synod 2022

Bishop Rafe, Bishop Denise, Bishop Frank, Bishop Peter,

February 9, 2018

Bishop Denise, Bishop Pablo


If you weren't able to attend our 20th Anniversary Zoom Gathering on September 19, 2023, you can still enjoy the celebration by viewing all of the reflections, prayers, toasts and music in our Special Edition Newsletter.





SYNOD 2024

Save the dates and start finalizing who your community’s House of Laity and House of Pastors delegates will be.   

Plan to go to

YMCA of the Rockies

Estes Park, Colorado,

October 11 – 14, of 2024!!

The 800-acre venue is surrounded on three sides by the majestic Rocky Mountains. It will offer us a wonderful group meeting space as well as hotel room accommodations. The property also includes a Chapel for our use that seats a large group. The property is fully handicap accessible, and we will be managing transportation to the site from the Denver airport.

Be watching for more information!


The Mary Magdalene Society is a group of donors within the ECC, drawn from throughout the communion, who have elected to make special gifts each year to develop youth programs and support the formation of new clergy in our communion.  Since its formation, it has distributed thousands of dollars in awards.  All are welcome to join in the effort to assure our future. 

The information highlighted that since 2015 (when the MMS began) 83 individuals, 11 faith communities, and 1 company have stepped up to become members of the MMS. A total of approximately $170,000 has been raised and $37,000 has been awarded to support 10 clergy scholarships, two young adult retreats in California and a group of teenagers from St. Louis who joined peers in California to experience diversity, volunteer to help the disadvantaged and pray together. 

The MMS Advisory Committee was established with By-Laws in 2018 and in 2020, an endowment was created at the St. Louis Foundation. Its current value as of August 31, 2023 was $105,370. Interest proceeds are distributed from the foundation annually and those can be used (if so decided by the committee) to add to the annual contributions that support the clergy scholarships and youth awards. The fundraising goal for 2023 is $12,000.


The fundraising efforts for the Mary Magdalene Society took a big step forward on September 8. At the invitation of Presiding Bishop Pablo and Regional Bishop Kae Madden, representatives from all five ECC faith communities in Colorado met for a delicious Mexican dinner at the home of Presiding Bishop Pablo and his wife in Denver. Art Bavoso, Chair of the Mary Magdalene Society Advisory Committee (and a member of the ECC faith community in Fort Collins) was able to present information and statistics about the MMS as well as show a video of recent scholarship recipients. This was the same video that was shown at the ECC Synod in October 2022. MMS brochures were also distributed.

Meeting participants had some questions for Art and he was able to provide them with answers afterwards: the average individual gift over the last two years is $400 and during the same time period, the average church community gift was $200.

The overall response from the participants was encouraging. They all agreed to bring back the information presented and determine what fundraising activities might work best for themselves and their community in the future.  They would like to have access to the video. Art made a few suggestions for them to consider. One was to have someone from their community host a dinner where Bishop Pablo could come to speak and request donations from individuals in attendance. This approach is similar to what has been done in St. Louis and California. Another idea was to have a larger gathering or take up extra collections at mass, where the funds collected would be from the church and not the individuals who may have contribute. This approach was used recently in conjunction with the Feast of the Pentecost.   

Participants were also very interested in receiving information about the application form and deadlines for the priest scholarship and youth awards. They also suggested that maybe there could be a workshop to help applicants complete the forms.


MMS Clergy and Youth Grant Applications and Criteria are now available. Click on the following links:

Application Form for Clergy/Potential Clergy Grants

Criteria for Clergy/Potential Clergy Grants

Application Form for Youth Program Grants

Criteria for Youth Program Grants

Clergy Grant Applications are due January 18, 2024

Youth Grant Applications are due February 18, 2024.

Please send the completed Grant Applications, required Letters of Recommendations (Clergy) and Project Plan (Youth Program) to:

Carolyn Sue Cecil: [email protected]

Please feel free to email with any questions!


On October 14 Mary Magdelene Society donors, award recipients, and Bishop Pablo gathered in Southern California for the annual MMS SoCal fundraising dinner. Saying "yes" to the future of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, they shared their stories and dreams and wrote generous checks. The busy fall weekend meant many regular donors were out of town, but it did not hinder their continuing support of the MMS. $5000 was raised.

Thank you to Fr. Gianni Passarella, pastor of Holy Angels, for the photos!

Claudia Kilby and Bishop Pablo

Lourdes Talamantes, Bishop Pablo, Doris Hand

MMS continues to be so grateful to our generous and gracious hostess, Merry!

Should other faith communities be interested in learning more about the MMS and receiving the information and statistics, please contact:

Art Bavoso



call him at 970-217-9969.

+ + + +

If you are interested in making a donation to the MMS:

You can mail a check to:

Mary Magdalene Society


10 W. Lockwood Ave

Webster Groves, MO 63119

(please note in the memo that this is for MMS)


donate through PayPal, indicating that it is for MMS.


If you have any questions about making a donation,

please contact

Carolyn Sue Cecil at [email protected]

Rev. Jane Reina

On Sunday, 15 October 2023, Bishop Kae Madden (via Zoom) of the ECC Rocky Mountain Region, on behalf of the Church of the Holy Family in Denver, Colorado, commissioned Rev. Jane Reina as Holy Family's priest and pastor. Rev. Jane celebrated Mass with assistance from Deacon Mike Weil.

It was a joyous occasion followed by refreshments for all! Sending a deeply felt note of gratitude to all present and on Zoom!


Welcome to the Ecumenical Catholic Communion

to our newest Benedictine monastic community in Belgium!

Blessings on your ministry and we delight in you, giving praises to God!

Rev. John Tanner

Blessings to our newly ordained ECC priest

Rev. John Tanner

Emmaus ECC

Rev. Mir Plemmons, Bishop Kedda Keough, Rev. David Gerardot, Rev. John Tanner


October has been a busy traveling month, full of opportunities to be with our ECC Community!

CHARIS ECC, Eden Prairie, MN

A joyous, spirit-filled gathering was held at Charis ECC in Eden Prairie, Minnesota  September 30, drawing their members from North Carolina, Texas, Massachusetts, North Dakota and Minnesota.  

The morning was spent in looking at what had been accomplished since the planning process  in 2022, and making plans for the coming year to think about ways to reach out to those who would want to be a part of this mighty, inclusive Catholic Community.

The day’s closing liturgy was a joyful celebration with Bishop Pablo consecrating Deacon Etchi Besem Oben in service to the Charis community. 

As far as we know, she is the first woman from West Africa (Cameroon) to be ordained to the Catholic Tradition!

Vic Welle, Rev. Trish Vanni, Deacon Etchi Besem Oben, Ayamo Besem, Bishop Pablo

We proudly




Etchi Besem Oben

to our ECC Community!


The Second ECC East Coast Region Retreat was held October 6-8, 2023 in Rochester, New York, at Mary Magdalene Church. Bishop Pablo was able to join, along with the sister ECC parishes from the East Coast!

Day 1: Welcome!

Friday night, retreat participants arrived, gathered and shared a dinner together at the home of Bishop Denise Donato and her husband, Phil.

Travelers from Chester Springs PA, Reading PA, Newton MA, Denver CO and Largo, FL were warmly greeted by members of Mary Magdalene Church. Smiles and hugs abounded!

Day 2: "Exploring community,

serving others, God's Call and our Yes"

On Saturday, keynote speaker Rev. Chava Redonnet, RCWP & pastor of Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church of Rochester, New YOrk presented on “Being Church In Our Contemporary World”.

Small group discussions explored the meaning of being a community in serving others and where God is calling each of us, ourselves and our communities, to serve.

Rev. Chava Redonnet

Bishop Denise

Day 3: Chrism Mass: "You Have Anointed Me"

Sunday morning, the Retreat Group joined with members of Mary Magdalene Church in attending morning Mass and then enjoyed a wonderful fellowship brunch before returning home.


Live streaming was available for the Chrism Mass on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning Mass via Mary Magdalene Church's Facebook page and YouTube channel which are still available for viewing. Several who could not make the retreat in person joined to pray with all live stream!

Blessing of the Holy Oils

"We are deeply grateful to the members of Mary Magdalene Church, their pastor Rev. Lori Vail and Bishop Denise for their generous hospitality! It was a great joy to come together as local church, to meet new friends and to have Bishop Pablo with us. We feel the Holy Spirit was truly with us this weekend and we look forward to our next retreat in 2025!"

Casa Gubbio

On October 8, Casa Gubbio warmly welcomed Bishop Pablo who presided over a beautiful mass to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. The importance of, strength of, and support from community was the focus.

The medal of St. Benedict was presented to Bishop Pablo.

Bishop Pablo gifting his stole to Brother Peter

Fellowship followed the Liturgy with a fabulous pasta meal, prepared by Regina.

Casa Gubbio

Saturday Morning Rosary

Saturdays at 8:00 am


Casa Gubbio is the ministry of Brother Peter Veitch,

a Mary Magdalene parishioner and

brother in the Benedictines of Holy Wisdom, ECC. 

The mission of Casa Gubbio is to provide a place of retreat for progressive/independent ‘seekers’

in keeping with the Benedictine charism of hospitality. 

Casa Gubbio is a safe place to gather

outside of traditional organized religious communities. 

All are welcome. 

For more information, contact Brother Peter at [email protected] 

HOLY ANGELS, California

Holy Angels Church joyfully welcomed Bishop Pablo to their Sunday Liturgy Celebration, October 15, 2023.

Rev. Gianni Passarella, Deacon Tammy Fuqua, Bishop Pablo, Rev. Jim Farris, Rev. Robert Chung

Prayers for Peace in The Holy Land

Image: "Mourning Together" (c) Michael J. Nicosia

We hold our siblings in the Holy Land close during this time of escalated violence, and we raise our prayers to the heavens. 

We acknowledge that Jews, Muslims and Christians consider this land of promise to be sacred and call it home. 

We grieve not only the loss of life and and condemn all acts of terror; we also grieve the hard-heartedness that has kept people from negotiating peaceful resolutions to their conflicts and has brought us to this crisis. 

And so we pray...

​God of All, You are to us the Father of Promise, the Mother of All Consolations. 

As the psalmist prayed, "in the day of distress we call to You, for surely You will answer" (Ps 86:7). 

Distress is again at hand, felt in searing tears and bones chilled to the core by the horrors on display. 

War and devastation have again disrupted our hope for peace in the Holy Land — holy because it is there that you have promised to draw all peoples to Yourself. You established it as a place of safety and bounty for the *anawhim*, the poor ones who sought refuge from oppression while remaining faithful to You in times of difficulty. 

Help us to remain faithful to humility, 

faithful to justice, 

faithful as peace-makers, 

faithful to love. 

Have mercy on us and grant us peace.


Author: Michael J. Nicosia

Share our News!

Please feel free to share our Newsletter!