The community is led by Father Chuck Cooper, a clergyperson who has been active in social justice issues in Portland for a number of years. He spoke out against the invasion of Iraq and participated in demonstrations before the war and protests during the war and occupation. He is the co-founder of the Institute for Christian-Muslim Understanding here in Portland and was instrumental in the beginning of the Interfaith Council of Greater Portland. He is currently involved in creating interfaith dialogue through art. He has long been an advocate for lgtbq persons and participated in marrying lesbian and gay persons for the short time it was legal in Portland. In his former United Methodist denomination he fought for the rights of lgtbq persons to be both out and ordained.
Fr Cooper, who married a Roman Catholic in 1992 gradually converted to the Catholic faith as he attended Mas with his wife. In 2010, after two years of study, he was ordained a Catholic priest.
"We named the new church after St Brendan because his spirituality is adventuresome," Fr Cooper said, "and we named the church after St Bridgid as her spirituality is that of depth. She has several wells named after her in Ireland. A spirituality that is both one that never stands still and one that has deep roots and a calmness of spirit is what we seek after."
"I have watched over the years as the Roman Catholic Church has become more and more repressive and exclusive and finally I decided that I must do something about it," Cooper continued. "So we have begun this new congregation to welcome all of those Catholics who live according to their conscience within the Faith tradition; who want to celebrate the Eucharist but may very well believe in and practice birth control and want to do so with integrity. We want to offer the Sacraments to those who may have had an abortion, those who are divorced and remarried but who have not gone through the annulment process insisted upon by the Roman Catholic Church. We also welcome Protestants to full participation in the Eucharist. The issue of full inclusion for the lgtbq community is a moot point at Sts Brendan & Bridgid Catholic Mission.'
Sts Brendan and Bridgid Catholic Mission is a part of the jurisdiction known as the Contemporary Catholic Church. Women are ordained priests and gender orientation is not an issue when someone applies for ordination. The jurisdiction is led by Bishop Sharon Hart.
You may learn more about the new congregation by going to www.catholicswithadifference.com