Full Circle Catholic Faith Community

Alternative catholics looking for a change...


Estela and the Monarchs

We just had the most wonderful experience at Church. Today is All Saint’s Day so we were celebrating all the saints in our midst, including Estela, our grandma of the church who hadn’t been able to come for the past few weeks. We were so glad to have her with us to remind us of our own grandparents and elders who have taught us so much about our faith and inspired us to love God. After mass, we went downstairs to make our prayer blanket. The design on the front of the blanket was beautiful butterflies. Estela’s daughter, Merce, was stunned. “Who chose this blanket?” She asked. No one seemed to know—later we found out it was Joyce who had randomly selected this blanket for today from among the many blankets in the closet. Merce explained, “Today is the day when the first monarchs are expected to reach their winter home.” None of us knew what she was talking about. She continued, “Millions of monarchs from North America congregate in central Mexico for the winter, beginning in late October and early November—which coincides with Dia de los Muertos—All Soul’s Day. The local people believe that the butterflies represent the returning souls of family members.”
As if to prove her devotion, Merce sprouted wings, monarch wings which appeared when she removed her jacket. (The wings were her Halloween costume from the night before). She began to flap around for us. She was happy beyond words, as were we.
Merce and her family have traveled to El Rosario monarch reserve in central Mexico high up in the Sierra Madres where the migration of monarchs is so significant. These butterflies roost for the winter in the oyamel fir forests where it is perfect for them, not to cold, not too hot and humid enough to prevent their wings from drying out. It takes four generations to complete the migration. We were speechless. How did this butterfly blanket happen to be the one for today? It’s a Spirit thing, we believe; a Holy Spirit thing. God has blessed our community in many ways. Today it was with Estela whom we anointed for healing and the butterflies from her homeland, Mexico. Blessed be!

We are an alternative catholic community
who share a Eucharistic liturgy together
every Sunday. All are welcome!

We meet at New Song Episcopal Church, 912 20th Ave., 
Coralville, IA 52241, every Sunday at 4:00pm.

We are:
inclusive; courageous: peaceful; compassionate; musical;
non-structured; open to miracles; scripture-based; 
open-minded; non-cannoned; loose cannons; scripture-based;
concerned about justice.

We believe that our community should foster:
Belonging; joy within us; comfort in chaos; a sense of humor; 
faith that is alive and growing; staying simple; love and 
support; understanding; rejoicing in each others’ blessings and 
supporting each others’ trials; reaching/extending beyond 
ourselves; participation; sharing; communication; being 
comfortable/cozy; sharing communion; identifying with 
Christian spirituality; being open to miracles; living through 


The Grady Story

Often, Grady comes to church with BJ.  He is a well-behaved, silent participant in our mass and seems to enjoy our fellowship.  Grady never makes a sound, and he always sits or stands by BJ.  Everyone loves Grady because he is a beautiful chocolate brown, thick-coated lovable Black English Cocker Spaniel/Golden retriever therapy dog.  His little tail moves constantly; his huge brown eyes seem to sparkle.  He lets people, especially children, pet and hug him.  Grady loves people, and all of us love him.  I think Grady demonstrates our commitment to inclusivity at Full Circle Faith Community, an alternative Roman Catholic parish that supports the promises of Vatican II, the worthiness of all in God’s eyes and the ordination of women priests.

On Sunday, June 23, Mary Kay Kusner, our incredible priest, was out of town, attending the ordination of three new women priests for the Midwest Region of the United States.  When our priest must be out of town during a Sunday, I usually become the ‘officiant’ for our mass, leading the faithful through the mass as the people of God.  We sat in a half circle around the altar.  The Eucharistic minister and I distributed communion—I presented the bread as the body of Christ and he presented the wine as Christ’s blood.  Grady watched from his place beside BJ as usual.  I returned to the front of the altar and waited for the last two people to receive the wine.

Suddenly, his head held high and his back straight, Grady took four steps forward, standing directly in front of me.  His little tail wagged furtively, but Grady remained calm and intent on his purpose.  He raised his head up toward my face, and his large brown eyes made contact with my eyes.  “Please, please,” they seemed to say, “You forgot about me—I’m a member of this church too.”  Oh, how those eyes pleaded for communion like the rest of us had received.  Grady didn’t move; he merely stared at me with those begging eyes, his tail wagging furiously, but his body still, straight and dignified.  I broke first.  I couldn’t take his sorrowful look anymore.   I placed my hand to my forehead, shielding my eyes from Grady’s gaze, realizing the dilemma.  “I just can’t,” I said in defeat.  Christ does welcome all, even pets but, theologically, should they receive communion?  I thought not.

About that time, BJ took a doggie treat from her purse and beckoned Grady to her side.  He accepted the treat, but he looked back at me with sadness expressed in his eyes that made me feel guilty for leaving him out.  Everyone was smiling broadly.  Wouldn’t it be marvelous if all of us could walk straight up to Jesus with our backs straight and our heads held high, our eyes expressing love, hope, and gratitude like Grady.  I’ve heard that the eyes are the window to the soul, and if that is true, Grady must have some sort of soul.  

May God bless and keep you.  If you are interested in a more inclusive Roman Catholic Faith community, please join us and Grady next Sunday at 4pm.  We’d love to share the Eucharist with you.