Dear Fr. Jim and Jackie,
Thank you so much for performing Elia’s Christening. It was such a beautiful day, much to your doing, such a wonderful ceremony. Also, thank you for helping us celebrate her 1st birthday! Thanks again.
– Michelle & Brian Hannon
Dear Father Carroll,
Dave and I would love to thank you for the beautiful ceremony you provided for us. We found comfort in your organization and kind words and blessings along the way in our meetings. Our wedding was a dream come true and we were glad to have you share in our day.
Love, Tina and Dave
Father Schmitt and Mallory,
Manny and I would like to thank you for your wonderful services. We were so comfortable going into the ceremony knowing you two would be there, and the vows were everything we wanted them to be. Thank you for walking us step by step through this process, and for being so thoughtful and genuine. We truly appreciate it!
With thanks, Lisa and Manny
Dear Fr. Greg,
“What a truly special part of our family wedding celebration you were! Even before the day arrived your contributions were invaluable. Your confidence in guiding us to our magical day was more comforting than you can know. With your help God was shining on us all! We will be forever grateful that my wedding was the sacrament I dreamed of. So many people have commented on your homily, your personality and your own loving marriage. All were impressed!”
Patty & Todd
Congratulations on your 50th Anniversary as a Priest. We fondly remember meeting you and Jackie on the Celebrity Cruise when we celebrated our 30th Wedding Anniversary. You celebrated Mass for us and officiated as we renewed our vows. We thank you and continue to remember you in our prayers.
Love, Olga and Lawrence
Rev. James Koerber
I first met Rev. James Koerber in 2003 when he interviewed for the job of Hospice Chaplain in Bluffton, SC. He was the first, and only, chaplain I have ever met who understood the difference between spirituality and religion. I hired him for the job, and our paths have crossed repeatedly since then as we have worked for three or four different hospice organizations.
His experience as a Catholic priest allows him to give complete Catholic services to any Catholic patient that he works with. His understanding of spirituality lets him get to the root problems of any patient facing end of life circumstances so that he can bring peace and closure to potentially very traumatic situations. He is also a good resource for staff members to prepare them to work more effectively with family members as loved ones face this difficult time of parting.
Rev. Koerber deals well with memorial services and grave-side services for all denominations, making sure that family wishes are faithfully carried out. With the current shortage of Catholic priests, having Jim Koerber around when local parishes cannot provide requested assistance makes it easy to provide Catholics with the last sacraments which they have a right to receive, a well as funeral Masses. I wish I had more people with his understanding of death and dying to make available to me patients.
Angel Bennett, Clinical Director – Hospice Care of America
Congratulations to Louise and all!
You are providing a much needed and wonderful service. Father Greg Zimmerman said mass for my family and me last Saturday as part of a birthday celebration for my father’s 80th birthday. He was generous and kind and just what we needed. I am so grateful for your vision and mission.
Testimonial for CITI Ministries and Rev. Donald Horrigan
In November of 2007 I had an extraordinary prayer experience. It had been a difficult six years for my husband and me as we continued to struggle with our involvement in the Catholic Church. My husband Dave is a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and though we had been dealing with it since he revealed his experience to me in 1993 when his perpetrator was publicly named, we hadn’t really absorbed the whole church effect until 2002 when the Boston clergy sex abuse crisis hit the airwaves with extreme intensity. It was then that we realized everything we were told by the bishops back in ’93 was a lie. They knew so much more than what they said and we came to find out that Dave’s perpetrator had abused 50 or so other boys before him! Something had to give. And for us it was any loyalty to the church hierarchy, not because we have a problem with church leadership, but because we have a problem with the constant corrupt church leadership. We read and read and read, and became more knowledgeable about the injustices throughout every diocese in the country. In the fall of 2007 I had experienced a faculty retreat, a parish retreat, and finally a trip into Washington, DC. Dave & I wanted to view a new documentary that was only being shown in certain theatres. It was called Deliver Us From Evil. How painfully sad, and how utterly revealing.
The next evening I sat on my couch with a cup of tea, reflecting on the different moments I had experienced recently. It was then, that I felt the Lord as close to me as ever; as I tried to understand the direction He wanted me to take. It was about worshipping God and the importance of it. It was about using my gifts, and it was about reaching out and bringing others to the banquet, especially other survivors of abuse. But how could I do all this within the context of my parish when I know that groups who advocate for survivors like SNAP and VOTF are not particularly welcome? I realized that I needed to do this outside of the mainstream church. And lo and behold within two months my husband came across a website which caused us to laugh quite heartily: rentapriest.com However, upon further investigation on this website we found two gentlemen associated with CITI Ministries, one of whom married us 25 years earlier! The other one happened to live right here in our hometown of Bowie, Maryland. In fact, he was a member of our parish, but we had never met!
I called Don Horrigan in January of 2008 and in very little time we realized that there were so many coincidences about our lives and in our timing of getting connected, that none of it could have been “coincidence” at all. I was interested in trying to start a small faith community. I wanted to worship God, use my gifts, and reach out to other Catholics who may have lost their spiritual connection for some reason or another. Don came to our house to meet with Dave & me and there was an immediate sense that we were all being called to begin something, even though we had no idea of where it would take us!
I gradually began telling people the story of my prayer experience, learning of CITI, and meeting this new friend that they may have heard of, Don Horrigan. After a couple of months the time was right to try out the idea of a home mass. I contacted some friends who I thought would be most open to having a “married priest” as the celebrant for our liturgy. I sent out the invitation considering it a giant leap of faith!
I remember checking my computer often to see if any responses would come in, and as they did I was overjoyed with the positive feedback I was receiving! That first night we had 22 people squished into my living room. It was an awesome experience to witness Don, with trembling hands, celebrate his first mass in over 30 years with his wife by his side. It was a reverent and beautiful moment with light-hearted flexibility to ease our way through these new and uncharted waters. How refreshing it was to hear the Word of God proclaimed, reflected on by Don, and then all those present actually being given the opportunity to comment on the Scriptures, share our thoughts, and listen to each other’s stories! How uplifting it was to embrace each person at the Sign of Peace! How beautiful it was to stand in a circle and pass and receive the Body and Blood of Christ to and from the person next to us! How spirit-filled was this moment of community! And then afterwards, we all crammed into the kitchen to eat and drink and celebrate that celebration of faith.
I cannot say how much it meant to have Don take this risk and share his gift of ordination with us. His warmth, spirituality, and openness to Dave & me and each person in our community are a sign of Christ living among us today. It’s sad that his “priestly” ministry had to be put on hold for so many years, though it is clear to me from my experience with him in Emmaus that he was as much a follower of the Lord in his roles as husband, father, and school principal. It’s just a bonus that now he can minister to the rest of us again!
In April our community along with VOTF sponsored a Support Service for Survivors of Sexual abuse. We held it at an American Legion Hall since survivors of clergy abuse often cannot bring themselves to attend a church function. Don and Richard Hasselbach, another wonderful CITI priest, led a beautiful service to reach out to victims of abuse with the goal of meeting them where they were. The theme was Finding God in and after the Pain of Betrayal. It was a powerful and moving spiritual experience. We had about 50 people in attendance including seven survivors, two of whom called this their first experience to participate in such a public event.
Our Emmaus group has gathered many times since our first liturgy, each mass with its own particular flavor. We bring offerings to be given to Sharing Pantries, homeless shelters, and orphanages. I hope we are on our way to serving more folks in need of the spiritual connection that only Christ himself can give us. Thank you Louise Haggett for founding CITI Ministries, and thank you to all of the priests and faithful members for helping to sustain this much needed organization.
By Judy Lorenz: Founder of The Emmaus Group, Bowie, Maryland (2008)