Br. Stephen Wetmore, CMJ
Steward Guardian & Founder
Ministries: Br. Stephen works with the homeless and as a caregiver for elderly persons confined to their own homes. Br. Stephen also provides spiritual direction, serves as the parish archivist for the Episcopal Church of the Atonement, and is the assistant master of ceremonies for the 11 a.m. choral mass most Sundays.
Parish: Episcopal Church of the Atonement, Chicago, Illinois
Saint: St. Aelred of Rievaulx
Marian Title: Our Mother of Perpetual Help
As a gay man and a former Roman Catholic priest, starting a new religious order was the furthest thing from my mind when I was received into the Episcopal Church. I was totally caught off guard while sitting in church one Sunday when I felt a flaming fire in my heart leading me to start this religious community. It took five years of much prayer, discernment, dialogue and work for the Community of the Mother of Jesus to be inaugurated on 1 April 2011. Being part of a community in honor of the Mother of Jesus, and having as our mission to serve the neighbors who are in need helps me to be more faithful to my baptismal promises. I love our unique vows of Justice, Tenderness, Humility, and Contemplation. They call me to be a loving servant of others.
Br. Terry Ashby, Jr., CMJ
Ministries: Br. Terry tends to the needs of those who find themselves homeless near his workplace. Normally, it can be monetary help and a chat, but they may need other assistance on any given day.
Parish: Episcopal Church of the Atonement, Chicago, Illinois
Saint: St. Peregrine
Marian Title: Our Lady of Mercy
As a child, I always had a strong faith in God and prayed to him in "conversations." As I grew and took a more formal approach to religion, my faith stayed strong. I had an opportunity to live as a cloistered monk for two weeks at Three Rivers Abbey in Michigan. I loved the prayer life but knew there must be a way to combine this with the world at large. While attending Church of the Atonement in Chicago, I learned about the Community of the Mother of Jesus and felt it was the answer I had been waiting for -- A welcoming community that would combine a life of prayer while being present to the neighbor in the world.
Br. William White, CMJ
Vicar Pro Tempre & Communications Coordinator
Ministries: Br. Will serves as the parish administrator at Church of Our Saviour in Lincoln Park supporting a variety of ministries, including the health and human services programs for those experiencing homelessness. He also supports several ministries at the Church of the Atonement and is in formation for Holy Orders to the Diaconate.
Parish: Episcopal Church of the Atonement, Chicago, Illinois
Saint: St. Teresa of Ávila
Marian Title: Madonna Della Strada
My faith experiences have been many; from being baptized in the Presbyterian Church, confirmed in the Lutheran Church, and involved as a cantor and lay minister within the Catholic Church. Eventually my journey would lead me to The Episcopal Church where I again heard the call to something deeper. As I discovered religious communities within the Anglican Communion, I felt a sincere stirring in my heart. Our call to love and service from our baptismal vows echo again and again in all healthy relationships and here, in the Community of the Mother of Jesus, I see a passionate yearning for a relationship with God, and to learn how that feeds our service to one another. Our vows of justice, tenderness, humility, and contemplation become the lenses we use to view the world around us and ourselves. The more I study and share about these vows, the more they become rooted within my heart and manifest in my life. This community of seekers holds and enables one another to fulfill God's promise of love and compassion poured out for all of His creation.
Br. Jonathan Wheat, CMJ
Steward of Giving
Ministries: Br. Jonathan provides job readiness and nutrition counseling to mothers experiencing homelessness at an in-patient treatment facility.
Br. Jonathan also broadcasts Morning Prayer and provides a reflection each morning at 7:30 a.m. CST, Monday through Saturday. You can join him here.
Parish: Church of the Ascension, Chicago, Illinois
Saint: St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Marian Title: Our Lady of Solitude
Having been in monastic religious life for seven years during the 1990s, I was surprised to find that I still had a yearning for it after all these years. I had discovered a renewal of devotion after being received into The Episcopal church and was happy to find religious communities within the Anglican Communion. Having worked in social service agencies for much of my career, the Community of the Mother of Jesus with its charism of service to those in need seemed a natural fit. Praying the Rosary again after all these years was so refreshing, especially within The Episcopal Church that had renewed and nurtured my spiritual life. Praying the Daily Office with collects and prayers from the Book of Common Prayer is a discipline that I find truly enriching. I realize now that my vocation has been tested over a long period of time, but has resulted in one that is true, honest, and joyous.
Br. Jason LaFollette, CMJ
Steward of Study & Vocations Director
Ministries: Br. Jason volunteers with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, working in the diversity effort and to help increase safety on our waterways.
Parish: The Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Knoxville, Tennessee
Saint: St. Kunigunde
Marian Title: Our Lady of the Snows
When I was in college, I felt God calling me to a vocation. I spoke with the priest at the chapel on campus and he gave me probably the wisest advice anyone has ever gave me: “If you feel God is calling you to the priesthood, RUN! If it catches up with you, you know it’s the right thing to do.” It never caught up with me, but there was always this nagging in my mind that God had a plan for me. Years later at an Education for Ministry group, our lesson was about contemplation in which many modern monastics were in the world instead of cloistered. I looked up Episcopal Orders and I had my biggest "a-ha" moment ever. This was that nagging voice! After some thoughtful investigation, I found the Community of the Mother of Jesus. Having spent years in the Roman Catholic Church, this community with its devotion to Mary and the Rosary was so much more what I was called to. And each day as a Brother of the CMJ has been more fulfilling than the next. Sometimes God’s paths are circuitous, but we always get where we’re meant to be.
Br. Ricky Joe Cook, CMJ
Steward of Prayer
Ministries: In addition to ministering to those who are blind and visually impaired, Ricky visits the elderly and those who are home-bound. Ricky is also a Lay Reader and Eucharistic Minister for his parish. He is always available to those experiencing homelessness and to those just needing someone to listen.
Parish: St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, Portland, Oregon
I was born with a visual impairment and have slowly gone totally blind. From an early age, my grandmother encouraged me not to let my blindness hold me back from accomplishing things in life. She told me that she believed that God had a plan for me and being blind was part of that plan. I’ve felt a deep spirituality ever since I was in my young teens and explored many different religions and ways to God which has deepened my spirituality. I feel that God has sent people into my life who’ve played a significant role in my walk with the mother of Jesus, and Christ, her son. When I read the community’s vows for justice, tenderness, humility and contemplation, I knew that I wanted to live out these vows and to be a loving servant to others and to be the hands that Mary and her Son can use to help others.
Br. Robert (Dylan) Stewart, CMJ
Steward of Service
Ministries: Br. Dylan volunteers his time serving with the Mission to Seafarers in the Port of Halifax. The Mission to Seafarers is a global Anglican non-profit organization and has been a part of the port of Halifax since WWII serving the needs of Seafarers who come and go on these great waters. As a former chaplaincy intern, and now ship visitor, Br. Dylan’s interest truly is a ministry of presence to those who go down to the sea in ships. He is also a Lay Minister (Lay Reader and Eucharistic Minister) at the Cathedral Church of All Saints, Halifax, and a Registered Massage Therapist.
Parish: Cathedral Church of All Saints, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
I was raised in a Southern Baptist tradition in a rural coastal community in Nova Scotia, Canada. When I was a teenager, I came out as gay and was shunned from my church family. At that point, I felt I could no longer be a Christian. I was lost in the proverbial wilderness for ten years before finding the Anglican Church. After finding my way, I have had a deeper calling to serve as Christ served and have since started the process towards ordination. The one constant for me during the wilderness was the Rosary and I feel Mother Mary never gave up praying for me. Because of this, I have been lead to this Community. I feel this is where I need to be in life. I am happy to have found a place that will foster my growth and hope we can grow together.
Br. Tom Sumney, cmj
Ministries: Tom is a Churchwarden, Lector, Eucharistic Minister, and active in many other ways.
Parish: St. David’s Episcopal Church, Barneveld, NY.
I grew up in Louisiana in a devoutly religious family and baptized in the Southern Baptist Church. As a young man, I was confirmed into the Episcopal Church.
I’ve always felt a tugging attraction to a religious life; however, never being quite sure as to what context that should take. Through my searching, I have found the Community of the Mother of Jesus. A charism devoted to the Mother of God is not a choice I would have seen myself drawn to, but drawn I have become. My participation with the Community and learning the Holy Rosary has taught me of the Blessed Mary’s acceptance of God’s will in her life. She has become a wonderful example to me as I have become more serious about finding the will of God in Christ for my life. Her simple act of saying yes to God did not come without fear of the unknown. Her words, “do as he tells you”, supports me by her faith and wisdom. Her example comforts me in saying yes to God while I gladly walk in this journey where the outcomes are unknown.
Fr. Brian Bechtel, cmj
Ministries: Fr. Brian is the priest-in-charge at St. John's Episcopal Church in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. His ministries include preaching the Gospel, teaching the faith, celebrating the Mass, visiting the sick and homebound, and many other things. He participates in the parish's feeding program, Soup's On, which prepares meals and groceries for our neighbors in need. He also visits nursing homes in the city to say Mass and pray with those who can no longer attend their home churches but long for communion with God and neighbor.
Parish: St. John's Episcopal Church, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
I was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition and graduated from a Catholic high school. At the time I had a lot of questions about the faith, and I had my doubts about some Church teachings. I particularly struggled with the notion of papal infallibility. For about eight years after high school I put the question of religion behind me and pursued my own interests, which involved moving to Japan and studying the Japanese language and culture. I eventually became aware of the hollowness of my secular worldview, and spent a few years practicing Zen Buddhism. It was in Zen where I first learned of religion as a "practice" and not only a set of doctrines to be taken in "blind faith." With this understanding of religion as a "path," I found that there were many writers and theologians who expressed my home faith of Christianity in these terms as well. Indeed, our Lord doesn't say "Think all the right concepts about God," but rather, "Pick up your cross, and follow me." Ultimately, it was not only the theologians, but also our Lady's Holy Rosary that led me back to the Church. I was given a cheap plastic rosary by a group progressive break away catholics at a PRIDE event I was attending one summer; and I prayed to the Mother of Jesus for the first time in many years. This course of events, and my sense of God's call, ultimately led me to the Episcopal Church, for it is the one place that maintains the historic Episcopate, the seven sacraments, devotion to the Mother of God, and is also open and affirming of women's leadership and of our friends in the LGBT community. People often say that the Episcopal Church is "the best kept secret," and if that is so, then perhaps the CMJ is the secret within the secret. I look forward walking this "path" together with my religious brothers and sisters here in the CMJ.
Br. Donald V. Lacnoi, cmj
Ministries: Brother Don is the Senior Warden at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cuyahoga Falls Ohio. His other ministries at St. John’s include: Hospitality Committee, Chair of the Stewardship Committee, Lector, Acolyte, Chair of the Columbarium Committee, Member of the Worship Committee, Blanket Ministry for the Homeless. Other ministries include: Summa Hospital Clinical Pastoral Care Volunteer, Volunteer at Bath Creek Estates Extended Care Facility providing weekly Rosary for the staff and population.
Parish: St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
My faith experience includes being baptized and raised in the Roman Catholic Church. In the year 2000, I became of member of the Anglican Community of the Episcopal Church. Even though being very active in the church, something was missing in my heart. After much praying, Jesus, Our Blessed Lady and Father (Brother) Brian bechtel directed me to The Community of the Mother of Jesus, where my heart has felt love, peace and compassion. Our mission is provide service to less fortunate who in some cases are forgotten.
Brother Don retired from the University of Akron as one of the dean’s of academia and a past Italian restaurant owner.