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Members

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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: The Episcopal Church of the Atonement, Chicago, Illinois

Saint: St. Aelred of Rievaulx

Marian Title: Our Mother of Perpetual Help

(he/him/his)

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. 

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Br. William White, CMJ
Vicar Pro Tempre & Steward of Giving

Ministries: Br. Will's serves as the Director of Operations at the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Chicago and in a variety of ministry roles at his own parish, the Episcopal Church of the Atonement, also in Chicago. His ministries include preaching, and teaching/facilitating in adult spiritual formation programs, Subdeacon, liturgical MC, lector, Altar Guild, mentor for Education for Ministry, administration leadership, and Vestry. He has served on Diocesan Council for the Diocese of Chicago and supported other diocesan committees, and he supports the leadership of the National Association of Episcopal Christian Communities (NAECC). Br Will begins training as a Spiritual Director in Fall 2024.  

Parish: The Episcopal Church of the Atonement and Church of Our Saviour, Chicago, Illinois

Saint: St. Teresa of Ávila

Marian Title: Madonna Della Strada

(he/him/his)

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.

Blog: www.theminutemonk.com 

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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

(he/him/his)

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.  

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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, And St. Thomas Anglican Church, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Saint: Saint Br. Andre Bessette of Montreal

Marian Title: Stella Maris

(he/him/his)

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 led 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. 

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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

Saint: St John of the Cross

Marian Title: Comforter of the Afflicted

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.

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Br. Donald V. Laconi, CMJ
Steward of Prayer & Director of Companions

Ministries:  Brother Don is the former Senior Warden at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cuyahoga Falls Ohio. His other ministries at St. John’s included: Hospitality Committee, Chair of the Stewardship Committee, lector, acolyte, Chair of the Columbarium Committee, member of the Worship Committee, and Blanket Ministry for the Homeless.  Other ministries include: Summa Hospital Clinical Pastoral Care volunteer, and volunteer at Bath Creek Estates Extended Care facility providing weekly rosary for the staff and population.

Parish: St. James Episcopal Church, Port Charlotte, Florida

Saint: St. Dominic 

Marian Title: Our Lady of Fatima 

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 to provide service to the 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.

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Sr. Faith Melody Ogelsby, cmj
Novice

Ministries:  Vice President of the Diocese Daughters of the King, Choir member, Episcopal Peace Fellowship member and Summit County Missions Council member. As time permitted, I have volunteered to help out with other activities in our church plus at Bath Creek nursing home.

Parish: St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

 

My religious upbringing consisted of being dedicated to God as an infant at the Church of the Nazarene. Was brought up attending the United Methodist Church and was baptized plus confirmed at our local United Methodist Church. Served in the Youth choir and in the Youth Fellowship Program.

 

Married when I was 23 and had four children. As a family we started out attending the Zion Baptist Church but in the 1990's our family moved to Ohio and then everyone in our family were baptized plus confirmed in the Catholic church. My husband passed away in July 2003 from Pancreatic Cancer and I found myself holding onto God's unfailing love and grace. 

 

In 2009, I was invited to an Episcopal church service and I fell in love with the liturgy, music, and people. I became an Episcopalian at a Easter Vigil service and then in 2016 I transferred my membership to St John's Episcopal church in Cuyahoga Falls as my home is in Cuyahoga Falls. 

 

Throughout my life I have been a person of prayer. At various times I have helped family members who were disabled and helped out elderly people. I seem to thrive on helping others, as God sees fit to have me help them. 

 

At this time of my life, I am semi-retired, having worked as a Civil Service employee, private sector employee and a U.S. Navy Veteran. At certain times I was a stay-at-home mom and caretaker of my Vietnam Veteran husband. 

 

What drew me to be a part of the Community of the Mother of Mary was initially from what Fr Brian and Br Don told me about the religious life of the CMJ. The discipleship to Mother Mary and Jesus also helped me make the choice to join the CMJ. At the CMJ Annual Gathering,(09/25-09/30), I made my vow to enter the Novitiate as a Novice. I believe in the vows of the CMJ; which are justice, tenderness, humility, and contemplation. I am grateful to be a part of a dispersed religious community where I can be a disciple of Jesus and Mother Mary along with the other members of the community. Growing deeper in my faith and having a closer walk with God alongside other members seems to be God's calling in my life at this time.

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Sr. Karoline Kramer, cmj
Novice

Parish: St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

 

Karoline was raised in the Lutheran church but became a part of the
Episcopalian Diocese of Ohio in high school, where she was active in
the youth group at St. Pauls, Cleveland Heights.

She left the church in her 20s and was called back in her 40s. Since
she returned to the church, she has focused on her church and helping
those in need in her community.

She works in IT and has turned those skills into assisting with her
parish's livestream, social media, and website needs.

Karoline has found a true family in the CMJ and is delighted to be one
of the first females in the Order.

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Br. Joshua Rutan, cmj
Novice

Ministries: Br Joshua is a former member of the Vestry, where he served as head of outreach.  During his tenure, he helped increase the parish's online presence via social media.  When the Covid-19 pandemic struck and the parish doors were closed, he was able to secure a grant from the Diocese to purchase live streaming equipment.  For the next 2 ½ years, he assisted with the live streaming of services.  Currently, he is discerning how he can best use his gifts & talents to serve.  He occasionally assists with teaching Adult Forums and is an integral part of the parish's book club.  

 

Parish: St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Franklin, IN

 

I was raised in the Pentecostal tradition of Christianity but left the denomination when I was 25, after coming to terms with my sexuality and realizing that I no longer believed or held true the things that were taught to me as a child.  I began to seek out God on my own and to study other faiths and spiritual paths.  For 10 years I studied religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, New Age spirituality and Paganism.  I was introduced to God in totally new ways and slowly began to rebuild the faith that I thought I had lost. The harsh & tyrannical God of my youth was transformed into a God of love, mercy, and compassion.  I began to see God all around me instead of sitting remotely on some great throne up in the sky.  It was during this time that I also began to hear our Blessed Mother’s voice, beckoning me ever onward to something more.  I began to pray the Rosary, not consistently, but enough that it caused a stirring in my heart.  I began to entertain the thought of returning to Christianity but could not find a denomination that I felt comfortable with, so I kept searching.  I began to study the lives of some of the saints and was captivated by the ways they selflessly served others and the devotion they had to our Blessed Mother. One day, as I was doing more research, I came across a quote from Biship Michael Curry that really struck me.  I don’t remember the quote, but I remember how it made me feel and it caused me to find out more about the Episcopal Church.  I discovered there was a local Episcopal parish in my town and so one Sunday, my husband and I decided to visit.  We instantly fell in love with the liturgy but more importantly, with the message of love that was taught and practiced.  From the moment we walked through the front doors of the church, we were welcomed with open arms and no questions asked.  We continued to attend and was confirmed several months later.  It was after our confirmation that my husband and I both felt a deeper call to serve but were unsure in what capacity.  We spent the next couple of years helping & serving wherever we could, but it wasn’t until I learned of religious life within the Episcopal church that I felt the strings of my heart being pulled.  I took note of this and began to research everything that I could find about religious life in the Episcopal church.  It was then that I learned about the Community of the Mother of Jesus.  The charism of Mary’s Way of Discipleship and the vows of Justice, Tenderness, Humility, and Contemplation spoke to my heart.  Once again, I heard our Blessed Mother’s voice beckoning me onward and I knew that this simple yet beautiful way, Her Way of Discipleship, was where I was being led.    

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Br. Bill Young, cmj
Novice

Ministries: Vestry, licensed lay preacher, licensed lay reader, Eucharistic minister, crucifer, and usher.

Parish: Saint Paul's Episcopal church ,Fremont ,Ohio

 

Because I have long been known in our parish for my devotion to our Most Blessed Mother, my Rector, Spiritual Advisor, and friend, Father Matt Wahlgren suggested I research the Community of the Mother of Jesus. Father Matt has had a spiritual relationship with both Father Brian and Brother Don, and highly recommended both of them to me. He then set up a meeting with Father Brian in his hometown of Fostoria and after our delightful lunch and conversation. I felt that the CMJ would be perfect for my calling to religious life. Having previously served as lay director for Ohio Episcopal Cursillo, I strongly considered going to seminary, but my love for teaching kept me from that hoped for goal of ministry. The CMJ has allowed me to greatly deepen my spiritual life through extensive prayer, study, and fellowship, while continuing in my role as an educator. Having had the desire to serve Our Lord and his Most Blessed Mother, since my early years, and previously passed on opportunities to be part of a vowed community, I felt that the CMJ was literally an answer to my prayers.

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The Right Rev. William O. Gregg, Ph.D. 
CMJ Bishop Visitor

I was raised in the Presbyterian Church and confirmed in The Episcopal Church as a
senior in high school before going off to a Baptist university, the University of Richmond. I
went to seminary at the Episcopal Divinity School, then in Cambridge, MA, from the Diocese of
Virginia, where I was ordained Deacon and Priest. While in seminary, I took a year off to do an
MA in medieval English at Boston College.


My wife, Kathy, and I met while I was at seminary through a mutual friend from Boston College. We
celebrated our 46th anniversary in May 2023. We have one son and two grandsons.


I served in the Dioceses of Virginia and Southwestern Virginia, including time as a school
chaplain and lower school teacher. In 1987, Kathy and I moved to South Bend, IN for graduate
school at Notre Dame. After 10 years in Indiana, as a grad student and associate professor of
theology at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Terre Haute, we went to my last parish, St. James,
New London, CT. From there I was elected the sixth Bishop of Eastern Oregon in 2000.


In the Diocese of North Carolina as Bishop Assistant I had responsibility for the Charlotte and
Sand Hills Convocations and made Visitations throughout the diocese. I retired in January 2014.
In April 2014 became the Rector of La Iglesia Anglicana San Pablo in San Miguel de Allende,
México, until the Spring of 2018. We now live in Salisbury, NC. I now serve as Rector of St.
Thomas Church, Reidsville, NC and Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Hood
Theological Seminary (AME Zion Church) in Salisbury.

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