On Sunday February 14, 2021 Rev. Paula Carpe and Rev. Brian Patacca were ordained as the Community Miracles Center's newest ministers. A lightly edited transcription of the ordination eremony and their ordination talks is presented here.
Rev. Tony Ponticello: I'm Rev. Tony Ponticello. I get to lead the "Rite of Ordination" today because I had both Brian and Paula in my ACIM-2 class. I am the 20th minister that the Community Miracles Center ordained. I was ordained at that exact same ordination that Rev. Dusa Althea was ordained in, on October 17th, 1997. I believe that was almost 24 years ago. I had been ordained previously. I was ordained in 1986 by the previous church. I've been Rev. Tony for 35 years.
What I want to say to Brian and Paula is that, for me, being a minister is an evolving thing. How I perceived it 35 years ago when I first was ordained and became "Rev. Tony," and then how I perceived it 24 years ago when I was ordained by the CMC in that ordination with Rev. Dusa Althea were different. How I perceive it now – it is different again. This year especially. When the shelter-in-place thing happened last March it was disturbing to me. I had to go within and ask for guidance. And you know how it says in A Course in Miracles the guidance that you receive may be quite startling. (see OrEd.Mn.21.5) So, I didn't get any direct guidance about how to handle the shelter-in-place. The guidance I got was to start wearing a cleric collar and basically to up my game, just to up my game, to up how I show up in the world as "Rev. Tony." It has been amazing.
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It took 34 years for me to get that guidance and to make that shift. You don't know what it's going to mean for you; you don't know what it's going to do. Just be open, and be open to receiving sometimes very startling guidance from the Holy Spirit as to how you embrace this new chapter in your life. One thing that I frequently say at these ordinations, because it's really just so true for me, is that CMC not ordained a huge number of people in its 34 years of existence. We're not some ordination factory churning out scores of ministers. Paula and Brian will be ministers number 125 and 126, which is really only about four ministers a year, so I really do feel like I know the ministers who go through our program very well.
Many of them have been in my A Course in Miracles-2 class (ACIM-2 is a requirement for ordination). Some of them have been in ACIM-2 with others, Rev. Paul has also taught ACIM-2. But many of the ordained ministers have been in my ACIM-2 class. That process of being involved with the future ministers for that year, and I was with Paula and Brian, it's very profound and heartfelt, and I truly love the both of you. I just want to thank you so much for playing this game with us. Of course, "Salvation can be thought of as a game that happy children play." (OrEd.WkBk.153.12) It was a happy game, and we were all lesson partners for many months, and you were both a joy every time, and different, and individual. The challenge of the program is the time it takes, and the commitment. Brian was kind of on the three-year plan. The challenge got to be a little too much. He let go of it, but he then came back!
Paula, as Rev. Paul said earlier, has been just moving all over the country, never quite knowing from where she was going to be taking the class. Sometimes from her car. It's just been a joy, and you two have a very warm place in my heart – and you always will. I really just want to thank you for sticking with that, doing everything, doing your projects, doing the homework that you owed, showing up for class, and showing up for your lesson partners. I'm really, really proud of all of us, and certainly proud of you two. I'm proud of the Community Miracle Center for what it accomplishes, and I'm just in love with all of you in the larger community, and certainly in love with our two new ministers.
Your ordination certificates are all signed and ready. You're actually going to get two ordination certificates. You get one that's printed on parchment like paper. This is the one we consider that you will frame, but then you will also get one that's on white, and the white one – I would say – it's like a file copy, and you can use it to make other copies. If anybody ever asks you for an ordination certificate, you can show them your white one, or give them a copy of the white one. They're all signed by Rev. Peter and myself, the President and the Secretary of Community Miracles Center. They're all ready to give you – you only have one more thing to do, that thing is to recite with me the "Rite of Ordination." Let me unmute the two of you.
The inscription on your ordination certificate is part of the reading that Rev. Paul read. It's the passage from Workbook lesson number 154, "I am among the ministers of God, and I am grateful that I have the means by which to recognize that I am free." (OrEd.WkBk.154.14) That has always been very significant for me. First of all, it's a declaration that you know you're a "Minister of God." But there's more. What it is also saying is that you're not always going to know you're free from the appearances of the world, but what you will have now is a means that you have taken within your soul, which can take you back to the recognition of your freedom. So it's not about always being free, but it's about continually having that means by which to recognize that freedom.
I have unmuted Brian and Paula, so I am going to do a screen share here, and put the "Rite of Ordination" up on the screen. Let me get to it. There it is. I will read the "CMC Minister" part, and you will read the part where it says "New Minister." So, are you ready? Okay, here we go.
Rev. Tony Ponticello: Are you, Paula Carpe and Brian Patacca, willing to answer the call of the Holy Spirit to serve the Community Miracles Center and all others who request your guidance and assistance as an A Course in Miracles minister.
Rev. Paula Carpe and Rev. Brian Patacca: Yes, truly willing.
Rev. Tony Ponticello: Are you willing to strive to see the truth and the love of God's Kingdom, which lie beyond the fear and illusion of the world
Rev. Rev. Brian Patacca and Rev. Paula Carpe: Yes, truly willing.
Rev. Tony Ponticello: Are you willing to recognize that giving to your brothers and sisters is giving to yourselves, making sacrifice impossible?
Rev. Paula Carpe and Rev. Brian Patacca: Yes, truly willing.
Rev. Tony Ponticello: Are you willing to remember to ask for Holy Spirit's guidance in all situations, knowing that Holy Spirit will always direct you to the proper path?
Rev. Brian Patacca and Rev. Paula Carpe: Yes, truly willing.
Rev. Tony Ponticello: Are you willing to choose peace and love instead of anger and hatred, knowing that attack thoughts are insane and never justified?
Rev. Paula Carpe and Rev. Brian Patacca: Yes, truly willing.
Rev. Tony Ponticello: Are you willing to teach others that they are the perfect ones whom God created, knowing that what you teach you learn as well?
Rev. Brian Patacca and Rev. Paula Carpe: Yes, truly willing.
Rev. Tony Ponticello: Love yourself, so you may remind us we are loving when we feel hatred. Forgive yourself, so you may remind us that we are forgiven when we feel guilty. In this way, you will help bring God's love, happiness, peace, and salvation to the world. In the name of God, the Creator, who is our Source and of the Son, who as both male and female, we all are, and of Holy Spirit, Who is the Voice for God, Who speaks to all of us, and on behalf of the Community Miracle Center I, Rev. Tony Ponticello, declare you Paula Carpe and Brian Patacca, to be A Course in Miracles ministers of the Community Miracle Center. Amen. (applause)
Reverend Paula, you are CMC Minister #125, it says so right on your certificate, and so, I turn it all over to you. Reverend Paula, speak to us.
Rev. Paula Carpe: Fantastic. I'm just so happy. Feeling very grateful, very blessed. I felt this spiritual calling 40 years ago, and I have immersed myself for all these years in various studies and various teachings. When Rev. Rudy introduced me to A Course in Miracles, it was just so natural, such a great fit, and a great addition to everything that I have embodied and been living – the principles of love and oneness.
It spoke to me so beautifully and simply. It's not complicated, and it was simple for me to decide to be on the path to be a minister, to be part of this loving community. It was a calling I couldn't say "No" to, and I'm glad I didn't. I'm so grateful for the teaching, the Course ministers, for Rev. Tony, for Rev. Kelly, for Rev. Paul, for each of the lessons that were shared and the beautiful enlightenment that came from their unique way of sharing this.
And my classmates, Rev. Brian and Elaine and Rev. Anthony – I mean, this is family. Rev. Kim, you were so spot on. This is a part of a loving community. I have just felt so embraced, so welcomed, from the very first encounter, participation.
I just arrived a few hours ago in Clearwater, FL. I was two days ago in a hotel in Naples, FL and didn't really have a plan. I've been just living this adventure – leaving Colorado and coming here. Letting go; letting God. Surrendering to that which is mine to do, where, when, how in my traveling ministry. That is what I have embraced, and it is still being discovered as to what is all involved, but it's beautiful.
Now, I was just offered a beautiful place to stay for the next few weeks, a condo on the water in Clearwater FL, gifted. Out of the hotels and into this. Another example of living in the flow of the support from the one Source, that one Source which is God, that we are all part of. The Course talks about the treasure chest of all the good, God given good, that each of us has as Children of God. It's our inheritance. It's all present and available for all of us. Even when things don't seem to be going exactly as we plan, letting go, and trusting, and allowing that which is our divine perfect path in this journey. We're always supported; we're always loved. We're always embraced.
I live my life, this traveling ministry that I love so much. Whether I stop and stay for a week, months, a year ... where I land. Whatever I'm called to do, however, I can be of service in that community as an outreach minister – that's what feels really good to me. I'm just in that flow of love, and peace, and embracing that Source. Supply, it's always there. It's always manifesting if you get out of your own way. If you quit thinking you know everything, and allow the Divine to really speak to you, life is good. I've been accused of being "too happy" and recently a couple of people said, "You're just happy all the time." And my response was, "It's a choice." You can wake up, and complain, and get mad, and stay in the misery – or you can choose joy, and love, and happiness. It truly is a choice."
Something comes up and triggers that reaction. It doesn't feel good. We can absolutely transform that, change that, simply by shifting in consciousness. Knowing that love, and peace, and harmony, and goodness – the All Good – is inherent in us. It is who we are. So, I love living in that flow of love and wholeheartedness. Being a minister of A Course in Miracles and teaching that, and A Course of Love, I just feel it's a blessed calling. It's a wonderful thing. Thank you God, for introducing me to all of this and thank each one of you who have either been prayer partners, study partners, teachers – but have been on the journey with me – and even my students as I've been teaching all year with A Course of Love.
There's so much exchanged and shared that is heart-based, love-based. I can't imagine doing anything else. No matter what occupation, what business venture I might find myself in – there have been many over the years – the one steadfast constant in my life has been sharing love, and peace, and happiness. It just gives me great joy if I can help in facilitating change in people's lives by sharing the Course, sharing the tools for transformation that we truly have with A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love in our community. So right now, I'm traveling and we shall see how long I'm in Florida, or what's next. It doesn't matter. Wherever I am, I'm doing exactly what is mine to do, what I'm guided to do.
I accept this role as a minister. I accept this joyously. I encourage anybody thinking about becoming a minister with Community Miracle Center – I encourage you to do it. Absolutely. If you feel that calling, I'm here to support you. Reach out to me, whether it be just as a friend or to pray together around it.
I've been doing a lot of this. Yet I feel, right now, there's a birthing of a new beginning of another dimension of this, another expansion of this calling, because it's truly a calling. It's absolutely without doubt. So I am very grateful for everybody. Also, I want to share one reference lesson, one of the lessons in the Course. I mean, how can you choose which one? They're all so fabulous. How many times in our study did we say, "Oh, and that too relates to everything going on in the world, in our lives." The answers are all here. The answers are fabulous. But I did pick one to share and that's Lesson 355.
"There is no end to all the peace and joy
And all the miracles that I will give
When I accept God's Word.
Why not today?" (OrEd.WkBk.355)
Why should I wait? Be happy, embrace it all now. I'm on a mission to spread that, that love, that peace, that harmony, that joy, and if I can facilitate change in many lives, that gives me great joy. That's what I'm here to do, so I'm just very grateful to be part of, to be now considered part of the ordained ministers in this loving family. I'm home, right? I'm home wherever I am. Wherever I am is home. It's beautiful. So thank you. God bless you all. You guys mean so much to me. Thank you.
Rev. Tony Ponticello: Thank you, Rev. Paula. And now, we call up here, Rev. Brian Patacca, CMC minister #126.
Rev. Brian Patacca: I don't know if you guys paid attention a second ago, but I'm freaking out over here. I, just in front of you and God, and all these witnesses (and my partner's watching this in the living room, and my family's tuning in on YouTube, and my best friends are watching) and I just committed to be this really great person – in front of all these people – who I can never have an argument with again, or get angry at, or raise my voice to. I'm like, "Shit!" So, that is who I am now. Damn it! I just think of Rev. Paul and his license plate1, and how the Course prides itself on being a practical course. We are compelled to be great adults, for lack of a better word. We are compelled to take ourselves and our function here seriously.
It reminds me, I'm going to make a guess that most of us know – who have ever been on a rollercoaster or avoided them – at the top of a roller coaster you are joyfully scared. You willingly got in line and waited to get to the top of that hill (and my hill has been longer than some other reverends, because I took a break and came back, so this is like – I'm an ACIM-2½ kind of person, at this point). What I am excited about is (and I did not expect to feel this way, so I just want to thank everyone) that this energy created today is not possible without every single one of you being here. Whether you have your camera on or not, whether you were smiling right now or not, you created the energy of what I feel right now, which is the great mightiness in the language of the Course, which says we are "mighty companions." (See OrEd.Mn.4.8) That means I'm one too. I don't just have mighty companions, that means I am one.
I feel that great responsibility to be mighty in my life, and to the people in my life. So, I'm so grateful to each and every one of you who are listening, and watching, and are here altogether to create an energy that sends me off in that way. And I'm mad at you too for it, so I want to say that too, because I'm never going to get to fight over who does the dishes again. I want to say that I accept the title of "Reverend," the symbol of "Reverend" willingly, excitedly. For me, I experience it as a permission slip. I experience it as a permission slip to speak more openly about what I believe. Sure, I'll fumble and get it wrong, but remembering what Rev. Paul said earlier, that I may be looked upon to have an answer. I may be looked upon, and that I may be able to offer an answer a little more willingly, a little more easily. So I say "Yes" to that permission slip, and I'm so grateful for what the Community Miracle Center has been able to do for me.
I'm so grateful to each and every one. I've had many prayer partners or lesson partners because of this, but I want to especially extend gratitude to Rev. Tony, and Elaine, and my beloved Rev. Paula. We were together for a long time through this process. And if you listened to Rev. Paula talk just now, she's got just about the best voice you ever heard. So every morning I got to hear that voice, when we were doing it on time. (You didn't hear that, but we stayed with the lesson, so don't worry.) I'm so grateful for that. I'm so grateful to Rev. Kelly and Rev. Tony, who were my leaders through this process.
I started with Rev. Kelly, who lifted me up at a time when I needed a spiritual practice and didn't have one. I was not raised in a spiritual family in any way, shape, or form, and I needed this. A Course of Miracles lifted me out of a dark space. I think for many of us, whether in a dark space or not, it can be that which lifts you up and out. I'm so grateful to have been given a safe place where, like Rev. Paula talked about, all the other trainings we collect in our lives fit in (because there's a lot of "hell-of-smart" people on this call right now, reverends and non-reverends, who've had other trainings). We welcome those trainings, and we want for you to use those strengths in your life.
So many here .... I'm going to get this wrong, so don't not graduate me. But the call's always going out, you can hear it or you can not hear. Right? Everyone's getting the call at all the times. Right? I'm too excited to get this right. All of the people listening, I want to say, we all have a function on this planet, and that our function – whether A Course in Miracles is the path or not – is that we continue to step into that function. I might get to be a voice to handout more permission slips, then I'm excited to be that person. I don't know if you guys remember getting permission slips when you were in school, but they're always a half sheet of paper, and your parents had to sign the bottom half. I'm just going to have a lot of half sheets of paper to pass out to people that say, "You can be the best person you're meant to be."
I want to thank Community Miracles Center for giving me this great gift, and letting me stick around for a long time, and for letting me be myself through the process, and making A Course of Miracles my own. I wanted to leave us with a poem if that's okay. It's really short, and I'm sticking under my time frame, so we're good. This is by Mary Oliver. If you don't know her, I love her. The name of the poem is the "Eskimos Have No Word For War," because I wanted to leave us in a sense of peace. Close your eyes or just listen.
The Eskimos Have No Word for War – Mary Oliver
Trying to explain it to them
Leaves one feeling ridiculous and obscene...
They listen politely, and stride away
with spears and sleds and barking dogs
To hunt for food...
... Later, by fires and boiling bones
In steaming kettles, they welcome me, ...
To share what they have in a hungry time
In a difficult land. While I talk on
Of the southern kingdoms, cannon, armies
Shifting alliances, airplanes, power,
They chew their bones, and smile at one another.
And to me, this type of poem just brought me to – no matter what is in the outside world, no matter what's going on in the illusion of the world – we have the power to remember the truth of who we are and the peace that we can bring into any situation. I am so grateful, and I promise .... My promise to Community Miracles Center, is that I will be a good reverend for you. I'll be a good #126. Thank you and bless you all. ♥
1. Rev. Paul spoke earlier about after being ordained by the CMC having his license plate read "REV RINK" (a derivation of his last name "Marinkovich") and now being obligated to be a "Reverend."
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the March 2021 (Vol. 35 No. 1) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.