Who Are We?

We are an independent faith community celebrating God’s life among and within us. We honor life in all its variety and circumstances. We believe we are called by faith to fashion a world of peace and justice. We come to the Table Fellowship begun by Jesus at the Last Supper to be nourished by God’s Word in Gospel and Communion and by our community gathering in prayer.

We are a Gospel-based, diverse, inclusive, Eucharist community committed to Jesus’ message of unconditional love and to our call to model and reflect that love in word and deed. In baptism we receive the Spirit and pledge to live the full Gospel of compassion and thankfulness, forgiveness and peace. By diverse, we mean we are enriched by each other’s gifts of age and personality, life experience and wisdom. By inclusive, we mean we welcome all, no matter where we stand on our human journey, the challenges we face or the denominational labels we wear.

We came from different Christian backgrounds and after thirty years of marriage, we are finally able to take Eucharist together because here all are welcome at the Table. We feel we have an equal membership. If we are unable to attend liturgy, we feel a void. The priests and members of this community provide the warmth of the early Catholic Church that has disappeared over the years. We are proud to call ourselves “Inclusive Catholics.”

Why Are We Here?

We are here to renew a presence in this sacred place made holy by the gifts and sacrifices of previous generations of faith-filled people. We envision a Eucharist-centered community built upon openness to the Spirit rather than obedience to church rules and canon law, upon responsible and responsive leadership of all the baptized rather than mandates and directives imposed by clerical authorities. We welcome people warmly as Jesus did and hope to recognize people’s needs and utilize our unique gifts. We want to mature into a community responding ever more generously and effectively to the promptings of the Spirit within us.

This faith community has truly enriched my life. We are an all-inclusive community that wholeheartedly supports a married priesthood. Our co-pastors serve us well. Their multiple unique talents provide real substance. Several come a considerable distance. They bring to us expanded educational degrees and refuse remuneration. They speak of their “day jobs” and their wives provide extensive support. Our community embraces them as they embrace us.

Who Belongs?

Everyone belongs! Openness is our policy. There is no parish registration process. All are welcome to gather, pray and worship with us, to share the Communion Meal, to become what we are called to be: a Spirit-inspired people. We embrace no particular theology to the exclusion of others, knowing that human concepts and words about God are always finitely compromised. We do not consider Communion to be a reward for the “saintly” in our midst or a confirmation of our orthodoxy. Rather we claim that Christianity may be best described as “one beggar telling another beggar where the bread can be found” and we believe Communion should be available to everyone as Jesus’ marvelous gift of sustenance for our life journey.

We recently had a Healing Mass. My oldest son is divorcing, and this is very hard on his own son and daughter. My granddaughter is 12 and struggling. My grandson is 14 and is keeping emotions pent up and wont discuss it. I fear what might happen if he doesn’t vent his pain. I suggested he go forward for the healing ritual but he refused. Yet when all the other parishioners had been anointed and the healing ministers were anointing each other, my grandson surprised me by moving forward for his own anointing. The priest anointed his forehead and ministering health professionals anointed his hands with accompanying prayers and hugs. He came back to his grandma’s arms. I know he will deal better with whatever now happens.

We respect and honor all in our community, acknowledging their religious beliefs and sensitivities. Imposing no particular dogmas from on high, we embrace the Gospel of Jesus in its entirety. We walk a familiar journey with Jesus through suffering and death to resurrection. We recognize diverse paths and multiple stages on this journey; yet we all share the search for more meaningful lives.

What Do We Believe?

[Our community Creed adapted from the writings of Fr. John Shea.]
We believe that where people are gathered together in love, God is present and good things happen and life is full.
We believe that we are immersed in mystery, that our lives are more than they seem, that we belong to each other and to a universe of great creative energies whose source and destiny is God.
We believe that God is after us, that God is calling us from the depth of human life.
We believe that God has risked himself by becoming human in Jesus.
In and with Jesus, we believe that each of us is situated in the love of God, and the pattern of our life will be the pattern of Jesus: through suffering and death to resurrection.
We believe that the Spirit of Peace is alive with us as we gather to celebrate our common existence, the resurrection of Jesus and the fidelity of God.
And most deeply we believe that in our struggle to love, we incarnate God in this world.
So, aware of mystery and wonder, caught in friendship and laughter, we become speechless before the joy in our hearts as we celebrate the sacredness of life.

What Are We About?

With Jesus as our model and the Scripture as our guide, we live simply and give generously of our time, talent and treasure.
We affirm the dignity of all human life and respond to people’s material and spiritual needs.
We promote justice and peace personally and in partnership with others.
We proclaim and embody the Good News of God’s love for us.
We commit ourselves to shared community leadership, decision-making and accountability.
We pray and forgive with compassion.
We care for and protect all God’s creatures and all God’s creation.
We strive to end discrimination in whatever form it appears.
We encourage participation of people of all ages in our liturgies/ministries proportionate to their abilities.

On behalf of the younger members of JOS, it is a wonderful feeling to be seen and heard as individuals in church rather than a side party as other churches do. We may be younger, but we’re still spiritual people and deserve the same experience.

What Ministries Do We Share?

We gather each Sunday to renew and celebrate the Table fellowship of Jesus. This is the foundational experience that identifies, unites and empowers us. In our weekly community celebration, we reinforce and deepen our roots and understanding of the Gospel message.

With Eucharist to inspire us, we engage in an array of outreach ministries: donating personal and financial resources to local food pantries, homeless shelters, free clinics, prisoners, victims of catastrophic disasters and domestic abuse as well as individual families in extreme need. We sponsor discussion groups on Scripture and books of interest, dinners for parish families, annual pet blessings, bike blessings and a parish picnic featuring an outdoor “tent” Liturgy. We offer spiritual support, healing rituals and faith formation sessions for children and adults alike. We provide graced experiences of baptism, confirmation, communal and individual reconciliation, marriage preparation and weddings, counseling, visiting and anointing the ill and conducting memorial services and burials.

Jesus Our Shepherd has been a refreshing and life-changing experience. Being led by married priests and their wives has shown us what love and teaching must have been in the Catholic Church prior to celibacy. It is like a new beginning, sharing and caring with fellow parishioners.

What Does It Cost?

Unlike most parishes, we have no annual pledges, no monthly envelope system, no weekly dues. We do not require a particular percentage of people’s income. The basket money collected during our liturgies is used to support outreach ministries, to pay church rent, heat and utilities and to purchase necessary office and church supplies. The priests on staff receive no compensation for their ministries. Parish finances are reported monthly and are available upon request.

This is the first church I’ve ever gone to that does not reflect prejudice of one kind or another. I look forward to Sunday mornings. It used to be I couldn’t wait to get out of church!

We were appalled with the manner in which the hierarchy of the church handled the pedophile problem. Also we deeply regret the church leaders’ refusal to change in regard to optional celibacy and women priests. Then we heard about JOS and began attending Sunday Liturgy. The friendly people and sense of prayerful community satisfied our spiritual needs. We are proud to say JOS is our church!

Are Our Priests “Really” Priests?

The priests serving our faith community are validly ordained in the Catholic tradition (if that is important to you), but they are not under the jurisdiction of a local bishop. They are well educated in theology and Scripture. Spouses of the priests that are married generously support their ministries and contribute their own time and talent to the community. The priests’ previous and current service, their experience in various professions, and their many years of marriage and family life expertly qualify them to serve us. They identify with marital issues and family concerns in ways that celibate priests cannot replicate.

We certainly claim validity. The married priesthood was a part of the church until the 12th century. Our liturgies are basically those very same ones that were dear to us since childhood. Recently our community chose a rich, contemporary translation of the Sunday readings that provides powerful insights into the Scriptures. We invite you to visit us any Sunday at 9:30am. All are welcome.

Who “Runs” The Parish?

We the people “run” the parish. In community, we discuss and determine policies and programs within the parameters of our parish personnel and resources. Decisions are made at our meetings by consensus after discussion and deliberation. For serious issues that demand greater time we now schedule quarterly parish meetings open to all parishioners at an off-site location. The authority for this democratic-style governance is derived from our baptism. It is in baptism that we become temples of the Indwelling Spirit and are given gifts to direct and enliven our community. This church governance is evident in early Christian times and recorded in New Testament writings. Accordingly, ministry is a response to people’s genuine needs, not an exercise of power and control over “the flock.”

Jesus Our Shepherd is as fresh and revitalizing today as at its first service years ago. We have grown since then. The word is spreading to those who have grown complacent or saddened by their previous faith communities, and they’ve found the presence of Jesus and his goodness and love here. We work together with our priests as one entity to make decisions that promote a loving concern for all.

My cousin was a non-churchgoer and stricken with a deadly cancer. Our priest contacted him and counseled him in his last months. This priest traveled a long distance to anoint him on his deathbed, then presided at his memorial service and refused any compensation for his expenses. My cousin didn’t belong to our parish but he was remembered every week in our community prayer. JOS is a place of Christianity.

Where Are You Located And How Can We Contact You?

We encourage you to contact our pastor directly: Jesus the Christ. He lives in your hearts and is readily available through prayer and reflection 24/7.

We gather at Faith Haven Chapel located at 7490 County WW in the Town of West Bend, Wisconsin, two and a half miles north of Highway 33 in  Washington County. Our business office and postal address is 1162 Saint Kilian Parkway, Hartford, WI 53027. Visit us at our website: www.jesusourshepherd.org for notice of parish events, the schedule of services and presiders, homilies, news, seasonal reflections, poems and a map for driving directions.

You may contact our priests in person before or after the 9:30AM Sunday Liturgy at church, or by postal mail, phone or email (see below):

Rev. Frank & Anna Baiocchi at 1162 St. Kilian Parkway, Hartford, Wi. 53027; contact 262.673.6071 or frankbaiocchi@hotmail.comabaiocchi@hotmail.com
Rev. Robert & Judith Weiss (May through October) & Judith Weiss at P.O. Box 700234 Oostburg WI 53070; contact 920.668.8975 robert.weiss@verizon.net
Rev. Kathy Vandenberg at 326 N. Greenfield Ave, Waukesha WI 53186; contact 262.547.5665 PastorKSV@aol.com

To best explain, I borrow a line from “Amazing Grace”: “Once I was lost but now I’m found.” There was a time I felt I could no longer be a part of the traditional Catholic Church. I quit going. As time went by, I felt a void that continued to grow. I saw an ad in a local newspaper that said something about “feeling disconnected and looking for something better,” so I tried JOS. At first I was unsure, but now I know this is a place of love, a place where Jesus is always the main focus whether in the greetings as you enter, the message expressed during Mass, or the bond we all feel and share during fellowship.

Too much doctrine and not enough Spirit can lead one on a very discouraging journey. The message gets lost. There is no nourishment! When I walked through the doors here some years ago, I knew I had found my “nourishing place.” The Spirit is alive here—loving, living, breathing, forgiving, accepting, healing. You can feel it as soon as you’re welcomed inside. All are welcome at the Table here—no matter where you are on your faith journey or your life journey. No exclusions! I never consider it an “obligation” to attend Mass at JOS; I consider it a joy. I can question, I can doubt, I can praise and worship God in an atmosphere that is not immersed in doctrine, rules or guilt; and I am surrounded by people who share similar ideals, who are more concerned about living the Gospel than about simply reciting prayers or “fulfilling their Sunday obligation.”

Some Parish Customs at Jesus Our Shepherd
  • Sunday Fellowship… After Sunday Eucharist we continue community celebration by gathering downstairs in the church hall over coffee and bakery, sharing past and present stories of each other’s lives. We consider this to be a helpful bonding experience for our community.
  • First Sunday Meetings… Through baptism we are empowered to make important decisions as community. Unless otherwise noted, we gather on the 1st Sunday of each month immediately after the service.
  • The Prayer Bucket… To hold in honored memory those who graced our lives in times past, we offer a prayerful community remembrance on the final Sunday of each month.
  • The Memorial Candle… During the opening procession, a memorial candle is lit, carried and placed near the altar. This flame honors our deceased members, particularly those in the parish cemetery.
  • Last-Sunday-Of-The-Month Memorial Prayer… To hold in honored memory those who graced our lives in times past, we offer a prayerful community remembrance on the final Sunday of each month.