About Us

What is Mission St. Sergius

An Open Welcoming and Affirming Catholic Ministry of the Order Franciscans of Mercy

Our Mission is Celebrating our 13th year
As of April 2016 Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus celebrated it's founding as a Yahoo group in 2003.  We are now reaching more than 1500 individuals all over the globe through our web site, yahoo and Goggle and Facebook groups, and by posting other open and affirming Christian groups.

The mission was founded because I found very little being done in the Boston diocese and throughout most of the New England region by the Roman Catholic Church to encourage people who have felt alienated and rejected because of divorce, or their sexual orientation or transgender Identification or who had become disenchanted and angered because of the horrific molestation scandal that rocked the church and the actions of the hierarchy.

I attempted to have the local parishes support the mission similar to the one which Cardinal Roger Mahoney of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles founded 25 years ago which I worked with until my retirement in 2001.  I was not only rejected but told that I was being a heretic because I was advocating something that was against church policy even though the conference of Catholic Bishops published statements in ALWAYS OUR CHILDREN and A CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE FOR EDUCATION AND LIFELONG LEARNING page 55 and TO LIVE IN CHRIST JESUS page 19 and in HUMAN SEXUALITY, A CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE outlining how GLBT Catholics should be welcomed and loved by their families and treated with compassion and acceptance within the parish community.

I cannot say that at the time I did not have doubts, but because of the events that happened quickly after my founding the Yahoo group, I became assured that this was indeed the will of God.  Within two weeks of establishing the group, I received a letter by informing me that I would be welcomed as member of the Franciscan order, not only that, but upon reviewing my credentials and references, they decided that I qualified to be ordained a priest and so on The feast of The Assumption, August 15th I was ordained at Georgetown University. Since December 2010 I have been the chaplain to various Nursing Facilities and celebrate mass there.

Every week I make the rounds of the rooms at both nursing facilities visiting with the residents and bringing them Eucharist I also make visits to hospices and elderly shut-ins homes in the region and I celebrate mass in the homes of members of the Missions' faith community.
Our message of God's infinite mercy and love for all His children regardless of their race, creed or sexual or marital situation is one that has been received with thanksgiving by people of all denominations and even receives the respect and praise of many "hard line Roman Catholics". I pray, that in my humble way I may somehow be an faithful instrument of Almighty God in the rebuilding and reunification of The One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church and in renewing the faith and love of Almighty God in those who have left because of feeling unwanted, rejected, or disenchanted with the dictates of a church that is not living the teachings of Jesus Christ. I ask you to pray that Almighty God will continue to give me; the strength, endurance and the means to carry on the growth and work of the Mission through His Love and that God guide me through the Holy Spirit to find and reach out to those who are hurting with the message of His love and mercy,

instilling in them an ever increasing faith and the knowledge to know and understand His will for them.  The power of prayer and frequent reception of the Eucharist can overcome all obstacles.  May Almighty God continue to bless the work of all who are dedicated to proclaiming His truth and may He put the events in action for a unification of all who proclaim Jesus Savior and Redeemer.

Rev. Robert Francis Johnnene OFM

History of Saints Sergius and Bacchus

Sergius and Bacchus were soldiers in the Roman army, attached to the household of the Emperor Maximilian. They were Christians. And they were lovers.But it was not for their sexuality these young men were canonized. It was for their faith -- one of history's most poignant ironies, given the church's unflinching campaign against gay love. When ordered to enter the Temple of Jupiter to participate in a sacrificial ceremony to the god, they refused. For this act of defiance, the lovers were stripped of their arms and badges of rank, dressed in women's clothing and led through the streets of Arabissus (near Comana in Cappadocia) -- for a Roman soldier, an abject humiliation. Then they were sent to Resapha in Syria (Augusta Euphratesiae in Mesopotamia), where they were tortured. Bacchus was whipped until his flesh was raw; he died October 1st AD290, confessing his faith in Christ.
Sergius's faith faltered with the death of his lover, but was reinforced when Bacchus appeared to him in a vision saying, "I am still with you in the bond of our union." Sergius kept the faith; after torture, he was beheaded on October 7th AD290. Like his lover, he died a martyr to the new religion.

The tomb of S. Sergius at Resapha become a famous shrine and was honored by great gatherings of Christians because of the frequent miracles there. Sergius and Bacchus became the heavenly protectors of the Byzantine army, with the two Theodores, Demetrius, Procopius and George. Their "acts" are preserved in Latin, Greek and Syria. In AD431, Bishop Alexander of Hierapolis built a magnificent church in his honor. In 434, the town of Resapha was raised to the rank of an episcopal see and was named Sergiopolis and soon became one of the greatest pilgrimage centers of the East. Many churches in many towns bore the name of Sergius (sometimes with Bacchus) and in the seventh century, a church was dedicated to them in Rome.

During the Middle Ages, the relationship of Sergius and Bacchus was considered an exemplar of compassionate union, and possibly even marriage, based on agape (brotherly love) and mutual respect.The East, Sergius and Bacchus were universally honored. Since the seventh century they have a celebrated church in Rome. Christian art represents the two saints as soldiers in military garb with branches of palm in their hands. Their feast is observed on 7 October.

The Bible and Homosexuality

Only Church Tradition Condemns Homosexuality Not The Bible

The word homosexuality didn't even exist until 1869? The word first appeared in Germany to describe the theory that from birth some people are predisposed toward persons of the same sex. Since the biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek) had no words for heterosexual or homosexual, it is anachronistic and misleading when homosexual is used to translate a biblical text. It is wrong to proclaim the biblical view of homosexuality since there is none. This violates the integrity of the individual texts and the biblical witness as a whole.

Each reference to what is today homosexuality must be read in the light of the particular literary, cultural, and historic contexts of any particular passage. If Jesus ever said anything about homosexuality, it is not recorded in the Bible, even mistranslated. He did, however, speak extensively on God's unconditional love. Yet instead of dwelling on biblical love, Christians have historically been more concerned with obscure passages of Leviticus codes and Paul's misunderstood comments in Romans. Instead of focusing on the incredible injustice and hatred demonstrated by Christians and others, tying to deny homosexuals even basic civil rights, people appear more concerned with the specific homosexual acts between consenting adults who naturally have a God given homosexual orientation. As James B. Nelson notes, the Bible clearly advocates a "love ethic" rather than a "sex ethic."

Detailed Biblical Study of Homosexuality
Traditional Church teaching falsely misuses the Bible to judge the homosexual lifestyle. True Biblical theology begins not with Church tradition and dogma but with the biblical texts themselves. Biblical theology seeks to understand how the biblical authors expressed themselves in the Koine Greek of the time (not as expanded by later modern greek meanings), in terms of their culture. Only with this understanding is it legitimate to define biblical sexual ethics of the New Testament and find implications for today. There is little said in the bible about homosexuality because it was no big deal! It occupied a prominent and respected position in most Greek and Roman cities at all levels of society and among a substantial part of the population. There are only 4 scriptures that are taken to say anything about homosexuality; the Leviticus laws, I Cor 6:9, Romans 1:26-27, and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah - and none address loving, consenting homosexual acts as we know them today.

There are over 600 individual "laws" in the Levitical code, the breaking of anyone of which would make the sinner unclean and unacceptable to God. According to Leviticus it is an abomination to eat pork, or shell fish or to eat without first cleansing your hands. The law is no longer in effect except by some ultra orthodox Jewish denominations and its purpose was to show that man could never follow it. The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah likewise have nothing to do with homosexuality but with breaking the rule of hospitality to strangers and it also is addressing the practice of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah of using orgiastic sex as religious worship to false Gods.

I Cor 6:9, no way refers to homosexuality. The original Greek word often quoted as sexual immorality, Paul used was "porneia" which means "a harlot for hire". In Corinth in the temples of Venus, the principal deity of Corinth, where Christians went to worship, a thousand public prostitutes were kept at public expense to glorify and act as surrogates for the fertility Gods. This sex with the pagan Gods is what Paul was talking about - fornication is an admitted mistranslation and has nothing to do with gays or singles sex.

This rendering reflected the bias of the translators rather than an accurate translation of Paul's words to a culture of 2000 years ago worshipping pagan sex gods. Romans 1:26-27 mentions homosexual acts performed by people who are clearly described as heterosexual. The men in the New Testament patriarchal culture exerted dominance not only over women, but over younger males as well. The nature of homosexual acts in the Bible are so very different from what we know as homosexuality today that the passages have no application to today's homosexuality. Alleged references to homosexuality in I Corinthians and I Timothy are the inventions of anti-gay translators. They are not in the original Greek texts.

For Serious Biblical Research - Resources "Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality"
John Boswell is professor of history at Yale and the winner of the 1981 American Book Award For History among other things. Boswell's 400 page book is renowned as being the most comprehensive study and is the result of ten years of research. Boswell's extensive study cites from over 100 other scholars works. Paul Robinson of The New York Times Book Review, says of the book "John Boswell restores one's faith in scholarship...His knowledge of the relevant scholarly literature is remarkable, and his book displays the sweep and control that one finds only in the work of a major historian. Newsweek in its review said "An astonishing work of scholarship that ranges with ease over fourteen centuries, almost as many languages..." Boswell goes on for 60 pages just on lexicography, texts and translations. He takes the biblical language very seriously. Boswell is a prize winning, respected historian.

"The New Testament and Homosexuality"
Robin Scroggs, Prof of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary is a serious theologian and is favorable reviewed by many theologians. He is a married heterosexual. He also cites other theological professors that read his manuscripts and the final book is a combination of much insight from many Christian theologians. Scroggs, includes cites from Boswell

"What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality"
Daniel Helminiask, PH.D., was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1967 and is incardinated in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. From 1981-1985 was Assoc. Prof for Systematic Theology at Oblate School of Theology and earlier completed his Ph.D. in systematic theology at Boston College and Andover Newton Theological School. He currently is a pastoral counselor and a Fellow of the Amer Assn of Pastoral Counselors and has authored many books and articles. He concludes the Bible says absolutely nothing about homosexuality being sinful when you examine the actual Hebrew/Greek texts.

Sources Used:"In God's Image - Christian Witness to the Need For Gay/Lesbian Equality in the Eyes of the Church" By Robert Warren Cromey, Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church; "In The Courts Of The Lord" by James Ferry (Crossroad $22.95); "Stranger At The Gate" by Mel White (Simon & Schuster $23.00); "Is The Homosexual My Neighbor?" by Latha Dawson Scanzoni (Harper $12.00)