Core Beliefs: Spiritus Christi is an attempt to be the continuing presence of Jesus in the 21st century.By following Jesus’ words and actions, we work to be a community that is both inclusive and mission-driven.
Jesus said, “No one who comes to me will I ever reject” To be “inclusive” means to offer everyone a place at the table:People of all gender identities can be ordained as priestsLGBTQ+ people and divorced people (without annulments) can get marriedEveryone can receive CommunionEveryone can fully participate, whether they are baptized or not, believe in other faith traditions, or no traditions at all
To be “mission-driven” means:We have an outward thrust to transform the worldWe are an anti-racist church, committed to dismantling white privilegeWe are committed to Mother Earth by reducing our carbon footprintWe value the spirituality of the laity in the workplace, home, and neighborhood
History: The community officially began on Valentine’s Day, 1999. Eleven hundred people attended the Masses that first weekend. Most of them had previously belonged to Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church in Rochester, but they had found themselves unwelcome there following a Vatican crack-down on the parish the previous year. The Vatican found fault with 3 important practices at Corpus Christi: 1) The Prominent Role of Women on the altar during liturgies, 2) Celebrating marriage equality, and 3) An invitation for all to participate in communion.
The Diocese of Rochester, under pressure from Rome, fired the leaders and ended these inclusive practices. Eleven hundred members decided not to abide by these new restrictions, which they considered damaging to women, gay people, and non-Catholics. Instead they formed Spiritus Christi, “Spirit of Christ,” as the resurrected Corpus Christi, “Body of Christ.” It became an independent Catholic Church. The fired leaders and other former staff members became the staff of the new church, with Mary Ramerman as its pastor. Two years later, she became a Catholic priest in a historic ordination at the Eastman Theatre attended by 3,000 people from all around the world.
The headquarters of Spiritus Christi was originally at Salem United Church of Christ at 60 Bittner Street. In 2003, we moved our home to the Downtown United Presbyterian Church at 121 N. Fitzhugh Street. Since the beginning, 1999, we have held an “Ecumenical Mass” with the people at Immanuel Baptist Church at 815 Park Avenue. There, every Tuesday at 12:10 pm, Catholics and Baptists celebrate the Eucharist together. We enjoy breaking down walls that have separated denominations for centuries.
After Rev. Mary Ramerman led Spiritus Christi for twenty years, Rev. Myra Brown took over as pastor in 2018. She is one of three Black women priests in the world. For years, Rev. Myra has worked to make Spiritus Christi an anti-racism church. Spiritus Christi Anti-Racism Coalition (SPARC) is presently leading the Rochester community in constructing an outdoor Civil Rights Heritage Site at Baden Park. The site will honor local civil rights leaders. SPARC also created the Black Community Focus Fund to bring resources to Black families in the Baden Park area. This money offers a level of reparation to those impacted negatively by racism.