Who we are
Who/What is St. Mary Magdala’s?
St. Mary Magdala’s is a parish and spiritual center that was formally organized in 1991 as The Community of the Cross or Crosswood, an intentional community of persons from a number of different Christian and occasionally non-Christian heritages. Fr. Skip Carsten was the first pastor of the Community. He led the community for 18 years and fell asleep in the arms of the Lord in 2009. While pastor of our community, Fr. Carsten was elected Metropolitan Archbishop of the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America and served in that office from 1999 until 2009. You can read more about Fr. Skip on our Memoriam webpage. Our community is incorporated as an Indiana not-for-profit corporation (501(c) 3) registered as The Community of the Cross, Incorporated.
What do we do?
We gather for weekly worship and at other times for prayer, theological education and occasionally just for the fun of it. For most of us, this is our primary Christian community while for others the experience with us augments their regular church membership. In addition to the mutual holding up of our members and friends, especially in prayer, the Community engages in the care of the sick, walking with the poor and sponsoring activities.
Who comes to St. Mary’s?
All kinds of people come to St. Mary’s. In the past, it was something of a hallmark of our Community to receive people who have experienced deep personal suffering of mind, body, soul and spirit. We pray each other more deeply into the Christian mystery, sharing as adults the faith, hope and love that are our gifts from the Triune God. It seems that our task is simply to embrace people at the stage of pilgrimage where they come to us. The core group of members and friends has remained steadily at about 50 people.
Is St. Mary’s affiliated with the larger church or Christian tradition?
St. Mary’s is affiliated with the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America (OCCA) a western orthodox jurisdiction with clergy in the United States, Mexico and Australia. Through our connection with OCCA we are linked to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Christian heritage, a living tradition that spans two millennia and connects us to the churches of God throughout the world. You can find more information about OCCA on their website at www.orthodoxcatholicchurch.org.
Leadership of St. Mary’s?
The Leadership of the Community is comprised of an elected Board of Directors that includes a president, secretary and treasurer along with the assigned clergy. This group oversees and guides the policies implemented at the yearly meeting as voted upon by all members.
Where do we meet?
We have two parishes, one in Fort Wayne, Indiana and another in Angola, Indiana. You can find a location and time of Liturgy near you by looking on the Location and Contact Information page. Sunday liturgy at both locations is often followed by a common breakfast or social time, sometimes at a local restaurant.
How do I get more information about St. Mary’s?
We publish a monthly bulletin, First Sunday, which helps keep everyone informed as to what is happening. These bulletins are posted on this website on the First Sunday page. Feel free to read them and write to the editor to be put on our mailing list (email only). Members of the community are always happy to share their experiences with you and you can also contact one of the pastors or members of the Leadership Team for further information. Their names and contact information are included in each edition of First Sunday.
Why St. Mary Magdala?
St. Mary Magdala was chosen as our patroness for several reasons. She was a prominent saint in the early Church and we feel this is an important time for women to reclaim their ancient rights in the Church. Leadership and all of the ministries of our Church are open to women as well as men without restriction to their married state or sexual orientation.
It seems that the East and the West have different traditions about Mary of Magdala. For the Church of the East, Mary of Magdala was a wealthy woman from whom Christ expelled seven “demons.” During Jesus’ ministry, she helped support Him and His disciples with money. Unlike the other apostles who were close to Jesus, the synoptic gospels report that she and several other women disciples were with Jesus at the cross and were first witnesses of the empty tomb. The synoptic gospels contrast the abandonment of Jesus by the male disciples with the faithful women who remained with him during his passion and death. John’s gospel names Mary of Magdala as the first to discover the empty tomb and shows the Risen Christ sending her to announce the Good News (gospel) of his resurrection to the other disciples. She is known as the “Apostle to the Apostles” and “Equal to the Apostles” in various places in Eastern Church documents.
Evidence from early writers indicate a very significant role played by women in the early church until their leadership was suppressed by male church leaders at the Council of Laodicea because of their belief that women were created subordinate to men. During this time period and after we see the memory of Mary of Magdala changing from that of a strong female disciple who proclaimed the Resurrection to a repentant prostitute and public sinner. This was especially true in the West.
In the East, legends continued. After the Ascension, she journeyed to Rome where she was admitted to Tiberias Caesar’s court because of her high social standing. After describing how poorly Pilate had administered justice at Jesus’ trial, she told Caesar that Jesus had risen from the dead. To help explain the resurrection, she picked up an egg from the dinner table. Caesar responded that a human being could no more rise from the dead than the egg in her hand turn red. The egg turned red immediately, which is why red eggs have been exchanged at Easter for centuries in the Byzantine East. Hence, many times she is pictured with an egg in her hand sometimes with a bottle of myrrh in the other.
One of her iconographers Robert Lentz indicated that Mary did not end her days as a penitent hermit in a French cave. She traveled the Mediterranean preaching the resurrection. Like Peter and Paul, she died a martyr and she bears witness to the important role s women play in the Church.