|What is Mission St. Sergius
An Open Welcoming and Affirming Catholic Ministry
of the Order Franciscans of Mercy
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.
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