Amy Coney Barrett’s Church Has Branches In The Caribbean

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Haitian son was among her children who came to the White House on Sat. Sept. 26, 2020 as she was announced as Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick.
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By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Sept. 28, 2020: Donald Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court is part of a church community that also has branches in the Caribbean.

The People of Praise church, of which Amy Coney Barrett is a member of, has branches in both Grenada and Jamaica. Founded in South Bend Indiana in 1971 by Kevin Ranaghan and Paul DeCelles, People of Praise, say it is a charismatic Christian community made up of  Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Baptists, Pentecostals and other denominational and non-denominational Christians.

The People of Praise considers itself to be a “covenant community and opposes premarital sex, LGBT rights and abortion, and until recently called female advisers to other women “handmaids.”

The Kingston branch of the church community is headed by Vince Keaveny and works with at-risk- youth, running camps for boys without fathers and in at-risk communities, offering food to the hungry. The Grenada branch is headed by Dominic Jeremiah.  In 2014, an article on the church’s website quoted Grenada Jeremiah as saying that many members have experienced the painful flu-like symptoms that come with chikungunya and the branch had to temporarily suspend its community meetings, along with men’s and women’s groups.

The members of the founding community consisted primarily of married couples and some single men and women. In the late ’70’s some of these single men, who were active in evangelism, felt moved by the Holy Spirit to live celibate lives for the sake of God’s kingdom. They also felt drawn to do this together. They made temporary personal commitments to celibacy and moved together into a home just south of the University of Notre Dame. The group was formed by Catholic and Protestant Christians involved in charismatic renewal, who felt called by God to live a community life together. Other influences in the formation of the community were the Cursillo movement and the liturgical movement, for which the University of Notre Dame, where Coney Barrett graduated from, was an international center.

Personal life includes elements of daily prayer, regular Scripture reading/study and times of intercession. Generally, members participate in some community service such as music ministry or youth activities. Members contribute at least 5 percent of their income to support the community, and also to a sharing fund for mutual assistance. Many contribute more.  The church leadership involves the supervision of a member by a more spiritually mature person called a “head.” The community, like the rest of the Catholic Church, excludes women from the highest leadership positions. The highest office a woman can hold in the community is “woman leader,” formerly “handmaid.” The group’s more “charismatic” form of worship includes speaking in tongues, which is when a person feels the Holy Spirit speaking through them and utters sounds that don’t correspond with any known human language.

Barrett and her husband, Jesse M. Barrett, have seven children, two of whom were adopted from Haiti, one in 2005 and one after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The adoption was questioned by some on the left over the weekend.

In 2017, Barrett told the Senate Judiciary Committee, “Vivian is our miracle,” as she explaining that the girl, then 13, was so ill when she was adopted at 14 months that doctors doubted she would ever walk or speak. “Today Vivian is a track star, and I assure you she has no trouble talking,” Barrett said then.

She said that John Peter, then 10, “joined our family in 2010 when he was 3 years old after the devastating earthquake in Haiti.”

In 2015, Barrett signed a letter to the Synod on the Family that said the Church’s teachings on marriage and family are “founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman.”