Helene Swanson shares her experience walking across the USA for the Equal Rights Amendment

Tag: Katrina Swanson

Next steps… the ERA March and Rally to the US Capitol

Dearest Friends,

Bishop Joe Morris Doss celebrates the Eucharist at the Blessing of the ERA Walkers at St. Stephen and The Incarnation, Washington DC

On Women’s Equality Day, August 26, 2015, Bishop Joe Morris Doss celebrates the Eucharist at the Blessing of the ERA Walkers at St. Stephen and The Incarnation, Washington DC.  Photo Credit: Everett Barnes

I was deeply moved by the commitment of those whom made the August 26, 2015 – Women’s Equality Day – Blessing, March, and Rally a smashing success, for photo’s Click Here. I was touched by all the lovely tokens of affection, gifts, and awards bestowed on me.  I simply did not expect that.  When I heard US Senator Cardin’s and US Representative Speier’s statements I was moved to tears.  It went to the core of why I have walked so many miles.  So my prepared speech went right out the window and the story of my father whom I have rarely spoken of and how he was treated as a coloured man in this country and called a “nigger” a word I own not with pride but with a sad and heavy heart. And what I felt called to speak to is a country so divided by classism, racism, and sexism, a country whose people would so greatly benefit by passage of the Equal Rights Amendment into the US Constitution.

Equal Rights Amendment Rally at the US Capitol

Equal Rights Amendment Rally at the Upper Senate Park Area 2 at the US Capitol. From left to right William Van Horn (Staffer Senator Cardin’s Office) Charles Clymer, Joz Wang, Sarah Kurtz, Taylor Neuville, Helene de Boissiere-Swanson, Dr. E. Faye Williams, Molly Fishmen (Staffer Representative Speier) Ellen Davis, Alli McCracken, and Cathy.

Stories I heard all my life swirling about in my head; instructions to never saying anything about my father being black; how I became my mother’s memory after a red brick fell nine stories landing smack in the center of her head; and then as a child of 12 going out to work selling newspapers door to door in Las Vegas to put food on the table, all those stories and more swelled up from deep within as I listened to one impassioned speaker after another.  And I whom spent a lifetime having been instructed to never cry in public and “keep a stiff upper lip” cried. I cried thinking of Katrina and the trust she put in me, and her stories, stories that she too had kept to herself. And I thought of my beloved husband William too. And I called upon a black woman who served several years in a federal penitentiary to read the Presiding Bishop’s Statement.

Many of you have asked what’s next? First off I will not be taking a break I am only going to come on stronger now.  The pilgrimage is a benchmark in the ministry of Katrina’s Dream to promote th passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.  And just like many doubted that I would make it all the way across the US and many have doubted that the Equal Rights Amendment hasn’t a chance in their lifetime – I know just like I knew that I would make it to DC, I know we are not that long off from the ratification of three more states. Ladies and Gents we are going to come on stronger than ever. The Time in NOW!

Swanson heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee to urge them to move it out of committee

Helene Swanson heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Dirkson Bldg at the US Capitol to urge them to move it out of committee.

So another part of what I have planned next is contacting each and every single US legislator and asking that they co-sponsor S.J. Res. 15 and H.J. Res 51 over the weeks ahead targeting the chair of the Judiciary and several other senators of key importance.  And those that have co-sponsored ask that put on their website  under Women’s Issues  that they have co-sponsored the “ERA Three State Resolution” to demonstrate their support for women’s rights.

This coming September 13th @ 9pm EST Tammy and Cathy are holding their monthly ERA Action National Call and I am hoping that many of you will call in so that we can go over the strategy for the upcoming weekly calls out to our legislators. The call in number is (605) 562-3140 and meeting code number is 787085#

And many of you have asked if I will be writing a book… the answer is yes. The book will be one of my spiritual journey and the difficult decisions I faced in the waked of my late husbands passing and how a simple statements less than two days after my husband’s death at the local church we attended “Don’t worry you find another man, you are young yet”, to surviving a 60 mph sand storm by hiding in a drain ditch brought me closer to the beauty of our earth, and how connecting with a large number of women and human rights activists across the country with each lovingly embracing me in my darkest moments, uplifting me, guiding me, every step of the way.  And praying, indeed praying to God every day to help me walk through aches, pain, and fever; and thirst and hunger when my money ran out months ago, having left with only $200 to my name as I would not – could not – go back to living the life as an oppressed woman in these United States.


Next the herstoric March to the US Capitol has morphed into an annual event. Yes that is correct – the pilgrimage which ended in an amazing march with a dedicated core group of human rights activists and rally to the US Capitol has turned into an annual event to promote the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.  So please continue to invite your friends to our Facebook event page…

Finally and most importantly, I want to thank all of you for making this amazing journey with me.  The love and care shown was emboldening and while most would think I might be tired and want a break I am more energized than ever.  So let’s do this… let’s pass the ERA!

Love and Light in Christ,

Helene de Boissiere-Swanson


Miracles Happen After Hard Work by Mother Alla (Philadelphia Eleven)

Mother Alla at Bear Haven in Rosa Mystica.

Mother Alla at Bear Haven in Rosa Mystica.

As I was en route to Springfield, IL, to call upon the Illinois General Assembly to Vote YES so that Illinois could be the first state in the 21st Century to Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, dearest Mother Alla, the Rev. Alla Bozarth sent me this beautiful poem she wrote to be share will all of you.

Knowing that Rep. Lou Lang will be pushing it forward this coming 2015 Legislative Session.  We shall not give up, we shall not give in.  United We Stand… All coming to the table… One Nation Indivisible.

Check out her blog from time to time

Miracles Happen After Hard Work

Miracles happen—

the French took charge and cast out the Nazis

from the City of Lights, when the Occupying Germans feared

the approach of the Allies and tried to force a 9pm curfew

on the citizens of Paris.


Occupation, if it is benign, is one thing, but a curfew is an outrage.

The police took over a building opposite the Cathedral of Notre Dame

and then the women and children came out and started hurling their rocks

and the men shot tanks with small guns, and de Gaulle begged Eisenhower

to bring in the Allies, which he had formerly refused to do.


Impressed with the suddenly aggressive valor of the French,

the General agreed to follow a band of French troops into Paris,

and when they arrived, a Victory Parade was already underway

as the Liberation of Paris had officially happened the day before.


A distant humming reached the ears of the Americans,

a strange sound rising to a low murmur as they came nearer,

then erupting into an overwhelming roar of jubilation.

The people of Paris rushed on foot to greet them, women kissed them,

some offered wine to the soldiers, they climbed up onto the tanks,

hailing the Liberation of the City of Lights in the summer of 1944.


On the same day, August 26, twenty-four years before,

the Women’s Suffrage Amendment was written into the Constitution

of the United States, a victory for humanity created by the relentless

courage, effort and suffering of American women for generations.


By virtue of those heroic Suffragists, on June 4, 1919,

the Nineteenth Amendment had been passed by both

the House and Senate of Congress,

but it needed to be ratified by state legislatures.


Over a year later, on August 18th the deciding state

was Tennessee, the 36th state to cast its vote in favor,

and the deciding vote was cast by Harry Burn,

at twenty-four the youngest state legislator.


Mother Alla celebrates Mass.

Mother Alla celebrates Mass.


That morning he’d opened his mail and read a letter

from his mother, in which she said she’d been watching

to see him declare his inclination toward Suffrage for Women,

but so far she saw nothing. She ended her message,

“Don’t forget to be a good boy . . .  and vote for suffrage.”


Supporters of suffrage wore yellow roses and filled the balcony

while opponents wore red roses on the main floor.

Harry Burn walked in wearing red, but when he voted,

he said “Aye.”


All the women in the balcony threw down

their flowers, and on that day,

there was a beautiful storm of yellow roses

raining all over the representatives

of the state of Tennessee.


Alla Renée Bozarth


From Purgatory Papers, copyright 2014.

All rights reserved.

Immediately after the Philadelphia Ordinations, this picture was taken with the red doors of the Church of the Advocate opened wide to welcome and host the historic event. The Rector, the Rev. Paul Washington, understood that the risks were great, both to himself and to the church, which at the time was dependent on diocesan funding to meet its expenses. Counter-clockwise from upper right are my husband and priest presenter, the Rev. Phil Bozarth-Campbell, Dorothy Huyck, naturalist, feminist and historian, and her daughter Heather Huyck, who was writing her University of Minnesota American Studies doctoral dissertation on the History of Women's Ordination in the Episcopal Church. I, deacon of the Diocese of Oregon since September 8, 1971 and, as of that day on the Feast of Saints Mary and Martha, July 29, 1974 in hot Philadelphia, priest as well, though I had transferred to the Diocese of Minnesota for the years I served there. I do not know the identity of the woman on my left who was so gloriously harmonious with the colors of the occasion. She was observing the process, and I pulled her into the picture. I am sorry not to know her name. If anyone recognizes her, please let me know about her! - Mother Alla

Immediately after the Philadelphia Ordinations, this picture was taken with the red doors of the Church of the Advocate opened wide to welcome and host the historic event. The Rector, the Rev. Paul Washington, understood that the risks were great, both to himself and to the church, which at the time was dependent on diocesan funding to meet its expenses. Counter-clockwise from upper right are my husband and priest presenter, the Rev. Phil Bozarth-Campbell, Dorothy Huyck, naturalist, feminist and historian, and her daughter Heather Huyck, who was writing her University of Minnesota American Studies doctoral dissertation on the History of Women’s Ordination in the Episcopal Church. I, deacon of the Diocese of Oregon since September 8, 1971 and, as of that day on the Feast of Saints Mary and Martha, July 29, 1974 in hot Philadelphia, priest as well, though I had transferred to the Diocese of Minnesota for the years I served there. I do not know the identity of the woman on my left who was so gloriously harmonious with the colors of the occasion. She was observing the process, and I pulled her into the picture. I am sorry not to know her name. If anyone recognizes her, please let me know about her! – Mother Alla




From the Welles-Swanson Family to Yours – Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe

16186_10151117525046517_1384929001_nGo to the below link for the Welles-SwansonThanksgiving Stuffing Recipe Message

An Oklahoma Outlaw Speaks for Women’s Rights

          For the past few days I have been pondering a number of things, in particular, how much coming to Oklahoma has meant to me. Every time I start to write I fondly look down at my wedding ring, a family heirloom. My mother-in-law Katrina gave the ring to my husband to give to me to demonstrate the family legacy, a family duty to serve God and the Church. The ring once the wedding band her grandfather the Rev. Samuel Gardner Welles gave to her grandmother. This same grandfather who had a parish in Chelsea, Oklahoma who under the threat of being tarred and feathered was later run out of Oklahoma for giving Holy Communion to a Black priest at the alter rail. They left in the middle of the night under the cover of a moon light sky. My husband shared that whenever I was troubled to know that many before us had also made great sacrifices. Social justice has always been important to the family. Another relative, a great great uncle had been run out of antebellum Vicksburg for preaching abolition. 

photo 1-1

Picture of moon over the Arkansaw River by Jenk, Oklahoma.  Photo Credit:  Helene Swanson

          So following a long line of social justice activist this pilgrimage comes naturally to me. My pilgrimage is part of my discernment process as I too step into the family shoes. For those of you unfamiliar with the nomenclature of The Episcopal Church discernment is the process one uses to explore their calling to the priest-hood. So as I walk through Oklahoma the connections run deep, and the beauty of both the landscape and her people inspires me.

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Windmill on the backroad from Prague to Jenks.  Photo Credit: Helene Swanson

          I have met a number of folks and from a wide variety of backgrounds, one fellow a dear gent who identified himself as a former bad boy who got into trouble in his youth was very clear on how he felt about the government being involved in an issue of privacy. His thinking is inline with the Supreme Court which made the ruling in Roe v. Wade, a woman’s health decision one of privacy which is why when those who claim that the Equal Rights Amendment will give women the right to have abortion is a false statement. I invite you to watch this provocative video of An Oklahoma Outlaw Speaks Up. 

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Oklahoma Outlaw Nazi Tattoo Photo Credit: Helene Swanson

          Next many thought that we would not get traction here but we have. Thanks to the assistance of a number of folks who stepped forward. So I am happy to report that the folks who participated in the coalition’s meeting with both Senators Colburn and Inhofe gave a superb presentation. In face Senator Colburn’s staff member Craig Smith said that the Senator was for gender equality. But when pressed if he was going to co-sponsor S.J. Res 15 – the Three State Strategy for the Equal Rights Amendment he said it was broad and they were looking into the issues it would affect.

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 The Oklahoma Coalition of Equal Rights Amendment Activist. Backrow Erma Steward, Nathaniel Batchelder, Frontrow Pat Riegler, Helene Swanson, and Margaret Cox.  Photo Credit: Sarah

          As a follow-up to these meeting Katrina’s Dream will be forwarding Eileen Davis of Women-Matter’s paper on Roe V. Wade and as we identify other misconceptions that were used in the past to promote fear and are completely unfounded we will continue to pass these on to all we have met with thus far. 


State Senator Connie Johnson and Helene Swanson join forces at the August 26, 2014, Women’s Equality Day Vigil at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, Oklahoma City, OK.  Photo Credit: Margaret Cox

          Also thanks to the staff of Senator Al McAffrey and Senator Connie Johnson it looks like we have a resolutions that will be introduced in the upcoming sessions that will call for Oklahoma to Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. I’m delighted to say that our new found friends will be working hard on moving Oklahoma forward.

          Lastly a piece of trivial – Oklahoma is the only state where a Broadway musical is the official state song. The words to the first two lines are appropriate as it relates to the Equal Rights Amendment.

         They are: 

There’s never been a better time to start in life-

It ain’t too early and it aint too late!

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 Mural on a Freeway overpass in Oklahoma City.  Photo Credit:  Helene Swanson

The Scream

One of my first college writing assignments was on The Scream by Edward Munch. I identified with it as the painting invoked strong feelings as I thought of my mother who lost all of her hair when a red brick fell nine stories striking her smack dab in the middle of her skull as she had thrown herself on my baby pram so that I would not be hurt by what she though was a race riot.

The ScreamTwo men hanging The Scream at an auction where it fetched about 120 million dollars

I became her memory and it took many years to learn how to speak in a vocal range that would not cause her agony and pain. Being that she partially deaf that was a real challenge. I still talk rather loudly and often I am treated with distain for my voice modulation techniques. But I will always talk as loud as necessary for those who are hard of hearing.

My mother was amazing, she took me as a child to meetings all over NYC, and she continued to work after the life-changing accident. She had to. She had not earned enough credits to be eligible for Social Security. At the time of the accident she worked as an Executive Secretary for the American Express Travel Corporation appearing on their quarterly report (April 1967) the month of her accident with took place on Good Friday. As a child growing up in England during the great war she was divinely inspired my Ghandi, even naming her Golden Retriever after him. The following Sunday, Easter Sunday she came out of the coma and insisted that like Ghandiji would take no medicine to change her condition or outcome. Even refused a steel plate.

I remember, as child, when she took me to women’s rights meetings and asked to make note of all that I heard so that I could recount later. She hid her disability explaining that she did not need sympathy she just wanted a level playing field. Going back to work damaged her case they claimed. She tried to explain that she did not want us growing up on welfare that was not the example she wanted for her children. Don’t get me wrong she believed all woman should be helped by our government it everyway possible, welfare included. She just felt that her personal standards should not be forced on others. My mother also believed in pro-choice but was clear that for her it was not an option as a devout Catholic. I guess you could say my mother’s motto “was a live and let live”.

So earlier today, I felt overwhelmed and I left the Google Boolean field empty reaching out to the universe for answers to my late husband’s death. His death came so unexpected. I am still grieving for him in ways unimagined.   The universe answered when the search brought up a website on the Munch Museum in Norway, bringing home that essay I wrote so many years ago. Bad things happen to good people… no need to question why… one must move on and continue to do good work… despite the odds.

 WGS - Kelly's B-day PartyWilliam G. Swanson at our God Daugther Kelly Godbout’s 19th Birthday Party, Sausalito, CA

So today Mum, Katrina, and William as always, you three are inspiration in my life. The blisters as they come and go with each step I take are nothing compared to your pain and suffering which you endured with smiles and grace bar me from complaining. Like our Brother Jesus who guided your every step it is my desire to do God’s work, through this the ministry of Katrina’s Dream.

Thank you Mum, thank you Katrina, and thank you my beloved William for teaching me all that I know about building a 21st Century “City of God” and the promise of life everlasting.

May my room in God’s mansion with many rooms be decorated with acts which mimic Jesus Christ.

Open the Floodgates

This amazing pilgrimage I am making across the United States of America for the Equal Rights Amendment is dedicated to my beloved husband Brother William Gaines Swanson who stood by my side and encouraged me to undertake the calling his mother the Rev. Katrina Swanson asked us to undertake in her last year of life. 

Stormy SunsetSunset over the mountains of The Great Basin – Nevada

 I like many others was lost and caught up in the daily affairs of everyday life.  The day he passed into the Hereafter was a miraculous experience, one I hope to share with you more as time goes on.  

Holy Trinity FallonDeacon Nancy Janess of Holy Trinity Church – Fallon, Nevada

William was and still is my best friend and my true love and a tremendous amount of time on this walk I find my self praying in order to cope with the loss. I pray for those I have met along the way, I pray for my friends and my family. And most importantly I pray to understand God more each day.

Scarecrow Ranch FallonSteven Christie of Scarecrow Ranch – Fallon, Nevada

This past week as I walked from Fallon to the small town of Mina I thought I give a try at composing my own prayer.

Wacky Warren CrewOwner Christie and staff of Wacky Warren’s Cafe

and my support person Stella Wright from Fallon to Tonapah, Nevada

Storm ComingDesert storm coming in from the southwest.

Today I share this prayer with you. It is inspired by the beauty which is found in the desert flower which blooms like me in the heat of the day, the bitter cold of the night, winds which top 50+ mile an hour, and freakish rainstorms.

Deep Well TRading PostThe crew at Deep Well Trading Post – Luning, Nevada

But here in the desert there are not only beautiful flowers but beautiful people.

Mina ClubThe patrons and owner of The Mina Club – Mina, Nevada

Alleluia God

Open the Floodgates

of my Heart

of my Mind

So that the Waters of Life 

fill up my dammed up Soul

So that I might join you

in the Hereafter

in the Love and Light in Christ.


Desert BloomA desert bloom by Walker Lake Piute Indian Reservation, Nevada


Pilgrimage across the USA for the ERA

Tahoe Rim Trail

Each step I take brings me closer to fulfilling my promise to help pass the Equal Rights Amendment. It’s a promise I made a decade ago to my late mother-in-law, the Rev. Katrina Swanson. (Katrina was one of the “Philadelphia Eleven,” the first group of women to be ordained as priests in these modern times in the U.S.) A promise made by my husband and me to her in her last year of life. A promise, indeed a vow, and now a dream moving to reality we will resurrect and see enacted the Equal Rights Amendment.

As I look east at the snow-capped Sierras that I am soon to cross, I am reminded of my favorite lines from the poem “Snowflakes” by Linda A. Copp:

Snowflakes spill from heaven’s hand
Lovely and chaste like smooth white sand.

Each day I awaken and anxiously check to see if this is a good day to hike the trail over the mountain pass to Lake Tahoe, and then onward to Carson City, capital of Nevada, the first state I’ll pass through of the 15 that have yet to ratify the ERA. I have put my pilgrimage for justice across the United States in God’s hands. God is in charge—not me. And the doors that God has been opening over the last several years are simply amazing.


When Toby Blome, a women’s rights activist and Code Pink member, learned that I was to be stuck in the rain, sleet, and snow of a much needed winter storm in northern California, she reached out to her network. Since then I have been staying with a new-found friend, Marida Martin, in her lovely home in Placerville, waiting for the storm to blow over. Toby readily shared her radio spot on KPFA with me on March 8, International Women’s Day, when I launched my walk across the U.S.A. for the ERA. On that glorious day, I was joined by many women from a number of different organizations each representing their cause united under the Katrina’s Dream umbrella. We walked across the Golden Gate Bridge together, demonstrating that women are uniting, moving humankind forward to as we have done since creation.

After Nevada, I will press on, on foot, into neighboring Utah, the second of the 15 states dragging their feet on ratifying the ERA. Then, over the coming months, I will make my way through Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. The end of the pilgrimage comes on March 8, 2015, after a year of walking, when I will stand on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., advocating the ERA cause to the elected representatives and senators who are our servants. Standing beside me, many I hope in person, many, many more in spirit, will be the thousands who have supported me during this long, long walk.

In a sense, my journey began to unfold the night in 2005 when a hurricane bearing Katrina’s name hit the city of New Orleans. We Swansons found the signs to be prophetic, for as Katrina died, a hurricane was showing the world just how difficult life is for women, people of color, and those who are economically disadvantaged. Days after Katrina’s death we founded Katrina’s Dream in her memory.

My husband, William Swanson, was in the process of formalizing his call to ordination when he was called home to God’s kingdom this past May 3, 2013.  His passing to God’s realm is a moment in time I go to in my mind daily on this pilgrimage, a moment I go to for comfort and reassurance. On the day of William’s death, our brother Jesus’s message that God’s mansion has many rooms hit home for me. I realized that our acts here are adorning the unfolding framework of the City of God.

We are called to rebuild this planet we have been given, and a first step is to ensure that women here and abroad are restored to their rightful place alongside men. For us in the United States that means adopting the Equal Rights Amendment. A study described in a 2013 Shriver Report found that one in three Americans live below the poverty line, the majority in households headed by a woman. Why must there be a constitutional amendment? Take a look again at the 2011 U.S. Supreme Court Wal-Mart v. Dukes decision in which Supreme Court Justice Scalia ruled that the rights of women are not protected under the U.S. Constitution.

I did not come to the Christian faith easily, although now I am proud to call myself a “kickin’ and screamin’” Episcopalian.  When I met my husband I was no longer attending church, but found solace as a student in studying philosophy, the occult, and other religious materials. William, however, was a cradle Episcopalian and his profound faith in God opened the doors of my heart to see the truth and the light and love in Christ. This pilgrimage I’m on is a working out of my response to God’s call. I walk with a double purpose:

● to assure those with whom I speak that the Episcopal Church is a place where people are welcome to come and explore their relationship with and in God, and

● to be part of ushering in an age of legal gender equality.

There’s much, much more about the pilgrimage and the work of Katrina’s Dream on our website . Please visit us there, and see the link to the General Convention 2009 endorsement of the ERA! And please join me, at least in spirit, as I continue walking east in the months ahead.

DREAM 2 REALITY: Pilgrimage Across the USA for the ERA

What an amazing week.  We launched my pilgrimage across the USA for the ERA on March 8, 2014.  The skies were clear, boats were on the bay, it was a beautiful day. We had nearly a hundred people for International Women’s Day Bridge Walk: Let’s Pass the ERA!

1140 - Blessing - Helene Swanson kneeling with Rev Este Gardner Cantor + red child 3of3

My youngest son Harry and fellow Christ Episcopal Church Sausalito congregant Katharine Whipple and I caught the bus to the Golden Gate Bridge, where we caught up with the Rev. Este Gardner Cantor of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Berkeley, California.  I was excited and nervous.  I knew I was to go on the air at any moment.  I kept praying for the right words.  Then the call came in from Kris Welch, host of the Living Room show on hosted a special KPFA broadcast and Toby Blomè of CodePink and I spoke on the need for the Equal Rights Amendment.   By the time I finished my spot on the radio KGO Channel 7 the ABC and Channel 4 the NBC affiliates were on the spot.  Here a link to the broadcast.

1147 - Ch 7 Interview - Helene Swanson 5 of 5Folks started arriving in small groups.  Before we knew it we had a rather good size.   The group moved to the flagpole and a number of different groups spoke before the crowd.  Then it was our turn, MonaLisa Wallace, Board Member of the National Organization of Women came to the mic, she spoke of the need for the ERA and Somer Loen, also of NOW who introduced me, followed C.E.D.A.W.  MonaLisa.  It was at this point that I turned over the mic to Rev. Este for my blessing.  I felt such calm and peace.  God was reassuring me that I would be okay.  Then Rev. Este invited the crowd to participate.  People gathered laying their hands on me and laying their hands upon each other.  It was truly a blessed sight.1134 - ERA YES Helene Swanson speaking GGB 3-8-14 3of6

Este, Harry, Kathryn, Mona and me walked across the bridge together where we went our separate ways to share the news and bask in the glory of the day.  I caught up with Harry and Dunphy Park where our ministry Olof’s Brothers, an agape service, which serves the anchorage was going strong.  I spoke with many of our congregants.  Harry who has assumed my late husband’s position of running the program arrived shortly thereafter.  We enjoyed laying on the grass and the sun dancing on our skin.  We enjoyed the world God created for us.

deboissiere Blog

1164 - ERA YES! Arriving in Marin County 3-8-14 Rev Este Gardner Cantor, Helene Swanson, Harry Rudl

We then headed up to Christ Church Sausalito the first parish to host me on my pilgrimage.  Father Chip Larrimore let Harry and I into the parish hall where I helped myself to the chocolate chip cookie stash unaware it had been set aside for Sunday Coffee hour.  I hope everyone forgives me.  I was unaware of my transgressions at the time.  The next few days were made very easy for me as Harry arranged for a place for me to stay each night.   We said our “so longs” at the Indian Valley Campus Organic Farm where Harry is part of their work/study program.  We prayed to God that he protect on both and look after our ministries.  I then made my way to Vallejo.  I slept roadside on Highway 37.  It was a time for solitude.  It was the 50th anniversary of my late husband birth.  It felt good to be alone with my thought of him and God.

When I arrived in Vallejo, Ann Arms of Ascension Episcopal Church in a beautiful home with pristine views of Mt. Tamalpais and the San Francisco Bay hosted me.  Ann a widow like myself discussed just how hard it is being alone making our way and the difficulties of being an older woman in this society. She washed my clothes.  They were quite dirty.  It had been several days since I had had a shower, so she set out toiletries and I felt brand new as the water hit my skin.  The next morning I was interviewed by Sarah Rohrs of the Herald Times and I met with Mel Orpilla of Congressman Mike Thompson’s office.  I learnt that Congressman Mike was a big supported of Women’s Rights and that they would forward the news that I was headed to DC to their Washington offices and that Mike would be speaking with his colleagues in congress about my pilgrimage and would work colleagues to ensure passage of ERA resolutions moving the House.  The meeting ended and it was time for me to move north towards Carson City, NV, my first state capitol on the short list of those states, which have yet to ratify the ERA.

I wound my way on back roads to Vacaville, California where Carlyn Chrystal invited me to shower at her home.  I enjoyed a meal at Church of the Epiphany, which they sponsor for the homeless and economically disadvantaged of the area.  It was humbling to see the good works of this community.  I spent the night in the parish hall.  Waking early to head off to Davis, California.

Upon arrival in Davis I reached out to Father Mark Allen of the Episcopal Church of St. Martin’s who on short notice made arrangements for me to take a shower and stay at the parish hall.  I attended all three services and was deeply moved by his sermon.  He helped make clear the difference between Faith and Belief.  I walked away knowing that I have faith that I will a make it to Washington DC.  I believe we will pass the ERA by 2015 with everyone working together.


I am now in Sacramento where after a visit with Thea (the Bishop’s Assistant) of the Diocese of Northern California, I spent the night with my late husband’s childhood friend Steven Plesser, a criminal defense lawyer who is active in defending the rights of many activists in the area.  I learnt a little more about my husband and how he a young child even then was championing the rights of others.  I felt William’s presence. It was a precious evening.

This morning I awoke thankful for this life that God has given me.  I prayed for the strength to continue on my pilgrimage.  I have faith that I will cross the Nevada desert and that God will provide the means for me to do so.  I believe that with all of us working together we can pass the ERA.

So with this I close for now and ask that you sign our online petition and join our Facebook events.  Please share the petition with everyone on your email list and invite your friends to join both events.  They are: 1) and 2)  Also it is very important that you ask your friends to call their Representatives and their Senators to co-sponsor the following Equal Right Amendment resolutions  Here are websites that will everyone and

With all of us working together “We Can Pass the ERA”!

Love and Light in Christ,

Helene de Boissiere-Swanson, Founder