My ministry is . . .

Source: bustle.com

“My ministry is to help the church catch up to God”

 This quote attributed to theologian Father Bryan Massingale at Fordham University perfectly describes how I have always thought about my mission. Some ask what’s different because of Covid 19?

For the past seventeen years starting in 2003, I have co-facilitated a Day of Reflection for Catholic parents of lesbian gay and transgendered children. Over these years I have worked with over 200 Catholic  families who are fortunate to have a child who is LGBT.

Many of the parents who came to the event in the first few years have helped parents who are new to the knowledge that their child is lesbian or gay. They have done this by being available and open to sharing their personal experience of the stages they went through in understanding and coming to terms with the truth about their child.

After shock, often tears, and educating themselves about what their child’s sexual orientation is about, they have come to the spiritual dimension of their lives. Not wanting to abandon their Catholic faith, they seek answers to integrate their love for the children they have raised and cared about.

The Bishops document “Always Our Children” has assured parents that no matter what individuals may not welcome them, they are still ALWAYS Our Children. This is where we sometimes wonder if the opening hymn “All are Welcome” really means what it professes. Depending on how open their various parishes and pastors are, answers have varied.

This has been a ministry of acknowledging reality, educating parents about what the Church actually teaches about LGBT people, and  including the important use of Conscience. Much grace has been dispensed by the Holy Spirit  in  healing this community.  Most of their children are now adults, some in the forties and fifties;  their parents in their sixties and older.

This year thanks to the pandemic, the event is cancelled. It was all planned, and then came to a screeching halt when it became clear by Easter, that physical distancing put the brakes on.

This is the type of work that requires face to face meeting of parents, sharing their stories in a safe faith based environment. A Zoom meeting is just going to work for new parents who are already unsure about what to expect, and anxious about revealing their personal story.

So for me it’s been a time to let go and breathe easy, while re-assessing  the need, and where the Spirit is calling us. Pope Francis metaphor of Church as “Field Hospital” is particularly apt for this ministry. God already welcomes each LGBT person,  and our ministry is to help the Church catch up.

John Montague earned his Master of Divinity from Regis College, University of Toronto. He is an active member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. He has a Master of Social Work, and, until his retirement, provided counselling to individuals, couples, and families. For the past seventeen years he has organized a Day of Reflection for Catholic parents of lesbian daughters, gay sons, and transgendered children.

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5 Comments
  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 01:08h, 14 August Reply

    Thank you John!

  • graeme quinlan
    Posted at 03:24h, 14 August Reply

    On reading this presentation from John Montague. I was bought to the realization that how much things have changed, attitudes both from Church and most importantly within the general populus . As once and for many hundreds of years the (lGBTIQ) as we see it now, was always scorned rebuffed denounced as aborhent to the human condition . What a new and beautiful world we live in today.At long last we see things and conditions as the make up of our human condition the conditions created so unexplainably by God. All things are created equal in His sight and we have no right to denegrate one aspect of this beautiful creation. When we first begun using that beautiful song.” ALL ARE WELCOME HERE” in our church here in Victoria,a country parish ,there was a lot of uncertainty about it ,but now it is a song that everyone loves to sing with gusto . It means FREEDOM not JUDGEMENT.

  • Margaret Powell
    Posted at 15:58h, 14 August Reply

    I am an 80 year old catholic woman who married a gay man in 1961, had 2 children, and separated in 1968. I still experience the stigma of having been married to a gay man. Even now there are friends who do not know my first husband is gay. Fortunately I received an annulment which back in 1970 took 2 years and had to be adjudicated in Rome. In 1976 I married a catholic man who was understanding, accepting and open to inviting the father of my children to special events. Ironically, part of the reason I married my first husband was that he seemed to have better morals than catholic boys I dated. What I learned about relationships and marriage in my 12 years of catholic education was not accurate. In the 60’s young people did not understand their own feelings and there was no avenue to explore sexuality especially in the catholic church. We have come a long way but there is much more to be done. Programs such as yours are a step in the right direction.

    • John Montague
      Posted at 14:59h, 16 August Reply

      Thanks for writing. Your experience speaks volumes about the huge need for dialogue within the catholic community about sexuality, relationships, and family life.

  • Mike Hyland
    Posted at 10:42h, 17 August Reply

    As a parent of a gay son my wife and I have had the privilege of attending John’s Day of Reflection for Catholic Parents of Lesbian daughters, Gay sons and Transgendered children for the past 16 years. Not only have I come to a full acceptance and deep appreciation of my gay son, but I’ve seen the healing of many parents who have experienced hurt caused to them and their children by misguided theology and unkind practices of church officials. The love these parents have for their children despite their own struggles of acceptance is encouraging and gives me hope for a church that chooses traditional teachings over welcoming compassion. Thanks to John Montague and others like Fr James Martin S.J. we just might see the day when the hymn “All Are Welcome” becomes a reality.
    John, you are truly a gift from God and your ministry is essential if our Church is realize it’s true mission.

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