My ministry is . . .
“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.