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Welcoming LGBTQ Ministry of St. Andrew Catholic Church

“It is the mission of St. Andrew Parish to be a visible presence of Christ in our culturally and racially diverse neighborhood, rooted in the Gospel and nurtured by liturgy, prayer and community of faith.”

The Welcoming LBGTQ ministry is our outreach to the gay community.  In 1996 the first Welcoming the Whole Family Committee was convened to serve the needs of St. Andrew parents of gay children and gay parishioners. Many GLBT people who grew up Catholic do not feel welcome in their Church, yet long for a way to return to their faith home. The ministry fit well with the parish's focus on social justice and faith. Over the years, the Welcoming the Whole Family Committee has reached beyond our parish to serve the archdiocese by conducting workshops, hosting town meetings, and supporting Catholic parents of gay children.

In 2000, we shared a booth at Portland Pride to reach out to disenfranchised Catholics so they could know where they were welcome to attend.  2001 was the first year we walked in the Pride Parade. We entered under the ecumenical umbrella of the Community of Welcoming Congregations.  Since then, we frequently hear from gay and straight people how important this Catholic presence is in the parade. St. Andrew provided a personal and imminent invitation to return to the Catholic Church by extending a welcoming hand by participating in the Pride Parade. Our presence not only invites Catholics to come home, but has resulted in many people going through the RCIA to become Catholic at St. Andrew.  

This Welcoming Ministry at St. Andrew still fits the parish’s emphasis on social justice, serving alienated, disenfranchised and vulnerable people, and sharing the Gospel with all who come to the table. As our Mission states, “…it is the mission of St. Andrew Parish to be a visible presence of Christ in our culturally and racially diverse neighborhood, rooted in the Gospel and nurtured by liturgy, prayer and community of faith.”

On Friday, May 31,2013 Father Dennis O’Donovan, Vicar General of the Archdiocese, phoned Father Dave to tell him that Archbishop Sample does not want St. Andrew to walk in the Pride Parade. On Tuesday, June 4, 2013 Father Dave convened a meeting of St. Andrew parishioners where this issue was discussed. Because of our long history in the parade and the effect our absence would have, it was decided that we need to continue our participation in the parade, as well as pursue a dialog with the Archbishop.

 

St. Andrew Welcoming the Whole Family Committee History

St. Andrew is proud of its ministry to gay, lesbian, transgender, questioning and queer people. We welcome and reach out to these populations as well as provide information about issues to the parish.

1996:   First monthly committee meetings convened.

            Sunday Forum: Straight from the Heart – panel discussion. 

            Disseminated questionnaires about Welcoming Ministry to parishioners; compiled results.

1997:   Convened Town Hall meeting for parish to discuss hopes and concerns of Welcoming Ministry.  

Held special “Listening Sessions” with parishioners who strongly objected to ministry.

           Ministry officially recognized by Father Bob Kruger and Pastoral Council.

A Status Report published of questionnaire and discussion data; shared with Archbishop John Vlazny and summary included

in Bulletin.

“Always Our Children” from U.S. Conference of Bishopshttp://www.smhs.org/ourpages/auto/2010/9/27/39598022/AlwaysOurChildren.pdf

Informal support group for parents with gay children started by Steven and Florence Balog, who have lesbian daughters.

1998:  Welcoming statement approved by Father Kruger and Pastoral Council (St. Andrew is a faith community, baptized into one body, which honors and celebrates diversity. We welcome and include persons of every color, language, ethnicity, origin, ability, sexual orientation, marital status, and life situation.)

           Bulletin revised to include new statement.

           First ad in Just Out, former Portland gay newspaper, inviting people to come to St. Andrew

           Conducted Adult Education session using It’s Elementary video for discussion http://www.newday.com/films/Its_Elementary.html

Convened the first meeting of Welcoming Parishes with representatives from St. Andrew, St. Philip Neri, Mission of the Atonement, St. Francis, and Downtown Chapel.

1999:  Created a new St. Andrew brochure and Welcoming membership card.

Hosted “Always Our Children: Lesbian and Gay Christians and Their Families” workshop facilitated by School Sister of Notre Dame Jeannine Gramick and Society of the Divine Savior Father Bob Nugent.

Helped to organize St. Andrew Stewardship Fair with a booth for Welcoming the Whole Family Committee.

Welcoming Committee contact names and contact information included on bulletin to make it easy to link up with this ministry.

2000:  Shared a booth at Portland Pride with St. Philip Neri.

Hosted “Jubilee: Global Justice and Reconciliation” facilitated by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, retired auxiliary bishop from the archdiocese of Detroit, MI.

2001:  Outreach efforts: include gay issues in prayers of the faithful and talk to other St. Andrews groups and ministries about welcoming strategies.

           First committee newsletter to include in bulletin and to pass out at Portland Pride.

           Father Kruger approved marching in Portland Pride parade.

           Marched in Portland Pride parade; parishioner Carol Bitz made banner.

Organized “Waiting in Hope” facilitated by Sister of Loreto Jeannine Gramick

Diocesan Catholic Families Support group created by Steve and Florence Balog, with support of Archbishop Vlazny.

Pastoral Council approves joining Oregon Community of Welcoming Congregations, a coalition of welcoming faith groups http://www.welcomingcongregations.org/

2002:  Anniversaries of same sex committed couples are listed in bulletin and couples are prayed for at Sunday Eucharist for first time

2006:   Convened Catholic Coalition meeting to expand efforts into other parishes. Goals: Outreach to other parishes and World AIDS Day service.

Annual social activity rather than monthly meetings.

2009:  Welcoming statement on Bulletin updated to include “gender expression”.

2013:  Youth outreach includes making and serving dinner at Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC) http://www.pdxqcenter.org/programs/youth-programs/smyrc/

           Hosted social events to allow GLBTQ parishioners to get to know one another.

A large number of parishioners participate in Portland Pride parade.