We welcome and celebrate the gifts of our gay brothers and sisters.
The Welcoming LBGTQ Ministry is our outreach to the gay community. We want gay Catholics to feel welcomed and celebrated. St. Andrew Parish is a spiritual home for many gay Catholics who enjoy growing in their faith together and participating in the full life of the community. We believe that special attention needs to be given to our gay brothers and sisters who want to join or return to the church.
What do we do?
- We hold potlucks and other small gatherings.
- We also coordinate parishioners who wish to walk in gay pride parade.
“We had heard about St. Andrew Parish being a welcoming community. I was skeptical though, that any place could reconnect me to the institution of the Church. Well, that took about one Sunday. It was an epiphany. This church’s commitment to a diverse community and support of social justice resonated with our family. The St Andrew community supported many of the things that we work for in our professional lives. I quickly realized that this had been missing in my life, and I wanted to reconnect with the Church.”
Want more information?
Please contact the Welcoming LBGTQ Ministry chair for more information.
“Let the church always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven.” -Pope Francis
I am so pleased to hear that the Welcoming Ministry at St. Andrew Parish is alive and well. When my husband Steve and I, after five years of silence, came out in 1996 at St. Andrew Parish to ask the community to welcome our twin lesbian daughters, the community stood up and applauded. For us that was a sign of the need to open up and listen to the stories and feelings of rejection experienced by G/LBTQ persons and the need to let them know they would have a place to worship without discrimination if they so chose to do. We knew we had a lot of work to do to bring this vision about.
In consultation with our Pastor, Fr. Bob Krueger, we decided to form a “Welcoming the Whole Family” Committee composed of willing members of St. Andrew who wanted to see St. Andrew be known as an inclusive church. It had just recently gone through a process of trying to dismantle “white privilege” and racism. So we felt the time was ripe to try to expand our church to overtly include other marginalized persons as well. Personal stories form our daughters of bullying, name-calling, physical assaults, even among Catholic High Schools students, convinced Steve and me that our daughters are indeed among the marginalized that Jesus loves and that these individuals need to hear that kind of welcome in His Church.
Over the next four years, our committee became very active, relying on the Holy Spirit to guide us along the way. We began by educating ourselves, studying church documents on the subject of homosexuality. We set up a library of resources. We also presented parish adult education classes on sexuality, homosexuality, and scripture. We did a survey of parishioners’ attitudes towards homosexual persons and their participation in our worship; we held a Town Hall Meeting which provided an opportunity for discussion of parish hopes and fears; we presented a diocesan-wide workshop on the United States Bishops’ letter, “Always Our Children”. We also wrote a welcoming statement which is in the Sunday Parish Bulletin. Our Welcoming Committee evolved into a Small Faith Community which still thrives today.
As we worked through the process of becoming a welcoming community, we listened to stories of many gay and lesbian persons, the struggles they are going through, the need they feel to have a place of worship, live in a community of faith, that cares for them. I feel St. Andrew Parish is a beacon of light for them in the midst of their troubled world.
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 LGBTQ 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.”
Welcoming LBGTQ Ministry History – A Timeline
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.
- First monthly committee meetings convened
- Sunday Forum: Straight from the Heart – panel discussion
- Disseminated questionnaires about Welcoming Ministry to parishioners; compiled results
- Convened Town Hall meeting for parish to discuss hopes and concerns of Welcoming Ministry
- Special “Listening Sessions” with parishioners who strongly objected to ministry
- Ministry officially recognized by Father Kruger and Pastoral Council
- A Status Report published of questionnaire and discussion data; shared with Archbishop; summary included in Bulletin
- “Always Our Children” from Bishops
- Parent group started by Steve and Florence Balog
- 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
- Conducted Adult Education session using It’s Elementary video for discussion
- Convened a meeting of Welcoming Parishes with representatives from St. Andrew, St. Philip Neri, Mission of the Atonement, St. Francis, and Downtown Chapel
- Created a new St. Andrew brochure
- Hosted “Always Our Children: Lesbian and Gay Christians and Their Families” workshop facilitated by Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Father Bob Nugent
- Helped organize Stewardship Faire with a booth for Welcoming the Whole Family Committee
- Welcoming Committee contact names included in bulletin
- Shared a booth at Gay Pride with St. Philip Neri
- Hosted “Jubilee: Global Justice and Reconciliation” facilitated by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
- Outreach efforts: prayers of the faithful; include Welcoming committee contacts on front of bulletin; talk to other St. Andrew groups and ministries
- First committee newsletter to include in bulletin and to pass out at Pride
- Father Kruger approved marching in Gay Pride parade
- Marched in Gay Pride parade; Carol Bitz made us a banner
- Organized “Waiting In Hope” facilitated by Sister Jeannine Gramick (not able to host at St. Andrew)
- Catholic Families Support group created by Steve and Florence Balog
- Pastoral Council approves joining Community of Welcoming Congregations
- Anniversaries of same sex committed couples are announced for first time
- Convened Catholic Coalition meeting to expand efforts into other parishes.
- Annual social activity rather than monthly meetings
- Welcoming statement on Bulletin updated to include “gender expression”.
- St. Andrew hosts at table at the AIDS Day breakfast that benefits Ecumenical Ministries HIV Day Center
- Hosted a Sunday Forum for new people to St. Andrew about Welcoming Ministry
- Changed name of ministry from Welcoming the Whole Family to Welcoming Ministry
2013 – 2018
- Hosted social events to allow LGBTQ+ parishioners to get to know one another.
- Celebrated over 20 years of Welcoming Ministry with a Thank You Party for the parish. Served cake and had discussion tables available to collect new ideas and share our history.
A large number of parishioners participate in Portland Pride parade.