Remembering a Cornucopia of Blessings on Thanksgiving Day

It’s Thanksgiving Day in the United States.  As families and friends gather for celebrations today, we’ve also gathered the New Ways Ministry family of staff, volunteers, and board members to share some of what they are grateful for this year.  You are invited to contribute your own gratitudes in the “Comments” section of this post.

Thanks for being a reader of this blog and for your interest in Catholic LGBT people! May today be a time of blessing for you and your loved ones!

Catherine Buck, Blog Contributor:  This year, I’m grateful to have found a community of Catholics working for full LGBTQ+ equality in the church, and especially for the chance to learn from their experience and example. Mostly, I’m very excited to be going to Panama in January with an Equally Blessed Coalition for World Youth Day! In just our initial planning conversations, I can already tell that I’m going with an incredible group of people. I’m also deeply thankful for the huge support I’ve had from friends and family when talking about this trip: it gives me hope that change really is possible. [Editor’s note: Keep tuned for an upcoming blog post where Catherine will describe this venture in more detail.]

“Cornucopia” by Mario Villareal

Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director:  I am grateful for all the people who support New Ways Ministry and LGBT ministry and advocacy throughout the year.  Support comes to us in the form of donations, hospitality, encouragement, participation in programs, promotion of our educational resources, and in many other ways.  Each bit of support, no matter the size, is a blessing.  I am grateful for being in a position to witness so many acts of goodness performed by so many people around the nation and the globe.  These actions to support LGBT people are an inspiration to me every day and keep my faith and spirits strong.

Doctor Jerry Fath, Board Member:  While experiencing so much uncertainty in the world and within the church, I am grateful for the women and men, who, with their courage and empowerment, continue to stand up for freedom, justice, and equality for all peoples.  May their perseverance continue to inspire New Ways Ministry, church leadership, and us, to preach the Gospel message in word and deed.

I remain grateful and inspired by the life of Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, may he Rest In Peace, and may more church leaders embrace his prophetic vision.
Dwayne Fernandes, Staff Associate:   I am grateful for the stories and faces of the LGBT community. The happy stories are an invitation to rejoice: couples and individuals surrounded with love, family and children; “coming-out” to freedom, inclusive churches, LGBT protections and feeling acknowledged and safe. The challenging stories – ongoing bullying, living with poverty and persistent violence, loneliness and the search for love, homelessness, the insecurities of growing old, and being ill or isolated – prompt a deep respect for the mysteries of God and and awareness of the fragility of human life.
Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, Co-Founder:  I am thankful that the voices of lesbian nuns are growing stronger. This year saw the 10th weekend conference for lesbian sisters, congregational leaders, and vocation/formation personnel. These meetings have supported our lesbian sisters and provided education and insights for leaders and their religious congregations. I have seen more and more lesbian sisters embrace their sexuality and accept it as the spiritual and religious gift that it is. Lesbian sisters have mentored each other as spiritual companions, often sharing their stories of discovering their sexual identity. At this year’s gathering, the lesbian nuns decided to compile a book of their stories, which New Ways Ministry will gladly publish. This year I am especially grateful and proud of our lesbian sisters.
Sarah Gregory, Blog Contributor:  I am grateful for the gifts of vulnerability and trust. My secular “day job” and existence as an out, queer Catholic woman have (mostly) happily but quite separately coexisted for many years. This year, knowing that my name would be Googleable based on my writing for NWM as well as my work, I started a new professional relationship and role by putting it all out there. Yep – queer, and out since forever. And deeply, absolutely Catholic, too. I expected resistance. Instead, I’ve encountered curiosity, openness, and the gifts of others’ stories and journeys – the good stuff, and the messiness, too. Vulnerability and trust go both ways. Colleagues are now friends, and being able to bring our whole selves to the work we do makes the place better for everyone.  I’m so aware that not everyone can do this – yet. Knowing that I could helped convince me that I should – and that has made such a difference.

Brother Cornelius Hubbuch, CFX, Board Member:  For my years on the Board of New Ways Ministry and the inspiration I have received from staff and other Board members.

For the courageous leadership of Father James Martin, SJ, who so respectfully continues to remind us of the importance of genuine dialogue regarding acceptance of the LGBTQ community in our Church.

For the spiritual writers and others who have influenced my consciousness to both/and thinking instead of either/or thinking.

Brother Brian McLauchlin, SVD, Volunteer: I continue to be thankful for the many people who plug away at the system of oppression that plagues LGBTQ people around the world.  I pray that this work continues until that system no longer exists.  On this Thanksgiving I will remind myself of the many signs of HOPE that oppression is dissolving away and that all will truly be welcomed.

Ryan Sattler, Board Member:  Last Sunday’s scripture readings at Mass reminded us that we can never underestimate that God has and will continue to turn the most “apocalyptic situations” into true experiences of justice and mercy. We enter this season of Thanksgiving witnessing what could be called apocalyptic experiences in our world and in our Church. The clerical sexual abuse crisis, the cover up by the hierarchy, LGBT Catholic Church employees are terminated because who they love and the deliberate  silencing of women’s voices in the Church to name just a few. These are challenging times.

So where do I find a sense of gratitude? I find it in the promise that God will always be with us. I find it in God’s people who continue to speak out for justice. I find it in the voices of priests and bishops who are willing to speak truth to power and ready to face the consequences. I find it in the faithful people who protest, who march, who share their stories, who say “enough is enough and we are better than this.”

Grateful?  I must be, for I am blessed with a great wife and partner, with family and friends and a God who will always be with me.

Robert Shine, Associate Director:  This year, I am grateful for the many prophets and resistors who struggle tirelessly against politicians and religious leaders who seek to curtail the human rights of not only LGBTQI people, but communities of color, migrants and refugees, religious minorities, people with disabilities, and people who exercise their reproductive rights. So many people have woken up and are rising to create a world of justice and equality. Many of these same oppressions are mirrored in the Catholic Church, in which we also experience the new horrors of clergy sexual abuse. But there are so many prophets and resistors in the Church, too. I give thanks in a particular way for them, those faithful who refused to be silenced in crying out for justice even when the costs are high. These Catholics, some acting publicly and some working quietly, give me hope and inspiration to keep renewing the Church we love. Some of these Catholics include: Pope Francis, Catholic parents of LGBT children, the Catholic Committee of Appalachia, leaders of LGBT parish ministries, Fr. James Martin and his LGBT ministry, abuse survivors breaking their silence who refuse to blame gay priests, the members of Pax Christi USA, Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Bishop John Stowe, and the members of the Women’s Ordination Conference. There are so many more, too. Finally, I give thanks to God for the canonization of St. Oscar Romero, a watchful patron and companion of mine for many years. To all these prophets, resistors, and saints, thank you.

Vernon Smith, Volunteer:  I am thankful for a select few American bishops who I believe are genuinely trying to be supportive of their entire flock, including LGBT Catholics. I am thankful that these few pastors are attempting to swim against the strong currents fostered by the more dominant conservative voices in the hierarchy. They are not perfect. They may not always get things right. But I am still very thankful that they are there to be voices for decency and inclusion in times and places when they are clearly outnumbered.

Cristina Traina, Board Member and Blog Contributor:  I’m grateful to all the LGBTQ vowed religious and clergy who, despite the uproar, simply continue to get up every day to increase God’s love and justice in the world.  They are true signs of hope in a chaotic time.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, November 22, 2018

3 replies
  1. Casey Lopata
    Casey Lopata says:

    We are grateful for New Ways Ministry! Without New Ways and its educational and spiritual programs, its constant encouragement and support, and especially the many wonderful people that are and have been associated with it, I doubt we would have been able to found and sustain Fortunate Families. Much love and prayers, Casey and Mary Ellen Lopata

    Reply
  2. John Hilgeman
    John Hilgeman says:

    I’m thankful for the work the members of New Ways Ministry have done for decades, sometimes through great opposition, and the work you continue to do to this day. The seeds of knowledge and understanding that you have continued to sow, have borne good fruit throughout this country and the world.

    Reply

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