In December, Bondings 2.0 invited readers to share the stories of their relationship with the Catholic Church by writing on the theme of “Why We Came, Why We Left, Why We Stayed.” We “borrowed” this topic from a feature that Commonweal magazine published recently. We felt it was important for LGBTQ people to share their own stories, so we made the invitation to our readers.
We asked contributors to keep their contributions under 500 words, and also asked how they would like to be identified in terms of name and gender/sexual identity, location. Anonymity was offered as an option.
We received many responses, and we have been posting a selection of them them over the last few months on Sundays.
However, because our Sunday Lenten reflection series has started, the “Why We Came, Why We Left, Why We Stayed” series will be moved to Saturdays during Lent.
To read all the previous posts in this series, click here, or click on “Why We Came. Why We Left. Why We Stayed” in the Categories section of the right-hand column of this page. Many thanks to all the contributors!
Name: Don E. Siegal
Identified: LGBT person, Director of RCIA, Three Rivers, California
In 1979 I was in the Navy and stationed in San Francisco. I met Bill. and we became a loving monogamous couple. Bill was estranged from both his family and the Church. Over time, I helped Bill reconcile with both. I helped him upgrade his Navy undesirable discharge to honorable.
In 1983 the Navy moved me to the Lemoore Naval Air Station in the San Joaquin Valley. My faith life was at its lowest. I began going to mass regularly. In 1990, a member asked whether I would like to become a Catholic (I had been confirmed as a Lutheran during my adolescence). I agreed, and started a new faith as an RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) inquirer. At the following Easter Vigil, I was received into the full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Bill was my sponsor.
I asked the RCIA team if they needed any help and was welcomed as a team member. I finally found a church home and a ministry that woke my faith. My parish is very generous; they send all team members for continuing formation as a catechist on an annual basis.
After a time, all the senior RCIA mentors reached a point that they could no longer serve in this ministry. I found myself being drawn into the leadership role as director of RCIA. I complained to one of my mentors that there was no way I could be director because I was gay. Her response was: “I don’t see why not!” With the help of the Holy Spirit, I have had the fortitude to accept that role. But the fear was still there. I decided if any of my pastors had any concerns about my teaching position and being gay, I would simply resign and go away. This did not happen. Now, it’s my responsibility to show the pastors my love and commitment for the wonderful work of evangelization that the RCIA is all about.
It is my fervent desire to bring about change in how the Church accepts the truth and reality of LGBT persons of faith. We are here and we’re not going away any time soon. I also believe that I can help bring that change about by remaining in the Church and continuing to witness the gifts that LGBT persons bring to the parish community. It would be much more difficult to accomplish that change from the outside.
—New Ways Ministry, April 27, 2019