Next Steps: Developing Catholic LGBTQ Ministry–An Online Series

Do you want to help your parish become more welcoming of LGBTQ people and their families and don’t know where to begin?  Has your parish already begun to welcome LGBTQ people but it’s now time to develop that welcome in new ways?

If you answered “yes” to either of those two questions—or if you are simply interested in LGBTQ Catholic ministry–please read on.  Over the next few months, Bondings 2.0 will be publishing a series of posts entitled  “Next Steps:  Developing Catholic LGBTQ Ministry.” This series is designed to help parishioners, pastoral leaders, and church staff members figure out what form LGBTQ ministry should take in their community. The material will help parish community and staff members discern individually and together what the next steps should be to create a more welcoming pastoral environment for LGBTQ people—even if the next steps are your first steps.

For the past 12 years, New Ways Ministry has been conducting day-long and weekend “Next Steps” workshops for pastoral staff and volunteers from Catholic parishes who have been interested in opening their doors to LGBTQ people.  We’ve worked with scores of parishes to help them initiate an LGBTQ project or to further develop ones that they had already begun.  While there is no substitute for working with people in person, we are now making many of our materials and ideas from these workshops available through this course, with the hope that it will stimulate or deepen conversations in Catholic parishes.  (We also have a similar program designed to help administrators and other personnel from Catholic schools.)

In addition to presenting information from these workshops here on our blog, we will also be introducing a discussion component for this online series. There is no fee for any portion of this series.

At the outset, you should know that nowhere in this series will New Ways Ministry tell you what to do at your parish.  There’s a good reason for that:  we don’t know it.  New Ways Ministry has been consulting with parishes, schools, colleges, religious communities, and other Catholic institutions for more than four decades.  One thing that we have learned with absolute certainty is that LGBTQ ministry is not a “one-size fits all” endeavor.  Every community is different in their ethos, talents, resources, and, most importantly, people.  So what will work well in one parish, can be a total failure in another, and vice versa.

So, at New Ways Ministry, we never tell people what to do. Instead, we help them through a process of discernment that helps them decide for themselves what their next steps should be. And we encourage people to think in steps, starting small and building on accomplishments.

The ten installments of the series will include:

  • Reflecting and praying about the call to LGBTQ ministry
  • Examining what Catholic officials and scholars have said regarding LGBTQ issues, particularly in the area of pastoral ministry and pastoral care.
  • Examining what Catholic officials and scholars have said regarding prejudice and discrimination against LGBTQ people.
  • Identifying not only what LGBTQ people want or need from the church community, but some of the blessings are which they bring to it.
  • How to examine your faith community to better understand what the awareness of LGBTQ people is and what some of the common attitudes towards them are.
  • How to examine your faith community to discover what LGBTQ people might find attractive or what would make them feel excluded.
  • Examining some of the models of LGBTQ ministry that have been used in the last few decades–and what the advantages and disadvantages of each one will be.
  • Learn about some of the more recent developments regarding the relationship between LGBTQ people and the Catholic Church, particularly in regard to marriage equality, transgender and gender-non conforming people, and employment and church leadership roles.
  • Develop the rough outlines of a pastoral plan that will guide a parish through its next steps.
  • Learn suggestions for how to begin implementing ideas from a pastoral plan in a parish setting.

Each of these posts will be archived on the New Ways Ministry website after they are posted here on our blog, so you can have access to them for future reference.

While the program is designed for discernment as an individual, it may be helpful to gather a group from your parish to come together for communal reflection and discernment about LGBTQ ministry.

If you are interested in following this program, please click the button below to register. Even if you do not want to take part in the online discussion, please complete the form so that we can let you know when a new installment of the above outline is about to be posted.  Additionally, as the course develops, we may add some Zoom discussions or provide supplementary material, so it would be helpful to have a way to contact you about any future developments. By providing us with a little information about yourself, you will also be helping us to better tailor the program for you.

We look forward to sharing this journey with you and to begin an online discussion for how to start or develop LGBTQ ministry in your parish.

Francis DeBernardo and Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, June 1, 2020