A conference on Catholic LGBTQ issues originally slated for last summer has been rescheduled for this June as a webinar, announced Jesuit Fr. James Martin on his Facebook page. Relatedly, a new documentary premiering this month features the priest’s LGBTQ ministry.
The conference, titled Outreach 2021: LGBTQ Catholic Ministry Webinar, will be a virtual event on Saturday, June 26 featuring speakers, discussion, prayer, and reflection aimed particularly at LGBTQ Catholics, their friends and families, and those who minister to the LGBTQ community.
The keynote speaker at the conference will be Sr. Jeannine Gramick, S.L., co-founder of New Ways Ministry, who will speak on “Fifty Years of LGBTQ Ministry.” Other presenters include Fr. Bryan Massingale, a gay priest and theologian, who will present on “Intersectionality and LGBTQ Catholic Ministry;”and Bishop John Stowe, OFM, Conv.., of Lexington, Kentucky who will lead an opening prayer. Other topics covered during the conference will include campus ministry and ministry to families with LGBTQ members.
When last year’s conference, set to be held at Fordham University, was cancelled because of the pandemic, organizers instead offered a series of videos on YouTube that featured scheduled speakers. This year, with an in-person event still not viable, Martin says the goal is the same: “to share best practices, build community, and pray together.” Outreach 2021 is sponsored by Fordham University’s Center on Religion and Culture and America Media. If you would like to register, you can do so by clicking here.
In addition to the Outreach conference, Fr. Martin’s LGBTQ ministry is featured in a new documentary to be debuted at prestigious the Tribeca Film Festival, June 9-20. Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese is listed as an executive producer. The film title, Building a Bridge, comes from the title of Martin’s 2018 book based on the address he gave after receiving New Ways Ministry’s Bridge Building Award in 2016. America, where Martin is editor-at-large, reports that “The film follows Father Martin and the lives he has impacted, including a grieving Pulse mother, a family with three queer siblings, and a college student trying to reconcile his gay and Catholic identities,” according to a statement by the creators.
Martin’s book and ministry have urged church leaders and individuals to be more welcoming to LGBTQ Catholics and to treat them with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” focusing on the church teachings that emphasize human dignity and acceptance.
Martin hopes the movie will “help more people see the kinds of outreach that the Catholic Church is doing with LGBT people.” He credits Scorsese and directors Evan Mascagni and Shannon Post “for making such a sensitive documentary with so many voices, he told America. “I pray that Church leaders will see what is possible with this kind of pastoral ministry, and that LGBT people feel more welcome in what is, after all, their church too.”
Building a Bridge premiers June 15 in New York City and is sold out. But tickets to stream the film for an online showing on Wednesday, June 16 are still available and can be found here.
—Angela Howard McParland, New Ways Ministry, May 17, 2021