In 1971, Sister Jeannine Gramick, New Ways Ministry’s co-founder, began ministry with LGBTQ people. She was prompted by a young gay man’s question: “What is your church doing for people like me?”
Jeannine ventured to find out—and found there was precious little. So she got to work.
Joined shortly after by her ministry partner, Father Robert Nugent, she began in small ways to develop what we now think of as LGBTQ ministry. In 1977, they founded New Ways Ministry to be a Catholic educational and advocacy bridge-building ministry to promote justice, pastoral care, and reconciliation for LGBTQ people.
Through workshops, retreats, publications, resources, talks, and advocacy, the two changed the landscape of the Catholic Church in the USA by educating church leaders, pastoral ministers, LGBTQ people, theologians, and people in the pews about the Catholic imperative to treat LGBTQ people equally and justly.
As many of you know, their pioneering ministry was not always accepted, and they endured much criticism and rejection, which was often born out of ignorance rather than faith.
50 years later, Sister Jeannine is still moving forward. (Fr. Nugent passed away in 2014.) The world and the church are much different than they were 50 years ago. And under Pope Francis, we are beginning to see some steps being taken to open the discussion on LGBTQ issues in the church. These steps are the fruits of the labor of love at which Sister Jeannine and countless other Catholic LGBTQ leaders have been working for five decades.
To celebrate her work, New Ways Ministry has launched a special campaign. Catholic LGBTQ ministry has evolved greatly since 1971, and Catholics worldwide are increasingly support of full equality. But much work remains.
Before this week ends, we have one offering and one opportunity to put before the readers of Bondings 2.0.
First, as part of the celebration, we have compiled a digital photo collage of Sister Jeannine’s ministry over the years. You can see her meeting with LGBTQ pioneers and Catholic luminaries, speaking out for marriage equality, journeying with pilgrims in Rome, and more. To view the photo collection, click here.
Second, if you have not donated to the fundraising campaign, we invite you to celebrate Sister Jeannine with a gift of $50, $150, $250, $500, or $5,000. (Of course, if your means do not allow you to give any of those amounts, you are still welcome to take part in this celebration by contributing what you can.) If you have already donated, thank you. If you would like to make a donation now, click here.
Many people, including Bondings 2.0 readers, were extremely generous with their financial gifts on Giving Tuesday earlier this week. We are most grateful for this support and for the many other ways you help sustain New Ways Ministry and the larger movement for Catholic LGBTQ equality. Thank you for joining us in celebrating Sister Jeannine and her five decades of ministry!
—Francis DeBernardo and Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, December 4, 2021