Campus Priest Withdraws from Student Housing Post After LGBTQ-Negative Comments

Fr. Dan Parrish meeting with students of Lund Hall

A priest at the University of Portland has resigned temporarily from his position as a minister in student housing just hours before a scheduled protest calling for his removal due to LGBTQ-negative comments and social media activity.

The Beacon, the student newspaper, reported that in an email to residents, Fr. Dan Parrish, CSC, announced plans to move out of his post in Lund Hall “so that I can better commit myself to serving my students and complete the semester well.”

Since October 2021, Parrish has been criticized for a leaked email that made public his opposition to display of both the Pride flag and a statement of inclusion in the residence hall. In that email, which he sent to the student directors of Lund Hall, both of whom identify as LGBTQ, Parrish argued that the crucifix was the primary sign of inclusion and that the Pride flag and inclusion statement could potentially alienate religious and conservative students.

“If you disagree with me, that’s fine,” Parrish told a crowd of students gathered to discuss the situation in early April. “Obviously the flag is still standing. The way that I think about Christian community is every person is welcomed and loved here.”

Parrish’s social media activity has also caused concern. Screenshots of his Twitter account revealed he gave likes to content that students described as “sexist, transphobic, and racist, as well as posts against masks and mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.” This was the second time his social media use came under scrutiny, resulting in a formal report filed last year.

Parrish’s comments at the student meeting mostly solidified Lund Hall residents’ feelings that LGBTQ students could not feel safe or comfortable working with the Holy Cross priest. Reading a statement from the Lund resident assistants, an all-queer staff, first year student Reid Colkitt said students hoped “for Fr. Dan to understand the extent of how he’s hurt the Lund and UP community, and to apologize authentically.”

Despite the announcement of his departure, students still gathered later that afternoon calling for his full removal and to confront the larger picture of LGBTQ issues at the university. Over 150 people protested at the event organized by the Gender & Sexuality Partnership (GSP).

“We tried the town hall meetings, we had tried the conversations in Lund and it was getting silence,” explained GSP president August Stone. “So we just kind of wanted to control the narrative for once.”

Students offered testimonies of pain as well as expressions of support for the continued work to be done. Student Jenron Yee expressed a common theme that Parrish’s actions “have made my Catholic trauma arise again.”

“I went through the same stuff in high school,” the sophomore shared. “Admin people repeatedly tell you to de-queer yourself or become more heteronormative, how do you change something that’s part of your identity? They attack parts of you that are inherently you.”

Amongst the hurt and suffering shared by LGBTQ students, there was an important call to forward movement as well. The Spiritual Connections Director for the GSP, Beth Chvilicek, reminded everyone: “It’s important to showcase the queer and trans joy that does exist on campus and to make sure that we’re calling out when injustice has happened, which is what we’re doing today.”

Angela Howard-McParland, New Ways Ministry, May 9, 2022

3 replies
  1. Gary Stavella
    Gary Stavella says:

    Hmmmmm…….. sounds very ‘Witch-hunt-y” to me. I would be interesting to read what Fr Parrish actually said, and ‘liked’ and within what context. After all, he is a priest. And he does seem to be expressing the teachings of the Church.

    • Michael Airhart
      Michael Airhart says:

      The context is given in the linked previous articles.

      Catholic students are asking the church to stop lying about those whom it excludes, start offering authentic pastoral care, and start reforming its institutional sin. Jesus asked the same. If a church advertises itself as inclusive, it should actually be inclusive.

      Many priests today fail to understand what is required of the priesthood: They imagine themselves to have power and control, but that is not the role of a priest.

  2. Cheryl Rogers
    Cheryl Rogers says:

    amazing how much those in church power positions do not yet understand that God made us ALL very good and ALL should be included and welcomed despite lack of understanding fully the value of each of our gifts in UNION as the Body of Christ Living. Hate is hate and continues to be so readily and felt to be an entitled priviledge and duty for those ‘religious’ people who fight for half truths of Christs’ message and feel only they are called by God? When oh when will Christ’s message of unconditional love get through to ‘stiff necked people of God’, I pray one day in Hope that it will for the church in its entirety and for its survival.
    thankyou students for standing up for us all.


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