It’s Thanksgiving Day in the United States–a traditional time gather for celebrations with your family of origin or family of choice. Time to feast on a big meal of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and, of course, yams!*
We’ve gathered the New Ways Ministry family of staff, volunteers, and board members to share their items of gratitude for the past year. You are invited to contribute your own gratitudes in the “Comments” section of this post.
Thanks for being a reader of this blog and for your interest in Catholic LGBTQ+ people! May you be blessed today with much to be grateful for, and family and friends with whom to share these gifts!
Michaelangelo Allocca, Blogger: I am grateful to be an out gay man teaching Theology — one of three, at that — at a Catholic high school, and being asked to help lead retreats where a student can tell me, “Until you, I never realized anyone could take ‘find God in all things’ literally.”
Bob Brady, Board Member: I am grateful for the steady increase in support for LGBTQ+ people that is building in the church today. Pope Francis wrote to support New Ways Ministry last year, and this year – in the working document for the Continental Stage of the Synod – the highest levels of the church acknowledge the demand for welcome from LGBTQ+ people. Progress is painfully slow and fitful , but it is progress.
Sarah Cassidy, Blogger: I am thankful for the Catholic LGBTQ+ allies who continue to support our community. It takes a great deal of courage, strength, and understanding to stand in solidarity. We appreciate you!
Rev. Peter Daly, Board Member: This year I am grateful for the gift of memory. I am especially grateful for the memory of my love for Jose Luis Sanchez. I am also grateful for the all the words of comfort and condolence that have come to me, especially from my former parishioners and by my fellow priests. They are a blessing.
Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director: I have done nothing in my life to deserve the immense blessing of being in a position to see so much good happen and to meet so many amazing people! In my job, I get to witness the generosity of so many wonderful donors who keep our ministry alive and vibrant. I get to talk with so many people across the country and around the globe who are doing amazing things to make our church a more just and welcoming place for LGBTQ+ people. I have the opportunity daily to work with a staff of gifted and holy people who inspire and challenge me, and to work throughout the year with dedicated board members and volunteers. For all these astounding gifts, my gratitude is endless.
Grace Doerfler, Blogger: I’m grateful for all the LGBTQ ministers in our church: lay and religious, single and married, those who are out and those who are not. Their loving and hopeful ministry helps more people — especially LGBTQ youth — find a place in the church to call home.
Dr. Jerry Fath, Board Member: At this Thanksgiving, my gratitude focuses on our foundational gifts of faith, hope, and love. There are multiple opportunities to inspire belief amid doubt, hope amid despair, and love amid hatred, violence, and injustice. We can be beacons of light amid darkness in a broken world by discovering what impels us into prophetic actions. Perhaps this is what St. Francis meant when he said: “preach the Gospel and when necessary, use words.”
Dwayne Fernandes, Director of Spirituality: In the opening chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, in the genealogy of Jesus, it soon becomes evident that each of us play a crucial role in bringing about the Reign of God. Moreover, by including imperfect people of questionable pasts into Jesus’ lineage, the underlying message is that no one is ever excluded from the love of God, and that our contribution no matter how small, is acceptable to Christ.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the Trans prophets that have risen to influence the Reign of God. A woman from Nebraska, is engaging the Catholic Church in her diocese and is a voice for Trans spirituality and presence. In Maryland, a young man is pinning his vocation story to the doors of religious orders and pushing vocation directors to debate a future that includes Trans men in religious and priestly life. This, to me, is the beginning of a new Church and I am excited to see a full and diverse Body of Christ being represented.
Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, Co-Founder: During this past year, I have continued to be grateful for Pope Francis, as he guides our Church to follow the Gospel of Jesus by including ALL persons, especially those on the margins. Through synodality, Pope Francis is opening the doors for greater acceptance of LGBTQ+ people in our Church. I am so grateful that, because Pope Francis and I have become pen-pals, he knows about all the projects of New Ways Ministry and says that they “will help a lot.”
Elsie Miranda, Board Member: I am grateful for the generous witness of mothers of queer children who have exhibited bold courage by loving and caring for their children, despite the judgement, exclusion and harm spewed from self-righteous Christians, and self-serving politicians. I am humbled by your faithfulness. I am also grateful for all the ways that the Spirit has invited me (and invites us as all) to be Eucharistic people—to blessed, broken, and shared in all the places where church happens outside of the actual church building. Pope Francis’ invitation to serve in the field hospital serves as a constant reminder to seek out and be a place of sanctuary. Looking back on this year I am proud to be a Catholic, Latinx Lesbian. Gracias a Dios
Bobby Nichols, Blogger: As we enter into the season of Thanksgiving and Advent, I am mindful of the new year upon us and the hope with which it brings. As recent synod documents call for more LGBTQ+ inclusion in the Church, I am thankful for my students, friends, fellow ministers, and theologians who have followed the call of the Spirit to create a more inclusive and welcoming Church and world.
Anushah Sajwani, Blogger: I would like to extend my gratitude toward those who fight for the inclusion of others in all spaces. From some of the activists documented on our blog to organizations who care for the well-being of all people around them, the virtues of pluralism and true inclusion illuminate hope in a world dimmed by prejudice. I extend my gratitude toward those who fight for the inclusion in all spaces.
Robert Shine, Associate Director: I am grateful for the Synod, which has re-opened the windows of the church and is letting in fresh air. In particular, I thank all the LGBTQ+ Catholics and allies who looked past our pain and distrust to so vibrantly participate in the local listening phase—real progress has come of it!
Cristina Traina, Board Member: This year I am especially grateful for the grace flowing through the Synod for LGBTQ people–not just our faithful, hopeful participation, but the unprecedented reflection of our vision in official interim Synod documents. Truly, the Holy Spirit is at work!
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, November 24, 2022
*If you would like your own rainbow “I Yam” t-shirt, click here.