New Book Offers “New Ways and Next Steps” for LGBTQ+ Parish Ministry

A new book to help Catholic parishes develop LGBTQ+ ministry is being published in September 2023 by Liturgical Press, a leading Catholic publishing house. The author is Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry’s executive director.

Entitled New Ways and Next Steps: Developing LGBTQ+ Parish Ministrythe book is the latest installment in Liturgical Press’ series “Contemporary Topics in Parish Leadership.” The content of the book is based on DeBernardo’s 30-year ministry of educating Catholic leaders about LGBTQ+ issues and helping parishes and schools discern pastoral projects to welcome and affirm LGBTQ+ people.

New Ways and Next Steps is not a prescriptive text. It does not provide a “recipe” for what parishes should do. Instead, the book helps parish leaders devise a pastoral plan that is best suited for their unique parish situation. In the book’s introduction, DeBernardo writes:

“This book is designed as a guide for pastoral ministers and parish volunteers to help them discern what is the best way for their parish to initiate programs of welcome for LGBTQ+ people (the ‘new ways’ of the book’s title) or to develop an already existing LGBTQ+ ministry program (the ‘next steps’ of the title). The content of the book is based on a weekend program that New Ways Ministry initiated in 2008, and in which scores of parishes have participated. The program, entitled ‘Next Steps: Developing Catholic LGBTQ+ Parish Ministry,’ has helped pastoral ministers gain information about church teaching, learn a bit about LGBTQ+ spiritual needs, gifts, and journeys, examine a parish’s readiness for LGBTQ+ ministry, and discover some options for them to introduce LGBTQ+ ministry initiatives in their communities.

“The intent of that program and of this book is not to give a model or a set of instructions for ‘how to do it.’ This book will not tell these ministers what to do. It does not provide a one-size-fits-all model for parishes. Instead, this book puts pastoral ministers and parish volunteers through a discernment process to help them discover and invent what will be effective ministry initiatives in their particular communities. It offers information, questions for reflection, and options that should help pastoral ministers discern are the best courses of action for their individual parishes.”

In addition to providing both a historical and contemporary grounding in Catholic teaching about welcoming and affirming LGBTQ+ people, the book also offers background information on key topics in this ministry, with chapter titles such as “LGBTQ+ Faith Journeys,” “Examining the Local Faith Community,” and “Responding to Opposition.” The chapter “LGBTQ+ Ministry in Action” provides over 30 ideas for parish leaders to consider about how to start or develop LGBTQ+ initiatives.

Several Catholic leaders associated with LGBTQ+ ministry have already offered praise for the new book:

Fr. James Martin, SJ, author of Building a Bridge: “An absolutely essential book for parish ministry to LGBTQ people written by one of the leading experts in the field. So often people ask ‘How do I start a LGBTQ group in my parish?’ ‘What do I need to know?’ ‘How can I best make our LGBTQ parishioners—and their families—feel welcome?’ It’s all here in this useful, accessible, inviting, pastoral and wise new book.”

Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv, Bishop of Lexington, Bishop-President of Pax Christi USA: “Francis DeBernardo offers a wonderfully broad and eminently practical guide to the complex topic of ministry with and to the LGBTQ community within the Church. He has a wonderfully hopeful way of reading and explaining the teaching of the Church that can be so difficult for LGBTQ persons and yet is quite honest about where the challenges lie. He offers a practical guide to pastorally responding to those who object to or resist the ministry in a parish community, very faithful to the approach of Pope Francis who does not think we should have winners and losers in our discussions about difficult issues. Also very important is DeBernardo’s self-evaluation for parishes who think they are already doing enough or have no need for this ministry. Every parish that wishes to fulfill its evangelization and pastoral goals should study and implement the contents of this book.”

Cristina L.H. Traina, Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, Chair in Catholic Theology, Fordham University: “Frank DeBernardo has distilled decades of experience in helping Catholics start LGBTQ+ ministries into just over 100 thoughtful pages. Information-packed yet accessible, challenging yet reassuring, DeBernardo’s book mines the riches of the church’s genuine—if sometimes ambivalent—affirmation of queer Catholics to help readers create ministries of welcome in their own parishes. Follow his path to a dynamic pastoral plan!”

New Ways and Next Steps: Developing LGBTQ+ Parish Ministry will be released in September. To pre-order copies of directly from Liturgical Press, click here. For other titles in Liturgical Press’ series “Contemporary Topics in Parish Leadership,” click here.

New Ways and Next Steps joins a growing Catholic literature on LGBTQ+ ministry, such as Yunuen Trujillo’s LGBTQ Catholics: A Guide to Inclusive MinistryJason Steidl’s LGBTQ Catholic Ministry: Past and Present, and Sam Albano’s God’s Works Revealed: Spirituality, Theology, and Social Justice for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Catholics.

DeBernardo’s other books include Mychal Judge: ‘Take Me Where You Want Me to Go,’ a biography of the gay Franciscan priest who died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center from Liturgical Press, and A Home for All: A Catholic Call for LGBTQ Non-Discrimination, co-authored by Robert Shine, from New Ways Ministry. To learn more about these books and all of New Ways Ministry’s publications, click here.

Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, August 2, 2023

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