In the United States, today is Thanksgiving Day–a traditional time to gather for celebrations with your family of origin or family of choice.
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!
Phoebe Carstens, Blog Contributor: I am grateful for all the transgender Catholics whose lives and steadfast faith serve as witnesses to God’s creative, playful, joyful, and all-encompassing love.
Sarah Cassidy, Blog Contributor: I am grateful for all those who work towards inclusion and acceptance. Particularly, I am inspired by the religious leaders who are actively working to bring marginalized voices into religious spaces. All people, regardless of identity, should have the opportunity to find peace within the church.
Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director: At this time of year, I am always extremely grateful for two groups of people: 1) All of New Ways Ministry’s supporters, who by prayer, financial donations, suggestions, and moral encouragement make our work possible and vibrant; 2) All of my colleagues–staff members, part-timers, volunteers, board members–who keep New Ways Ministry’s work going strong and whose efforts are building a more just, welcoming, and equal church! And, of course, for Pope Francis’ hospitality in meeting with Sister Jeannine and the New Ways Ministry staff in October!
Grace Doerfler, Blog Contributor: I’m grateful for Pope Francis and for the Synod. I’m grateful for the openness and empathy it’s inviting in the church, and I’m thankful for all those bearing witness to LGBTQ+ Catholics’ lives of faith in the Synod process.
Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, Co-Founder: I am grateful that so many Catholics in the U.S. are registering their disagreement with bishops who institute diocesan policies that do not respect transgender youth and adults. I am heartened by these Catholics who take Vatican II seriously by speaking what they know to be true: God loves all of us and wants each person to be ONE in body and spirit.
Liam Myers, Blog Contributor: I’m grateful for all those in our world who work towards making space for those who are often excluded. For those in the church who welcome the queer community, to show them that God is present in them. For those serving the poor and welcoming them in during the holiday season, that they may have people to break bread with. For those helping us to dream of more just futures where all peoples can flourish.
Robert Shine, Associate Director: My gratitude is for the synodal journey begun by Pope Francis. Though this October’s assembly ended less than ideally, the process is much larger than one meeting. In the longer journey, I witness over and over how Catholics’ deep faith and committed discipleship compel them to seek a just, inclusive church. To all who participated in the Synod so far, thank you—and keep going!
Ariell Watson Simon, Blog Contributor: This year, my heart is full of gratitude for the institutions and organizations that courageously employ LGBTQ+ ministers. I thank God for the Catholic schools, healthcare systems, publishers, and others who welcome our gifts and give us opportunities to serve people of God. I’m also grateful for queer friendships among peers, mentors, and youth. Together, we remember that we do not walk this path alone!
Vernon Smith, Volunteer: Having been raised in northeast Ohio where I attended a diocesan Catholic high school, I have been deeply saddened by the Bishop of Cleveland’s extremely negative instructions to Catholic schools about how they should treat LGBTQ+ students. However, I am profoundly thankful for those Catholic school administrations in the Cleveland area that are not implementing those instructions. Those specific schools putting aside the instructions are blessed and privileged not to be under direct diocesan control like the diocesan schools. But they are demonstrating the use of that privilege for a great good. Some of them have issued very positive, accepting statements in support of LGBTQ+ students. Their actions stand in stark pastoral contrast to those of the Bishop. They serve as a beacon of hope to all vulnerable, young LGBTQ+ people, especially those who attend the diocesan schools under the Bishop’s authority.
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, November 23, 2023