Parish Life

Over the past few decades, more and more Catholic parishes have been opening their doors to LGBT people, reaching out with a welcome which is called for by Catholic teaching.

The number of parishes interested in establishing some form of LGBT ministry continues to grow every month.  The resources on this page can help parishes initiate such a ministry, as well as help parishes with already established ministries to renew and develop their programs.

What You Can Do

How can you make your parish, school, or faith community a more welcoming place for LGBT people?  Here are some lists of some simple, practical steps you and your community can take to make sure that LGBT people have a place at the table.

Individual Parisioners
  1. Don’t guess or gossip about someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity; if concerned, speak to the person privately.
  2. Examine your own attitudes about LGBTQ people.
  3. Learn from talking with a parent of an LGBTQ person.
  4. Get facts, not myths, about sexual orientation and gender identity from trusted scientific and social scientific sources.
  5. Talk to God about your feelings about LGBTQ people. Be honest. Be open to God’s response.
  6. Write letters of affirmation to LGBTQ people who work or volunteer in your parish.
Parish Programs and Activities
  1. Educate parishioners on the full range of church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  2. Train pastoral leaders on LGBTQ issues and sensitivity.
  3. Encourage LGBTQ awareness in all aspects of church activities.
  4. Develop a support group for parents of LGBTQ people.
  5. Develop a support group for LGBTQ people.
  6. Speak about needs, concerns, joys of LGBTQ people in homilies, prayers, group sharing, talks, bulletins.
  7. Mark LGBTQ events/holidays as you would for days celebrating diverse communities:
    • March 31: Transgender Day of Visibility
    • April: Day of Silence (sponsored by GLSEN)
    • May 17: International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia
    • June: Pride Month
    • October 11: National Coming Out Day
    • October: Spirit Day (campaign against bullying sponsored by GLAAD)
    • November 20: Transgender Day of Remembrance
  8. Offer an evening of story-telling where LGBTQ people and their family members talk of their personal faith journeys with other parishioners.
  9. Encourage study groups on specific topics, such as church documents about homosexuality.
  10. Include discussions of LGBTQ issues and people in religious education programs at appropriate levels.
  11. Offer service projects that include helping LGBTQ organizations in your community, such as a shelter for LGBT homeless youth.
  12. Include documentaries about LGBTQ faith and spirituality in parish film discussions.
  13. Include books about LGBTQ spirituality in parish book discussions.
  14. Include LGBTQ-headed families in any programs that deal with family life.
  15. Include LGBTQ topics in parish multi-cultural celebrations.
  16. Welcome LGBTQ people into bereavement and other support groups.
  17. Make sexual orientation and gender identity parts of your parish’s non-discrimination categories.
  18. Mention LGBTQ people in your parish’s welcome or mission statement.
  19. Make sure LGBTQ people are invited into all forms of parish ministry and leadership.
  20. Be visibly supportive of LGBTQ people in work, prayer and social environments.
  21. Develop a LGBTQ-friendly resource library; subscribe to LGBTQ-friendly periodicals.
  22. Recognize and/or participate in public LGBTQ events.
  23. Invite support groups for LGBTQ people to use church/community space.
  24. Hold an inclusive mass celebrating all forms of diversity.
  25. Sponsor a retreat or day of recollection for LGBTQ people.
  26. Put an ad in the local LGBTQ paper inviting LGBTQ people to your parish events and liturgies.
  27. Include LGBTQ people on panels and programs on other topics.
  28. Work with neighboring parishes to sponsor education days on LGBTQ issues.
  29. Brainstorm with parishioners strategies that would work in your community.
  30. Adopt an LGBTQ non-discrimination policy for employment and leadership roles in your community.
Pastoral Staff/Leaders
  1. Publicly affirm the positive Catholic statements and actions towards LGBTQ people.
  2. Educate young people to avoid bigotry
  3. Do not allow homophobic and transphobic jokes or statements to go unchallenged.
  4. Invite parents to speak to you about their LGBTQ children so that you can know who the parents are and who might be able to serve as support for others. Do the same for LGBTQ people.
  5. Learn about the LGBTQ community in your city.
  6. Talk honestly with your team members about your feelings/images/ideas about LGBT people.
Schools
  1. Establish a gay-straight alliance as one of the school’s clubs/organizations.
  2. Establish the school as a “Safe Space” for LGBTQ people.
  3. Educate parents about the full range of church teaching on LGBTQ people.
  4. Educate parents about sexual orientation, gender identity, and development.
  5. Train teachers in LGBTQ sensitivity and awareness.

Resources

Find an LGBT-friendly Catholic parish or faith community near you

Check out New Ways Ministry’s list of LGBT-friendly parishes and intentional eucharistic communities across the United States, and in several other nations.

Sponsor a “Next Steps” program in your parish or community

New Ways Ministry offers a program for parishes, schools, and faith communities to help them start introducing LGBT ministry, as well as for parishes which have already started such ministry who want to develop their programs further.  The “Next Steps:  Developing Catholic LGBT Ministry” is a program that can be held over the course of a weekend or as a one-day event.  The program can be held for a single community or the host can invite people from neighboring Catholic institutions.  Click here for more information.

What have Catholic Church leaders said about welcoming LGBT people?

You may be surprised to learn that for over four decades, Catholic Church leaders have been making strong and powerful statements about the importance of welcoming LGBT people into parish life.  Click here to find a selection of excerpts from their statements.

Models of LGBT Ministry

Do you want to know how other parishes have structured their LGBT ministry?  Take a look at New Ways Ministry’s list of different LGBT ministry models by clicking the button to the right.