Models of Ministry

The following is a list of 12 models of Catholic LGBT ministry that have emerged over the past few decades. The list is roughly chronological, with the first item being one of the earliest models and the last ones being the most “cutting edge” approaches. Many parishes use several of these models at the same time, or some hybrid version of two or more. These models are provided to help people think about how they might want to shape their parish ministry. They are not intended to be prescriptive, but to offer options.

  1. One-on-one Counseling: LGBT people are ministered to on an individual basis through pastoral counseling, reconciliation.
  2. Celibacy: Social and spiritual support groups provided to help lesbian and gay people remain celibate.
  3. Separate Place: LGBT people meet privately and only with one another and a few close allies and support each other spiritually.  Sometimes these ministries are conducted on a diocesan or regional basis, with no connection to a local parish.
  4. Support Group: LGBT people meet with one another and with other parishioners to discuss their faith lives.  This model differs from #3 in that the meeting is public and all are welcome.
  5. Whole person: LGBT ministry does not focus on sexuality, but on the myriad other questions that LGBT people experience:  alienation, marginalization, fear, personal integration
  6. Education: In order to welcome LGBT people to a parish, often basic education has to be done with pastoral staff, leaders, and the whole community to make them aware of LGBT reality and how this outreach fits into the parish’s plan.
  7. HIV/AIDS: Some parishes encounter LGBT people through their outreach to the HiV/AIDS community.  This model is less prevalent currently, as the demographics of the epidemic has shifted.
  8. Family Ministry: LGBT ministry is conducted by providing support to parents and other family members of LGBT people, particularly if these relatives are having difficulty adjusting to the new reality because of faith issues.
  9. Gifted Approach: The spiritual gifts of LGBT people are celebrated in the parish by recognizing the contributions that LGBT people make practically and spiritually.
  10. Blending In: Instead of singling out LGBT people or creating special programs for them, a parish may make a conscious effort to include LGBT topics as one element among many in the ordinary programs of the parish:  adult education, diversity efforts, social justice projects, youth ministry, etc.  LGBT topics are “blended in” to existing programs.
  11. Integrated approach: Welcome of LGBT people is intentionally prepared for in all parish programs and ministries so that LGBT people are fully integrated into parish life.  Some challenging aspects of this integration might include marriage preparation, grief support, sacramental education for children.
  12. Social Justice: Parish communities work for LGBT justice and equality in civic and ecclesial life.