Sister Jeannine Gramick’s 50 Years of Catholic LGBTQ Ministry


Jubilee Photo Album

In 1971 when Sister Jeannine Gramick was studying for a doctorate in mathematics she met a young gay man who asked her the question that would change her life: “Sister, what is the Catholic Church doing for my lesbian and gay sisters and brothers?”  Jeannine ventured to find out—and found there was precious little. So she got to work.

Joined shortly after by her ministry partner, Father Robert Nugent, she began in small ways to develop what we now think of as LGBTQ ministry.  In 1977, they founded New Ways Ministry to be a Catholic educational and advocacy bridge-building ministry to promote justice, pastoral care, and reconciliation for LGBTQ people.

Through workshops, retreats, publications, resources, talks, and advocacy, the two changed the landscape of the Catholic Church in the USA by educating church leaders, pastoral ministers, LGBTQ people, theologians, and people in the pews about the Catholic imperative to treat LGBTQ people equally and justly.

As many of you know, their pioneering ministry was not always accepted, and they endured much criticism and rejection, which was often born out of ignorance rather than faith.

50 years later, Sister Jeannine is still moving forward.  (Fr. Nugent passed away in 2014.)  The world and the church are much different than they were 50 years ago.  And under Pope Francis, we are beginning to see some steps being taken to open the discussion on LGBTQ issues in the church.  These steps are the fruits of the labor of love at which Sister Jeannine and countless other Catholic LGBTQ leaders have been working for five decades.

Celebrating the Jubilee Year!

To mark this golden jubilee year of Sister Jeannine’s LGBTQ ministry, New Ways Ministry is embarking on a special, one-time only, fund-raising campaign. We invite you to celebrate Sister Jeannine’s persistent and creative ministry by sending a gift of $50, $150, $250, $500, or $5,000. (Of course, if your means do not allow you to give any of those amounts, you are still welcome to take part in this celebration by contributing what you can.)

All money raised will go to continuing the work of New Ways Ministry’s projects and resources designed to build up equality, justice, and pastoral care for LGBTQ people in the Catholic Church. To donate now, click here.

As a postulant for the School Sisters of Notre Dame, 1960

Sister Jeannine demonstrating in 1991

With New Ways Ministry Co-Founder, Fr. Robert Nugent, SDS, circa 1980s

At Philadelphia’s Equality Forum, 2001

With Mercy Sister Theresa Kane

With Rev. John McNeill, theologian, and LGBTQ pioneer Barbara Gittings

With LGBTQ pioneer Frank Kameny

With Rev. Charles Curran, theologian

Speaking out for marriage equality in Maryland, 2012

The award -winning 2004 documentary about her ministry.

At New Ways Ministry Christmas party with staff and volunteers, 2012

With LGBTQ Catholics in Poland, 2016

At the Pride Parade in Prague, 2015

Is it Sister Jeannine with a Pope Francis cut-out?  Or Pope Francis with a Sister Jeannine cut-out?

With her workout friends

With Australia’s Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, New Ways Ministry’s Frank DeBernardo, Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley, and Detroit’s Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, at 2012 New Ways’ National Symposium

With Bill Crambo and Dave Vespa at a New Ways Ministry 2011 party

Presenting at a workshop on Catholic LGBTQ issues

With Barbara Johnson, a Maryland lesbian woman who was denied communion at her mother’s funeral

With a group of LGBTQ Catholics in Frankfurt, Germany

Sister Jeannine at the inaugural meeting of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, Rome, 2015.

Professing final vows as a Sister of Loretto, with Loretto Community President Sr. Mary Catherine Rabbitt, 2004

With Catholic LGBTQ pilgrims, after receiving VIP seats at the Ash Wednesday papal audience in St. Peter’s Square, 2015