New Ways Ministry’s Bridge Building Award
Mary Ellen & Casey Lopata
Bridge Building Award Recipients – 2005
Honoring Mary Ellen and Casey Lopata – founders of the Catholic Gay and Lesbian Family Ministry in the Diocese of Rochester, New York. The parents of four children, including one gay son, they have compassionately ministered to parents and families with LGBT members and published several resources to facilitate the process of accepting and affirming LGBT people. As passionate leaders and innovators, they have helped to organize ministers at the national level through the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries and have recently established a new ministry called Fortunate Families.
Casey has a Master of Divinity from St. Bernard’s Institute, Rochester, New York , and Mary Ellen has a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies focusing on homosexuality and the family from Empire State College, New York. Married for 41 years, the Lopatas are the parents of four children, and the grandparents of ten.
Both are charter members (and Mary Ellen former President) of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries (NACDLGM), and charter members of the Catholic Parents Network. They served as consultants to the drafters of Always Our Children, the US Bishops Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children. They have facilitated a number of reflection gatherings of parents, and have made presentations at Call To Action, Dignity/USA, NACDLGM, National Association of Family Life Ministers, and New Ways Ministry conferences.
Locally they provided leadership for St. Mary’s Connection for Gay and Lesbian People, Families and Friends in their parish. Casey also belongs to Interfaith Advocates for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People in Rochester. Together they authored Fortunate Families: Catholic Parents with Lesbian Daughters and Gay Sons; and Casey edited Seeds of Hope and More Seeds, resource manuals for compassionate ministry with GLBT persons. In addition to parenting and grand parenting their family, they are also the godparents of a happy son of a loving gay couple.