New Ways Ministry Thanks Sisters of Mercy and Mercy H.S. for Continuing Employment of Transgender Man

The following is a statement of Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director

New Ways Ministry congratulates and thanks the Sisters of Mercy and the administrators of Mercy H.S., San Francisco, for their Gospel-based decision to continue employment of one of their teachers who identifies as a transgender man. This decision stands as a beacon of hope in the midst of the terrible darkness of the recent trend of firing LGBT employees from Catholic institutions. The decision was announced in a letter to parents of students, which, after describing the teacher’s situation, stated:

“This afternoon, we informed students, faculty and staff about our resolve to support the dignity of each person—regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identification.”

We applaud, too, the courage of English Department chair and teacher Gabriel Stein-Bodenheimer for honoring his gender identity, as well to his commitment to educate students in the Mercy tradition. His personal example will be a most powerful lesson to all in the school’s community, especially because his decision involved a large degree of risk.

This story reflects a true Catholic commitment to respecting the dignity of LGBT people—a principle which is shared by millions of Catholics across the U.S. The experience of this school will help our Church to heal from the pain of too many past negative decisions regarding LGBT people. Our Catholic Church will only be strengthened by this decision.

The Sisters of Mercy offer a courageous example of inclusion and equality that could be replicated by so many other Catholic schools, parishes, and social service agencies when they learn of an employee’s gender identity, sexual orientation, or marital status. This example can be a turning point in what has been a dark chapter of the U.S. Catholic Church, when over 60 faithful employees have lost their church jobs because of LGBT issues.

Their process included wide consultation, reflection, and prayer. As the letter described:

“. . . we collaborated with the Board Chair Diane Lawrence and a team of key administrators while we studied how to respond in a manner consistent with Mercy and Gospel values and your School’s Catholic Identity. We prayed for guidance. We also consulted trusted advisors as we applied these principles to this circumstance.”

Furthermore, the Sisters showed their commitment to caring for the entire school community by having counselors available for anyone–student, parent, staff–to discuss their questions and concerns.

The Sisters of Mercy grounded their decision in the principles of Mercy which form the charism of their community. These same principles of mercy are promoted by Pope Francis, particularly in this year which he declared as a Jubilee of Mercy. Pope Francis’ message of acceptance and encounter with the LGBT community have been given flesh and blood by the Sisters’ decision to continue the teacher’s employment.

New Ways Ministry calls on other Catholic religious communities of Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters–and indeed, all Catholic administrators—to rejoice in the Sisters of Mercy’s example, and to honor it by following it as a way to end employment discrimination against LGBT church employees.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

For Bondings 2.0‘s full coverage of this story, and other LGBT-related church worker disputes, click the ‘Employment Issues‘ category to the right or here. You can click here to find a full listing of the more than 50 incidents since 2008 where church workers have lost their jobs over LGBT identity, same-sex marriages, or public support for equality.

7 Responses to New Ways Ministry Thanks Sisters of Mercy and Mercy H.S. for Continuing Employment of Transgender Man

  1. amagjuka says:

    In the early 80’s, I taught at a Catholic school with Sisters of Mercy. Sr. Mary Brian was the best principal ever. She was a force to be reckoned with–no one could intimidate her! She was truly a light that shines bright for love & dignity for all. I am happy to hear of another great Sr. Of Mercy!!

  2. Bishop Carlos Florido, osf says:

    What a wonderful and brave decision by the Sisters of Mercy in following the teachings of the Christ!

  3. Patrick Gallagher says:

    Thank God for the Sisters of Mercy and their decision to support the transgender person on their faculty! The nuns in the Catholic church are far more aware and supportive of the attitude of informed Catholics throughout the world. The nuns show their understanding of the laity and the way the the world has evolved in support of the LGBT community!

  4. 158may says:

    The Sisters of Mercy are a great order. If you run a high school in San Francisco and you don’t respond as they did then you are beyond salvation.

    Your mission of gender orientation equality is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. The failure of the plutocrat episcopacy of the Church to get on board shows how bad John Paul II and Benedict were as popes and how narrow-minded they were themselves.

    Keep up the good work.

  5. lynne1946 says:

    God bless the Sisters of Mercy! They are clearly following the path of Jesus in their teaching and by their example.

  6. […] Yesterday, New Ways Ministry congratulated and thanked the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy H.S., and Gabriel Stein-Bodenheimer (the transgender teacher) for their courage in handling this situation so justly and faithfully.  You can read New Ways Ministry’s statement here. […]

  7. […] Bondings 2.0: “New Ways Ministry Thanks Sisters of Mercy and Mercy H.S. for Continuing Employment of Transgender M…” […]

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