By Glen Bradley, New Ways Ministry, October 18, 2016
What is Spirit Day?
It is an annual national event reminding schools to confront anti-LGBT bullying and bias. Click herefor more info from GLAAD.
When is it?
THIS Thursday, October 20, 2016.
What happens? What can I do?
Wear as many purple clothes as you can on Thursday, October 20th. The display of purple will show that you are against anti-LGBT discrimination and you support your LGBT students, faculty, and staff. Wearing purple will show you want to have a safe and inclusive school!
What if I am a student and have a dress code or uniform?
If you can’t wear a purple shirt or skirt/pants/dress, your school might allow you to wear a purple sweater, a ribbon pinned to your shirt, or a bracelet that is made of anything purple (ribbon, yarn, etc.). If you are comfortable, you could ask your parents for advice. Or, you can usually find your school’s dress code online if you Google your school’s name and “dress code” or “uniform.” If your school allows a non-uniform sweater and/or jewelry, wear them in purple!
What about social media? What should I post?
Spread the word! Share this page with your friends and teachers.
Use #SpiritDayAtCatholicSchools, @NewWaysMinistry and @GLAAD on all your social media posts and photos to join our new hashtag campaign. It will help you find fellow LGBT and ally students, faculty, and staff at Catholic schools while helping them find you!
Use GLAAD’s app (iPhone & Andriod) to make your profile pictures purple.
We know we’ve said this a lot, but don’t forget to use #SpiritDayAtCatholicSchools for all your Spirit Day photos! This hashtag is new and making it go viral can bring attention to the work needed at Catholic schools. You can join this new social media trend!
Want to find out more? Need help explaining Spirit Day to others or to your school? Wondering about the Catholic school context?
Download and print this resource from New Ways Ministry explaining Spirit Day from a Catholic perspective! (PDF download available here).
Click here for our original post calling Catholics to participate in Spirit Day 2016.
New Ways Ministry is proud to announce the presentation of our Bridge Building Award to Father James Martin, SJ, in recognition of his ministry of communication which has helped to expand the dialogue on LGBT issues in the Catholic Church.
The award will be presented at a ceremony on Sunday, October 30, 2016, 2:00-5:00 p.m., at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 1726 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, Maryland, 21208 (near Baltimore). Immediately following the presentation Fr. Martin will offer remarks. An hors d’oeuvre reception will conclude the event.
For information on attending the award ceremony for Fr. Martin, click here
For information on honoring Fr. Martin on this occasion, click here.
Fr. Martin serves as Editor At Large for America magazine, the national Jesuit opinion journal. In addition, he is one of the most widely recognized Catholic personalities on social media, with a Facebook following of close to half a million people. Fr. Martin has used his communication skills and channels to allow for an extensive discussion of LGBT issues among Catholics of varying ideologies.
To read all of Bondings 2.0 blog posts which refer to Fr. Martin, click here.
New Ways Ministry’s Bridge Building Award honors those individuals who by their scholarship, leadership, or witness have promoted discussion, understanding, and reconciliation between the LGBT community and the Catholic Church. The award was first given in 1992 to Father Charles Curran, a renowned moral theologian. Other awardees were: Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (1995); Sister Margaret Farley, RSM (2002); Mary Ellen and Casey Lopata (2005); John J. McNeill (2009).
The October 30th award ceremony and reception are open to the public. A suggested donation is $35 per person (all are welcome regardless of ability to donate). If you would like to attend the event, please click here, and fill out the form by October 20th.
If you would like to honor Fr. Martin’s achievements in a special way, New Ways Ministry invites you to have your name or your organization’s name listed in the program booklet for the event. You may choose to be listed in one of the following categories:
Patron ($1,000 donation)
Benefactor ($500 donation)
Supporter ($250 donation)
Contributor ($100 donation)
Friend ($50 donation)
To have your name or organization’s name listed, please click here and fill out the form by Ocvtober 7th.
If you have any problems with the online form, please contact New Ways Ministry at 301-277-5674 or info@NewWaysMinistry.org.
Father Martin is the author and editor of numerous books including Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus, and The Abbey: A Story of Discovery. His 2014 publication Jesus: A Pilgrimage was a New York Times bestseller and won both a Christopher Award and a Catholic Press Association Award. Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life was named as one of “Best Books” of 2011 by Publishers Weekly.
His book on Jesuit spirituality The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life, a New York Times bestseller, was awarded a 2010 Christopher Award, and was also a number one bestseller in Catholic books. His memoir My Life with the Saints (Loyola, 2006), which received a 2007 Christopher Award, was named one of the “Best Books” of 2006 by Publishers Weekly, and also received a First Place award from the Catholic Press Association. Together on Retreat: Meeting Jesus in Prayer is an e-book that uses the technology of the e-reader to lead readers on a guided retreat.
For further information call (301) 277-5674 or email info@NewWaysMinistry.org
Today’s post is Part One of a two-part series on New Ways Ministry’s pilgrimage to Ireland.
New Ways Ministry’s recent pilgrimage to Ireland brought showers of blessings to the two dozen participants who made the trip. One of the biggest blessings was the opportunity to learn firsthand about LGBT ministry, welcome, and advocacy in Ireland at this time.
Sister Jeannine Gramick, New Ways Ministry’s Co-Founder, was the planner and spiritual leader of this journey, entitled “Ireland: Land of Rainbows and Wedding Bells.” Ireland was selected not only for its strong Catholic identity, but because in 2015 it became the first nation in the world to enact marriage equality by popular vote. As the pilgrims learned from their visits and meetings with church leaders and LGBT advocates, the Catholic movement for LGBT equality is strong in the Emerald Isle.
Throughout the trip, the pilgrims received warm Irish welcomes from several communities of religious men and women, while also visiting sites important to the LGBT community.
The day we arrived, the Redemptorists welcomed us for Mass and a “cuppa” tea, scones, and soup at their Esker Monastery outside the town of Athenry. Fr. Tony Flannery, a leader in Ireland’s church reform movement, was on hand with his brother Redemptorists to introduce us to the many ways his community is building a more inclusive church. Fr. Brendan O’Rourke presided at Eucharistic liturgy for the group.
We encountered the Redemptorists three more times on our trip. We celebrated Mass at their parish church in Cherry Orchard, a low-income neighborhood of Dublin. Fr. Adrian Egan discussed contemporary social problems facing this low-income area before offering a prayer that we “keep in mind anyone who, for any reason, feels on the edges and excluded.”
Redemptorist Father John J. Ó Ríordáin guided the pilgrims prayerfully through the historic site of Glendalough, the monastery founded by St. Kevin in the sixth century. As we walked from place to place around the grounds, Fr. Ó Ríordáin offered not only historical background, but also some Celtic prayers and poems appropriate to the various settings. Our trip there ended with an outdoor Mass by the side of one of Glendalough’s stunning lakes.
In Belfast, we visited the beautiful Clonard Monastery with a sanctuary dominated by an image of Jesus with outstretched arms—a symbol that all are welcome to the parish, Fr. Noel Kehoe, the pastor, told us in greeting.
While at Clonard, which also is the city’s main center for reconciliation between Catholic and Protestant citizens, the pilgrims were educated about these peace efforts by Pádraig Ó Tuama, an openly gay Catholic man. He said the Redemptorist monastery is known well for being a safe space to many, including LGBT people, because here, “You know you didn’t have to lessen your dignity.” Ó Tuama is also the leader of the Corymeela Community, an Irish spirituality center, which includes LGBT people and sponsors a retreat for pastoral ministers involved in LGBT ministry.
In Dublin, we visited the home of one of that city’s most well-known Catholic daughters: Venerable Mother Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy. At the Mercy International Center on Baggot Street, we were warmly welcomed by Sister Mary Kay Dobrovlny, a U.S. sister who provided us with information and inspiration about Mercy’s origins. At Mass in the Center’s chapel, one of our pilgrims, Susanne Cassidy, the Catholic mother of two gay sons and a Mercy Associate, shared the impact that Mother McAuley’s witness had on her own life and LGBT ministry. We adjourned, as always, for a comfortable cup of tea afterwards.
In Kildare, the pilgrims visited Solas Bhríde (Light of Brigid), a spirituality center and hermitage opened just last year. The three Brigidine Sisters–Sr. Mary Minehan, Sr. Phil O’Shea, and Sr. Rita Minehan–who oversee the ecologically-built center said the purpose of their ministry is to “unfold the legacy of St. Brigid and its relevance for our time.” St. Brigid, abbess of a double monastery (one part for men and one part for women) in Kildare, is a great inspiration to the Irish people for taking care of the environment.
At the spirituality center, we visited the garden to see a new statue of St. Brigid by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz. The statue was commissioned by Fr. Dennis O’Neill, a Chicago priest who is pastor of St. Martha parish, Morton Grove, which is an LGBT-friendly parish.
At the Whitefriars Street Church, a Carmelite parish in Dublin, the pilgrims gathered to pray at the shrine of St. Valentine, an altar which holds a small casket containing the relics of this famous saint who is so connected with love and relationships. Sister Jeannine offered a reflective reading of St. Paul’s famous discourse on love, found in 1 Corinthians 13, while we prayed for all our relationships–past, present, future.
On the same day, we gathered for a photo, not prayer, at the statue of Dublin’s famous author, Oscar Wilde, the beautiful Merrion Square park. Wilde was jailed for being a gay man and for writing of “the love that dare not speak its name,” about which he said during his trial, “It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection.”
Tomorrow, Bondings 2.0 will share details about two meetings we had with LGBT Irish folks and their families, and the wisdom gleaned from them. We’ll also discuss our visit to the Archdiocese of Dublin’s monthly Mass for the LGBT community. Tune in!
To view more photos from the pilgrimage, visit New Ways Ministry’s page on Facebook by clicking here.If you would like information about future pilgrimages, please send an email to: info@NewWaysMinistry.orgor phone 301-277-5674.
–Francis DeBernardo and Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry
Sr. Jeannine Gramick, New Ways Ministry’s Co-Founder, has worked more than four decades to bring LGBT equality to the Catholic Church. Few years have been as positive for this ministry as 2015 despite remaining challenges in the church. The following is a re-cap of some of the highlights of her year’s activities, including many which this blog had not yet covered.
In February, Gramick accompanied 50 LGBT and Ally Catholic pilgrims to a papal audience in Rome where the New Ways Ministry group was given VIP seating. In September, she attended the White House’s welcoming reception for Pope Francis alongside other prominent LGBT advocates. In between, there were many positive Catholic LGBT developments around the world including Ireland’s marriage referendum, for which she campaigned when she visited the Emerald Isle. (And she’ll be returning to Ireland in April 2016 with another group of LGBT and Ally pilgrims. It’s not too late to sign up! You can read more information and find a registration form by clicking here.)
In Good Conscience, the 2005 documentary about Gramick’s life, with particular emphasis on her relationship with the Vatican, celebrated its 10th anniversary. Producer Barbara Rick released an updated version and spoke with Global Sisters Reporter about the film and the sister behind it, saying of Gramick:
“This is a woman who is doing something revolutionary by refusing to be silenced by the patriarchal hierarchy of the Vatican. That just resonated very deeply with me: a woman standing up without fear (or in spite of fear) and saying, ‘I refuse to collaborate on my own oppression.’ That just hit such a deep chord in me. . .
“I think she was a part of this transformation that has happened in the treatment of gay and lesbian Catholics and gay and lesbian people throughout the world. She is part of the realization that all people are deserving of love, rights, respect and marriage.”
A recent Buzzfeedprofile of Sister Jeannine details in greater depth her journey of being faithful to an inclusive Gospel. It’s a good read for those who want to learn more of her life and how she became involved with LGBT ministry and advocacy. In the interview, she expressed hope in Pope Francis’ leadership, saying:
“[Attending the papal audience] was a great feeling of vindication, almost a euphoria that this is how the church should be. . .Doctrine doesn’t inform ministry. I think the opposite: Ministry informs the doctrine. In fact, I’m more in line with Pope Francis: I don’t think we need to worry or think about or be concerned about doctrine.”
Not all welcomed Gramick in 2015, however. When she visited the Czech Republic this past summer, Prague’s archbishop expelled the program at which she was scheduled to speak from a local parish. Cardinal Dominik Duka rejected events to be held at the church during Prague Pride festivities over the summer. Sister Jeannine spoke elsewhere, reported the Prague Post, but remained disappointed by the cardinal’s decision.
As 2016 approaches, Sr. Jeannine’s ministry will keep pressing for equal justice for LGBT people in the church and in society. Her message from her earliest years still rings true for Catholics today: “This is your church — don’t let other people screen you out.” To hear more of Sr. Jeannine Gramick’s story and learn about her message of love, you can watch a TED Talk she gave at Penn State University earlier this year, entitled “Walk in Your God Shoes“:
David Gibson, on his blog at Religion News Service, reported on the issue which is causing millions–yes, millions–of people to flock to the Facebook page of the popular Jesuit author and speaker.
The “offending” post which is causing the controversy, was put up by Fr. Martin just before 3:00 pm on June 26th, the day that the U.S. Supreme Court legalized marriage equality nationwide. In the post, Fr. Martin said:
“No issue brings out so much hatred from so many Catholics as homosexuality.”
“Even after over 25 years as a Jesuit, the level of hatred around homosexuality is nearly unbelievable to me, especially when I think of all of the wonderful LGBT friends I have.”
Earlier in the day, Martin had made three posts about the Supreme Court ruling. The first was a post announcing the decision. The second was the response to the decision from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The third was the response of New Ways Ministry. For each of the posts, he added the following prefatory guidelines to his followers who would want to comment on them:
“No ad hominem. No uncharitable remarks. No homophobic remarks. Mo more than one or two posts per person. And Catholics who disagree with the Supreme Court decision must treat gays with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity,’ as the Catechism asks.”
In both the USCCB post and the New Ways Ministry post, he provided links so that his readers could, if they wanted, easily see both points of view.
Later in the day, probably due to many negative comments he received, Fr. Martin posted the message, quoted above, about how homosexuality brings out an immense amount of hatred.
The statistics for each of these posts tell an interesting story:
New Ways Ministry reaction: 6,635 Likes; 881 Shares; 879 Comments
Martin’s 3:00 pm post on negativity: 402,328 Likes; 141,108; Shares; 18,229 Comments
[Facebook statistics are from late in the evening on June 30, 2015]
Gibson reports that the result of all that sharing of the 3:00 pm post, already over 28 million people have viewed it.
The rest of Martin’s 3:00 pm post reads like a sermon:
“The Catholic church must do a much better job of teaching what the Catechism says: that we should treat our LGBT brothers and sisters with ‘respect, sensitivity and compassion.’
“But God wants more. God wants us to love. And not a twisted, crabbed, narrow tolerance, which often comes in the guise of condemnations, instructions and admonitions that try to masquerade as love, but actual love.
“Love means: getting to know LGBT men and women, spending time with them, listening to them, being challenged by them, hoping the best for them, and wanting them to be a part of your lives, every bit as much as straight friends are part of your lives.
“Love first. Everything else later. In fact, everything else is meaningless without love.”
Fr. Martin has taken the venom spewed towards him in stride, it seems. At about 10:00 pm on the same day, he posted his reaction to the immense negative response he received. He offered screen shots of three of the attacks on him, and then humorously commented:
“Dear erstwhile ‘friends,’
“If you are currently composing a Facebook message to describe how much you disapprove of me–like these from three separate Catholics–wouldn’t it be better simply to hit the ‘Unfollow’ key? Not that I don’t enjoy such notes, including the frequently amusing misspellings and delightfully creative grammatical mistakes. But it would save us both a lot of time.
James Martin, SJ,
or as one of you styled me,
‘Father’ James Martin, SJ”
Martin, who posts on a wide variety of church, social, and cultural issues, was not daunted by the criticism. Since this controversy, he has already posted twice more on the Supreme Court decision. Martin is one of the most popular Catholic commentators on Facebook, with over 277,000 followers.
I think there are three lessons in this story. The first lesson is that this Facebook incident illustrates both how passionate Catholics–on both sides of the issue–are about the Supreme Court’s decision. While the strong majority of U.S. Catholics support marriage equality, there are still many who are equally strongly opposed to it. These groups need to be reconciled to one another.
The second lesson is the need for civil discourse as Catholics continue to discuss this topic. The Supreme Court decision resolved the legal and political questions of same-gender marriage. The moral and religious questions will continue. It will be imperative for both sides of the debate to treat one another respectfully, as a number of U.S. bishops have pointed out in their reaction statements.
The third lesson is that the negative reaction to Father Martin’s post shows how poorly educated Catholics are on the basics of church teaching about accepting gay and lesbian people with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” Connected with this teaching, and equally as poorly taught by bishops and leaders, is honoring the human dignity of gay and lesbian people. Father Martin pointed out the reality of this deficiency in his post. Much more teaching about how the Catholic social justice tradition applies to gender and sexual minorities is greatly needed. Now, more than ever.
Now that New Ways Ministry pilgrims are back in the United States, and now that the dust is settling from our exciting journey to Italy which included prime reserved seating at the papal audience in St. Peter’s Square on Ash Wednesday, it seems a good time to reflect on the the experience. And while we’re reflecting, you might want to see a clip of our group singing the hymn “All Are Welcome” to the pope on that day. Just click on the following video:
As for relfection, I think I can speak for my fellow pilgrims when I say that the trip and the Pope Francis experience can be summed up in one word:
The news stories of our special seats went literally around the globe, appearing in news outlets in Poland, Argentina, Germany, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Ireland, Australia, Spain. And those are only the stories that we have been able to track.
I think our pilgrimage participants were more surprised than anyone that the story received so much attention. We certainly didn’t feel special, and we certainly didn’t feel we deserved such attention. While it was certainly an honor to be seated so close to Pope Francis, in seats reserved for VIPs, we hadn’t realized that this would be the case until the very moment when we were ushered to our section. We didn’t really have much time to anticipate and prepare for the experience.
We knew that Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the papal household, had reserved seats for us, but the letter that he sent to Sister Jeannine Gramick gave no indication that these were special seats, or even where they were located.
Indeed, our first interpretation of Ganswein’s response to Sister Jeannine’s letter seemed to be something of a “consolation prize.” She had not requested special seating: she had requested that Pope Francis meet with our pilgrimage group of LGBT Catholics and supporters. We assumed that Ganswein was giving us a polite dismissal, not a place of distinction.
Ganswein had met Sister Jeannine back in 2003 when she visited the Vatican, and gave him a copy of the Italian edition of her book, Building Bridges: Gay and Lesbian Reality and the Catholic Church, in order to present it to Cardinal Ratzinger. The English edition had been a major focus of the Vatican’s investigation of Sister Jeannine and her co-author, Father Robert Nugent, which had taken place in the 1990s. Ganswein is well aware of the controversy, and knows of the history that New Ways Ministry has had with the Vatican. These past events did not prevent him from welcoming our group to the preferred seating section. It is like the cloud of suspicion surrounding Sister Jeannine and New Ways Ministry is not as thick or as suffocating as it used to be.
One wrinkle in this experience was the way our group was named among those attending the audience. The list did not mention that we were from the LGBT community, though Sr. Jeannine had made that explicit in her letter. There was some disappointment about this fact, but most of the pilgrims took it in stride.
Part of their willingness to forgive this error arose from the treatment we received on our past two pilgrimages to Rome. Under the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, our presence was not acknowledged at all. While our LGBT status was not recognized publicly, this LGBT group was not shunned. Indeed, it was given a place of honor.
Still, I think that this incident of not being named is in a way symbolic of the way that Pope Francis is approaching LGBT issues. He is willing to go to a certain point, but he is not yet willing to go all the way. For some people that approach is cowardly. For others, it might seem political. I tend to view it as a step forward.
Part of the step forward means that it is a great improvement over the previous two papacies. Their approach to LGBT issues seemed to be avoidance, opposition, and silencing. Pope Francis’ approach seems to be engagement, welcome, and discussion. Those are important changes.
In other words, his record, so far, is a mixed bag.
As Sister Jeannine and I told many reporters after the audience, Pope Francis has taken some very important steps in the right direction, but the church hierarchy still needs to take many more steps in order to achieve justice and equality for LGBT people. It must speak out against repressive laws around the globe against LGBT people. It must condemn violence directed towards them. It must stop firing LGBT church workers and volunteers. It must speak out for equal treatment before the law.
When we were asked, “What more could Pope Francis be doing?” our answer was simple: there must be more dialogue with LGBT people and family members. We suggested that the upcoming synod and World Meeting of Families would be excellent opportunities for such dialogue, and we recommended that the pope and his team invite members of the LGBT Catholic community to speak publicly at those events about their lives, faith, and love.
Recognition of our group at this papal audience was another step in the process of LGBT inclusion in the Church. Our hope is that the Vatican’s action will inspire national and local church leaders to follow their example.
The papal audience is all about gestures and symbols. While it was an honor for New Ways Ministry’s pilgrimage group to be recognized at the audience, we are keenly aware that this honor was not for the 49 of us alone. It was a welcome and recognition that extends to all LGBT Catholics and allies who have worked so hard for so long for some kind of official acknowledgment. As we prayed while sitting near the doors of St. Peter’s Basilica and just a few yards from Pope Francis, we prayed in thanksgiving for all of you who have been transforming our Church, and which helped bring it to this moment.
Since becoming pope in March 2013, one of Pope Francis’ most endearing habits has been making phone calls or writing notes to ordinary people, and even sometimes meeting with them in a personal encounter.
So, is it too much to hope that he might meet with friends of New Ways Ministry when Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder, leads a pilgrimage of LGBT and ally Catholics to Rome in February?
Well, knowing from first-hand experience that stranger things have definitely happened, and that God truly does move in mysterious ways, Sister Jeannine has written to Pope Francis asking him if he had some time in his busy papal schedule to meet with these 50 people who are traveling to Italy to visit shrines, churches, and monuments in not only the Eternal City, but Florence, and Assisi, as well.
In her December 23, 2014, letter to the pontiff, Sr. Jeannine wrote, in part:
“I am one of your multi-billion+ fans! On my computer is a round decal with your picture and the words, ‘This Pope gives me hope!’ On my car is a bumper sticker that says, ‘I ♥ Pope Francis.’ . . .
“In February, I will be leading a pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, and Florence for 50 Catholics, who are lesbian/gay or are parents, family members or friends of lesbian/gay Catholics. They are so very heartened by your words of mercy and welcome. They believe, as you say, that receiving the Body and Blood of Christ is spiritual nourishment that we need to grow in our love-relationship with God, not a prize to be awarded those who are worthy.
“We will be in Rome from February 17 to February 20 and plan to attend your general audience on Ash Wednesday. The pilgrims would like to meet personally with you for a few minutes, either after your general audience, or at another time at your convenience.
“Would it be possible for you to meet personally with these faith-filled Catholics who have felt too long excluded from their Church?”
Back in the 1990s, when on a flight from Rome to Munich to pray at the tomb of her religious congregation’s foundress, Sister Jeannine serendipitously ended up on the same flight as then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), who at the time was directing an investigation of Sister Jeannine’s ministry with lesbian and gay people. The two shared a delightful conversation, and Sister Jeannine has stated that it helped her see the human side of a man whom many considered to be her greatest adversary. Indeed, on his part, Cardinal Ratzinger acknowledged several times during their talk that this chance meeting had to be the work of Providence.
So, who knows how Pope Francis will respond? As everyone knows, he has already made several important statements and gestures in regard to greater Catholic openness towards LGBT people, including writing a personal note to Kairos, a Catholic LGBT group in Florence, Italy.
And just yesterday, a Spanish-language news report announced that it seems Pope Francis recently met with a transgender man and his fiancee from Spain in a private audience at the Vatican. The story reports that Diego Neria Lejárraga wrote to the pontiff a month ago describing the ill-treatment he received from fellow parishioners. Bondings 2.0 will provide more details as the story emerges.
The members of Sister Jeannine’s pilgrimage will be meeting with members of Kairos when they visit that beautiful Renaissance city. Five years ago, she brought another group of pilgrims to Florence and established a friendly relationship with the Kairos leaders and members.
This year, the American group will also be meeting with members of Nuova Proposta, a Catholic LGBT group in Rome, and Sister Jeannine will be giving a talk to the Italian members.
The 10-day pilgrimage coincides with a similar journey being made by LGBT Catholics from Westminister in London, England, under the leadership of longtime pastoral advocate, Martin Pendergast. The British pilgrims and American pilgrims will meet several times for liturgy and socializing.
Because Sister Jeannine’s pilgrimage group is visiting both Rome and Assisi, and since the present pope has often alluded to St. Francis of Assisi, the pilgrimage is entitled “Rebuild My Church: St. Francis and Pope Francis.” In addition to visiting and praying at holy sites and meeting with Catholic LGBT Italians, the pilgrims will also reflect on the ways that they can rebuild the church in their local communities.
Please keep Sister Jeannine and all the pilgrims in your prayers during February. Bondings 2.0 will update you on any special events that happen during the trip. And, if Pope Francis does grant the pilgrims a private audience, you will read it here first! Stay tuned!