Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Holy Spirit, be with us as we travel. Help us choose the words that will give comfort. Open the hearts of those we encounter to hear our lived experience. You guided the Holy Family as they left in exile, guide us too in ways that will do the most good, and reach those who need us. Protect our children too, and remind them that they are your beloved. Amen.

I'm excited about our trip to Philadelphia.  We have worked hard to put together programs for our Parent Gatherings on Wednesday and Thursday night and I look forward to interacting with other pilgrims.  I guess I'm a little nervous too.  We are not sure what to expect, but we know that there will have to be some folks in the crowd who see our witness as a blessing.  I'll be there thru the Papal mass on Sunday- and I'm looking forward to the seeing the Pope and visiting with folks in the crowd. I'm praying that the Holy Spirit gives us the right words to give comfort and inform!  Keep us in your prayers! 


While I cannot attend the WMF in Philadelphia, I will be praying for those in attendance from Fortunate Families, as well as other LGBTQ Catholic ministry groups.  My hope is that their presence will be so powerful that the Holy Spirit will move the heirarchy of the Church to change their stance, and produce a statement that welcomes all people, including those who identify as LGBTQ, FULLY to the table of the Lord.  As I stated at the close of my article for the newsletter, I really do wish blessings upon those attending the WMF in Philadelphia. 

I am happy and proud that Fortunate Families will be in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Family. Our LGBT children need to know that there are more Catholics who accept them and want them to feel welcome in their community than those who do not. Unfortunately, I will not be attending. My love and prayers go with those who will be there.  I put together 1000 rainbow pins to help you to reach those who need to know they are not alone; they are loved and cherished by us as well as their Creator God. God bless you!

Monday, September 21, 2015

More from the Fortunate Family Contingency- headed to the World Meeting of Families Tomorrow!

What are my expectations for the gathering of Fortunate Families at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia? 
I have three expectations. As a new member to Fortunate Families, I suspect I will experience an affirming sense of solidarity because we will be standing together for our children.
Second, I feel anxious for two reasons. One, I know conflict is a necessary and creative part of life. However, I’m not a fan. I need to remember the words of Gandhi who is credited with saying that it is not enough to speak the truth but how one speaks the truth is as important. The second cause for my anxiety is trying to have compassion for those who oppose us, who don’t see our sons and daughters as we see them. We pray to the same God, have received the same grace of baptism, and earnestly seek Truth, yet it is so difficult to hear and to be heard. We are familiar with the statement, “unity in essentials, liberty in nonessential and in all things charity”. This is our challenge.
Third, I expect I will get lost as I am directionally challenged. My GPS and I have a love/hate relationship, so I’m taking other forms of direction. All will be well.
I am very much looking forward to our pilgrimage to Philadelphia.  I  can't wait to meet (face-to-face) my fellow Board members, though I  feel as if I know them already.  I'm excited about being in the company 
of like-minded Catholic parents.  I pray that I will touch at least one  parent or family member of an LGBT person by listening carefully to the stories of others and sharing my experiences.  I'd be dishonest if I
didn't admit to a bit of apprehension; our organization is not sure what  kind of reception we will get.  Hopefully love and understanding will  prevail. 

It's been a long time since I've been to a large conference in which most speakers are likely to have a different view of the Catholic world than I have -- especially with regard to LGBT persons and their families. However, my prayer, hope and, yes, expectation too is that the Spirit will be very present. Working through a diversity of people -- many with shaky knees -- the Spirit will empower them to share the truths of their lives and their families' lives to the powers that be. And the people will hear ... and say, Amen!

As my participation in the World Meeting of Families draws near, I am faced with many conflicting emotions.
On the one hand, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to tell the story of my wonderful son who suffered a breakdown because of the tension he felt being both a gay man and a devout Catholic. Later he discerned that these were not mutually exclusive and that he could be both a good practicing Catholic and true to himself as a gay man. I have seen the power of our stories and I look forward to sharing my story with others. By sharing our stories and our love for our children, we will help others experience the LGBT community in a different light.
On the other hand, I tend to avoid conflict and I fear that I will be engaged with others who may not agree with me. In this regard, I am reminded of the words in a recent homily and pray that God will open my ears to listen attentively to the position of others and grant me the wisdom to speak calmly and respectfully the truth as I am discerning it. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Countdown to WMoF

I asked each of our World Meeting of Families Pilgrims to write a few sentences about what they expect.

Here is the first installment, and I'll add a bit more the next few days.

 Beth Garascia is our listening Parent Coordinator

With the World Meeting of Families just a week away, I am feeling both excited and anxious.  I'm excited about meeting all the families who took time out of their busy schedules to gather, being a part of our Fortunate Families parent gatherings, where I always enjoy hearing the stories of other Catholic parents with LGBT children, and seeing people I already know and rekindling friendships.  I'm especially looking forward to meeting the pilgrims, some of whom I've met via Zoom meetings, but since I haven't met any face to face, I hope to hear many of their stories in Philly.  Tony and I have 3 wonderful and accomplished adult children, 2 of whom are gay, and it's always fruitful to tell our story as well as gather responses.  Our family is definitely an alternative one, which some might find threatening.  The anxiety comes from the possibility of meeting folks who condemn FF's position of acceptance of our children and are so rigid they have difficulty hearing our stories.  I feel well prepared to deal with difficult conversations, and just hope I don't freeze if I am challenged.


Beth's husband Tony- our current board president adds

I'm excited about going to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families so that I can give witness to the wonderful qualities of all three of my adult children, two of whom who are gay.  As parents of GLBT children we walk the way of the "other" and want to bring our message to the meeting, so that people can personalize the issue of the experience of LGBT individuals.   I firmly believe that by telling our stories we are capable of changing hearts.  Pope Francis, in his encyclical on the environment called for dialog, courage and openness to other's.  I bring those values to the meeting and go with great expectations.
Brad Leger has been serving as a BODA (board assistant) for the last year helping us get ready:

It's hard to believe, but the much-anticipated World Meeting of Families to be held in Philadelphia will soon be upon us! As assistant to the Fortunate Families Board in serving as their liaison to the Equally Blessed Coalition for the past year, it has been such a privilege in helping to prepare the prophetic voices of the board members as well as our LGBT Pilgrim Families for this event. Although none of us who will be attending can really know at this point how this experience will unfold, I'm confident that it will be a time of excitement and opportunities to interact fellow precious human beings from around the globe to build bridges of understanding. Of course, I think that the sincere, courageous storytelling from members of our delegation is where "the rubber will meet the road." My deepest prayer is that we all stay open to the Spirit of steadfast love and gentleness.