Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why We Have Our Ministry

Why We Continue With Our Ministry
By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

I am often asked why does Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus and the Franciscans of Divine Mercy have a ministry that is welcoming and affirming to the GLBT community and sponsors a booth at Boston Gay Pride Festival?  
The answer is that we do so because we feel obligated to minister to the GLBT community, their Families & Friends who have been driven out of the Catholic Church by a homophobic sermon or congregation or something they heard from Rome or a local bishop or the condemnation of a priest when they went to confession.
Some have been so deeply hurt and wounded that they have not only turned against Church but they have turned against God. They actually say, "If God hates me (my child, my friend), then I hate God." These people do not want to risk being hurt again. Others ask, "Why should I remain in a dysfunctional relationship with a dysfunctional church that claims we are "intrinsically disordered"
The mere presence of our booth at the Pride festival may help them to begin to question their perceptions of the difference between God's love and the human failings of some who are supposed to represent God here on earth. 
Over the past 5 years we have received praise and thanks for being at the various Pride Festivals  and we know we have actually brought some back into the Mystical Body of Christ, The Church.
There are those within our faith community who are concerned that our ministry and the Old Catholic Church of New England is seen as supportive of the so called "gay lifestyle." as if such a lifestyle existed.   There are some who insinuate that our ministry condones a "hedonist lifestyle" of over-indulgence in booze, drugs and promiscuous sex.  In actuality, if you watch some of the more popular Television shows and movies you will notice that the "hedonist lifestyle" is more accurately the "hetero-lifestyle" and promiscuity is more prevalent in the heterosexual community even among those who are married and there are many more heterosexual bars, drug addicts and brothels and promiscuous behavior often among the most homophobic individuals who are the loudest to condemn the GLBT community.  Just look at some of the elected officials who ranted and raved against any laws that would protect GLBT people and then were caught with "their pants down having an illicit affair".
We do not condone or subscribe to a hedonist lifestyle but do support those who have made a commitment to a partner in a loving and monogamous relationship.
We strive to let every person we encounter, straight or gay know that God loves them and want the to know, love and feel free to approach him through participation in liturgy and prayer.
We desire to act as Christ acted and bring the Light of God's truth into their lives just as Christ did with the prostitutes, tax collectors, and even the Samaritans as well as some Gentiles.
We feel obligated to let people know that God is a loving, caring, forgiving and compassionate God and try to bring the Light of Christ to them.
We want those who have been made to feel inferior and unwanted know that we are there to actually minister to all those who have been hurt by rejection or the negative actions of those who claim that they are Christians.
We want those who have been told repeatedly God does not love them to know that "GOD LOVES THEM AS HE CREATED THEM.", which is our slogan.
A true Christian Community is one where every child of God is welcomed regardless of their race, nationality, marital situation or sexual orientation just as Christ accepted all who came to him.
We need to have faith communities which are truly welcoming, and willing to work with
people who need to rediscover and reconnect to their spiritual side.
"Why do we have a booth for Catholics at Pride events in spite of the costs which strain our resources?"
It all comes down to spreading the good news of salvation and God's infinite love and acting as we know Christ would have acted if he were here on earth today.
If we don't reach out to the people who attend Pride, who will?
By having a booth for the last six years we have done what Christ commanded as found in Luke
15:4 "What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it"? and in Matthew 22:9: "Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find".
That is the reason we will have a booth at the Boston Pride Festival on June 12th on City Hall Plaza and why we hope you will stop by and say hello if you are in the Boston area on June 12th. And if inspired to do so you will help us pay for the booth and the materials we distribute by making a donation to our ministry.

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