Friday, December 29, 2006

CPCSM’s Year in Review

As executive coordinator of the Minnesota-based Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM), I recently worked on the organization’s annual Christmas Appeal letter which was mailed to CPCSM members just prior to Cristmas.

The letter notes that, “Over the past twelve months, CPCSM and [its sister organization] Catholic Rainbow Parents have responded in many positive and proactive ways to the challenges of our times”.

As you’ll see from the following images and excerpts from this letter, it’s been a year of both highs and lows.

Above: Many were saddened by the passing of CPCSM co-founder Bill Kummer on January 29. Bill (pictured above with his beloved “Skipper”) was a compassionate and prophetic figure within the Catholic community and beyond. He was also a source of strength and inspiration for many. Bill always maintained that he would continue his work on the other side of this life, and many of us indeed believe this to be true. His spirit lives on with us in our ministry.

Above: Standing from left: Georgia Mueller, Theresa O’Brien, CSJ; and Brigid McDonald, CSJ, greet the Vatican inspectors to the St. Paul Seminary – February 2006.

Later in the year, as controversy deepened around the proposed “marriage amendment” to the Minnesota State Constitution (one which would ban not only same-gender marriage but “all legal equivalents”, such as civil unions and domestic partnerships), Georgia Mueller, along with Tom and Gretchen Murr, CPCSM president Mary Lynn Murphy, Paula Ruddy, Charlie and Maria Girsch, and a number of other Catholic Rainbow Parents and supporters, expended much time and energy sharing their experiences and insights as parents of LGBT persons with a significant number of Minnesota legislators. Their efforts paid off when the proposed amendment was defeated in May.

Above and below: On February 17-18, feminist theologian Mary Hunt shared her insights on a range of issues within the Catholic Church via two CPCSM-sponsored presentations at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church. One of these had the relevant title of “Catholic Is As Catholic Does: Strategies for Being Church in Challenging Times”. Pictured above with Mary (center) are Linda Taylor, CSJ, and Darlene White.

Above: Front from left: Michael Bayly; Paul Fleege; Dorothy Olinger, SSND; and Mary Cowden. Back row from left: Mary Hunt; David McCaffrey (holding a picture of Bill Kummer); Darlene White; Sue McDonald; Susan Lee; Rita O’Brien, CSJ; Linda Taylor, CSJ; and Theresa O’Brien, CSJ.

Above: Gary Schoener, internationally renowned expert on clergy sexual abuse, delivered an insightful presentation February 10, 2006, in which he emphasized seldom reported facts concerning the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal –including the range of victims, the different types of abusers, and the impact of the abuse on the victims and their families. Gary also explored the scape-goating of gay priests and the implications of the sex abuse scandal for the future of the institutional church.

Above: On World Marriage Day, February 12, 2006, close to 300 people gathered on the steps of the St. Paul Cathedral to call upon Archbishop Flynn to withdraw his support of the Minnesota marriage amendment. CPCSM played a crucial role in organizing this spirited rally - one which sent a clear message that not all Catholics supported this discriminatory amendment.

Above: Our March 20, 2006 event at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, entitled “Putting a Human Face to the Marriage Amendment Issue”, drew a record crowd for a CPCSM educational event.

Pictured from left: Bill Nolan (St. Thomas the Apostle); John Watkins and his partner Andrew Elfenben and their son, Dmitri; Carol Anderson and her partner Kathy Itzin; Michael Bayly (CPCSM executive coordinator); and Susan Lee (St. Thomas the Apostle). Thankfully, the amendment was defeated in the Minnesota Legislature on May 22, 2006.

Above: The inaugural Bill Kummer Forum on April 28-29, 2006 featured renowned theologian and author Daniel Helminiak, who offered a two-part presentation entitled “Gay Body, Gay Soul: A Catholic LGBTI Perspective on Sexuality, Spirituality and Marriage”.

Pictured from left: Rev. Paul Tucker (All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church), Daniel Helminiak, Paul Fleege (CPCSM treasurer), David McCaffrey (CPCSM co-founder), and Michael Bayly (CPCSM executive coordinator).

Above: Linda Taylor, CSJ, and Jacob Reitan (director of SoulForce’s groundbreaking Equality Ride) display the awards they received at this year’s CPCSM Annual Community Meeting. Linda and Fr. Mike Tegeder (who was not able to be present), were the recipients of this year’s Father Henry F. LeMay Award, while Jacob Reitan and Paula Ruddy (also unable to attend) received the 2006 Bishop Gumbleton Peace and Justice Award. (For more information about CPCSM’s awards, click here.)

Above: CPCSM’s long-awaited “safe staff training manual” (based on the groundbreaking work we accomplished in a number of Catholic high schools in the late-1990s) is due to be published as Creating Safe Environments for LGBT Students: A Catholic Schools Perspective by the Haworth Press in January 2007.

Finalizing of the manuscript has been the major focus of CPCSM’s work in the second half of 2006. The bulk of this work has been undertaken by our executive coordinator Michael Bayly who, because of his application for green card status, has been in Australia since the end of May. We look forward to the success of this longer-than-expected application process and to Michael’s return to Minnesota in January 2007.

The letter concludes, in part, with the following:

“Without doubt, it’s been a momentous year for both CPCSM and Catholic Rainbow Parents, and we are happy and proud to continue our role as one of a very few prominent GLBT-affirming progressive Catholic voices in both our church and wider society. Rest assured, we continue to plan educational events for 2007 – events which will enrich and empower the local Catholic community with regards to issues of human sexuality, and GLBT issues in particular.

“. . . Peace and every blessing of Christmas to you and your loved ones, from all of us at CPCSM.”

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