Holy Trinity Catholic Church hosted its first “Day of Reflection,” an event meant to create a more inclusive church environment for LGBTQ individuals, friends and family, on Sept. 14.
The event was the product of a small group of church members meeting over the past year to discuss ways to create an inclusive environment for the LGBTQ community. “Day of Reflection” featured the experiences of three LGBTQ and Catholic community members, according to Holy Trinity Pastor Rev. Kevin Gillespie, S.J. The church held the “Day of Reflection,” which included a prayer service meant to encourage discussions about what can be done to best address the needs of church members in the LGBTQ community, according to church’s bulletin.
Gillespie shared that both the parish and church community have expressed support for the church’s efforts. Georgetown professor Emilia Ferrara (COL ’10), a parishioner at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, shared her personal approval for the day as a member of the church and Georgetown community.
“I am exceedingly encouraged to see Holy Trinity not only welcome but embrace all the sheep in its flock, especially those who identify as LGBTQIA+,” Ferrara wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I could not imagine practicing my faith at a place that does not feel that LGBTQIA+ Catholics are just as vital a part of the body of Christ as anyone else.”
Talks of being more explicitly inclusive with the LGBTQ community have been going on since 2017 when Fr. James Martin, a vocal Jesuit author, came to the church to speak about the LGBTQ community’s role in the church, according to Gillespie.
The “Day of Reflection” was led in part by the LGBTQIA+ ministry, made up of several church and staff members that have worked together this year to bring more awareness to the LGBTQ community.
The success of the “Day of Reflection” shows its importance as a stepping stone for future discussion opportunities, according to Ferrara.
“Our first meeting was very successful, full of reflection and self-discovery, and I look forward to seeing the ways we empower our LGBTQIA+ members also enrich our parish as a whole,” Ferrara wrote.
The need to further increase support for the LGBTQ community came after the clergy sexual abuse crisis in 2018, which led to discussion of areas of improvement within the church, Gillespie wrote.
“In June of 2018, prompted by the renewed clergy sexual abuse crisis, the parish began a Season of Discernment, one result of which was that parishioners identified a need for more LGBTQIA+ visibility and support,” Gillespie wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Having the parishioners voice a need for this visibility and support moved the staff to more actively engage the LGBTQIA+ members in conversation.”
Since the event took place last Saturday, church members have expressed their approval of the event in the church more publicly and have explicitly shown their support for the LGBTQ community, according to Gillespie.
“Parishioners have pointed out that the LGBTQIA+ community is a part/has been a part of our faith community all along,” Gillespie wrote. “Parishioners have expressed support and happiness that Holy Trinity is making our commitment more visible.”
The church mentioned its plans to expand programming to facilitate discussion with members of the LGBTQ community in a May newsletter. In a column within the newsletter, Judith Brusseau, pastoral associate for religious education and faith formation at Holy Trinity, reaffirmed that LGBTQ individuals are a part of the universal church and the local parish and proposed that a ministry focused on the LGBTQ community can foster a vision of a more welcoming church.
Pastoral staff and involved church members have already begun thinking of how to further highlight the LGBTQ community’s contributions and needs through programming in the future, according to Brusseau.
“Interested parishioners and parish ministers have begun exploring what other parishes are doing and discussing what activities and events might be appropriate to make the LGBTQIA+ community’s needs and gifts more present in our church community,” Brusseau wrote in the column.