Ministry Mission statement
In accordance with our parish mission statement, we reach out to provide spiritual nourishment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families and friends. We seek to affirm the intrinsic value and self-worth of all people and to welcome them into full participation in the faith community. All LGBT people are welcome.
We also welcome friends and family of LGBT people and anyone who might be questioning what it means to be a supportive Catholic for LGBT parishioners. Whatever your religious tradition, please know you are welcome to pray and worship with us.
Saturday Vigil 5:30 pm and Sunday 7:30, 9:30, 11:30 and 5:30 pm
Where we are located – 11401 Leesville Road Raleigh, NC 2761
Click the tabs for News and Notes about past events.
- We had 9 sessions of Always God’s Children (we don’t meet on the first Sunday if it is a holiday weekend).
- On Martin Luther King weekend in January, we cooked and served food to over 200 homeless people at the
Oak City Outreach Center in Raleigh.
- In February, we hosted a transgender speaker from the LGBT Center who educated all of our AGC facilitators
and Ministry leadership on the many challenges and issues facing transgender individuals.
- In March and April, we had our six Friday evening Lenten Small Christian Community dinners and discussions.
- Memorial Day weekend in May saw our annual Ministry Picnic at Umstead Park, always a popular event.
- Throughout the year, we had 4 Newcomers’ Dinners.
- In May, we staffed our booth at the annual OUTRaleigh event, which drew 35,000 people to downtown Raleigh.
- In August, we had an information booth at the annual Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in Durham.
- We had a large turnout for a book discussion of Fr. Martin’s book “Building a Bridge.”
- Chuck Small, one of our members, had a review of Fr. Martin’s book published in the “News & Observer.”
- In August, we cooked and served dinner for our parish teens and their parents and families at the conclusion of their week -long community outreach.
- In September, we hosted Fr. Martin VIA Skype for a parish wide presentation and Q&A about his book.
Many commented that it was one of the best events our Ministry has ever done.
- October saw our annual Retreat, held this year at St. Francis Springs.
- During Advent, we had daily readings and reflections through an online blog.
- Finally, in December we had our annual Christmas party with over 40 in attendance, a record.MORE TO COME IN 2018!
January 14th - LGBT Ministry Meetings - 3-5pm
LGBT Ministry Meetings 3 – 5 pm
at SFA, in the Conference Room (Anthony Hall)
Future Meetings – Mark your calendars
- January 14th – 3-5 pm
- February 25th – 3-5 pm
- April 8th – 3-5 pm
- May 20th – 3-5 pm
- July 29th – 3-5 pm
- September 9th – 3-5 pm
- November 18th Ministry/Calendar Meeting – 3-5 pm
- December 16th – 3-5 pm
January 21st and February 10th - LGBT related theater productions
Productions: They are not official Ministry events, but there are two LGBT related theater productions in January and February that some of us are attending:
“The Normal Heart”: In January, Burning Coal Theatre is presenting the award winning play by Larry Kramer
about the early days of the AIDS crisis. A small group of us is attending the 2:00 p.m. matinee on Sunday January 21
and we hope you can attend this production or one of the other productions.
There is a “talk-back” session after all of the Thursday evening and Sunday matinee performances.
For more information go to http://burningcoal.org or (click here)
“Bent”: The Justice Theatre Project (which began at St. Francis) will be presenting “Bent” in February.
This is another tragic, yet poignant story and involves the Nazi persecution of LGBT people. This is the origin of the “Pink Triangle.” Community advocates have been invited to staff an information booth pre and post show as well as at intermission.
We will have a booth at the Saturday, February 10th 2:00 p.m. matinee and will also have 5 minutes before the start of the second Act to tell the audience about our Ministry.
We hope you can attend this production or one of the other productions.
For more information go to http://www.thejusticetheaterproject.org/bent/ or (click here)
February 4th- Always God's Children Meeting
AGC meetings provide fellowship and involves lively respectful discussions to help to broaden perspectives.
Participants feel welcomed and uplifted.
There are always positive comments about how helpful it is to talk, which validates that there is support and one’s voice will be heard.
Our ministry wants gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to know they are loved and their gifts are valued.
They are welcome in our community and we support them in their daily lives.
The program provides a confidential setting in which GLBT people and their parents, families and friends support one another by sharing their concerns and experiences in a safe, confidential, Catholic setting.
Please join us to share your experience and to support others in their journey.
3:15 to 5:00 p.m.
on the first Sunday of each month (except for holiday weekends)
in Room 403 of Anthony Hall
at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 11401 Leesville Road, Raleigh, NC.
Meeting Dates – Mark your calendar’s
- February 4th – 3:15 to 5:00pm in room 403 Anthony Hall
- March 4th – 3:15 to 5:00pm in room 403 Anthony Hall
- May 6th – 3:15 to 5:00pm in room 403 Anthony Hall
- June 3rd – 3:15 to 5:00pm in room 403 Anthony Hall
- July 1st – 3:15 to 5:00pm in room 403 Anthony Hall
- August 5th – 3:15 to 5:00pm in room 403 Anthony Hall
- October 14th – 3:15 to 5:00pm in room 403 Anthony Hall
- November 4th – 3:15 to 5:00pm in room 403 Anthony Hall
- December 2nd – 3:15 to 5:00pm in room 403 Anthony Hall
Starting February 16th - Lent Small Christian Community
WE are again hosting our Small Christian Community gatherings during the season of Lent.
We will meet each Friday from 6:30-8:30 pm at various locations to be announced later.
Mark your calendar and save the date
- February 16th – 6:30 – 8:30 pm – location TBA
- February 23rd – 6:30 – 8:30 pm – location TBA
- March 2nd – 6:30 – 8:30 pm – location TBA
- March 9th – 6:30 – 8:30 pm – location TBA
- March 16th – 6:30 – 8:30 pm – location TBA
- March 23rd – 6:30 – 8:30 pm – location TBA
March 4th - Newcomers Dinner - Mass at 5:30, Dinner at 6:30
All are welcome!
We start our evening gathering at the 5:30 pm Mass afterwards
we will all go to the Backyard Burgers located at Leesville Road and Strickland Road for dinner.
All are welcome to come and we look forward to having you join us.
Future Events – Mark your calendars
- March 4th – (Mass at 5:30, Dinner at 6:30)
- May 6th – (Mass at 5:30, Dinner at 6:30)
- August 5th – (Mass at 5:30, Dinner at 6:30)
- October 7th – (Mass at 5:30, Dinner at 6:30)
May 5th - Out Raleigh
More information to coome
May 26th - Memorial Weekend Picnic - Umstead Park 9am - 4pm
Mark your calendars – more information to come
August 16 - 19th - LGBT Film Festival
Mark your calendars – more information to come
August 16 – 19th – LGBT Film Festival – Carolina Theater, Durham
September 29th Pride Festival, Durham
Mark your calendars – more information to come.
Dec 2, 9, 16, 23rd Advent Small Christian Community
Mark your calendars for
Advent Small Christian Community Dec 2, 9, 16, 23rd 2018
4-5 pm (location TBA)
Holiday Party - Date (TBA)
Holiday Party – Date (TBA)
Please check back regularly as – Events may change.
For more information please contact
Chris O’Neill – 919-210-5319
Jane Paris – 919-847-7431
LGBT Ministry Information
Alway's God Children
We invite you to join our group meeting at 3:15 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month
(except for holiday weekends) in Room 403 of Anthony Hall at
St. Francis of Assisi, 11401 Leesville Road, Raleigh, NC.
Please join us to share your experience and support others in their journey.
Our History at St. Francis of Assisi
To find the roots of St. Francis of Assisi’s gay and lesbian ministry, look to a June 30, 1999, seminar at Immaculate Conception parish in Durham. That day, the New Ways Ministry seminar “Building Bridges” focused on how parishes could connect with the gay and lesbian community. With the support of then-Bishop F. Joseph Gossman, the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province welcomed the daylong seminar. Six St. Francis parishioners at that meeting decided there was enough interest to develop a parish ministry and created a contact sheet for future mailings.
The ministry first met Aug. 20, 1999, at the home of Cathy Dondlinger and Jane Paris. For several months, locations of business meetings rotated as a steering team grew to include about 10 SFA parishioners, working with then-director of evangelization Peggy Dunbeck Monti. The group did a lot of brainstorming on individual formation, team-building and communications before working on any programming.
The next building block came in late May 2000 when Chris Kitts joined the St. Francis staff and became the ministry’s staff liaison. Chris built an extensive blind-carbon-copy e-mail list for folks throughout the area interested in the ministry’s work and offerings.
(Upon Chris’ departure in 2005, the ministry moved in the parish’s organizational chart from evangelization to family life. Since then, Jeff Holman, Gladys Whitehouse and Jason Lillis have been staff liaisons to the ministry.)
Franciscan friar David Convertino became presenter for the ministry’s first program, a prayer service and presentation Feb. 9 and 10, 2001. The Friday evening program for gays and lesbians was “With Open Hands”; the Saturday morning program for relatives and friends was “With Open Hearts.” A few dozen folks attended each.
Over the years, the ministry added regular activities to the parish’s calendar. Beginning in January 2006, it began to offer Reclaim, a six-week series for LGBT Catholics pioneered by St. Bernadette’s parish in Severn, Md. Jane Paris and Chuck Small facilitated the series. Participants in the first Reclaim group decided to develop an LGBT small Christian community to keep the sense of fellowship going. Out of the Tomb is a weekly series of reflections and small-group sharing during Lent. Beginning in 2010, Reclaim alternated with a new continuing-education series, Reaffirm, designed to address general questions about the Catholic faith.
Although the ministry had reached out intermittently to parents, families and friends of LGBT Catholics, parent Joe Pietrus joined the ministry steering team in 2009 and became the driving force behind the development of “Always Our Children,” a monthly support group for LGBT Catholics, families and friends. The group held its first meeting in December 2010 and meets monthly on the first Sunday of the month, excluding holiday weekends.
Retreats have been a vital part of ministry programming since 2002, when more than 15 participants took part in “Reclaiming the Promise,” with presenter Sister Barbara Regan, at Summit Retreat Center in Brown Summit, near Greensboro. Since 2005, the retreats have been an annual event. In addition, the ministry regularly develops programming and promotes it within and outside the St. Francis community. Franciscan Brother Ed Coughlin led a ministry-sponsored workshop on “right relationships” in February 2002. The ministry offered a “Night of Dialogue” for relatives and friends of gays and lesbians in October 2003. Helen King of Durham, coordinator for the Parents Reconciling Network, spoke at a parents gathering in January 2004. Jeff Holman presented a talk on “The Bible and Homosexuality: What Does It Really Say?” in spring 2004. In the summer of 2006, Franciscan Brother Scott Brookbank and Rabbi Raachel Jurovics of Temple Beth-Or led a ministry discussion after the showing of “Trembling Before G-d,” a film about Orthodox gay and lesbian Jews. On Sept. 11, 2007, the ministry sponsored the showing of “Saint of 9/11,” a documentary about the life of Franciscan Fr. Mychal Judge, who died on Sept. 11, 2001. In 2008, the ministry sponsored a showing of Daniel Karslake’s documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So.” From 2003-2005 and again in 2008-2010, the ministry has sponsored annual days of reflection. In 2011, the ministry worked on a presentation as part of the community’s Stations of the Cross Lenten series.
As the ministry has grown, it has also offered social opportunities. During Lent, the ministry has sponsored dessert socials and, more recently, has been a sponsor of the parish’s Friday-night soup suppers. Bowling nights, camping and hiking trips, trips to bingo fundraisers, game nights and holiday parties have helped to build community.
In 2005, the ministry began to reach out to other groups in the St. Francis community to encourage dialogue about its mission. Such conversations have extended outside the parish. In fall 2005, Jane Paris and Rev. Mark Reamer took part in a Meredith College panel discussion about Christianity and homosexuality; in fall 2006, Jane and Chuck met with students and older adults at N.C. State University’s Doggett Center to discuss the Catholic Church and homosexuality. Albert Ervin led a similar discussion in fall 2007 at N.C. State.
In the LGBT community, the ministry has had a booth at N.C. Pride at Duke University each year since 2002, and since 2004, it has had a display at the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival at Durham’s Carolina Theatre. In 2011, responding to an invitation to the ministry from the LGBT Center of Raleigh, the Rev. Mark Reamer was one of a half-dozen clergy who welcomed participants to the inaugural OutRaleigh festival in downtown Raleigh.
The ministry teams up regularly with St. Francis’ AIDS care team to raise money for AIDS education, care and prevention. The two groups have teamed up for the annual AIDSWalk since 2001 and the “Evening With Friends” fund-raiser since 2002.
In addition, the ministry has built relationships with other ministries across the country that reach out to LGBT Catholics, families and friends.
The ministry made its debut on the parish Web site in 2003. Frank Cotton developed a ministry-specific Web site in 2007. As of 2012, about 20 SFA parishioners are regularly involved as members of the gay and lesbian ministry’s steering team.
Interested in Volunteering - Contact Ministry Coordinator
The following coordinators are available to you if you are interested in volunteering
for our GLBT community at St. Francis.
Please contact the appropriate coordinator to GET INVOLVED.
Spiritual and Faith Growth – Chris O’Neill (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Outreach – Tim Hackett – (email@example.com)
Social – Pending
Communications – Randy Morris – (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Treasury – Joe Pietrus – (email@example.com)
Meeting Facilitator – Jack Finley – (firstname.lastname@example.org)
AGC Coordinator – Chuck Small (email@example.com)
Coleman, G. D. (1996). Homosexuality: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Practice. New York: Paulist Press. 224 pp.
Empereur, J. L. (1998). Spiritual Direction and the Gay Person. New York: Continuum. 180 pp.
Intended for spiritual directors and counselors who work with gay people, this book presents a practical approach
to homosexuality and religious life.
Griffen, C. W., Wirth, M. J., & Wirth, A. G. (1997). Beyond Acceptance – Parents of Lesbians & Gays Talk About Their Experiences.
New York: St. Martin’s Griffin. 256 pp.
Harvey, J. F. (2007). Homosexuality and the Catholic Church: Clear Answers to Difficult Questions.
West Chester, Pa.: Ascension Press. 236 pp.
Rev. John Harvey is founder and director of the Courage and Encourage support groups.
Liuzzi, P.J. (2001). With Listening Hearts: Understanding the Voices of Lesbian and Gay Catholics. New York: Paulist Press. 120 pp.
Peddicord, R. (1996). Gay & Lesbian Rights, A Question: Sexual Ethics or Social Justice? Lanham, Md.: Sheed & Ward. 209 pp.
Shinnick, M. (1998). This Remarkable Gift: Being Gay and Catholic. Sydney: Allen & Unwin Academic. 194 pp.
For more information about this ministry, call
Chuck Small at (919) 859-4889.