New Ways Ministry reports that Sr Jeannine Gramick, their founder and a pioneer in Catholic LGBT ministry, will be among the guests at the White House to meet Pope Francis.
I met St Gramick some years ago with the Soho Masses community, then at St Anne’s, after a screening of the documentary on her work, “In Good Conscience”. I’ve followed her progress attentively every since, and look forward to meeting up with her again at the founding conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics in Rome, at the start of the family synod in October.
The text following is from New Ways:
Sister Jeannine Gramick, a Catholic nun who pioneered ministry, advocacy, and outreach to the LGBT community over 40 years ago in Philadelphia, will be back in her hometown this week for the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit to the City of Brotherly Love. A native of Philadelphia, and a tremendous fan of Pope Francis, she is excited to see how far the Catholic Church has progressed since she began her discussions with LGBT people back in 1971.
She will be attending the World Meeting of Families for most of next week, but will be taking a short side-trip to Washington, DC to greet Pope Francis at President Obama’s White House reception, and to take part in a Mass led by the pope at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Over the years, Sister Jeannine has had many difficulties with bishops, and even the Vatican, but she has also received tremendous support from Catholic people and church professionals, and she has continued 2 her ministry despite many warnings and threats from Church officials. In February 2015, she led a pilgrimage of LGBT Catholics and supporters to Rome, and her group was given VIP seating at the papal audience on Ash Wednesday, a story which made headlines around the world.
The following is a more detailed description of some of her accomplishments and perspectives:
A Brief Story of Sister Jeannine Gramick’s 40+ Year Involvement with LGBT Equality
Among the hundreds of thousands of Catholics who will be traveling to Philadelphia next week for the World Meeting of Families and to see Pope Francis will be one Catholic nun, for whom this pilgrimage to the City of Brotherly Love will be a powerful homecoming and reminder of how far the Catholic Church has come on LGBT issues in the last few decades.
Sister Jeannine Gramick, a 73-year old Sister of Loretto, will be spending the week in Philadelphia, the city where she was born and raised, where she was educated in the Catholic school system, where she made her decision to enter the convent, and where, over 40 years ago, she began a ministry to lesbian and gay people, which has transformed the Catholic Church in the United States and beyond.
In 1971, not many Catholics were talking about LGBT issues. That was the year that Sister Jeannine, then a doctoral student in mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania, met Dominic Bash, an alienated gay Catholic man who asked here “What is the Catholic Church doing for my lesbian and gay sisters and brothers?” Sister Jeannine, who admits that she had never before met an openly gay person and knew nothing about this community, responded that she didn’t know, but she would find out.
She learned, of course, that nothing was being done for this community, which had only recently begun to emerge in public awareness. So, she decided to do something, and she began inviting Dominic and his friends to her apartments for home Masses, prayer services, discussions, and socials. Little did Sister Jeannine realize that she was pioneering LGBT ministry, a field of pastoral care outreach which now reaches into almost every corner of the U.S. Catholic Church.
Father Robert Nugent, a Philadelphia priest, volunteered to assist Sister Jeannine, and after a few years, the duo established New Ways Ministry, a national Catholic ministry of justice and reconciliation for the LGBT community and the Catholic Church. Through crisscrossing the nation giving talks and educational programs to Catholic audiences, sister Jeannine and Father Nugent influenced hundreds of 3 thousands of Catholics, and encouraged, supported, and inspired hundreds of LGBT ministry and advocacy programs, changing the face of the Catholic Church in the U.S.
Sister Jeannine continues to work with New Ways Ministry. Just this year alone, she has given talks in Ireland, Italy, and the Czech Republic. In October, she will speak at an international conference on Catholicism and LGBT issues in Rome, at the time of the Vatican’s Synod on marriage and family life. In November, she will be part of a debate at Oxford University.
Sister Jeannine has received numerous awards from Catholic and LGBT organizations, and her outreach was the subject of an award-winning documentary film, “In Good Conscience: Sister Jeannine Gramick’s Journey of Faith”, produced by Barbara Rick, with the assistance of legendary documentarian Albert Maysles.
In the late 1990’s, the Vatican investigated Sister Jeannine’s ministry. During the process, she was visiting Rome, and accidentally and serendipitously met the man leading her investigation, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later, Pope Benedict XVI) on a plane trip. The two conversed about outreach to LGBT people, and though they were personally reconciled, the conversation did not aid her investigation. In 1999, the Vatican ordered Sister Jeannine to cease her LGBT ministry and advocacy, but she refused to do so. She has courageously continued her work, even taking a lead role in the Catholic movement for marriage equality in several states.
A great supporter of Pope Francis, Sister Jeannine’s car has a bumper sticker that states: “I ♥ Pope Francis,” and her computer is adorned with the sticker “This Pope Gives Me Hope!”
(Source: New Ways Ministry)