Lesbian and Gay Ministry at St. Matthew’s Church, Long Beach, CA

Our April Meeting Is This Tuesday: Stations of the Cross and a Vote on the Adoption of Some Changes to Comunidad’s Bylaws

Tuesday, April 1st, 7:00 p.m., Fr. Gerald Meisel Hall, St. Matthew Catholic Church, 672 Temple Ave., Long Beach

We can only begin to understand the meaning of the crucifixion when we take away our polished and shiny crosses and try to locate the cross in our own time, in our own landscape” — Mary Button

We have been, since Ash Wednesday, in the midst of Lent, those 40 days preceding Easter during which time the Church’s calendar and its rituals bring focus to Christ’s suffering and sacrifice through calls for fasting, repentance, moderation, and reflection. Did you know that for more than 1,500 years the Stations of the Cross ritual has remained one of the most popular way to celebrate the Lenten season? It began in the fourth century, not long after Constantine and Licinius agreed, in 313, to tolerate Christianity within the Roman Empire. The writings of St. Jerome, one of the great early Church Fathers (342-420), mentions crowds of foreign pilgrims who visited the Holy Land and followed “The Way of the Cross” in his own day. Thus, when we moderns celebrate the rite, we are taking part in a very old and honored tradition, one that some scholars argue actually originates with Mary, the mother of Jesus, who frequented many of these spots herself in a devotional and dedicated way.

Our Stations service will emphasize their value for gay and lesbian believers. While our way of praying the stations will be familiar to anyone who has participated in a Stations of the Cross ritual anywhere, ours uses slightly different language that will remind participants of the struggles, hostility, and violence that gay and lesbians have faced throughout history and to look to Christ’s example for making our way in the world. Indeed, the practice of adapting the language of the Stations to the times and places where it has been practiced throughout the centuries is itself a tradition within Christendom. We remind everyone that all are invited—indeed, encouraged—to join in Comunidad’s activities regardless of their orientation.

The Stations service will take place in the parish church at 7:00p. Afterward, we’ll move to the hall, where a few announcements will be made and one important business matter will take place, which we urge you to be present for: a vote on proposed changes to Comunidad’s bylaws, which were formulated at the annual steering committee retreat, which took place in January. You can preview the proposed changes here.

NOTE: Our April newsletter, which was delivered to our e-mail subscribers on March 29th, erroneously indicated that we would initially gather in the hall, then move to the church building for the stations service, then return to the hall for the vote on the bylaws. As indicated above, the stations service will start promptly at 7:00p in the church, then we’ll move to the hall for the remainder of the evening’s activities.

There is still opportunity for readers of short passages that will be read during the Stations service, so please consider contacting Steven Nadolny at (714) 536-5172, who is coordinating the service part of the meeting, and lending your help. It will be much appreciated.

No matter your ability or desire to volunteer, we look forward to seeing you on Tuesday!

Rest In Peace, Rev. William R. Stoeger

Rev. William R. Stoeger, S.J., brother to Fr. Jack Stoeger, weekend minister at St. Matthew’s, died March 24 at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, following a long struggle with cancer

Our hearts are heavy with the news that Rev. William R. Stoeger, S.J., the brother of Fr. Jack Stoeger, St. Matthew’s longtime weekend minister, died Monday. A few years ago, you may recall, our parish community was blessed to participate in the Mass, held at Saint Matthew’s Church, that celebrated the Jubilee anniversary of the ordination of Frs. Bill and Jack, on which occasion many of us met Fr. Bill, whose charm, good will, and love for the Lord was as alive as it is with our own Fr. Jack. A funeral Mass took place Friday, March 28, in Los Gatos, followed by burial at Santa Clara’s Mission Cemetery. We’ll make sure to post any news of a local memorial service, which may follow. Fr. Bill’s obituary, courtesy of The Catholic Sun, can be read here.

Grace With Amazing Grandeur

In this month’s Perspectives entry, we bring you a reflection from Rev. Dr. John M. Buchanan, Pastor Emeritus of the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago

Isn’t it fascinating how Apple, American Airlines, the NFL and others have stepped up to give the Arizona State Legislators a lesson in basic civics and American Democracy? Freedom of Religion is basic to our guaranteed liberties in this country. But when the freedom to practice one’s religion bumps into and limits the liberties and rights of other Americans, freedom of religion, of necessity, compromises not in the private sphere of one’s own heart, family or religious community, but in the public arena where we all live and move and have our being. The Arizona Legislature passed a bill which would have allowed, invited actually, discrimination, by legitimizing the refusal to do business with other Americans. Governor Jan Brewer, listening to Apple, American Airlines and most of the business community, and, one hopes... (Continue reading here)

Our Annual Campaign Continues

Letters were dropped in the mail a few weeks ago. Did you get yours? This year we’re also offering a means to donate electronically. If you’ve not yet responded, can you give of your time, talent, or send a financial contribution?

Comunidad’s annual appeal began a few weeks ago when we dropped off envelopes to the Post Office, which dutifully delivered them. Responses are now beginning to arrive. Our sincerest thanks go to all who have responded. Because we have been, since last year, running in deficit spending mode, the financial contributions we have thus far received have been especially helpful. As mentioned in last month’s newsletter, budgets have been trimmed even further this year so that our financial losses can be slowed. Please realize that as much as we hope for help with our financial situation, the influx of talent and participation brought about by new and old members alike is also greatly appreciated. Every donation, no matter the amount, and whatever the kind, helps.

Know that St Matthew Catholic Church—Comunidad is a registered 501(c)3 charity organization, so monetary donations are tax-deductible.

If you did not receive our annual letter in your postbox it is likely because you are registered with us only through your e-mail address or because the postal address we have on file for you has changed since it was provided. Indeed, several dozen envelopes were returned to us as undeliverable with no forwarding address, a situation that results in the postal address portions of those member records to be purged. Thus, if you believe that your contact information has changed since it was supplied, we ask you to please visit your membership profile page and update your information—or you can send a message to moc.bldadinumoc@pihsrebmem‎, and we can update it for you.

Even if you did not receive our annual letter via the postal system, you can respond to the campaign by downloading the return form and mailing it back to the address declared on it. Financial contributions can be sent electronically via PayPal, which will save you the cost and trouble of affixing a stamp on an envelope. You needn’t be an PayPal account holder (or create an account) to use the service. To do so, visit our donation page.

A Peek Into Our Upcoming May Meeting: Cinco de Mayo Fun—Including Lotería!

Tuesday, May 6th, 7:00 p.m., Fr. Gerald Meisel Hall, St. Matthew Catholic Church, 672 Temple Ave., Long Beach

Above images © Juan Ybañez

As the above headlines jointly proclaim, we’ll be hosting a fiesta fabulosa (fabulous fiesta) this Seis de Mayo (May 6th) to celebrate the famous Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo (May 5th). Our gathering will include, as it does each year, comida rica (delicious food) and lotería (think: “Mexican Bingo,” but with fun and flair), whose prizes will be strictly limited to the “white-elephant” variety. (Darn, for purposes of parallelism, one wishes that the words elefante blanco could signal what is meant here, but phrase is unfortunately an English- and French-language idiom only, not a Spanish one—and we certainly do not want to imply that we’re expecting actual elefantes asiaticos raros (rare asian elephants) to change hands that evening!)

What is meant by the phrase, of course, is that the prizes which will be given out in our Lotería game will be, to quote one authority, “burdensome possessions of which its owner cannot dispose of and whose costs (particularly the cost of upkeep) are out of proportion to their usefulness or worth”! In better news than that, if you are already in posession of white elephants of this type or that type (or any other type!) that you want to rid yourself of, you are very much encouraged to bring them with you that night. We can assure you that there is at least a 1:1 chance that you’ll leave with an item (and maybe more!) whose value equals or exceeds as the one you brought!

Our annual Cinco de Mayo celebration is also a pot luck, so, if you can bring a small non-entree dish that will about four persons or so, you are encouraged to do so. We’ll provide more details as the date draws closer.

p.s. To help put you in the mood, take a look at these loteria decks!

Food for Thought: Catholic Parents of LGBTQ Children

New Videos Released by Ignatian News Network

Given the subject of our member’s meeting this past February, we thought it especially timely that two new episodes to the Ignatian News Network’s video series on Gay and Lesbian Catholics were released recently. The first videos in the series, parts one and two of “Who Are We to Judge?—Gay Catholics,” were published in July of last year. The two new episodes focus not on lesbian and gay Catholics themselves but on “Catholic parents of LGBTQ children.” We think the videos are worth watching and thinking about. Each episode runs about six minutes. The videos are hosted on Ignatian New Network’s YouTube channel, “IN Network.”

We’ve got other upcoming events, too!

Tear Down This Wall

By Joe Maffucci

“Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate!” exhorted Ronald Reagan in his now-famous speech during the early summer of 1987; “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Shunning the advice... (Continue reading here)

An Interview with the Holy Father

Pope Francis, in a lengthy interview conducted by Antonio Spadaro, S.J. of La Civiltà Cattolica, which took place over three meetings this past August, and which was simultaneously published by several influential Jesuit magazines around the globe so as to provide the world’s Catholics the content of the interview in each of the world’s major languages, has revealed a welcome change in tone regarding the Church’s ministry as it pertains to gays and lesbians. The interview provides much insight into our Pontiff’s personality, thinking, and theology. The editors of America, who provided the English translation, titled the interview “A Big Heart Open to God,” which seems fitting. We teased you with several, short excerpts from the interview in our October e-newsletter—but it’s worth reading in its entirety here.