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

Parish Kermes Festival

Sunday, September 21st, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., St. Matthew Catholic Church grounds, 672 Temple Ave., Long Beach

Detail from Flemish Kermess, 1652, by David Teniers the Younger (1610–1690)
Not to brag, but our affair in Long Beach is considerably better attended—plus we have snow cones!

As parish communities do all over the world on or near the feast day of their patron, Saint Matthew’s Church hosts our annual festival on the Sunday nearest September 21st, the feast day of Saint Matthew, tax collector turned evangelizer, and the man credited with authorship of the first synoptic gospel.

This year’s festival begins after the 10:30a Mass on Sunday, the 21st, and continues until 4:00p. This year, as last, Comunidad will be sponsoring/staffing two booths, a spin-the-wheel booth at which prizes are won in Wheel-of-Fortune-like fashion, and our ever-popular snow cone booth.

Beyond merely attending the festival—which features food, games, and music—you can help in one of two ways. The first is to purchase raffle tickets ($1 per ticket; for sale in the church courtyard after masses or at the Kermes; the drawing takes place at 5:00p on the 21st, and prizes include cash awards of $1,000; $500; and $250—two of the latter). The second is to help staff one of Comunidad’s two booths. Contact Steven Nadolny at (714) 536-5172 to help with the Snow Cone booth or Marilyn Pires at (562) 706-7195 to help with the Spin the Wheel booth.

Our October Meeting: Exploring Franciscan Spirituality with Fr. William “Rusty” Shaughnessy, ofm

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

Detail from stained glass window at Demindere Franciscus Museum in Sint-Truiden, Belgium

This October we’re partnering with the parish’s Faith Formation committee to host an evening of learning and understanding about Franciscan spirituality. It’s one of three events that the parish is holding this fall to explore this important, rich, and ancient tradition within Catholic life.

It’s hard to underestimate the profound effect that St Francis has had on the Church. His vision of a more harmonious and Christ-like life has contrasted, sometimes wildly, with other spiritual philosophies. And, yet, the Church continues to come back again and again to Francis’s writings and teachings and be inspired by Francis’s example (witness the Holy Father today) and the Franciscan Order continues to serve as an attractive, viable, and meaningful way of living in community with others. Born in 1181 or 1182, Francis did not show any serious interest in ministry until about 1208, when he was 25 years old, and he died a short 20 years later. Nevertheless, so remarkable, widespread, and positive was his re-imagining of what lived Christianity could be, which he and the Order he founded carried out, that Gregory IX canonized him, in 1228, only two years after his death. Indeed, it’s not far reaching to say that Francis’s teachings and example revolutionized the Church in his own day. But for those of us living in the twenty-first century, just what is “Franciscan Spirituality,” and how does it contrast and compare with other popular and still-present Catholic traditions such as Benedictine, Jesuit, and Dominican prayer, service, and devotional practices? And how can lay persons implement various features of Franciscan spirituality into their own lives?

That is in part, the topic of our program. And we are blessed to have as our speaker Fr. William “Rusty” Shaughnessy, ofm—a Fransciscan friar—of Ss. Simon and Jude parish in Huntington Beach.

Please join us for what will surely be an interesting and informative presentation. As is Comunidad’s custom, drinks and light food will be available.

A Note about parking for those that have never been to Saint Matthew Church: There are three entrances to the parking lot, one off Temple Ave. (to the right of the rectory/parish office building, which is just to the right of the church building), and two others off Theresa St (which parallels 7th St.).

Join us and the GLBT & Friends Groups from St. Luke’s and St. Wilfred’s Episcopal Churches in the 10th annual National Coming Out Day Service

Sunday, October 5th, 5:00 p.m., St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 525 E. 7th St. (7th St at Atlantic Ave), Long Beach

This year’s annual prayer, story, and song service in celebration of National Coming Out Day (October 11th) will be held on Sunday, September 5th at 5:00p. The GLBT & Friends ministries at St. Luke’s in Long Beach and St. Wilfred’s Church in Huntington are co-hosting. The program will include testimonies by LGBTQ persons of faith, family members, and other supporters, and it will also include music and prayers. A reception follows. For information, call (562) 436-4047.

A note about parking: St. Luke’s has two parking lots, one just north of the church on the Atlantic Avenue side, the other on the back side of the church at the intersection of 7th Street and Linden Avenue.

Susan Sharpe-Paquin, 1949–2014

Comunidad received sad news during our summer hiatus: Susan Sharpe-Paquin, longtime partner of Barbara Sharpe-Paquin and a tireless and spirited supporter of Comunidad’s ministry, passed away on August 1st. Here we bring you a tribute to both women written by Anna Totta.

Barbara Sharpe-Paquin, left, and Susan Sharpe-Paquin, right

Barbara and Sue—the names always go together when speaking of this couple. Barbara and Susan Sharpe-Paquin lived in Covina, far away from Comunidad’s activities, and yet they were one of the longest-term supporters of our organization. On August 1st, 2014, Susan unexpectedly passed away while undergoing surgery just four months before her planned retirement date.

Was the match made in heaven? Did Barbara marry “the girl next door?” Was their marriage a “holy union?” All that seems to be true, for Barbara and Sue’s relationship lasted 36 years. Barbara met Sue in 1975 when Sue returned home to live with her parents just down the street from Barbara. And this union finally was celebrated and made legal on November 9, 2012 in a wedding ceremony witnessed by 75 guests, several of them leaders in our Church.

Barbara and Susan were also known as “the Disney Girls” because they had a great love for the world of Disney and a fabulous collection of Disney paraphernalia that decorated their home along with two other devotions very visible in their home: Coca Cola and Winnie the Pooh.

Times were not always easy for this pair. Barbara worked for Our Lady of the Assumption Parish as a receptionist. She and Susan also taught religious education to high school students. During a class Barbara felt she had to respond to a student’s statement that he was told a person cannot be both gay and Catholic. By carefully responding, she had broken a diocesan rule that teachers of religious education could not talk about sex. As a result, both were removed from their volunteer positions in the parish, though Barbara continued her employment there until a year ago when she retired.

Barbara and Susan have long been a part of their parish’s outreach to gays and lesbians that started when Father Chris Ponnett was the associate pastor there. In addition, they were founding members of Sophia’s Circle, a Catholic lesbian prayer and support group, and the two were active in the archdiocesan’s Catholic Ministry with Lesbian and Gay Persons (CMLGP)—which last year was renamed from Ministry with Lesbian and Gay Catholics—from its very beginnings 32 years ago. Together they received the Lumen Christi award for their service, and Barbara will continue working with this most important ministry.

When speaking of her lifelong partner, Barbara had this to say: “She is and will continue to be the love of my life. She will be the one that I will pray to for strength and understanding. She did it in life and she will continue to do it in Eternal Life.”

Susan’s Mass of Christian Burial was held at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish on Friday, September 5th. Barbara asks that any contributions be made to either the Catholic Ministry with Lesbian and Gay Persons ( or, in honor of Susan’s military service, to the wounded warriors project (

The Spiritual Significance of Pride

This month’s Perspectives entry, by Rev. Patrick S. Cheng, Ph.D., was first published in 2010 in the “Gay Voices” column of The Huntington Post. Rev. Cheng is Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA; Pastoral Assistant at Emmanuel Church in the City of Boston; member of the Committee on the Status of LGBTIQ Persons in the Profession of the American Academy of Religion; and author of several books on spirituality as it relates to LGBTQ persons

What is the spiritual significance of pride?

June is Pride Month for millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people across the country. During this time each year, we commemorate the weekend of June 27-29, 1969, when the patrons of the Stonewall Inn bar in Greenwich Village, fed up with police brutality and harassment towards the LGBT community, resolved to fight back. This turning point represented the birth of the modern LGBT-rights movement.... (Continue reading here)

Many Thanks to Our Generous Donors

We’d like to offer our sincerest gratitude to those who have so generously responded to this year’s annual appeal. If you’ve not yet responded, can you give of your time, talent, or send a financial contribution?

Comunidad’s annual appeal has gotten off to a great start thanks to those who quickly and generously responded with a contribution and/or offer to volunteer. If you’ve not yet responded, and are able to send us a small financial contribution or help us by volunteering your time or talent, it would be much appreciated. Because we have been, since last year, running in deficit spending mode, the financial contributions we have thus far received have been especially helpful. 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.

Food for Thought: Catholic Parents of LGBTQ Children

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 at about that same time. 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!

Reflection for the Easter Season

This short reflection—first published for the 2012 Easter season by Rev. Michael A. Zampelli, S.J., Rector of the Jesuit Community of Santa Clara, Associate Professor at Santa Clara University, and past board member of CALGM, the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry—was offered as our Perspectives column in our May, 2014 newsletter

The Triduum has been a rather dramatic time for us. Over the course of three days, we have explored the central mystery of our faith: the God who takes our flesh in Jesus offers himself in life, death and resurrection for us, for all of us, so that we might have life and have it to the full. We have journeyed through these days washing and being washed, eating and drinking real food and real drink, venerating the wood of the cross, lighting new fires, and telling the stories of our salvation in Christ... (Continue reading here)

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.