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

Our March Meeting: Stations of the Cross

This Tuesday, March 3rd, 7:00 p.m; Fr. Gerald Meisel Parish 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

Since Ash Wednesday, February 18th, we have been in Lent, the 40-day Church season that precedes Easter. During this solemn time in the Church year rituals bring focus on 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 among the most popular forms 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), mention 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.

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, March 3rd!

Our Annual Appeal is Underway—Can You Give of Your Time, Talent, or Send a Financial Contribution?

Letters will soon be in the mail. You can also donate electronically.

Comunidad’s annual appeal campaign is underway. This year we have, wherever possible, trimmed budgets, but your financial contribution and the influx of talent and participation brought by new and old members alike is greatly appreciated. Every donation, no matter the amount, helps.

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

>If you have a postal address on file with us, you’ll be receiving a letter in the mail soon from which you can respond. This year we’re also offering the means to send financial contributions electronically via PayPal. It’s a safe and secure way to deliver your contibution through the use of a credit card or your PayPal account, if you have one. Sending your contribution electronically will save you the cost and trouble of affixing a stamp on the return envelope that is provided in our mailing. You needn’t be an PayPal account holder (or create an account) to use the service. To provide your donation electronically, visit our donation page.

If you have not received a mailing delivered by post from Comunidad in the past eighteen months, it’s likely that we do not have your current postal address on file. In this case, you can send your donation via the PayPal method or download this form and mail it in along with your check or money-order.

With sadness in our hearts, we announce the passing of Fr. Jerry Meisel

Our longtime and beloved pastor, Fr. Jerry Meisel, died early Monday morning, January 19th. Comunidad began in 1986 with his strong support, which continued throughout these many years.

Rev. Gerald Meisel, 1935-2015

Vigil with Rosary Tuesday, February 27th, 6:00–7:00 p.m; Funeral Mass Wednesday, February 28th, 11:00 a.m. at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 672 Temple Ave., Long Beach

It is with tremendous sadness that Comunidad—indeed the whole parish community of St. Matthew’s—announces the passing of our beloved ex-pastor, Fr. Jerry Mesiel. Ordained a deacon in 1960 and a priest in 1961, he arrived at our parish in October of 1981. Two years later he became the parish’s administrator pro tem, and a few months later, on New Year’s day of 1984, he became our pastor and remained in that position until his retirement at the end of June in 2005. To our good fortune, Fr. Jerry continued to live in the parish rectory after his retirement from full-time ministry, and it was not unusual to see him greeting everyone whether coming to or leaving Mass on Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings—no matter whether he was saying Mass. He enjoyed staying in-touch with the parishoners as much as we enjoyed staying in touch with him. He was a dedicated servant of the Lord who kept an ear and an eye open for those in need, and we will miss him deeply.

It was only two years into his tenure as pastor, in February 1986, that he responded gladly to Archbishop Roger Mahoney’s call to create welcoming and supportive ministries within archdiocesan parishes for gay and lesbian persons. Thus began our ministry. During these past twenty-eight years, even after Fr. Jerry retired, and in ways that many may not even realize, he remained an advocate and friend of our work. His memory and example will continue to inspire us.

We ask you to keep him in your prayers, and, if you can, please join us next week in celebrating his life.

The Last Mass

Fr. Jerry Meisel, just out of the seminary and as pastor of St. Matthew

By Joe Maffucci

In October 1966, in the beginning of my third year of Theology I left St. Joseph Seminary of the Archdiocese of New York. To borrow the lyrics from a popular song of the time I came undone. I found a mountain that was far too high. I lost the sun, the moon and the stars. Aside from my mother’s death, the lingering emotional effects of my leaving still resonate. Dark memories of that time in my life persist. Nevertheless, there is one memory from those days that I relish. At the end of the scholastic year, the deacons were ordained to the priesthood; it was the culmination of six years of study and spiritual development. It was a joyous as well as spiritual moment for all seminarians. Each year I had the privilege of attending and sometimes participating as an altar server at a First Mass—that is, the first Mass celebrated by a newly ordained priest. We eagerly waited in line for the first blessing of the newly ordained. (Continue reading here)

It’s Killing Me

By Joe Maffucci

She keeps her distance
And sits on fences
Puts up resistance
And builds defenses

What's the problem?

You leave me hanging on the line,
Everytime you change your mind.

First you say you won’t
Then you say you will
You keep me hanging on,
And we’re not moving on
We're standing still, Jenny
You’ve got me on my knees

It's killing me

In the 2005 song Jenny, The Click Five sing about a courtship that is going nowhere and seems doomed to failure. Sound familiar? It should if you were paying attention to the reports from the Extraordinary Synod on the Family that Pope Francis called for last year and which recently met and finished its first session in Rome. (Continue reading here)

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!

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.