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

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.

Our February Meeting: A Screening of A Place To Live

Tuesday, February 3rd, 7:00 p.m., Fr. Gerald Meisel Hall, St. Matthew Catholic Church, 672 Temple Ave., Long Beach

Join us for the award-winning documentary A Place to Live, directed by Carolyn Coal, which tells the story of seven individuals as they attempt to secure a home in Triangle Square, in Hollywood, CA, the nation’s first affordable housing community specifically for LGBT elders. Winner of the Audience Award at Outfest 2008, Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, this insightful documentary will surely provoke a lively and important discussion about issues that concern many of us as we contemplate retirement.

The film will start at 7:15 p.m. (a little earlier than usual for the presentation part of our meetings) and a discussion period will follow. Refreshments and drinks will be provided.

“There is a misperception that all gays are young, fabulous and wealthy—but we’re not. We are all ethnicities, all socio-economic levels and all ages. I hope our film will bring attention to this issue of neglect and marginalization of our elders. Unless we work together as a community today, we will be confronted by the very same frustrations and difficulties that many older LGBT adults face now.”—Carolyn Coal, director

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)

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!

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.