Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Francis of Assisi Church,

May the Lord give you peace.

St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City is greatly blessed by our LGBTQ members. Your gifts are a great blessing that helps to form and nurture the Body of Christ. I am deeply saddened by the recent statement by the Vatican. We are wounded by this statement and feel a new depth of rejection. In view of it all, I call to mind that we are the Church. We, all together, in all of the richness of our diversity are the Body of Christ. Everyone is needed, everyone is essential. The body is incomplete without each person’s gift.

As I reflect on my few months here and my many years of ministry, I know that the LGBTQ community brings the Church several remarkable gifts. What immediately comes to mind is resilience. Despite years of struggle and pain, we together continue to live the Gospel, to break the bread of the Eucharist, and to care for the poor. This resilience is a great strength and a prophetic proclamation.

There is strength in the continued affirmation of the power of the Spirit to be life-giving. The strength is seen in the companioning of those who were dying during the AIDS pandemic, the care for LGBTQ youth, and the ministries of healing, teaching, the arts, and service. Within our community we have ministers who are lectors, musicians, servers, teachers, and ministers of the Eucharist. There is a witness to prophetic life in “coming out”- being the person God has created us to be. With Paul, we can say, “by the grace of God-I am what I am … his grace is not in vain.”

It is this prophetic proclamation that understands Paul’s words, “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” There is no statement, no prohibition, no theological construct that transcends the love of God. We are all radically loved by God.

It is of this same love that the Letter of John notes, “where there is love, there is God, for God is love.” I have seen the love of LGBTQ couples who heal one another, nurture children, and endure the failure of love from those unable to see the manifest ways of God’s presence in diversity.

We remember Jesus’ parting words to his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, have faith in God and faith in me…. I am the way, truth, and life.” We put our trust in him and pray that the all will one day realize the depth and wonder of the diversity of God’s gifts in the lives of all God’s daughters and sons.

Ultimately, we are all blessed by God, and we know loving unions reflect the presence of God. We cannot limit God. God is free and has called us to share in that freedom.

We, St. Francis of Assisi Church, again affirm the incredible gifts of the LGBTQ members of our community and the larger Church. We are blessed in the graces of resilience, prophetic proclamation, love, and God’s presence.

Blessings and Peace,

Thomas M. Gallagher, ofm