Uniquely Called

I came to see myself and others in my community as uniquely gifted and called, with a definite place at our Catholic table of faith.

Michael Reynolds, School of Theology and Ministry, Boston College, Certificate of Theology and Ministry

Life began at age 29.  Life in its fullness.  Authentic living.  This is when I “came into” my true and authentic identity as a gay man.  

Prior to age 29, I was and did many things.  I taught elementary school, went through CCD and the sacraments of baptism, first communion and confirmation, volunteered for many different causes and programs, participated in church youth group and related activities, went through a life/death experience with a serious physical illness, and became a godfather to my good friend’s son.

But all these experiences came under the guise of a hidden and less than authentic self.  It wasn’t until I entered a masters of social work program, through the University of Connecticut, that I was invited to bring forth a part of my identity that had been hidden and repressed for so many years.

This was a defining point in my life, and placed me on a journey that has led me to where I am today.  It has been a journey that I never could have imagined prior to age 29.  

I prayed and begged for direction.  Shortly thereafter, my mother, who was the first to feed me, would feed me again in perhaps the most important way:  A spiritual breath of strength and affirmation.  She invited me to go with her to St. Patrick/St. Anthony church in Hartford, CT.   A Franciscan parish.  Little did I know that this would both save my life, and be the impetus for my life’s future direction.

Upon entering the church, I felt the warmth in the people.  People greeted us, smiled.  The priest spoke of all people being welcomed here, a place at the table for us all.  The priest called me by name.  He verbalized that gay and lesbian people are part of the flock, welcome and valued as we are.  In the church bulletin, there was a notice for the next meeting of the GLBT Ministry.  

I went.  Soon after attending the first meeting, I found myself being drawn to leadership in this ministry.  I connected with more and more people like myself, on a similar journey.  People I could identify with.   I learned of Catholic justice organizations that were advocating and working for justice and love for all in the church. I joined the parish’s LGBT ministry.  I became more involved.  Together, we organized two regional conferences at our church with the theme of “Welcoming Gay Catholics to the Church.”  I felt called to leadership, being led as a servant leader.  I came to see myself and others in my community as uniquely gifted and called, with a definite place at our Catholic table of faith.  

The doors were opened.  My heart had found a home.   Yes, I am both Catholic and gay.  And, at age 44,  I am fully alive and present as both. 

Uniquely Called