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Gay Catholics key to Castro parish’s growth

July 24, 2015
Jim McCrea

As a former parishioner of Most Holy Redeemer in the Castro District I read with interest the article the July 17 issue titled “Precious Blood Fathers answer call to shepherd Castro parish.” The story was familiar to me but I admit to blinking twice when I read what I am sure what Father Link meant as a positive statement: “… the parish does not have even a ministry defined or directed specifically to the gay or LGBT community.”

The parish was re-established, grew and thrived since Father Tony McGuire and Sister Cleta Herold came in 1982 and wisely, in their efforts to revive a largely moribund shadow of a parish, recognized that AIDS and HIV were devastating the gay community. Their outreach gradually attracted new members, almost all of whom were gay men and lesbians. The reason for this growth and prosperity over the past 30-plus years was not only the ministry of the parish, but also the ministry of the lesbians and gay men to that parish. Their hard work, commitment, efforts and financial generosity resulted in a major rebuilding of the church building in the 1990s and maintaining the parish as a beacon of creative liturgy, innovative building design and a superior music program.

To be proud of not having a defined or directed ministry to the LGBT communities is to have forgotten that it is only because of these communities that the parish even exists today. The Castro District is an iconic gay neighborhood, recognized world-wide as such. This church, particularly this archdiocese, has a less-than-stellar reputation as being welcoming to the LGBT communities. The makeup of the groups who will be attracted to the parish and how they will minister to it remains to be seen. The makeup of The Castro and the spirituality of the young (including gays, lesbians and transgender people) are very different from the 1980s. To forget or negate the past is a sad commentary on the present.

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