A Mass to celebrate inclusion

The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle’s first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer (LGBTIQ) Mass will take place at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Tighes Hill at 6.00pm on Friday 4 March 2022.

The LGBTIQ Mass, which is the same as a regular Mass but with prayers and scriptures that address the needs of LGBTIQ people and their families, had the blessing of the late Bishop Bill Wright.

Lawrie Hallinan is the Secretary of the Diocese’s LGBTIQ Catholic Forum, which is organising the Mass.

“The Mass is an opportunity to celebrate that LGBTIQ people are created in God’s image and are welcome in the Catholic Church,” Mr Hallinan said.  

Fellow Forum member, James Turner, is gay and said that he wishes there was a LGBTIQ Mass when he was young.

“It would have saved me years of fear and self-loathing if my Church had clearly said “God made you as you are, God loves you and we see you as a valued member of God’s Church”.”

The Mass comes on the back of local Catholics specifically requesting that the Church clearly express inclusion for LGBTIQ people.

“This call was frequent in the responses to the National Plenary Council and the recent Diocesan Synod,” Mr Hallinan said.

Gerard Mowbray is the Director of Schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and has lent his support to the celebration, believing it reflects the ethos held in schools across the diocese. 

“Our schools aim to be communities of safety, inclusion and tolerance where all can flourish. This is our commitment to all – including our LGBTIQ staff and students,” Mr Mowbray said.

In a recent message to Catholic families, Pope Francis encouraged parents who "see different sexual orientations in their children" to accompany, not condemn their children.[1]

Diocesan parishioner, Liz, describes her daughter and her daughter’s wife (her daughter-in-law) as being beautiful, generous, caring, talented and unique creations of God. 

“My greatest prayer is for my Church to welcome them as such and not just see their sexuality,” she said.

Greg Byrne, a member of the Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Forster-Tuncurry, intends to drive two hours to attend the service, which is of significance to his family.

“I am pleased to see the Catholic Church welcoming homosexual people into the worshiping community,” said Greg, who is also a member of PFLAG, the first and largest organisation for LGBTIQ+ and their parents, families and allies. “These people have felt very unwelcome in past years.”

The LGBTIQ Catholic Forum was established in 2020 with the encouragement of the late Bishop Bill Wright to provide support to LGBTIQ people and to assist the wider Church to be more inclusive.

For more information email LGBTIQ@mn.catholic.org.au or visit mn.catholic.org.au/church-mission/lgbtiq-forum/

 

[1] https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2022/01/pope-francis-cites-struggles-of-parents-of-gay-children-urges-non-condemning-attitude

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Lizzie Snedden Image
Lizzie Snedden

Lizzie is Team Leader Content for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.