16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,…
This passage, taken from Jesus’ first recorded public teaching, could almost be taken in modern terminology as as his “mission statement”.
Here is some more from the relevant passage in Isaiah:
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;
This idea of bringing good news to the afflicted, healing broken hearted LGBT Catholics, goes to the heart of what I’ve been trying to do, for some ten years now – almost exactly, since I first attended a “Soho Mass” at St Anne’s, Soho.
I embarked some years ago on my work with the Soho Masses, and at later here at Queering the Church, out of a conviction born from spiritual discernment, direction, and reflection on an extraordinary 6 day directed retreat and subsequent direction on its significance, that this is genuinely what Ignatian spirituality calls my “mission”. What God is calling me to do, I firmly believe, is to contribute in whatever way I can to ministry to LGBT Catholics (and other Christians). Following my initial involvement with Soho Masses and starting the blog, my activities have expanded to include work with Quest, where I am webmaster and now Bulletin editor, and now with the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, speaking at conferences of Quest, LGCM, the Cutting Edge Consortium, a Tablet Table, for LGBT History month at the University of East Anglia, (on queer saints and martyrs in church history) and on radio and television (as an openly gay Catholic advocate for marriage equality). I have also led one highly successful adaptation of the New Ways “Next Steps” workshop for UK conditions, and have reason to believe that in 2016, I will be able to facilitate some more. Together with Ruby, chair of Quest, I have had a useful meeting (before his unfortunate retirement) with Bishop Kieron Conroy of Arundel & Brighton. I have spoken informally with Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and written a report for Quest on the experience of gay Catholics, which was presented to him. I am currently preparing a further report for him, together with Martin Pendergast, on lgbt perspectives on marriage and family for the 2015 family synod. Beyond my specifically LGBT Catholic activities, I am also a committee member and webmaster for the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality , and actively involved in my local parish, where I am fully open about my life as a partnered gay Catholic and activist – and where the response, in this deeply conservative parish in rural Surrey,has been to support and even encourage me.
Looking ahead, I have been invited by Keith Sharpe (author of The Gay Gospels) to join a queer theology study group in Brighton, and for this site and for Quest, am now preparing pages of solidly useful, easily accessible, resources on the challenge of reconciling “Catholic teaching” with living with integrity as a gay or lesbian Catholic.
I am convinced that my work is not only what I am called to do, but is also genuinely valuable – as each of you at one time or another have told me, and which I have also been told by many people that I admire (among others, Bernard Lynch, James Alison, John McNeill and the biblical scholar and author of God and the Single Saviour, Dale B Martin). I have also been assured by ordinary readers of how much my writing has helped them – including some people who tell me that my thoughts have even helped them to avoid suicide. My posts on Pope Benedict XVI have also been archived by the US Library of Congress (admittedly to my surprise), because in their view, they have value for posterity.
Here’s the problem.
All of this has been done on a completely voluntary basis, at what at times has been virtually a full – time job in terms of the time spent. I have had an occasional trickle of income from advertising, Amazon commissions and donations, but this does not come close to covering my expenses, in computer and internet costs, books, travel and conference fees. Simply to keep going, I have in effect subsidized my work with part – time employment in work at or near minimum wage. I do not resent this. I repeat, I am convinced that it is what I am called to do, and experience has shown me that when I am productive in this area, it is a deep source of what Ignatian spirituality calls “consolation”, and when I am not productive it is a source of desolation. But there are limits.
For example, I have in the past had to ask for subsidies to attend important conferences, and on some occasions have had to miss others for which I had already paid, because I simply could not afford the associated travel costs and loss of earnings. This year, it has been easier. I did not ask for financial help for either Quest conference 2015, or the Global Network in Rome, because for once I had the cash on hand. However, this is only because I have taken on a third part – time job this year, which in turn leaves me with even less time than before for what I see as my real work.
This simply cannot continue indefinitely. This past weekend, I took on two additional responsibilities. For Quest, I agreed to take on editorship of Quest Bulletin, in addition to my existing role as web editor. For the Global Coalition, I agreed to tale on the role of webmaster. In addition to the additional pressure on time, this presents a basic practical problem – sooner or later, I will need a new laptop. When my previous one died on me suddenly last December, I made do by replacing it with a much cheaper Google Chromebook. This is fine for most purposes, and in some respects better than a conventional PC, but does not lend itself well either to extensive document formatting which I will need for the Quest Bulletin, or for Skype, which I will need for the Global Network. For now, I can get by with using my husband’s PC, but I cannot do so indefinitely.
In the longer term, I also need more regular funding to enable me to relinquish some of my present part – time work, to enable me to devote myself with more energy to what I really want and need to do. This will be even more important when in time, my present health condition (a stomach GIST) leads to the inevitable major surgery, which will leave me for some weeks, unable to drive. After recovery, I may well find that my driving jobs no longer exist.
Can you help?