An Irish-born Jesuit, Fr Donal Godfrey, features in a long article in the (USA) National Catholic Reporter for 6 March. It describes the Most Holy Redeemer parish in San Francisco, which has the reputation of being the “gayest” parish in the nation; some 80% of parishioners are LGBT. Many parishioners do not like this reputation. They feel it stereotypes them. “We don’t see ourselves as a gay community, but rather as a community that is open to gays. There is nothing in this church – no functions – that are gay here. It’s an acceptance and a realisation that people feel OK to be who they are, that makes this place different.”
It is some years since Donal “came out” as gay in sexual orientation. He is a chaplain in the Jesuit University of San Francisco; he frequents the Most Holy Redeemer parish and has written about it. He has wide experience in his ministry to gays, a difficult ministry in any setting, but perhaps less complicated in San Francisco than in North Belfast, one of his earlier postings. Some of the tension has gone from it since the media picked up Pope Francis’ much-quoted comment: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?”
The series of five articles in the National Catholic Reporter about San Francisco’s Most Holy Redeemer Church can be accessed here.