The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


It’s a big church — in every sense

posted by jmcgee

It’s not often that a beautiful and historic church in a city like New York gets a new altar — and gets a full-blown rededication, complete with cardinal and archbishop. But that happened recently at St. Francis Xavier Church in Manhattan.

The church, as you can see in the video below (beautifully shot and produced by Scott Ness, of “Currents,”) is magnificent. The parish is clearly thriving.

Some may remember that it sparked controversy recently over the parish’s participation in New York’s Gay Pride parade.
Which prompted the pastor yesterday to release the following statment:

In past years, a group of parishioners from our parish who are members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-gendered (LGBT) Ministries have participated in the Gay Pride March. They displayed a banner identifying themselves as parishioners of St. Francis Xavier parish. This year, Archbishop Dolan has requested that this group refrain from displaying the parish banner as they March.

The participation of parishioners in the March provides an opportunity to spread the message of God’s unconditional love and thus is a form of evangelization. Spreading the Good News is an integral part of the mission of our parish. During the March, parishioners distribute Welcome Brochures. Many people have entered the Church or returned to the Sacraments through this pastoral outreach.
 
Nevertheless, the display of the parish banner may give the false impression that the parish is somehow serving as a sponsoring organization or officially endorsing other sentiments that may appear in the course of the March.

Avoiding such confusion is the motivation for the Archbishop’s request.

The St. Francis Xavier LGBT Ministries will respect the Archbishop’s request and will be marching this year without a banner identifying our parish. Efforts to reach out to those who are open to the Gospel will continue. The desire of everyone at St. Francis Xavier parish is that we proclaim the infinite love of God for all while upholding the Church’s spiritual values and moral teachings.

Meantime, enjoy the video below (which features members of the LGBT ministry being introduced during the mass.) 

It’s a big church. In every sense.



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Ttarp

posted June 25, 2010 at 9:41 am


Archbishop Dolan is fantastic. It’s inspiring to see a man who loves his vocation and shares his joy with everyone he sees. What a beautiful ceremony.
As an aside, is there a backlash against women on the altar somewhere that I’m not aware of?



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Pat L

posted June 25, 2010 at 10:06 am


The faith-filled people of this Xavier, with Fr. Joe, offer and live a most extraordinary example of being a part of the Body of Christ. Congratulations to all for their discipleship lived in faith and as companions to one another.



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Ken Maleck

posted June 25, 2010 at 10:09 am


I’m surprised there were no deacons at the Mass. Amazing that such a vibrant parish has no deacons.



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Michele

posted June 25, 2010 at 11:14 am


Wow. That was amazing. What a wonderful example of a vibrant CATHOLIC community! We do need more Jesuits in this land!



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Bob

posted June 25, 2010 at 1:18 pm


Thanks so much for posting this video, it brought a few tears of joy to my eyes. I once belonged to this parish but have moved to the west coast. It’s wonderful to see the community is alive and doing well. This parish community has been such a blessing!!



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Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted June 25, 2010 at 1:39 pm


That was most edifying, really wonderful!



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Holly Hansen

posted June 26, 2010 at 8:27 am


Now that’s “Big Tent” Catholicism at it’s best. God bless Archbishop Dolan !



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Will

posted June 26, 2010 at 4:47 pm


Outside of Bishop Dolan, the other folks speaking are what is wrong with the Church today. The dictatorship of Relativism and an embrace of Modernism. God forgave sins, but he instructed the sinner to go out and to sin no more. Today, many name only cafeteria catholics wish to embrace the sin in the name of acceptance, which will not help the soul but only give it over to the enemy…Gay Ministry: unless you are calling the sinner to repentance and sin no more, then you work against God and his Holy Church…PRAY
[It might be useful to restate here the church's teaching on homosexuality, as contained in the catechism which, among other things, calls on us to "accept" homosexuals with "respect, compassion and sensitivity."
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
Dcn. G.]



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Bruce T.

posted June 26, 2010 at 6:40 pm


Ken Maleck, often those parishes which promote the impossible pipe dream of women’s ordination discourage vocations to the permanent diaconate. They have no respect for the diaconate because to them it’s just another man on the altar.
Will, “Gay Ministry” is not supposed to be just for those who commit sexual sins with members of the same sex. Some persons with homosexual inclinations struggle with the inclination and try to live according to Christ’s teaching faithfully handed on in the Catholic Church. “Gay Ministry” is supposed to support them to do so in a world that preaches license and self-indulgence. That said, that is not how this parish does it.
And I disagree with your evaluation of Dolan. This video is horrendous and unless Dolan made some clear teachings not shown, NY is in bad shape. (Dolan just smiles and applauds when the “Gay Ministry” folk stand. Does this mean he wants every parish to imitate SFX parish?)
This parish is only superficially Catholic, and Dolan seemingly said nothing. It has the veneer, but does not accept Church teaching on the evil of a homosexual lifestyle. Just read the parishioner comments on their own webpage.



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pagansister

posted June 26, 2010 at 9:40 pm


What a beautiful building!



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Will

posted June 26, 2010 at 10:38 pm


I have also heard that they practice zen, yoga, reiki, massage and reflexology at the behest of the paster there, Mr. Constantino. Lord, protect these people from heretical infiltrators who do not save souls but give them over to the enemy to be forever in despair in the dark realm below…St. Francis Xavier, pray for our Church… May they abandon Cafeteria Modern Heretical Catholicism and embrace the Fullness of the Catholic Faith and be fully Catholic and not Catholic in Name Only…



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Basil

posted June 26, 2010 at 11:55 pm


Bruce and Will,
What would you recommend? An auto da fe? Or maybe the Church could sell tickets to the suicides of its younger gay members. Now that the Church endorses discrimination even against celibate gays, what is there fore them to live for? Certainly, not a just or compassionate God.



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Will

posted June 27, 2010 at 6:38 am


Yes, we are to in accord with the the Catechism, but you know very well, that you can not, can not accept the SIN!!! Nobody is calling for discrimination, but again you know very well that there are many many Cafeteria Catholics that wish to condone and accept the SIN and say nothing more of it… “GO AND SIN NO MORE”. So many forget to use this part of the passage and only quote the first part… Lucifer is not a metaphor folks and he wishes to claim as much souls as he can!!!!
“…These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity…”…
And I still like Bishop Dolan and know he faces a very very difficult task of Shepherding some Folks in NYC…
[Will...Chastity is not just for homosexuals. The catechism makes clear, in the same section addressing the sixth commandment, that "all the baptized are called to chastity." Any sexual activity outside the marital bond is a grave and serious sin. Dcn. G.]



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Will

posted June 27, 2010 at 9:38 am


Agreed Deacon. They place themselves in mortal sin as well and lose “Grace”. There is much work to be done in all areas of the Modern World, but the Church is to teach and lead men out of sin… not adapt to the sin and accept it and tolerate it… I am just calling for Catholics to be Catholics fully and to not pick and choose. If they wish to pick and choose, there are over 40,000 protestant sects that will greet them and except their error and call it right… If a priest of God makes excuses for Homosexuality or people living in sin or having sex outside the marriage bond and celebrates such things, then this Priest or Bishop has much to answer for when he sits in front of the Throne of Almighty God Where the Great Judge, the Lamb, who sits on the Throne of David in Glory This Day will Judge… They are charged with the care of men and women’s souls and if they lead them into heresy and sin, then I pray for God’s Mercy on them on that terrible and great day…



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Bruce T.

posted June 27, 2010 at 11:05 am


Basil, did you even read my comment? Or is you mind already made up by an agenda?
You seem to have an idea that there’s only two options 1) accept homosexual inclinations as good or 2) start burning all homosexuals. It’s a false and stupidly contrived dichotomy, but perhaps appreciated by emotional people who do not care about understanding Church teaching.
If you’d read my comment, you’d see that I want my bishops to care for all people, including by helping homosexuals live an authentic Christian life. [Thanks to Dcn Greg for quoting the catechism to show such a life entails chastity to which we are all called.]
As I noted, not all homosexuals are guilty of homosexual activity. Moreover, I’d add we should not treat homosexually oriented sins as if they were the worst of sins.
But, what I am also saying is we must not celebrate the homosexual inclination, while not sinful if not consented to, as something good. Like a proclivity to alcohol abuse or gambling abuse it signifies a person needs help. (Should such people march in alcholic pride parades?) In fact, homosexuals need compassion and help such that perhaps the disordered same sex attraction -while not changing the objective gravity of a homosexual act – can diminish the subjective culpability of those who do so.
The worldly see nothing wrong with homosexual activity nor the inclination. (I’d bet the worldview of the positive comments here actually is one in which homosexual activity and inclinations are legitimate.) Some even want to redefine the reality of marriage to make it seem normal.
The problem is when clergy pretend there is nothing objectively disordered with homosexual inclination at the moment when it is thrown in our faces (as done to Dolan) as something to celebrate. To say nothing and to clap, seems to imply acceptance. And this can lead to a false hope that the Church is going to change her teaching or clergy do not agree with it. The reality is the Church will not and cannot change this teaching no matter how many clergy dissent.
So, no, I do not advocate your ridiculous suggestion about burnings.
But, I demand, as I hope you do if you call yourself Catholic, that the bishops must speak the truth when immediately challenged with an error – albeit, in a loving way – but without pretending that all is hunky dory.



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Bruce T.

posted June 27, 2010 at 11:14 am


Another point often overlooked…
They talk about LBGT Ministries.
T stands for transexual. That means people who performed an act to change their sexual appearance. That act is objectively a gravely sinful act of bodily mutilation.
Does LBGT Ministries encourage such people – if they have the means – to undo the mutilation?

Is there anyone reading this with actual knowledge of what these ministries actually advocate or how they present Catholic teaching?
You can do us a great service with a candid comment on what goes on, perhaps enlightening those of us who are more cautious in exuberance.



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Steve P in La Crosse, Wis.

posted June 27, 2010 at 12:03 pm


The building is beautiful, and congratulations to the congregation on completing their renovations. Nevertheless, this video makes me quite uneasy — from admittedly rather trivial things like the liturgical dancer waltzing the brazier and congregational hand-holding for the prayers, to more substantive things like the selective restatement of what the Jesuits were founded for and the “‘prophetic’ witness of the parish to the Church” [!] about women and gays. At the risk of stereotyping, a number of men who speak in the video caused blips on my gaydar, and the vigorous applause for the LGBT ministry hints that its objectives are broader than helping their constituents come to penance and chastity. Archbishop Dolan tries hard to be a good pastor and to make the best of the situation, but it’s hard to believe he’s entirely happy about what the parish understands itself.



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Conservative

posted June 27, 2010 at 1:19 pm


I could not refrain from adding my two cents. This parish has a long history of liturgical abuses and being a little wishy washy on the LGBT ministries. It has been the source of discord many times.
Back in the nineties there was a priest assigned there to restore order and he was greeted with great animosity. Read the story about it in the New York times of January 2, 1998 and Father Sogliuzzi.



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Jebus

posted June 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm


Steve from La Crosse writes;
At the risk of stereotyping, a number of men who speak in the video caused blips on my gaydar, and the vigorous applause for the LGBT ministry hints that its objectives are broader than helping their constituents come to penance and chastity
At the risk of pointing out that you’re making an ass of yourself, perhaps those attending have needs that you don’t know about. Perhaps, they’re not completely defined by their sexuality, but seek a parish which doesn’t presume to do that for them.
Certainly, the conservatives here are the ones who should ask if Hell yawns before them.



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Jebus

posted June 27, 2010 at 3:32 pm


Bruce T,
Does it make you feel tough or righteous to use the word “objectively?” Some people are born genetically or anatomically intersexed. It’s their business, not yours. Learn your place.



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shana

posted June 27, 2010 at 9:19 pm


“Learn your place”, Jebus? My what a horribly uncivil and hostile tone you use to speak to someone who is asking legitimate questions of a parish ministry of the Catholic Church.
Jebus, no one knows why some people desire to be what their chromosomes say they are not, but mutilating the body deliberately to try and pretend to be something one is not is actually a grave sin even if no one likes it or wants to believe it. Encouraging someone to go ahead and be mutilated is a grave sin. Supporting it is a grave sin.
It IS our business, as Catholics because it is the abuse of another’s soul to deny that soul the sacred Truths of the Faith (whether straight, gay or anything else). All who receive the Truths of the Faith are free to reject them but no one is free to change them to suit themselves. We have the right, as Catholics, to the whole Truth, to the Gospel, to Christ who saves us, not the opinion of people who wish and desire that it were otherwise. Scripture says, after all, that the truth shall set you free, not empty, gutless pity and guilt- stained lies.
These people are entering this parish in a position of great need of truth and healing and the actual Gospel truth taught with great compassion for their situation, not psychological feel good claptrap – what exactly are they getting at this parish? Why is that question offensive to you?
Instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, admonishing the sinner, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving offenses willingly, comforting the afflicted and praying for the living and the dead are works of mercy, Jebus.
Maybe, dear heart, you need to study the Catechism and the Scriptures and learn your place, too.



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Mike L

posted June 27, 2010 at 10:23 pm


Shana
you say:
“Jebus, no one knows why some people desire to be what their chromosomes say they are not”
I think you had better look up what the term intersexed means. Briefly these are people who genetically have both male and female genes, and or also may have both male and female anatomy. So what do you think these people should want to be?
It would appear that nature generates some that fit neither the male or female sex but in the past we have refused to recognize this and so if one did not fit into one of the two categories at birth a surgeon’s knife made it look like the infant fit. When we started classifying male and female by genetics we found that even genetically we could not limit people to male or female.
So your response to Jebus’s post did not respond to his comment on “intersexed” people. I would suggest you look up what he means in more detail and then see what your response is.



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cathyf

posted June 28, 2010 at 12:09 am


Is “transsexual” really a synonym for “intersex”? Intersex is a biological definition having to do with specific identifiable genetic variations. My impression was the “transsexuals” were people who felt that they were in the wrong gender, but that there was no physically identifiable difference between them and others of the gender that they were born with.



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Mike L

posted June 28, 2010 at 10:17 am


AS I understand it, transexual is NOT a synonym for intersexed. I also understand that many who have been considered transexual have, when tested, been found to be intersexed. Again it is my understanding that intersexed covers a wide range of conditions, from internal and hormonal unballance to sterility to far more apparent mixtures of male and female. I think it is something that science, as well as the general population, is just now becoming aware of and will require a lot more study before we really understand all of its implications.
Life is just not as black and white or as simple as we would like it to be.



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Andrew

posted June 28, 2010 at 3:40 pm


Wait I’m so confused… so the gay ministry thing is leading them to lead chaste lives, right?
[Questioned about that recently, the pastor claims that they encourage chastity and fidelity to Church teaching among all who come to the parish. Dcn. G.]



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joseph

posted June 28, 2010 at 4:32 pm


What a wonderful video, thank you for posting. Thrilling to see a Roman Catholic parish finally live the gospel and accept ALL people as they are, imperfect. We are all sinners in need of God’s Grace and Forgiveness and this seems to be one of the few parish’s that recognize that fact. We need many more parish communities exactly like this one…just as the Archbishop indicated.
So many Pharasee type individuals here don’t believe a gay person can also be a devout Roman Catholic. They hate it they are shown a parish where ALL can worship. Christ is truly present in their midst.



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Dcn Don

posted June 28, 2010 at 5:03 pm


Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not feelin’ the love here…
I accept it as given that there are people who are LGBT or homosexual or gay or transgendered or transsexual or whatever in our churches.
I also accept is at given that while some of them are undoubtedly leading broken and disordered lives – and others are not – they are striving to be good Catholics.
The question as I see it is how do we as the People of God reach out our hands without wagging our fingers?
I’m reading some pretty harsh judgments here. The God I worship does not make trash.



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pagansister

posted June 28, 2010 at 7:19 pm


This is a good example of an all inclusive church.



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Conservative

posted June 28, 2010 at 7:39 pm


Dcn Don,
I think you don’t feel the love because somehow people have the feeling that the LGBT ministry there is not one that emphasizes the church’s teaching on homosexual behavior. It seems more like the “New Ways” ministry more than the “Courage” ministry. Maybe I am wrong but of course all are welcome in any Catholic Church. Have you ever seen anyone thrown out of one? I haven’t.



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Dcn Don

posted June 28, 2010 at 11:18 pm


Conservative, sadly I have seen someone thrown out, but the failing was on the part the local parish community, not the friend they never got to know – but that’s a conversation for another blog posting [grin]. On this most important issue, a ministry can never talk with people who will not come into the room.
For many LGBT people and others, the Church is that ‘room’. If a ministry can express common ground (some of which we can always find) and a willingness to love (which we’re all supposed to have) then God willing, healing can begin.
I don’t question the Church’s teaching nor do I think that it is easy in some cases – this being one. But I take as my model the Holy Father, who was questioned by reporters after a talk he gave in Germany a couple of years ago. Why was it, they asked, that he did not address either the Church’s opposition to abortion or its rejection of same-sex marriage? His response is now called affirmative orthodoxy: “Christianity, Catholicism, isn’t a collection of prohibitions: it’s a positive option … We’ve heard so much about what is not allowed that now it’s time to say: we have a positive idea to offer.” John Allen, in whose article I first encountered this (2007’s neglected story: Benedict XVI and ‘Affirmative Orthodoxy’ URL: http://ncronline.org/node/11513) defines the term as “a tenacious defense of the core elements of classic Catholic doctrine, but presented in a relentlessly positive key.”
This appeals to me, but I can’t begin a conversation with someone who can’t talk to me because I’m engaged from the get go in pointing out to them the errors of their ways.
I have people who are very precious to me who are walking a path my Church does not support, and it really hurts. But when I pray for guidance on how to faithfully address the relationship, the answer always… always comes back the same: “Just keep talking.”
It may never stop hurting, but if I can witness to them how this Catholic man lives, loving them but not compromising the core elements of my Catholic faith, then I believe I will have done God’s will for me. If the St. F.X. ministry can do that for the people they welcome in love, what more can we ask?
[Beautifully put, Don. Thank you. DGK]



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cathyf

posted June 29, 2010 at 12:01 am


Back when I was in high school in the Chicago suburbs, I had a teacher who was the daughter of a moderately renowned Chicago gangster. She was the one who pointed out that our high school, along with many many other Catholic institutions in the diocese, was built with some significant amount of Outfit money.
The question of just how best to confront people who are not living in accord with the teachings of the Church has always been with us…



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Conservative

posted June 29, 2010 at 7:05 am


I think it is great that all feel welcome st St F X. If they are ministering to the LGBT community without compromising Catholic teaching then fine. The fact that the parish was going to march in the Pride Parade with a parish banner makes me uneasy. Archbishop Dolan had to request that they not do that. If you have ever seen any of that parade you would understand why the Bishop had to made that clear.



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DcnDon

posted June 29, 2010 at 3:32 pm


Conservative, I have not in fact seen the New York parade, but I am in Toronto, and too much of the Gay Pride parade here (a MAJOR event highlighting an entire week, underway right now) is not about community or pride at all – it’s about aggressive, “in-your-face” public display of same-sex sexual activity and the display of every possible symbol and representation of genitalia. Were I a person of homosexual preference I would find this extreme activity excessive, personally offensive and quite frankly counterproductive in my effort to have my community accepted as normal. Let’s save the definition of ‘normal’ for another day.
I don’t for one moment think that the StFX marchers would engage in this type of activity, and the point made about demonstrating a Catholic presence (I am going to presume it is an appropriate presence) within the LGBT community is a valid one.
But I really appreciate your uneasiness. The Parish or the Church in this media-saturated age must also be sensitive to the needs and perceptions of the larger community, those who only get the media-filtered version, which is rarely as accurate as it might be.
It’s an easy story to tell in a sound bite and twenty seconds of footage: banner = sponsorship = approval = betrayal of core values [or] change of Church policy. The fact that this portrayal may be completely misleading will very likely not make it into the story, unless that story is covered some place like this one, which is why I am so thankful that Deacon Greg and many others like him have taken it as a personal mission to communicate the Catholcism we all love so much.
God bless.



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Conservative

posted June 29, 2010 at 7:34 pm


Dcn
I can’t speak for this year but in prior years they have made it a point to march pass St Patrick’s Cathedral while making obscene gestures toward the church while shouting Shame!. They have near naked marchers and many who simulate obscene behavior. Is this something to take “pride” in? Is this something any parish wants to be a part of? They do nothing to further acceptance. I think there would be better ways for the church to get its message across.



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Dcn Don

posted June 29, 2010 at 9:05 pm


Conservative,
There’s no denying that what we might think of as the worst of any community can taint everyone in our eyes, but I think we also need to remember that they are the extreme.
The Church is not “either-or” but “also-and.” Yes, we need to take a stand against what we cannot accept, but I think we also need to remember that there are others in the community with whom we would have much more in common, and who would likely not be caught dead simulating obscene behaviour in a parade. I believe it is these people the parish wants to be involved with, and through them to say to others like them in the larger LGBT community that here is something in which you really *can* take pride.
The extreme are not expressing pride when they engage in hatred – the two concepts are mutually exclusive. Reasonable members of their community know that. As for the others, we can pray for them.
God bless.
[I've had discussions with people around my office about this, and one thing that keeps coming up again and again is the simple fact that Jesus went to where the people were, and freely mingled with prostitutes and tax collectors and sinners of every stripe. Pharisees were scandalized because of it. But look at what happened.
Christ preached on the mountain. But he performed miracles when he was among the people. Dcn. G.]



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Conservative

posted July 19, 2010 at 5:04 pm


Maybe you should visit NYC and watch the antics. Certainly something to be “proud” of. God’s diversity! Yeah, ok.



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