I Thought My Ministry Career Was Over After I Left My Catholic Church Job. Little Did I Know

This blog is part of a series on LGBT Catholics who have held on to their faith, despite being publicly rejected from the church. For more stories, click here.

 

 

 

This is J. Michael’s public history with the Catholic Church. This is what happened to his faith, as told to HuffPost Associate Religion Editor Carol Kuruvilla.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After I left my job at my local Catholic Church, I thought my ministry career was over. But what’s happened since then has probably reaffirmed my ministerial calling more than ever before.

 

 

 

I believe Catholicism is a very spiritually enriching and historically connected form of Christianity. I’ve been a part of it all my life. I appreciate the Catholic way of looking at the world through the principle of sacramentality. Catholics see and experience God’s presence through tangible means — through the Sacraments, of course, but also through relationships with other people and through life events. It’s about seeing the events of your life as evidence of God’s presence in action and treating your experiences as an opportunity to grow spiritually. I also found the ritual aspect of church life very nurturing.

 

 

 

When I left, I felt a little unmoored from my anchor. But within a matter of weeks, I had been approached by National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C. to become a minister of music there. That started a whole new chapter. Not only have I joined the congregation, but I’ve been officially approved to be ordained as a minister.

 

 

 

I guess I could think of myself as a Catholic in exile. I know that’s the home from which I came and the home to which I probably can never return. But my faith in God hasn’t changed. I feel like I had a strong faith before everything that happened, and perhaps it’s even stronger than ever.

 

 

 

I don’t expect to participate in the pope’s visit. I’m personally happy that he’s coming and I have a good feeling about it. I think he has a lot to say to the culture here in the U.S. that we could benefit from listening to. In fact, I think he’s good for all Christians in the U.S.

 

 

 

With respect to LGBT issues, I think the Catholic church has so far to go. I think we need to be talking more about affirmation. Even the bishops who are speaking kindly about us are speaking in terms of welcome and acceptance, which is good, but way short of where church leaders need to be. It’s a big conundrum for Catholic leaders. They’ve got a lot of members who are in the LGBT community and they’re not really offering a credible stance towards us.

 

 

 

ray valido

 

 

 

I like to live in the present. I sort of have moved on. I’m not going to spend my energy trying to lobby the Catholic church. I don’t see that as a good use of my energy. What I’d rather do is devote myself to ministry with whomever I encounter, and try to bring the truth of the Gospel and the welcome of the Gospel wherever I can.

 

 

 

I feel like I’m in a privileged position to be available and sensitive to LGBT people and the thirst we all have for the love of God. At the church I’m in now, I’m in a good position to extend that welcome and affirmation. That’s where I can make a contribution.

 

 

 

I don’t have a lot of rancor or bitterness or resentment. This happened to me. I’m sorry it happened to me. I still feel the wounds of it. But I’ve picked myself up and I’m ready to go and do the work before me. My hope comes from my long career in ministry that’s taught me that in the end, the love of God is the most important thing.

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