The Catholic Ministry with Gay & Lesbian Persons is a hospitality-based ministry that was created to welcome back those who have been wounded and marginalized by the Church. 

It focuses on reaffirming that all are welcome into Catholic Church, and it is a safe space to be surrounded by a faith community without fear of judgment or condemnation. We want to bring people close to Christ so that Christ can do the rest of the work. 

We affirm Pope Francis’ words, “In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me they feel like the Church has always condemned them. But the Church does not want to do this. During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person. A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does He endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When this happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.” †

We see so many who have been wounded by the Church and yet, through the 14 years we have been in existence, we see even more returning! We are succeeding in following Pope Francis’ words and giving a Church home to those who had given up on having a Church family. We see them developing a relationship with Christ and becoming active in the Church alongside their fellow parishoners.

†Spadero, A. (2013, September 30). A Big Heart Open to God: And Interview with Pope Francis. America: The Jesuit Review.

For more information, please contact Beth Trouy at: or 901-496-9413 or Fr. Val Handwerker at  St. Patrick Catholic Church: 527-2542

Our Mission Statement

The Catholic Ministry with Gay and Lesbian Persons affirms that all the baptized, in the diversity of our sexual orientation, are called to full participation in the life, worship, and mission of the church.

The ministry fosters inclusivity, mutual understanding and appreciation of all persons by promoting hospitality, education and support.

Our History

The seeds of the diocesan ministry with gay and lesbian persons were planted in 2002 when a small group of Cathedral parishioners began to meet regularly for prayer and sharing of resource materials related to the struggle of gay and lesbian Catholics.

It was early in 2004 when Bishop J. Terry Steib asked this small group to expand and form a diocesan ministry that would reach out to Catholic gay and lesbian persons, their families and friends. After a year of formation and discernment, the committee crafted a mission statement and set some preliminary goals.

In preparation for the announcement of this new ministry the committee arranged and facilitated listening sessions. After hearing first-hand the heartfelt stories of gay and lesbian persons and the parents of gay and lesbian persons, Bishop Steib encouraged the committee to move forward. As a final step, the committee invited those involved in the listening sessions to join them for a retreat.

In May 2005 Bishop J. Terry Steib formally announced the ministry with the publication of his article in the West Tennessee Catholic: “Church is Home to All People of God”.

Please read the full text of The Bishop’s announcement as it was printed in The West Tennessee Catholic.


Church is Home to all People of God

By Bishop J. Terry Steib, S.V.D.

Diocese of Memphis

May 19, 2005


Within the past few months, I have done a lot of thinking about the Church as “home.” As “home,” the Church is not just a building; it is also a community of faith, the gathering of the faithful, the “people of God.”

In baptism, we are received into God’s family, and church is the home where that family gathers to celebrate God’s unconditional love. Throughout our lives, church is the home where together we mark the pivotal moments, those moments that tell us who God is and who we are because of God’s love. With other members of the family of God, we are like homing pigeons returning time and time again to celebrate births and deaths, baptisms and marriages, confirmations and the Eucharist. These sacramental moments are spent together in addition to our regular “family” gatherings at Sunday liturgies, pastoral council meetings, Scripture studies, choir rehearsals, adult faith formation sessions, youth groups and so many other vital parts of our lives as Christians and Catholics.

But as I have reflected on the Church as home, I have become more acutely aware of the number of people—the number of Catholics—who are no longer comfortable in their home. In fact, some are no longer certain that the Church is their home. Sometimes it is the circumstances of life that cause people to feel estranged or separated. Occasionally it is a misunderstanding of the Church’s teachings that keeps people away. Often, individuals hide a deep pain that is rooted in knowing that, for whatever reason, their lives do not conform to other people’s lives; or worse, they feel that who they are is unacceptable.

Recently I met with such people. Many of them were born into Catholic families, baptized as infants and attended Catholic schools. They have embraced the faith handed on to them. Others, through the examples of friends and having felt called by God, became Catholics through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. For all of them, being Catholic is at the core of who they are. At the same time, they are people who are not sure of “their place” in their home. They are people—wonderful, good Catholic people—who are gay and lesbian.

On two occasions, we came together to listen. At a first meeting, there were gay and lesbian persons. At a second meeting, there were Catholic parents of adult gay or lesbian persons. Among the parents were Catholics who have spent their lives as active members of the Church, helping to make it a welcoming home for many. They have given generously of themselves, even though they knew that their own children felt unwelcome. These parents of gay and lesbian Catholics are extremely proud of their children. They see their goodness and their giftedness, but they also see the loneliness of their gay and lesbian children as no one else sees it.

As I listened, I could not help wondering: how deep is our river of faith if we are not actively working to be sure that all are welcome in their own home—the home given to each of us when we became members of God’s family through baptism? How far will we go to ensure that all are valued for the unique gift each one is? How much, I asked myself, will we allow our hearts to grow if we simply lay aside preconceived notions of who does or does not belong? And finally, I wondered: how great will God’s love be in each one of us if we follow the example of Jesus who loved all, lived for all, and died for all?

We are called to BE church to one another, to be God’s family to one another. In giving us this Church, God has given us a spiritual home here on earth. This spiritual home is to be a precursor of the home we will have for eternity when all walls have come down and we are truly and completely dwelling in union with God and with one another. Our task while we are in this earthly home is to do all we can to help each other grow into the home we will share in heaven.

To be sure that we do not leave anyone behind, to be sure that all are welcome in their own home, and to be sure that we promote genuine gratitude and reverence for the gift that each one of us is to the Church, we have begun to lay the foundations for a diocesan ministry with Catholic gay and lesbian persons.

A brief look at history—from slavery to the “march of tears” of our Native American sisters and brothers to the grape strikes in California—reminds us that God’s work is always hampered when human beings are afraid of differences in each other. A new ministry with gay and lesbian persons will push open even further the door to promoting understanding and compassion among all of us. It will open the door to “home” for many who are an important part of who we are, and to a segment of our family that has been apart from us for too long.

The message of Jesus is clear: “Love one another as I have loved you.” In my meetings with gay and lesbian Catholics, I told them that God does not withhold love from any of us. I believe that wholeheartedly. God’s love is unconditional and that is the gift God offers us in Christ Jesus: the gift of loving each other with that same Godly and unconditional love.

Please pray for this ministry. Participate in the work of welcoming the entire family into the home which is our Church, where all are embraced by God’s unconditional love. Let us all dare to love as God loves.


Monthly Fellowship

Join us as we gather each month for “First Tuesday Potluck.” We call it “First Tuesday” because it is usually held the first Tuesday of every month, with a few exceptions for Holy Days and facility conflicts.

The potluck begins at 6:30 p.m. and is held in Marian Hall at The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 1695 Central Avenue. Bring a potluck food item and join us for socializing, a delicious meal, prayer, and a brief presentation followed by more socializing over dessert.

Ample parking is available behind The Cathedral. Marian Hall is on the lower level of the building. Elevators and stairs can be found at the west side entrance between The Cathedral and Parish offices.

Join us at our next First Tuesday Potluck, or contact our coordinator Beth Trouy (901-496-9413) or our director, Fr. Val Handwerker (901-527-2542) to learn about other current events.

“What do the people do at those potlucks”  was how the conversation began. She never made it to a potluck. At 60+ she was just coming to terms with being out to herself, just barely past self-loathing. A religious associate and daily mass participant, she was sure that God could not love her now. Her health deteriorated, we talked on the phone a lot, met for lunch, and when she didn’t answer, I left a message reminding her that because of Easter, potluck would be a week later. I found her obit in Sunday’s paper. I know she is welcome at His table… I just wish she had known it here.” – Deb Word 

 “I was the organist for 5 years, then we got a new priest. He asked after about 6 weeks…are you gay? Yes sir, but not in a relationship or anything. Well, Father said, I need to ask you to resign. I’m so glad you guys are out here… church has hurt a LOT of people.” – Friend we met at Pride 

 “I would love to come to potluck, she said, but my daughter is so ashamed of me … so I can’t. I don’t want to hurt her anymore.” – Friend we met at Pride

 “The mom was in tears, needing another parent, someone who could understand the journey. She was lucky enough to find us through a Catholic friend. She had never seen any information on the ministry thru her parish…and she needed a fellow parent more than she needed a priest.” – Parent Support Group

Parent Support Group

The Parent Support Team of the Catholic Ministry with Gay and Lesbian Persons is available to consult with parents by appointment. If you would like to talk to someone in the church about your child’s orientation, the Parent Support Team would be happy to help. Team members can visit with you on the phone or meet you for coffee.
The Vision of the Parent Support Group includes:
-To encourage parents to appreciate and love their gay and lesbian children.
-To create a safe and confidential environment in which parents of gay and lesbian children can share their experiences in a Catholic context.
-To engage the larger Catholic community in dialogue about lesbian and gay persons.
-To encourage parents to accept and explore their own questions as they strive for inner peace.
-To affirm and communicate the teaching of the Church on sexual morality and conscience.
-To foster dialogue, work for changes in attitudes, and promote the full acceptance of gay and lesbian persons by their parents, by the church, and by the larger community.

For more information, please contact Beth Trouy at: or 901-496-9413



“Our son has just told us he is gay… he is living in California and no one here knows…but we think we should resign as Eucharistic ministers, in case it gets out. We don’t want Father to be embarrassed.”— Arkansas mom

“Stephen’s life and death have made me more sensitive to the gay community and more welcoming of their love and friendship. I pray that as a family, a church, and a community we won’t wait until it’s too late. I have learned with every fiber of my being that if there is judgment of a person, there is no room for love”  – Millicent Cobb, IC parishioner whose son Stephen committed suicide

“The mom was in tears, needing another parent, someone who could understand the journey. She was lucky enough to find us through a Catholic friend. She had never seen any information on the ministry thru her parish…and she needed a fellow parent more than she needed a priest.” – Parent Support Group

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