March W Eight religious and lay ministers (including Casey & Mary Ellen Lopata, parents of a gay son) from Rochester, NY attend the New Ways Ministry Symposium, “Homosexuality and the Church: the State of the Question.” Inspired and committed to “do something” the group begins meeting regularly and eventually becomes Catholic Gay and Lesbian Family Ministry (CGLFM).

November W CGLFM facilitates a meeting of Rochester Bishop Matthew Clark and gay and lesbian Catholics and their family members to discuss the 1992 Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith letter, “Responding to Legislative Proposals on Discrimination Against Homosexuals.”


July W National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian & Gay Ministries (NACDLGM) (Now: Catholic Association of Lesbian and Gay Ministries -CALGM) is founded at a meeting of representatives from thirteen dioceses. The Lopatas are among the 28 founding members. In 1995 Mary Ellen Lopata is elected to the first board of directors, serves on the executive committee from 1997-2003 and as president 2001-2. Since 1998,Casey has served on the Pastoral Resources Committee

October W The first national retreat for Catholic parents, sponsored by New Ways Ministry and facilitated by Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Robert Nugent, is held in Stamford, CT. The Lopatas attend and become charter members of the Catholic Parents Network which emerges from this meeting.

December W The first issue of the CGLFM Newsletter is published by Casey Lopata.


The Lopatas are consulters to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and the Family on Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children –AND—Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers, issued in September 1997.


September  CGLFM and the Diocese of Rochester formalize their relationship, stating that CGLFM does ministry with gay and lesbian Catholics and their families on behalf of the Diocese.


March W CGLFM and the Diocese of Rochester celebrate a Mass with Gay and Lesbian People, Families and Friends, with Bishop Matthew Clark as presider and homilist. Over 1300 people attend.


September W The Lopata's chair the annual NACDLGM conference. Held in Rochester, the theme is “Imaging Justice.”


July W Seeds of Hope: Compassionate Ministry with Gay and Lesbian Catholics and Their Families—A practical resource manual published. Edited by Casey Lopata.


August W More Seeds: A supplement to Seeds of Hope published. Edited by Casey Lopata.


October W Fortunate Families: Catholic Families with Lesbian Daughters and Gay Sons, by Mary Ellen Lopata with Casey Lopata, published. (Trafford Publishing)


April W The Lopata's leave CGLFM and start Fortunate Families to focus on ministry with parents of lesbian daughters and gay sons on a national level.

December W Fortunate Families becomes a not-for-profit corporation.


January W Fortunate Families adopts by-laws and elects its first board of directors: Mary Ellen Lopata (President), Tom Ferrarese (Secretary/Treasurer), James Buckheit, Jean Kearse, Casey Lopata, William Pickett, and Rosalie Muschal-Reinhardt.

April W The Lopata's receive New Ways Ministry’s Bridge Building Award “For compassionate ministry, personal witness, and national leadership to promote justice for lesbian/gay Catholics, their parents, and families.”

May W Fortunate Families, Inc. files 501(c) (3) application.


February W Received 501(c)(3) exempt ruling from IRS.

July W Parents Voice Project launches a survey of Catholic parents of LGBT Daughters and Sons.


March W Fortunate Families Board of Directors attends New Ways Ministry Symposium in Minneapolis. They facilitate a listening session for parents to tell their stories to Bishop (Ret.) Joseph Sullivan of Brooklyn, and Archbishop (Ret.) Francis Hurley of Anchorage. July Parents Voice Project launches a survey of Catholic parents of LGBT Daughters and Sons (Hot link to Survey)

September W Parents Voice Project Survey Report of Catholic Parents is sent to all U.S. Bishops.


January W First part of the eight-part educational series “Let’s Talk about Homosexuality” is released on Fortunate Families website.

November W Our ministry is awarded a grant from the School Sisters of Notre Dame to help fund educational forums on LGBT journeys in faith. A major article featuring the story of Mary Ellen and Casey Lopata, and the work of Fortunate Families, appears in the National Catholic Reporter. Start-up activities for the introduction of the Listening Parents Network shift into high gear.


January W Fortunate Families introduces nationwide its Listening Parents Network, a group of Catholic moms and dads of LGBT children who volunteer to field phone calls and e-mail messages from other Catholic parents who may be struggling and “just need someone to talk with” in a safe and confidential way. Names and contact information for 49 Listening Parents are listed on the Fortunate Families website.

April W Fortunate Families celebrates its 5th anniversary! Under the Lopatas’ direction and inspiration, the ministry has grown in five years from a handful of interested locals to a network of some 2,500 parents, family members and allies, found in 50 states and several other countries.

September W The Listening Parents Network is nearly doubled in size to number 94 parents (in 66 households) – now present in 26 states, three Canadian provinces and 50 dioceses. Mary Ellen Lopata steps away from the board president job she had held since the ministry’s founding in 2004.


April W The Listening Parents Network expands again – now numbering 123 parents in 90 households in 28 states, three Canadian provinces and 61 dioceses.

September W Fortunate Families joins with Call To Action, Dignity USA and New Ways Ministry to form the Equally Blessed coalition.

October W “Joining Hands-Reaching Out,” the first parents’ conference sponsored by Fortunate Families, is held in the North Chicago suburb of Techny. More than 50 parents and allies from 15 states and Ontario, Canada, attend a program highlighted by nationally prominent speakers.


March W As an Equally Blessed partner, Fortunate Families co-sponsors the first-ever Congressional Briefing that presented positive Catholic perspectives on LGBT equality to federal legislators and their staffs.

July W The Listening Parents Network now has 135 parents in 28 states, 64 dioceses – and even Nicaragua. Parents fluent in Spanish join the Network for the first time. Spanish translations of some materials are placed on the website.

September W Board member Deb Word is invited to tell her story at the first of four conferences entitled "More Than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church"


January W The Listening Parents Network now totals 143 parents, including five who have transgender children.

June W A survey is taken of all Fortunate Families’ newsletter subscribers. Ninety-six percent of 449 responders rate the newsletter either very good or good.

September W Letters are sent to more than 400 Catholic campus ministers. Casey Lopata develops Fortunate Families’ “Talking Points for Catholic Parents with LGBT Daughters and Sons.”

November W Mary Ellen and Casey Lopata are joined by their gay son Jim as presenters on the DignityUSA webinar series "Queer Catholic Faith."

December W Fortunate Families is awarded a $25,000 grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation to “support programs networking Catholic parents with LGBT children.” Since the ministry’s founding in 2004, complimentary subscription to the newsletter has grown to more than 3,300 subscribers. Over these years, Casey Lopata has been solely responsible for developing editorial content for 80 newsletters.


January W Newsletter is published for the first time under its new name Voices for Justice. The creation of “Stakeholder Action Teams” is announced as a new initiative to identify individuals willing to assist us through personal involvement and/or financial support.

April W 628 campus ministries have been added to the newsletter distribution list. The first of five “Parent Gatherings,” is held in Pleasanton, CA.

June The Lopatas announce that they will retire from the board in June 2014.

July W Publication of the newsletter is reduced to six issues per year. In Minnesota and Michigan, Listening Parents join in public advocacy for marriage equality.

September W A new every-other-month electronic communication The Families Forum is introduced.

November W Fortunate Families is awarded a $21,000 grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundtion to support the expansion of outreach to parents of LGBT children through gatherings across the country.

December W The board contracts with Association Development Group to provide administrative and management services effective January 1, 2014.


January W Association Development Group (ADG) begins facilitating the transition from management by the Lopatas.

February W Fortunate Families is included in the Equally Blessed Arcus two-year grant proposal for $15,000 each year which can be used to help fund management by ADG.

March W Fortunate Families headquarters officially moves from Rochester to 136 Everett Road in Albany, NY.

May W A retirement gala for Mary Ellen and Casey Lopata is held in Rochester.

June W The Lopatas officially retire from the Fortunate Families Board of Directors and join the Advisory Board, along with longtime treasurer, Tom Ferrarese.

August W The Board holds a face-to-face planning retreat and hosts a highly successful parent afternoon of reflection at the Cenacle Center in Chicago.

November W Fortunate Families is awarded a $21,000 grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundtion to supportt he expansion of outreach to parents of LGBT children through gatherings across the country. World Meeting of Families is scheduled to take place in Philadelphia and the board begins plans to attend and Fortunate Families applies for a booth in the exhibition hall at World Meeting of Famililes.


January W Planning begins for a Fortunate Families delegation to World Meeting of Families and for an Equally Blessed pilgrimage to the Congress.

March W The Vatican announces that Pope Francis will travel to Philadelphia for the Festival of Families at the World Meeting of Families.

May W Fortunate Families receives official word that the application for a booth in the World Meeting of Families exhibit hall has been denied because the committee overseeing the booth has made the erroneous determination that Fortunate Families teaches that "if parents don't accept everthing about their homosexual child's lifestyle the child will commit suicide." Appeals to Archbishops Chaput and Paglia go unanswered. Plans begin for two Evenings of Reflection in Philadelphia.

June W Fortunate Families, the organizations, and fortunate families across the US celebrate the historic US Supreme Court ruling recognizing the basic human right of same-sex couples to marry.