The Diocese of Memphis Catholic Ministry with Gay and Lesbian Persons was founded with this simple principle: We all want to be welcome at home, we all have a place at the table. Our Ministry hosts a potluck on the 1st Tuesday of the month, and we have a Parent Support Group that meets bimonthly.

I have, for almost a year, attended a faith sharing/Bible study group at Lindenwood Christian Church in midtown Memphis. I go with a friend, also Catholic, who has really enjoyed the open, welcome atmosphere at this church.

I had only attended a few sessions when in sharing, one of the guys referred to himself as a “recovering Catholic.” I always feel badly when I hear that, as I have a son who feels the same way. I am happy that these guys have found a home for themselves in this wonderful church, but I want them to understand that OUR Cathedral parish is also a welcome place.

After visiting in this group for a couple of months, I invited the guys who sat near me to come to my church and join us at our 1st Tuesday Potluck. They came, and had a great time, and a few months later, after hearing the "recovering" phrase again, I invited the entire group. There were about a dozen from the faith sharing group who came, and we are blessed that they are there to share their stories and different religious traditions with our group. We have a simple format, a blessing, potluck supper, evening prayers and/or a presentation, and dessert. Dinner and dessert give us a chance to get to know each other and discuss the presentation. The main purpose of our ministry is hospitality. Every one is welcome in my church, and if a potluck in the church basement is the first Catholic place "recovering Catholics" feel comfortable, then I am blessed to be a part of it.

In March our evening prayer was the “way of the cross.” This particular service was in honor of AIDS ministries, and was written in our parish. We had the opportunity to share this tradition with people who have never walked the “stations,” but for whom the AIDS ministry holds special meaning. Their participation enriched our service, and I was moved that we could it share with them.

As the Catholic parent of a gay son, I feel blessed to be living in the diocese of Memphis. We have a thriving Catholic Ministry with Gay and Lesbian Persons, and a committed Parent Support Group. My son lives in another state, and has not found his "church home" yet, but I continue to pray that he does.

Our CMGLP began with the blessings of Bishop Terry Steib, and was inspired by a Cathedral parishioner, who had lost her son to suicide. If you get the chance, the Bishop’s letter is posted on the website for our diocese, as is Millicent Cobb’s letter that talks about her precious Steve, and his life and death. Go to www.cdom.org, and click on the Catholic Ministry with Gay and Lesbian Persons Button.

Deb Word