Who We Are

Through accompaniment and bridge-building we seek to celebrate and safeguard the dignity of LGBTQ+ children of God.

Mission Statement

Fortunate Families, a Catholic Family, Friends & Allies Ministry, supports LGBTQ+ siblings by facilitating respectful conversation with bishops, pastors and Church leadership, through sharing personal stories and by working to establish intentional Catholic LGBTQ+ Ministry Sites in dioceses, parishes, educational institutions, and communities.

Through accompaniment and bridge-building we seek to celebrate and safeguard the dignity of LGBTQ+ children of God.

What We Do

Fortunate Families exists to assist parishes, pastors, bishops, schools, college/university campus ministries, presbyterates, parish staffs and communities of consecrated women and men – indeed, the Church – discern and begin ministry to LGBTQ+ persons through intentional welcome and LGBTQ+ Ministry within the Catholic Church.

We provide resources and accompaniment for all looking to live the Catechism’s admonition to treat LGBTQ+ persons with “respect, compassion and sensitivity” and accompany all who seek the hand of another whether to come out, come home, or to better understand another.

We take seriously the message of Jesus that what we do to the least we do for him. Heeding Pope Francis’ call to the Church during the Synod, especially, our ministry brings LGBTQ+ persons who are too often on the peripheries to the center and heart of the Church.

Through Days of Discernment and Visioning, Days of Reflection, development days, and retreats for parishes, colleges, high schools, teachers, campus ministers and ministries, presbyterates, parish staffs, and communities of consecrated women and men, we foster the culture of encounter and assist in discerning and establishing dedicated ministry.

We believe every LGBTQ+ person’s story is sacred and each tells the story of Jesus in the flesh.

History Highlights

1992 – March

Eight religious and lay ministers, including Casey & Mary Ellen Lopata, parents of a gay son, from Rochester, NY begins meeting regularly and eventually becomes Catholic Gay and Lesbian Family Ministry (CGLFM).

1992 – November

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.”

1994 – July

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 was elected to the first board of directors, served on the executive committee from 1997-2003 and as president 2001-2. Since 1998, Casey has served on the Pastoral Resources Committee.

1994 – October

The Lopatas attend and become charter members of the Catholic Parents Network.


1994 – December

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

1994 – 1996

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.

1998 – September

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

2001 – July

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

2002 – August

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

2003 – October

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

2004 – April

The Lopata’s leave CGLFM and start Fortunate Families

2004 – December

Fortunate Families becomes a not-for-profit corporation.

2005 – January

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.

2005 – May

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


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


The Lopatas retire from the Fortunate Families Board of Directors.

2017 – October

Stan “JR” Zerkowski is called to serve as first Executive Director