Sisters of St. Joseph Offering Maine a “Welcoming Community” to LGBTQ+ Persons and Loved Ones

WINSLOW---“Many families with LGBTQ+ members or friends struggle because they are not sure whether their family member or friend is welcome,” said Fr. Frank Murray. “Coming to our group can maybe put them at ease.”

Fr. Murray is one of the many people working with the Sisters of St. Joseph in Winslow to present the “Becoming a Welcoming Community” initiative across Maine.

“The gift of the Church which we have received is fundamentally given to us to be shared with others,” said Fr. Murray. “After that, we grow on our journey with and towards the Lord.”

The group, known by members as “BWC,” meets via Zoom on the third Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. BWC draws LGBTQ+ persons and their loved ones for support and treats all participants with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. There are in-person opportunities to meet, but the Zoom meetings have been particularly successful.

“When I discovered the BWC ministry I was overwhelmed with gratitude that finally there was a place I could go, in faith, to share my love for both my child and my Church,” said Marie LaBrecque, a member of Good Shepherd Parish. “I have been so blessed to walk with others who also want to strive as a Church, to become a more welcoming family. The rest belongs to God.”

This ministry began in late 2019 as an adult faith formation workshop organized by the Sisters of St. Joseph. The one-night event turned into a monthly meeting that then moved to Zoom when, shortly after, the pandemic disrupted parish life.

“That challenge led to the blessing of the expansion of the group across the diocese,” said Sister Judy Donovan, CSJ, recently appointed as the next General Superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph. “A core team of clergy, religious, and laity welcome new members and plan the monthly meetings.”

BWC now has a large database of participants, some of whom join local parish-based meetings and occasional potluck meals, and others who prefer to meet via Zoom.

“We are inspired by the charge that LGBTQ+ persons ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity’ that has come from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,” said Sr. Judy, “and that parishes should ‘reach out in love and service’ to them and their loved ones. We’re trying to put these values into action.”

To learn more about the BWC or to receive the zoom link for the next meeting, email [email protected].