This blog is part of a series on LGBT Catholics who have held on to their faith, despite being publicly rejected from the church. For more stories, click here.
This is Colleen's public history with the Catholic Church. This is what happened to her faith.
A friend of mine recently asked me what my thoughts were considering what I had gone through in the last year (being fired from a Catholic parish, since my marriage "goes against the teachings of the Church.") I tried to tell her what it felt like, being rejected, outcast and shunned. The hurt I felt having the church of Christ act in a non-Christian way. Furthermore, people who spoke of social justice and changes needed in the church turned and defended the church's actions in firing me. And lastly the feeling of sadness that I was no longer able to serve the people of the parish and the clients that I had grown to love.
The Catholic Church has left behind people like me, labelling us "intrinsically disordered." In choosing to be honest with myself and others when I took this job, I left behind years of constantly guarding what I share about myself and who I love and what I believe. When you are constantly hiding some part of yourself from the world, you begin to feel shame and guilt. I should not have shame about who I am. I am made wondrously in God's image. I should not feel guilty about who I love, as God loves everyone.
Though I have attended plenty of masses, I have not received communion in the Roman Catholic Church since 2010. I know many gay and lesbian people in relationship who continue to attend Mass and receive the sacraments, but I respect the laws of the denomination even if I disagree with them. If I cannot receive both the Word and the Eucharist, then the celebration feels hollow and I leave feeling "un-fed," as there is no true communion occurring.
If I cannot be considered a child of God with gifts and talents to share in my church community, then I need to go where I am loved and affirmed not only for who made me and to whom I belong, but for who I am and whom I love. Moreover, I do not believe that the threat of withholding the sacraments should ever be used against a person of faith. They are gifts from God for God's people and humans should never take away from others what God has given for all to freely share.
People have asked me if my faith has been shaken by what has happened to me. It has not. My relationship with God is secure and firm. My faith is simple. It is one that has sustained me from childhood to the present day. It is not terribly nuanced with theological gobbledygook, nor do I claim to be a canon lawyer.
My theological foundation is this, quite simply: God is love. Anything that separates us from that love is wrong. And that is why I must advocate for justice not only for others, but also for myself, because we are called by God to be in right relationship with one another, and what happened to me was wrong.