As part of the 2016 NYC Alumni Fall Weekend, GALA ND/SMC sponsored a “Pilgrimage of Mercy” to celebrate and recognize LGBT faithful Catholics in the United States.
The event was also sponsored by a number of local and national LGBT groups: Fairness Campaign, GLAAD, HRC, New Ways Ministry, Equality Blessed, Dignity/USA & local affiliate Dignity/New York, Freedom for All Americans, Out At St Paul, Fortunate Families and Believe Out Loud.
The pilgrimage was inspired by Pope Francis declaration last fall, “We are in the midst of an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy in the Catholic faith”, decreed Pope Francis, during which we are to be “merciful like the Father” and perform acts of mercy and forgiveness to all. Catholic bishops around the US were asked to embrace the Pope’s vision of inclusiveness and join in a show of mercy and compassion for LGBT Catholics, who continue to be marginalized.
The University of Notre Dame, through the leadership of Fr. Ted Hesburgh CSC, has had a long history of leadership in supporting civil and human rights. A call was made for Notre Dame to demonstrate that same type of leadership when it comes to welcoming LGBT Catholics into their community and be more inclusive of LGBT students and alumni.
The Pilgrimage took place in beautiful Central Park and ended with a rally adjacent to Columbus Circle. Guest speakers at the rally included:
- ND alum Greg Bourke and his husband Michael De Leon, 2015 Persons of the Year by the National Catholic Reporter
- Chris Hartman, Director of Kentucky’s Fairness Campaign and co-founder of Catholics for Fairness
- ND alum Phil Donahue ’57, American media personality, writer, and film producer best known as the creator and host of The Phil Donahue Show.
- David Swinarski ND ’01, Out at St Paul Board Member
- Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry Executive Director
- Fortunate Families members Holly Cargill-Cramer and Rosemary Greblin Palms
- Warren Hall, advocate for LGBT Catholics
- Jack Bergen ND ’77, GALA ND/SMC Chair
The following news reports and articles capture the spirit of the event including a segment featuring Phil Donahue ’57 and GALA Chair Jack Bergen ’77 on NYC PBS Channel 13 called LGBT Catholics to March in Manhattan.
A very special edition of Freedom for All Americans called Catholics Call for Greater LGBT Inclusion Within the Church chronicle a collection of stories about the pilgrimage’s theme of greater support for the LGBT community by the Catholic church. It includes stories from ND alums Jack Bergen, Greg Bourke and Bryan Ricketts, 2015/2016 ND Student Body President.