GALA ND/SMC, the LGBT alumni group for the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College, will be sponsoring a “Pilgrimage of Mercy” to celebrate and recognize LGBT faithful Catholics in the United States.
Also sponsoring the event is main co-sponsor, the Fairness Campaign, as well as a number of national and local LGBT groups such as 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 is 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.
There could be no better time than this Extraordinary Jubilee Year — only the third in Catholic history — for The University of Notre Dame and the Catholic bishops around the US to 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. We ask that they demonstrate that same type of leadership now when it comes to welcoming LGBT Catholics into their community and be more inclusive of LGBT students and alumni.
The Pilgrimage will be approximately 1.5 miles in length and take place around beautiful Central Park. A rally will be held during the walk adjacent to Columbus Circle (59th and Central Park West).
- The pilgrimage will start at 11:00 am at the E 69th St Entrance to Central Park (East 69th and 5th Ave.) (Participants are asked to meet at 10:50am)
- There will be a peaceful rally held adjacent to Columbus Circle. Guest speakers at the rally will include:
- 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 walk will conclude with a silent vigil at The Church of St Paul the Apostle (Corner of Columbus Avenue & West 60th Street) at 12:15pm
- At 12:30pm, everyone will be welcome to attend the regularly schedule mass at St Paul’s. Note this is a Spanish language mass. (mass attendance is optional)
- The pilgrimage will be held “rain or shine”.
To join, go to: Register Here. Everyone participating is encouraged to register to ensure sufficient event security. If your church group or organization would like to be a co-sponsor or join the walk, contact Jack Bergen, GALA ND/SMC chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The pilgrimage will be led by Greg Bourke ‘ND ’82 (MA Sociology) and his husband Michael De Leon. Greg and Michael, who have been together for 34 years, were legally married in 2004 in Ontario Canada. Together they raise their two children, Isaiah (age 18) and Isabella (age 17). They are openly gay and active members of Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Louisville, Kentucky for 29 years. Greg and Michael were plaintiffs in the Kentucky Marriage Equality lawsuit (Bourke vs. Beshear) that was merged with Obergefell vs. Hodges and resulted in nationwide Marriage Equality in June 2015. As a result of their efforts, Greg and Michael were named 2015 Persons of the Year by the National Catholic Reporter. For more information of Greg and Michael’s long history of LGBT advocacy, go to: New Ways Ministry Blog Bonding 2.0.
LGBT Pilgrimage Sponsor Organizations
The pilgrimage is sponsored by the following organizations. For more information on each, go to: LGBT Pilgrimage Sponsor Organizations.
- GALA ND/SMC – Lead Sponsor
- Fairness Campaign – Main Co-Sponsor
- Believe Out Loud – Co-Sponsor
- Dignity/USA & Local Affiliate Dignity/New York – Co-Sponsor
- Equally Blessed – Co-Sponsor
- Equality Federation – Co-Sponsor
- Fortunate Families – Co-Sponsor
- Freedom for All Americans – Co-Sponor
- GLAAD – Co-Sponsor
- HRC – Co-Sponsor
- News Ways Ministry – Co-Sponsor
- Out At St Paul – Co-Sponsor
LGBT Scholarship Benefit
Following the walk at 4:00pm, GALA ND/SMC will be holding their Second Annual LGBT Student Scholarship Benefit at ND Alum Phil Donahue’s ’57 apartment. The Scholarship helps LGBT students who attend Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s. For information on this event, go to: NYC LGBT Scholarship Benefit (registration is limited). Even if you don’t attend the benefit, please consider a donation to the scholarship fund to help these deserving students: ND/SMC LGBT Student Scholarship Fund.