My mother’s former church made the local news this month. The former choir director, who happens to be a gay man, resigned after working there for decades because a new priest made homophobic remarks to him in private. As someone with some firsthand knowledge of the situation, I can read uninformed, bigoted comments posted to the articles about this story and easily shake off my annoyance, because I know they have no idea what they are talking about.
The former choir director also taught at the Catholic high school I attended. I never took any of his classes, but I was told by some of my classmates that he was very tough and unyielding with his students. I also attended church reluctantly every Sunday, where I saw him lead the choir with confidence. He was one of the main attractions to the church, so much so that I believe most people who came to church were looking forward more to the music than to what any of the priests had to say. This is just my assumption, of course; I always felt like an outsider to the Catholic community I was surrounded by, and found the music performed at the church to be less than inspiring. There was skill and talent behind it, but I was never moved.
What angers me about my former church is how disrespectful they became. The former choir director was a fixture at the church, and the Franciscan priests appeared to be as respectful of him as he was to them. Since the church’s transfer out of the Franciscan order into another Archdiocese this summer, things changed considerably. The new priest’s openly homophobic, aggressive demeanor put off more than just the former choir director; my mother transferred to another church because of it. Attendance is already dwindling, so this could mean the end of the church. If that is how it has to be, then so be it. I believe that if this church continues on this path, the constant alienation will lead to its downfall.