Earlier today, we left conference 2017 with joy in our hearts. In her concluding remarks at the end of the final Mass, our chair Ruby Almeida said that her observation of this year’s conference was that it had been marked by a great deal of joy. My discussions with other participants over coffee, waiting for departure, corroborated this assessment.Highlights of the weekend included:
The AGM, which outlined the ways in which Quest is advancing several initiatives to take its message of full pastoral inclusion, and combating homophobia in church institutions. This will include, inter alia, work with Stonewalls in Cathoclic schools, and a long-hoped for workshop on the formation of conscience for LGBT Catholics.
Two talks by Sr Jeannine Grammick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry, and a notable pioneer in LGBT ministry. These talks, and the Q&A sessions that followed, raised numerous important topics meriting further exploration – which will be discussed further in later posts.
- A highly entertaining talk by Bruce Kent, notable for his work in peace activism, who reminded us that there are important areas of justice beyond LGBT issues, that all Catholics should be concerned with – and that obviously includes a responsibility for us as LGBT Catholics, towards the wider world as well.
- Moving and inspirational liturgies, for Mass and morning and evening prayers. By great serendipity, the Gospel for the closing Mass included the parable of the mustard seed. Immediately before the Mass we were told of interesting developments in the East Midlands region – which absolutely epitomised the relevance of the parable: from a small mustard seed, great fruits are being harvested.
- And of course, as always, wonderful friendships being made and renewed – over tea/coffee, in free time activities – and in late night conversations in the bar.
More details of all of this will be reported in a series of follow-up posts. Look out for them. In the meantime, you might diarise some key details for next year’s conference:
Consistently throughout this years conference, there were many references to Fr James Martin SJ, and his important book “Building a Bridge”, which discusses the importance of finding a rapprochement between the Catholic Church, and the hitherto largely alienated LGBT community. Even before the announcement of the publication of this book, our committee had agreed that this is an important project, which we adopted as the theme for our 2018 conference. We are delighted to announce that Fr Martin himself will be the guest speaker next year (by video link from his base in the USA). Additional key speakers in a panel discussion will be the theologian Fr James Alison, well known for his writing and workshops on theology from a gay Catholic perspective, an English bishop, and others we can not yet disclose. Diarise the dates now – 20th – 22nd July 2018, for a venue somewhere in the Midlands.