June 9, 2017 at 2:15 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Dignity Washington marks 30th anniversary of expulsion from Catholic chapel
Dignity Washington, gay news, Washington Blade

St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church (Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The LGBT Catholic organization Dignity Washington held a commemorative ceremony on June 4 to mark the 30th anniversary of the date when the Archdiocese of Washington ordered Georgetown University to stop allowing the group to hold its Sunday Mass at a chapel on the university’s campus.

Dignity officials said the commemoration was for an event on the Catholic Pentecost Sunday in 1987, when Dignity members marched from the Georgetown campus to St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church near Dupont Circle, which became their new home.

“For a decade, Dignity Washington had been celebrating Sunday Mass at St. William’s Chapel on the campus of Georgetown University,” the group said in a statement. “Archbishop James Hickey of Washington, D.C. ordered Rev. James Healy, S.J., the president of Georgetown University, to order Dignity Washington to leave the Catholic facility,” the statement says.

The statement noted that the order followed a 1986 edict from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that said any group that did not accept the condemnation of intimate homosexual relations must be forbidden from using Catholic Church facilities.

The June 4 ceremony, held outside the entrance of St. Margaret’s Church, was conducted jointly by Father Jeff Vomund, who regularly celebrates Mass for Dignity; and Rev. Kym Lucas, Rector of St. Margaret’s Church.

Lucas said she was proud that her predecessors at St. Margaret’s welcomed Dignity members with open arms back in 1987 and that she is honored to continue the church’s role in serving as host to Dignity’s Sunday Mass.

“Thirty years ago today, on the Feast of Pentecost, 1987, the community of Dignity Washington came to the people of St. Margaret’s like the Israelites wandering in the desert – carrying our precious religious symbols, our liturgical banners, and our broken hearts,” Vomund said in a statement.

“This community opened its doors and its hearts to us in our time of need,” he said. “After 30 years of our sharing in this space, we come before you again, knocking that the door might be opened to our continued collaboration in God’s Spirit,” Vomund said.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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