Dignity provides a spiritual home for LGBTQI Catholics to worship

Nestled in the heart of Greenwich Village along Waverly Place is Dignity/New York, a Catholic ministry for the LGBTQI community.

For 47 years, Dignity/New York has been providing the LGBTQI community with a space free from traditional rhetoric that condemns same-sex attraction. The New York chapter hosts 100 members and is one of 30 chapters within the national organization, Dignity USA. They welcome people of all backgrounds.

Former Dignity USA president, Lewis Speaks-Tanner, said that the ministry is for both those who are looking for a church home and those who are seeking reconciliation.

“Sometimes [visitors] stay and they find a home,” Speaks-Tanner said. “A lot of times what will happen is that they find they can reconcile who they are, both their sexual nature and their spiritual nature, and they are able to resolve that and go to do other things.”

Dignity’s pastors and priests are from  LGBTQI community. Some are former priests who have been excommunicated or have left the Catholic Church because of their sexual and/or gender identity. Others are theology scholars or chapter members who show an eagerness and willingness to preach.

Sean Collins, 33, had been volunteering to read scripture and minister the Eucharist. He said the experience for him was fulfilling.

“[Presiding over service] was something I had always wanted to be able to do as a young kid,” Collins said. “But then thinking ‘Oh, I don’t know if I can do that because being Catholic, I don’t know if I’m up to the celibacy rules.’ So, it’s nice to do that and share it with this community especially.”