Last Sunday (June 9, 2013), Maryland State Delegate (D-Montgomery County) Heather Mizeur gave a powerful homily at our regular Sunday evening Mass as Washington celebrated Pride.
Sunday, May 12, 2013 Dignity/Washington bid a fond farewell to Father Tim MacGeorge as he presided over his last Mass with the community before moving to Florida at the end of May 2013. Arriving from Boston twenty years ago, he had served D/W through his thoughtful homilies, his spiritually insightful blogs, his frequent participation in the communal anointings of the sick, his group facilitation of several workshops over the years, most recently on dealing with bereavement and the suicide of loved ones, and the application of his technical skills to regular updates of D/W social media. All wish him grace and peace as he transitions to a new chapter in his life.
The May 12th (2013) Sunday Mass at Dignity/Washington celebrated the happy conjunction of the Ascension of Our Lord, Mother’s Day and a Baccalaureate Mass for those young adults nearing the end of their academic year. Advance notice to the community had been given for all to come wearing their school colors and/or emblems and many did. A special blessing was imparted to all students at the end of the liturgy for their continued advancement in knowledge, as well as rewarding experiences and/or work in the months and years ahead.
Seven volunteers from Dignity/Washington’s year-old Young Adult Group staffed a table at the annual DC’s Youth Pride Day held in Dupont Circle on April 27. The all-day event, this year on a sunny spring Saturday, is marketed toward LGBT high school- and college-aged DC locals to celebrate awareness, visibility, and pride. The event has drawn over 3,000 young people in recent years.
The volunteers included young adults Alex Martone, Anthony O’Tapi, Jonathan Noriega, Zack Pesavento, Alexander Martone, Martín Witchger, and D/W Board Member Kenneth Dowling, all of whom recently started attending Dignity/Washington since spring 2012, as well as 3-year member Ruthie Shipps.
Located among tables for large organizations such as HRC and the Trevor Project, also DC-focused LGBT organizations such as the DC Center and SMYAL, and a stage enlivened by colorful performances, D/W’s table stood out with a statuette of Mary wrapped in a pride flag. D/W members handed out flyers and received email addresses from youth walking by who were all invited to D/W’s second annual Baccalaureate Mass on Sunday, May 12.
By Kenneth Dowling, Dignity/Washington Board member
The Dignity/Washington community was treated to a superb evening through the generous efforts and hospitality of member Mike Malik at his home near Logan Circle on Saturday, April 20. The neighborhood resounded with the music of Country Western instructor and DJ Mary Anne who lead the diverse crowd of young and older, beginning and advanced, dancers in the Texas Two-Step and Country Western line dances. Everyone kicked up their heels, had fun and enjoyed meeting new friends well into the night. Drink and refreshments were also provided by Mike Malik to the grateful party-ers. The lessons of DJ Mary Anne were given in a spirit of fun with ample gentle humorous persuasion, much appreciated by even the most timid to get onto the dance floor.
by Henry Huot, Dignity/Washington Board Member
Sunday, April 14, 2013 Father Joseph Palacios was presider and homilist at a Farewell Mass with Dignity/Washington held at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church. Many of his friends and associates in his multi-faceted ministry to the DC area LGBT community participated and extended their well wishes, including those from Georgetown University, and Catholics For Equality which he helped to found.
Joe will assume a new ministry with the Spiritual Care Department of Clinical Services at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California (just outside of Palm Springs) later this spring, primarily running groups, doing individual assessments, lectures, and strategic planning regarding US Latinos and Latin Americans. “The job integrates much of my past,” writes Joe, “and provides some great opportunities for research and innovative thinking regarding addiction and recovery.” The Mass was followed by a special social in the parish hall. Godspeed, Joe, and best wishes. You will be sorely missed.
by Henry Huot, Dignity/Washington Board member
Several members of Dignity/Washington had the honor to be present at the very large demonstrations (by Supreme Court case standards) in support of same sex marriage rights at the U. S. Supreme Court on the 26th and 27th of March. Notable aspects of the events was the broad range of ages from early 20s students and interns to individuals in their 60s and 70s and the very positive vibe among the attendees. That it was a pleasant crisp spring day did not hurt the mood. Security was heavy, but friendly and there were no physical clashes among different groups. Given the tight space between the Supreme Court Plaza and the street, general speakers are not allowed by current regulations in the area so crowds consist only of people with signs. Marches are allowed on the street, but cannot stop in the area.
On March 26 the Court was slated to hear arguments in the California Prop 8 case. The day began with an Interfaith Service held at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation located just a few blocks from the Supreme Court building. Called “A Prayer for Love & Justice” members of all faiths attended in the spirit of love, hope and equality. Several Dignity/Washington members participated, including Allen Rose, Dan Barutta, Eddie Weingart, Sr. Jeannine Gramick, Fr. Joseph Palacios and Fr. Tim MacGeorge among many others.
The service concluded with a march to the Supreme Court building where worshipers joined around 2,000 very positive LGBT individuals and allies with many creative, hand-made signs. At 10:00 there was a parade along the street in front of the Supreme Court building of around 1,000 opponents of marriage equality, most of whom had been bused down from New York City carrying printed signs. The two groups largely ignored each other. Once the parade was over, the LGBT presence continued until noon.
On the 27th the Justices heard arguments to determine if the Defense of Marriage Act was constitutional. There was a somewhat smaller but equally enthusiastic LGBT crowd of around 1,000, and very few individuals in support of the restrictive law. The crowd remained for a few hours until after the case was heard and the attorneys/proponents for each side addressed the press and crowd.
Decisions on the cases are anticipated to occur in June.
by Tom Bower, Dignity/Washington Board member
The origin of Saint Joseph’s Day as an Italian festival is simple yet a testimony to an ancient and abiding devotion. According to legend, there was a severe drought in Sicily around 1268 and the people prayed to St. Joseph, their patron saint, to bring them rain.They promised that they would prepare a large banquet feast to honor him, if he answered their prayers.
The rain did come, and the Sicilians made good on their promise, continuing the festival ever since. The fava bean was the crop that saved the population from starvation and is a traditional part of St. Joseph’s Day altars and traditions. Giving food to the needy is also a St. Joseph’s Day custom.
Again this year Dignity/Washington held its observance of St. Joseph Day with a grand Italian banquet held on Saturday, March 9 at the All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church Hall in Northwest DC for a crowd of nearly 85 guests who paid $30 a ticket. Net proceeds were $1,500 from ticket sales and a 50/50 raffle, including $410 from a newly-featured live and silent auction.
The altar tradition plays a major role in the veneration of St. Joseph and is the focus of the novena (nine days of prayer) before the actual feast day. Dignity/Washington’s altar was decorated with statues and icons, candles, religious medals, rosaries, prayer cards, fava beans and loaves of bread.
A religious ceremony was again part of the evening, led by Father Mickey Martinez, with a procession of national flags, icons and, of course, the statue of St. Joseph; with congregational hymns; a Gospel reading from the life of St. Joseph; and a blessing of the meal. Helping to set the mood was a montage of film clips with music backdrop entitled The Kiss (more or less), arranged and presented by member Tom Yates, highlighting famous kiss scenes from gay and lesbian themed movies.
Everyone was delighted by a wonderful array of entrées and sides which included garlic crusted pork loin, puttanesca with chick sausages, vegetarian lasagna, and a vegetable medley (asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, diced red onions) sautéed in olive oil and garlic; all prepared from scratch by the volunteer cooks, headed by member Len Latham. Patrons were left to choose from the special dessert buffet of traditional zeppele di San Giuseppe, mini canoli, chocolate éclairs, assorted cakes, fresh fruit and cassata. The pastries were purchased from Piedigrotta Bakery of Baltimore and Catania Bakery and A. Litteri, Inc., both of DC.
Member Niko led the production of the actual meal and religious ceremony, assisted by member Peter who was responsible for logistical arrangement and finances. Other key workers for the event were: Dan Hayes, Patrick Wojahn, Dave Kolesar, Rick Lynch, Mark Hibschman, Manny Tortosa, Dave Vespa, Larry Ranly, Kenneth Dowling, Mike Travers, Mark Hibschman and Larry Huntington. Many more helped behind the scenes and their contributions were very much appreciated.
Each year the evening is dedicated to the memory of special individuals who have contributed to the Dignity/Washington community. This year’s memorial dedication was to two special parents, Veronica and Jerry Colfer, in recognition of Veronica’s death since last year’s dinner.
by Henry Huot, Dignity/Washington Board member
The Dignity/Washington Board along with several community members participated in a weekend retreat and planning session held February 15 to 17 at the Bon Secours Retreat and Conference Center in Marriottsville, Maryland. Formerly of the Center and currently the Pastoral Associate to the Vicar Bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore in the Seton Vicariate, Dr. Tom Little led the group in a series of reflections entitled Sustaining Our Leading With Holiness and Heart, focused on the challenge of several Catholic saints, including Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila and Dorothy Day, whose Church renewal efforts in their day continue to be instructive for the mission of Dignity today. Each session sought to elicit from each member and the group as a whole practical strategies for renewed commitment and engagement to serve the Dignity/Washington community and reach out to the wider lgbt community. Several members of the Young Adult group presented their vision for improving the community’s media outreach, especially through new forms of Facebook advertising and upgrades of our website, and planning community events for the coming year. Sunday morning’s session, The Gathering of Graces, sought to capture the new insights gained through this time together, most prominently how much vitality and energy there exist in our community for the work that lies ahead.