Sue Mico (she, her) & Les Mico (he, him)
Christian - Catholic, Cisheterosexual married couple; LGBTIQA+ ally, PFLAG Parents - Les Mico is President of PFLAG Australia
Sister Patty Fawkner SGS (she, her)
Christian - Catholic, Heterosexual; Religious Sister and Congregational Leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan of the Order of Saint Benedict
Revd Fr Claude Mostowik MSC (he, him)
Christian - Catholic, Gay; Former Missionary, Psychologist, Justice and Peace Advocate
The reality of who and what makes a person catholic is told by this portrait featuring four very different people who have taken vowed commitments before their faith communities. A married couple with adult children, a religious sister, and an ordained priest – all of them committed to a life of faithfulness and love. Their catholicity is expressed through the way their practice of the Catholic Christian faith that affirms and includes everyone. Together, they serve as a Catholic family - gay and (mostly) straight – through their ministry and solidarity with their LGBTIQA+ siblings, sisters and brothers seeking justice and dignity within and beyond their church.
Standing in a row facing slightly to the right in the order of Sue in the front, followed by Les, then Patty and finally Claude, all gazing towards the sky and having glad, optimistic and hopeful expressions on their faces. Sue is in a white blouse and Les is in a white business shirt, both have on their left chest a rainbow and cross lapel pin on; Patty is in a white blouse and on her left chest is the lapel pin with the insignia of the Good Samaritan Sisters congregation; Claude is in a white Alb vestment with a rainbow religious stole.
Reflections from Les and Sue:
“In my Catholic faith, I endeavor to offer myself to others in friendship and others by being there. To be a non-judgmental ally and support all on their life’s journey and offer simple guides from the gospel and spread the word of Christ, to find strength and faith, for myself and those in need. In this way, I develop my moral and spiritual compass and allows me to reflect on my inner-self and be grateful for the gifts of the holy spirit to guide me.”
“My faith dictates who I am, my faith and spirituality guides me in my decisions and the the way I relate to others and engage them in open discussion in a non-invasive way and listen to their thoughts. I try to place my faith in the teaching of the gospel and try to walk in Jesus shoes. I challenge myself and ask, ˜What would Jesus do?” How would he move forward and who would he prefer to be with.
This allows me to grow my spirituality and reflect deeper and meditate on the gospels to find my way and make better decisions and improve my responses and behaviour to others. For me a line in a Nick Cave Song says it all "Hold His Every Loving Hand Even When You Do Not Understand" (Bless His Ever-Loving Heart).”
"I imagine a church that is where all within the congregation are equal. A church that teaches love and acceptance and not be contentions and overbearing. A Church that follows Jesus’s gospel as given to the apostles, who went out to spread the good word to all that would listen. A church that does not judge, a church following Jesus’s mission to bring his word to all and being inclusive of the poor, the sick, the lonely and the outcasts. To stand up and support those who considered diverse and bring them to their table and share the good word and not keep them in darkness.”
"In most churches they have openly condoned the exclusion of the LGBTIQ community from their churches and school causing many of that community to be ostracized, ridiculed and excluded from their workplace.
A change must come from within and be re-affirming and accepting of their brothers and sisters in Christ. They must throw away their non-Christ like thoughts and provide an open invitation to all not just their few. They can do this by celebrating their gifts and openly show their acceptance and recognize the value of gender diversity in a compassionate manner. We should be celebrating the Eucharist together as one in Christ.”
Reflections from Patty:
“For me, my Christian tradition is precious beyond compare. I love my faith tradition because it is less about dogma and doctrine and more about a relationship with a God whom I believe is my Maker, Keep and Lover. The Gospel of Jesus Christ informs my ethical and moral vision. ‘Gospel’ means ‘Good News’ and the foundation of the Gospel is the vision of a new reality of peace, justice, liberation and fullness of life for all, especially for those who are suffering in any way or are on the margins of society. The Gospel imperative is to deeply respect and have reverence for all living beings.”
“There is a groundedness and ‘earthiness’ about the Catholic Christian religion. We Catholics emphasise the principle of Sacramentality which means that God is present to humankind within the ordinary aspects and the everydayness of life in the world. The poet Gerard Manly Hopkins reminds us that “the world is charged with the grandeur of God.” It is a mistake to set up a false dichotomy between the spiritual and the material, between the sacred and the profane. I encounter God and God’s graces and blessings in silence, beauty, prayer and also in the dailiness of everyday life.”
“The Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament are our sacred texts par excellence. They are our spiritual heritage, telling the story of God’s self-disclosure and action in history, culminating in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They also include books and letters, written after the time of Jesus, which show what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
Lectio Divina is the practice of reflective reading of the Scriptures. It entails a process of going deeper into one’s own heart and to there encounter the God who speaks a word of love to us. Lectio Divina can be done alone or within a group. It entails a gentle sequence of reading a sacred text very slowly and then pausing whenever a word or phrase stands out or moves you. You then meditate slowly on this word or phrase, repeating them in your heart over and over. The next stage is to allow these words to reveal their wisdom to you deep within and to illumine the desires of your heart. You then pray to the God who reveals God’s self to you at this time, and pray that you may be able to respond to where God is inviting you.”
“I am greatly blessed and proud that I am a member of a religious congregation of women that takes its name from one of Jesus’ favourite and most loved parables - that of the story of the Good Samaritan.
The Samaritan traveller went above and beyond in reaching out in compassionate care for a wounded man who was perceived as ‘other’. The man, left for dead by robbers on a lonely road between Jerusalem and Jericho, was an enemy because of his different ethnicity and religion. This story invites me and challenges me to bring compassion and mercy for all whom I encounter especially for the one who is different from me because, for example, their religion, race, gender, sexual orientation or political persuasion.”
“The Christian Gospels are, I believe, ‘good news’ for LGBTIQA+ people. Jesus Christ was very comfortable with diversity and took his followers on a journey of ever-increasing inclusion, acceptance and affirmation of the one who is perceived as ‘other’ or ‘different’. Jesus opposed all forms of exclusion and violence against any person. To be truly Christian, all should reinforce this message of inclusion, acceptance and affirmation.
I would like the wording of The Catechism of the Catholic Church to be changed. The Catechism states that "homosexual acts" are "acts of grave depravity" that are "intrinsically disordered.” it continues, "They are contrary to the natural law.” This wording seems to me at odds with Jesus’ welcome of all. These words have been used to justify exclusion. They have promoted intolerance and discord and have promoted systems of oppression. I would encourage pastors and all teachers to directly teach that the Gospel demands that we welcome all people, no matter their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation etc.
I think it is important that members of the LGBTIQA+ community be affirmed and accepted into ministerial roles within Catholic agencies.”
Reflections from Claude:
“I find that returning to Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and the Gospels as the point of departure for all my activity. In many cases CST is neglected but its fundamentals inspire me along with the teaching of Jesus to respect the dignity of each human being and live that out as much as possible with what may seem quaint- kindness to people and creation.
Having said the above, it is my contact with people that I learn so much especially people who seem to be rendered voiceless or marginalised. They have much to teach me about acceptance, tolerance, expressing kindness which costs nothing but means a lot to people. This informs my daily practice as well as challenges me to be mindful.”
“There are many but one in recent times was engaging with people of different denominations in Love Makes a Way where nonviolent sit-ins were conducted at offices of politicians, including prime ministers Abbot and Turnbull, to highlight the injustice perpetrated but our country towards people, especially children, in detention.
For me it meant taking a stance with the risk of conviction. This began following an incident at work where a desperate young man threatened suicide after being told to leave the country.”
“I would like it to being with doing away with the silence and making known the presence of LGBTIQA+ people within the community and acknowledge their contribution to community and society. I recall some years ago when on an Archdiocesan Day for Social Justice many years ago where a number of groups gathered to share on their activities. On this occasion Acceptance (LGBT Catholic Ministry) were present and spoke first. I think that this could be done more often. I would like to see my tradition to be less fearful of engaging with LGBTIQA+ and to be seen engaging with them, listening to their stories, pains, past trauma and possible pathways to proceed.
Photographed by Jason Doyle of Studio Commercial