The Welcoming LGBT Ministry located at Saint Andrew Catholic Parish in the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon has a record of public dissent and outright disobedience. According to the parish history of their LGBT Ministry, beginning in the year 2000, Saint Andrew’s began to outreach at Portland gay “Pride” and at the 2001 event, marched in the Parade.
But on April 2, 2013, Alexander Sample was installed as the eleventh Archbishop of Portland. And on May 31, 2013, the LGBT Ministry was informed that the new Archbishop did not approve of their continued participation in the Portland “Pride” Parade. According to a local newspaper report, the Pastor of Saint Andrew’s, Fr. Dave Zegar: “met with a group of St. Andrew’s parishioners, who decided to stand by their 17-year commitment to Portland’s gay community. At Mass [on Sunday, June 4, 2013] Zegar shared the group’s decision with the congregation, who responded with a standing ovation…”
At the time, Jerry Deas, who was the contact person for the Welcoming LGBT Ministry, said: “So respectfully, we will then follow our conscience to reach out to present the good news as the Gospels call us to do and to welcome all people.” In another report on the incident between the LGBT Ministry and Archbishop Sample, Deas said: “It isn’t a case where we are trying to be disobedient…We’re trying to be obedient to the gospels and obedient to this mission.”
But this was not the first time Deas critiqued the actions of the Archdiocese of Portland. In 1995 and 1997, Deas criticized one of Sample’s predecessors, William Levada, over the establishment of a Courage chapter in Portland and because of the Archbishop’s apparent refusal to say the word “gay.”
According to Dignity/USA, Deas served as the organization’s National Secretary from 1997-1999. Part of the Dignity “Statement of Position and Purpose” (adopted in 1985) includes the following: “As members of Dignity, we are Christ’s disciples, a lesbian and gay People of God in the Body of Christ, part of the Catholic tradition. Our sexuality is God’s holy gift to us. In it, and in our genital activity, we want to meet our God.” Following the Obergefell decision, Dignity called on the Catholic Church to recognize the “Sacramental Equality” of same-sex marriages.
As stated on the Facebook page of Jerry Deas, since 2014, he is married to his same-sex partner. The bulletin at St. Andrew Catholic Parish announced the wedding anniversary of Deas and his partner in 2016.
According to a recent Sunday bulletin, the current head of St. Andrew’s Welcoming LGBTQ Ministry is former monk and openly gay man F. Joseph Finnigan. Finnigan holds a master’s degree in Psychology from the Benedictine Saint Martin’s University in Olympia which is home to the “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer and Ally Club (LGBTQA).” According to an article on the LGBT website ProudQueer.com, Finnigan advertised his services as a “non-denominational Christian minister” who will marry same-sex couples as well as “non-religious and atheist couples in the Portland/Vancouver metro area.” In 2011, Finnigan spoke at the annual Affirmation Conference, a forum for LGBT Mormons, families and friends. According to a YouTube video of his address: “Joseph will be speaking about the experience of being both religious and gay, why our churches hate and need us, and why we hate and need our church.” During the introduction to Finnigan’s speech, the presenter said:
After spending five years as a vowed Benedictine monk, [Finnigan] left the sanctuary of the abbey to be a Christian servant and an openly gay man.
In his address at the Conference, Finnigan said:
Praying the gay away is asking for God’s will to work outside of God’s will. God’s will has made us homosexual people, and it is good and it is going to make the world a better place once they come into a greater understanding of love.
So far, there have been no repercussions from Sample for the flagrant disobedience exhibited by St. Andrew’s; as of the year 2020, both Zegar and Finnigan remain in their positions at the Parish.
The Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon
2838 E. Burnside St.
Portland, OR 97214
PH. (503) 234-5334