According to a March 11, 2017 post to the Young Adults of Most Holy Redeemer (MHR) Facebook Timeline: “…let’s all take a moment tomorrow to thank Ish Ruiz for the great work he has done and will continue to do representing us in his testimony after each of the masses this weekend, but also in so many other ways, both at MHR and within the broader Church.”

Ish Ruiz is Religious Studies Instructor at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory in San Francisco. According to his profile at the dissident pro-gay and pro-women’s ordination group “Call To Action:”

Ish Ruiz is a doctoral student in the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and a Religious Studies instructor at a Catholic high school in San Francisco. Ruiz has offered workshops to high school faculty and staff on the care for LGBTQ+ students in Catholic schools and is a member of the Marianist LGBT Initiative Team, which published a resource, titled Addressing LGBT Issues with Youth: A Resource for Educators. He is also a leading member of the Young Adults group at Most Holy Redeemer parish in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco, which is known for its integration of LGBTQ+ Catholics into the life of the Church. Ruiz has made several contributions in the media and through his ministries regarding the protection of LGBTQ+ Church workers, the Catholic Church’s response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, and the contributions of LGBTQ+ teachers in Catholic schools.

In 2006, the Prefect for the Congregation for Bishops, Giovanni Battista Cardinal Re, wrote to then Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz concerning Call To Action, stating: “…to be a member of this association or to support it is irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic faith.”

Regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage, Ruiz said:

“The Church has always taught that the Holy Spirit speaks through the laity as well as the hierarchy. I hope the decision from the Supreme court, combined with polls that show that the majority of Catholics support same-sex marriage, encourages the hierarchy to be more in touch with the people, the sense of the faithful.”

He continued:

“Pope Francis encouraged bishops to allow themselves ‘to be surprised by God, the God of surprises.’ I pray the Church continues to engage with the sense of the faithful, especially those that are LGBTQ+, through dialogue. That door must always remain open.”

In 2016, Ruiz attended an LGBT retreat, “Room at the Table: LGBTQ People and Families-a Gift of God to the Church,” at the Marianist Retreat Center in Eureka, Missouri. The main presenter was Paul Morrissey OSA. Morrissey has a long history of dissident gay-affirmation; following the 2015 legalization of same-sex marriage in the US, he wrote:

“I am happy for the LGBT Community on this historic day when the Supreme Court of the country legalized same-sex marriage. It is a stunning victory for the long and difficult struggle by gay and lesbian Americans for equal rights, and will allow them many benefits that are taken for granted by heterosexual couples…”

In an article (July 18, 2015) for the “National Catholic Reporter,” Morrissey posed the question: “Can God surprise us?” Here, Morrissey intended to “offer two reasons to understand LGBT people as intended by God.”

#1. “It takes a village. It takes a parish. It takes a rainbow of colors. It takes the single and married gay and lesbian people to assist the rest of us in this incredible task of raising our families, and now even their own, into the future that God intends for all of us together.”

#2. “The second reason I would suggest that LGBT people are God’s intention is a different understanding of God. Do we think that God created the world in a flash — in seven days? As male and female? In ‘his’ own image?”

Throughout the article, Morrissey compares the “surprise” parents may feel when they discover that their child is born for instance with down-syndrome and that of a child who is supposedly born a homosexual:

“What will we allow God’s creative imagination to unfold before us and with us? Is there room for surprise? For a child with Down syndrome to draw out of us love we never knew we had? For a gay or lesbian person to help us realize God’s playfulness, mercy and revelation of ‘his’ own incomprehensible mystery? For transgender people?”

Before the retreat with Morrissey, Ruiz created a gofundme campaign to raise money for the event; two contributors were New Ways Ministry and Most Holy Redeemer – each giving $100.00.

In 2017, Ruiz wrote a spiritual reflection for New Ways Ministry’s Bondings 2.0 Blog; he wrote:

“Last week I learned a great lesson from the LGBTQ+ community about what it means to journey from ashes to new life. I had the chance to attend the San Francisco premiere of ABC-TV’s new mini-series When We Rise (a fitting title), which portrays the lives of several key figures in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. This intersectional history series captures the reality of this community’s heartfelt quest for justice. Their trials and victories are a testament to the journey of all of God’s beloved Chosen People.”

In 2016, the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, who staff MHR, chose Frank DeBernardo and Sister Jeannine Gramick of New Ways Ministries to offer “a daylong workshop on lgbt issues in light of the Synod on the Family…”

In 2010, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I, Archbishop of Chicago and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a lengthy statement on the status of the organization “New Ways Ministry:” he warned: “No one should be misled by the claim that New Ways Ministry provides an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching and an authentic Catholic pastoral practice.”

Also in 2017, Ruiz and a group of other Young Adult Ministry members from MHR attended the LA Religious Education Congress with their Pastor Fr. Matt Link. Also in attendance at the LA Congress was Donal Godfrey SJ. In 2015, Godfrey presented a retreat for the MHR Young Adult Ministry. Godfrey is best known as the former Director of Ministry (the current Associate Director for Faculty/Staff Spirituality) at the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco and as the unofficial biographer of MHR; in 2008, he wrote the authoritative history of the parish: “The Gays and the Grays.” Here is an excerpt:

“If God must become Asian or African, then God is also in some sense queer…”

“Is it less appropriate for gays to imagine Jesus as gay than for African Christians to picture him as black, Asian Christians as Asian?”

During an interview from 2015, Fr. Godfrey said: “As a church we need to accept that family goes beyond traditional lines. I don’t expect the teachings to jump to acceptance in one day, it will take decades. In the meantime we need to accept people pastorally as they are and where they are. For now, this would be sufficient. Later the teachings will catch up and evolve.”

In 2011, Gramick, the co-founder of New Ways Ministry, said much the same thing: “But because I know church history, I know change takes centuries. We are planting seeds for change at the upper level of leadership.”

On the Facebook page of another young man, who also attended the LA Congress with the MHR group, when he announced his relationship status – with another man – Godfrey gave it a thumbs up.

In a 2017 Facebook post, Ruiz wrote of Godfrey: “…We love you- MHR is your home. Always.”

“I know by experience that the greatest punishment that can befall a people is a bad priest.” ~ St. Anthony Mary Claret