LGBT masses continue at St. Joan of Arc Chapel

Photo+by+Rebecca+Rebholz+%2F+rebecca.rebholz%40marquette.edu

Photo by Rebecca Rebholz / rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu

Teran Powell

Marquette will continue offering monthly LGBT and Allied Community masses at the St. Joan of Arc Chapel in an effort to better connect students, faculty and staff.

Stephen Blaha, assistant director of Campus Ministry, worked with priests and students to create the masses, which started in September. The next mass is Nov. 19.

“It’s just wonderful when folks are really hungry to connect with God,” Blaha said. “In looking at offerings around different churches throughout the United States, different dioceses and what they’ve been doing, different Jesuit universities and also taking a look at what are the needs of our students and faculty and staff, we decided to have a monthly mass that’s really open for all, but has a special welcome to the LGBT community.”

The Louis Joliet Society, a group of Marquette alumni, parents, associates and friends, questioned the masses on its Facebook page, according to a Cardinal Newman Society report in October. The group asked if Campus Ministry was using the masses “to share with students the depth and beauty of the Church’s teaching on sexual morality.”

Blaha said that the challenges are not his main concern. “I’m used to a little bit of challenge on these sorts of things … Part of our lives as a church is to really be aware of where we’re at as far as if we’re feeling welcome around the table.”

Blaha has been doing LGBT community outreach for the past six years. He noted how some students, either during high school or their personal lives in general, may practice or wrestle with their faiths while identifying as an LGBT or allied identity. Those students can come to Marquette and experience the environment to be themselves, or worship and pray.

“For a few years we’ve been really looking at the need campus-wise in really connecting with students, hearing that there can be such a divide coming to (Marquette),” Blaha said. “In seeing that struggle, we’ve been looking at how we can really offer and provide some spiritual offerings that support folks on our campus and their walk with God, their walk in their journey of life.”

At the first LGBT and Allied Community mass, Blaha said he was excited and hopeful. 

“In some ways, I had the same feeling I have before any mass,” Blaha said. “It was a really good atmosphere; it felt like a normal mass where we come as we are, longing for God and longing for each other.”

The masses follow the format of a typical mass for the given day.

“Each day of the week has a mass with its particular readings and prayer, so that’s what we use,” Blaha said. “It depends on what’s going on in the world immediately and what the scriptures are saying.”

More LGBT and Allied Community masses are slated for next semester on Jan. 28, Feb. 25, March 18 and April 15.

“I’m really glad we’re doing this,” Blaha said. “I’d be worried about us as a Catholic university if we weren’t.”