In the suburban town of Inverness in northwest Illinois, gay music director Colin Collette, of Holy Family Catholic Church, was fired for announcing his engagement to a man.
The unjust firing in late July stirred much controversy within the parish, prompting a church-wide meeting last Wednesday. The Chicago Tribune reported:
Many of the roughly 700 people who attended appeared to support Colin Collette, who received a standing ovation when he entered the sanctuary.
Members of the media were not allowed to attend, but parishioners described the scene afterward.
Collette was terminated from the job he held for 17 years in late July, after being told that his same-sex relationship violates the tenets of the Catholic Church, he said. Collette has said that church leaders knew he was gay long before he posted the announcement of his wedding plans on Facebook.
Kevin Keane of Bartlett, one of dozens of people addressing a panel that included representatives of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, quit his position as cantor in protest of Collette's firing.
“He has given his entire life to the church,” Keane said, repeating a portion of his speech. “That leads me to the conclusion if he's not fit to serve, then I am not fit to serve.”
Others derided the church and called for change.
According to the church's pastor, Rev. Terry Keehan, the meeting was intended as an opportunity to express emotions regarding Collette's firing. In a private meeting with Keehan and Collette, however, Keehan told Collette there was no way he would be able to return to his former job.