Postponed Pride Mass Finally Happens at St. Cecilia's in Boston

July 11, 2011
The crowd at St Cecilia’s Catholic Church this Sunday was standing room only – it was more packed than on Easter Sunday. After more than a month of controversy and postponements, Rev. John J. Unni’s eagerly anticipated All Are Welcome Mass presented a message of LGBT affirmation and acceptance. “Thank you for saying, ‘This is who we are,’’’ said Unni to the packed congregation. “You are a beautiful and integral part of this parish.”

Image by the Boston Globe.

Originally announced on June 6, the Mass was planned for the evening of June 19 and meant to celebrate Pride Month. The Mass was indefinitely postponed. “We [cannot] be put in a position where we look like we’re endorsing Gay Pride activities,” said Terrence C. Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese. Unni disagreed, receiving a standing ovation on June 12 after reassuring his congregation that “you are welcome here, gay or straight, rich or poor, young or old, black or white…here, you all can say, ‘I can worship the God who made me as I am.’’’ John Kelly, president of St. Cecilia’s Rainbow Ministry, led the processional. “I never thought I’d see this day,” said Kelly, who grew up in South Boston and left the Church for more than 20 years because he felt unwelcome for being gay. Richard Iandoli, vice president of the parish council, expressed hope that Unni’s message may encourage other LGBT Catholics who have felt shunned by the Church to return. Mayor Thomas M. Marino agreed: “our church talks about coming home,’’ he said. “I want to make sure that we welcome everyone.’’ Though postponed, Unni’s message was no less poignant. “This is not about taking a stand; it’s about standing in the right place,’’ he said. “Be with the outcasts. Be with those relegated to the margins." To the bishop, he spoke directly: "We are being called to do not what is easy, but what is holy.’’ When the mass was first cancelled, GLAAD was able to offer assistance to members of Dignity USA, who were preparing a response to the cancellation. GLAAD was pleased that the cancellation received good coverage, and is thankful that the pubic has supported St. Cecilia's and all Catholics who support LGBT people. GLAAD commends Rev. Unni and the parishioners of St. Cecilia’s and continues to celebrate and support the ever increasing affirmations of LGBT people by all religious institutions.