Finding a parish to call home
How God, an angel and the season of Lent led me and my boyfriend to Church … together.
I’ve been trying to write since Easter Sunday. Every time I’ve attempted to sit, pray and write, I just have no words for the experience my boyfriend and I have had this year.
To paint the picture perfectly, I have to go to the beginning and give all the details. Warning: this will be a lengthy story.
Our different journeys within the Church
As some of you may know from my previous stories, I’m a cradle Catholic and I’ve always attended private Catholic schools.
My boyfriend, Tim, was also raised Catholic. However, his journey is very different than mine.
Religion has not been a part of our lives as a couple. When we met in 2015, I had just launched The Gay Catholic and was invited to the White House by President Obama to help welcome Pope Francis to the United States.
I knew from the beginning that he was not religious. Even during that exciting time of my life he was not willing to attend mass for me. This wasn’t a deal-breaker. All I said was,
My purpose in life is to raise children and I plan to take them to mass with me on Sundays. Will this be a problem?
He said no.
And I’ve never pressured him to attend mass with me. It’s not my place to force him to have a relationship with God. I respect each person’s journey and believe they must navigate through it on their own.
We’ve never talked about it again.
Losing a loved one who became an angel
On February 10, 2019, my uncle, Richard Ledesma Jr., passed away after a challenging battle with diabetes and related health issues.
He passed minutes after we went to bed after celebrating Tim’s 30th birthday the day before.
On the 11th, we were on a plane down to Corpus Christi to support my cousins and help with funeral arrangements. That week was emotionally exhausting to say the least. After being there for a week we returned home to Virginia. We stuck to our tradition — grabbing Outback to-go when we return from traveling.
We sat at the bar, had a drink and waited for our order. After about 40 minutes, we went out to my car … it had a flattest tire I’ve ever seen. Tim attempted to replace the tire with a spare, but the lug nuts wouldn’t loosen. We tried everything and then it began to rain. Feeling defeated, we called an Uber to pick us up from Outback … minutes away from our home.
The next day we went back around 11 a.m. Again, none of the lug nuts would loosen. We were confused and frustrated. Unfortunately, we had to call a tow truck, which would take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours. So … guess where we sat for lunch. Yup, Outback twice in 18 hours.
We waited. And waited. And waited some more. At the 3-hour mark, I went outside to call the tow truck driver to ask for an update.
While I was outside something unexpected happened for Tim. He turned and saw two mentors having lunch behind us. He greeted them and asked why they were both here, over an hour away from Charlottesville, where they live. They told him that they come here for mass on Sundays. He was stunned. These two women are partners and drive more than hour away to attend mass?!
I walked back in to tell him the truck arrived. He said nothing.
The Beginning of Lent
Nearly a month had passed when Ash Wednesday arrived, and Tim still hadn’t mentioned his conversation with his mentors.
That morning I told him I was going to Ash Wednesday mass and that I didn’t know where I’d go because I wanted to find a new Church. While I enjoyed the beauty and size of the previous Church I attended in Richmond, it just didn’t feel like a place for me. There was no sense of community. I was longing for something better.
That night at the dinner table Tim caught me completely off guard when he said,
I’ve been thinking. Maybe we can go to Church together on Sundays.
My mouth must have been down to the floor! I didn’t get excited yet. Instead, I asked him what made him think of this.
That’s when he told me about his conversation with his mentors at Outback. He shared their story and told me about their parish. I could hear the curiosity in his voice. He was genuinely interested in visiting this Church his mentors described as diverse, accepting and loving.
We fell in love with Saint Michael the Archangel Catholic Church
From the moment the first mass we attended began, we were hooked.
This parishioners begin mass by standing and greeting those around them and “making this a place of welcome.” We had people smiling, shaking our hands and giving us hugs saying “Happy Sunday!”
Then Rev. Daniel O. Brady (aka “Father Dan”) walked in. This man is incredible. His energy is contagious. You can’t not smile when Fr. Dan walks into the room or when he is speaking. He makes Church-going exciting and understandable. The best way I can personally describe him is that he is the Patch Adams of priests. The man is a rock star.
Then the unimaginable happened during the intentions. A member of the choir was sharing intentions like normal, but there was one that left me and Tim speechless:
To those who feel disconnected or alienated by the Church. May they know that they are loved and always have a place to call home.
That moment lit a fire in our hearts. We knew this was the Church for us.
For days we talked about how my uncle led gave us that flat tire and stopped the lug nuts from loosening. He wanted Tim to see his mentors and learn about this church.
We miss my uncle, but we are comforted to know he is an angel watching over us and guiding us to the Lord.
We are home.
St. Mikes has proven over the past two months what true Christian values are. We’re so thankful for their acceptance of people from all walks of life.
Today we learned that they have a group for us too: We Are Family — St. Michael’s Ministry to Gay and Lesbian Catholics, Their Friends and Family. We’re going.
This is just the beginning and it’s off to a great start.