Daily mass with my grandmother, reading my children’s Bible with pictures that have been indelibly etched in my imagination, singing along at the new guitar mass… these images capture my religious experience as a young Catholic.
I grew up in Good Shepherd Parish in Philadelphia, where my religious imagination was formed by the music of the Church, calling me to respond in faith and act with justice. My Confirmation stands out as a vivid memory — being marked with the holy chrism, smelling the oil’s sweet fragrance, knowing that I was called to listen intently to God’s voice in my life and to make a difference in our Church and in our world.
Listening to God’s movement in my life recently brought me to minister to Waldron Mercy Academy. For eight years, this community and I walked a journey of faith that brought us deeper into our understanding and practice of faith and mercy. We learned about Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy. Her charism of mercy, a distinct vision and mission shared by all of the Sisters of Mercy, drew us outward to touch the lives of men, women, and children who experienced loneliness, poverty, and hunger. Our bonds of faith and friendship were strong.
At the end of this school year, however, I was fired because of my same-sex marriage to my partner, Andrea Vettori. The school believed it had to fire me in order to preserve its Catholic identity.