Wednesday, April 8, 2009

KIDS ARE BEING HURT!!! - - Holy Week - “Coming Out” Letter to Parishioners

The “coming out” letter written by Fr. Marty Kurylowicz on Monday, March 24, 1997, which was mailed out on Tuesday, March 25, 1997 to all the parishioners at Holy Family Parish, Sparta, Michigan, where he was pastor for 12 years. In this letter he explains it was a moral obligation that he “came out” as a gay priest, because “KIDS ARE BEING HURT!!!” Parishioners received this letter in the mail on Wednesday of Holy Week, March 26, 1997.

Are we making a difference?

From the Pastor…

Holy week is the ideal time to evaluate how well we are following Christ as a parish and as a believer. We need to ask ourselves: Are we making a difference with Jesus’ words of love for ourselves and for others? Do His words make sense to us? Do we continue moment to moment to learn and acquire more understanding of His message of love? How committed are we to this message and our responsibility to help make this a more loving world for all people? Or, are we just playing a game? Are we pretending to have the right look of Christianity, which we think will be more acceptable for people, even if it is not authentic? Or, are we as committed to following Jesus, as were the early Christian martyrs? These are thought-provoking questions that each individual must ask oneself, in order to know if we will be on the cross with Jesus or with the Pharisees [church leaders] mocking Jesus. This is truly a matter of life and death. Whether we will be happy in this life and share in His resurrection on Easter or continue to live in darkness, spreading pain by our self-anger and self-hatred on others. 

A parish must be a place where all people fell safe and welcome to be and express who God made them to be. We learn this pastoral duty from the way Jesus cares for people. To feel safe in an environment to experience love and to learn more about love is primary for any parish. In order to teach this love of Christ, it requires a properly educated and professional pastoral and administrative staff. 

The Catholic schools slowly lost their teaching sisters who almost worked for free. These sisters were replaced with lay teachers and the tuition for Catholics rose sharply to pay for these teachers. This same principle, however, did not follow as the number of priests drastically declined. The priest’s pastoral work is largely professional work like a teacher, doctor, psychologist, lawyer, etc. A priest is not able to delegate his professional care of people over to just anyone. The delegation of the priest’s work must be to someone of the same or close to his professional level. The support staff of a parish in administration must be equally competent in their positions. It is important to remember that a parish staff is dealing with people’s lives, at critical times and in concerns that are confidential. Having a qualified parish staff, just as a school must have a qualified teaching staff, is the way that we are going to make differences in people’s lives and in the world. 

Priest burnout is of the highest rate among professionals. This is easily seen in the drastic decline in the number of priests. To do our part to reverse this effect and keep a parish functioning in the way Jesus taught us, we must be willing to support having a professional staff like any school you would want to send your child to. Thanks to so many parishioners are being helped educated, and involved in any services areas of parish life with the guidance of one or more parish staff members. The parish priest, nor anyone, can work 80 to 90 hours a week continuously and be effective in their positions, and without causing great personal harm. 

“The harvest is good, but laborers are scarce. Beg the harvest master to send out laborers to gather his harvest.” Matthew 9:37. Your prayerful and financial support in our weekly contribution collections will help us expand our pastoral staff to help more people to continue to fell safe here and to become the beautiful creation God made them to be. IN this way we will make a difference with Jesus’ words of love for ourselves and for others…for everyone in the world. 

Every individual has to evaluate how well he or she is progressing on his or her journey in following Christ’s example. A few years ago while on retreat at “Our Lady of Guadalupe” Trappists Abbey, I received some very good advice from the abbot. He said,” If you want your congregation to get better, get better yourself first.” Basically this meant, don’t tell people what to do it yourself first and then speak from your personal struggles of how you have tried to incorporate Jesus’ message of love in your life. This advice caused major, major, improvement s in my life. 

As a priest, I truly believe in Jesus’ words of life and love. I work hard to keep acquiring a clearer understanding of His words. I try to follow His words and allow them to change me, however, usually not without some degree of resistance on my part. Once committed, this method has made all the difference in the world for me, in becoming more aware of His presence and His sense of wonder and awe. Otherwise, when we change God’s words we become more like the Pharisees [church leaders]. We start, without any compassion or love, accusing everyone else of wrong doing, while in denial believing we are right (self-righteousness). But this way just kills all love and goodness and leaves us with no inner peace. We model by our example especially to children how to hate and hurt others out of ignorance and fear. We make it more convincing to others that this is an unsafe world to be all God created us to be. 

My journey had to do with coming to terms with my sexual orientation. It was important not to run from it or deny it, but to face it. We push away and hide whatever is to painful to face. I had to struggle, and face being gay, and all the shame and self-hatred that goes with it. On my own, I have been in counseling for several years and have been a part of major professional groups who are not afraid to deal with this topic openly and intelligently. It is here while learning that all my prejudice stereotypes of homosexuals began to drop like hundreds of dead flies, one after the other. I have since acquired a substantial background in the study of psychology. With all of the above, I have been able to have a fuller understanding on homosexuality and human behavior to face and accept my sexual orientation in a holy and healthy way. Biologically, we know now that sexual orientation is not it a choice. Biblically, we know that being homosexual is not a sin anymore than being heterosexual. For the most part, I wanted to deal with this extremely quietly, on my own, not wanting to ever upset anyone. Besides, I was scare out of my mind. 

It was at the “New Ways Ministry Symposium” [March 7-9, 1997] in Pittsburgh when I reached a new level of awareness on this issue. The very first speaker told that scientists agree that sexual orientation set very early in life, by age four and five. These children realize that they are different and begin to believe that they are made wrongly which is indirectly inferred by society. Once again I was devastated. I could personally identify with that statement. I felt the pain of many unnecessary years of self-hated wasted. I felt so strongly that no child deserves to feel that way about something that is not the child’s fault. Not having any of my own children, I felt some responsibility to speak up for those children who are homosexual [LGBTIQ]. Why should they waste any precious years with shame and self-hatred? Why should their parents suffer thinking in any way that it is their fault, when in fact it is not! How long do we remain silent and /or ignorant about the needless harm inflicted on anyone or any group who just happens to be different, especially our children? 

Not everyone has been blessed as I was having a wonderful, loving and fun-filled family. Problems, of course, as in any family, but I had a real sense that I was loved. My dad was a great role model for me on how to continually grow and face mistakes and problems and to deal with them effectively. My father was the most wonderful human being I have ever known. IN no way could I ever blame him for my sexual orientation. Neither could I blame my mother who was also very loving and a very kind woman who died when I was twelve. No parent of a homosexual [LGBTIQ] son or daughter should in any way feel it was their fault. This type of thinking is incorrect and leads to separation of parent and child at a time when they all need the support of each other’s love. 

My personal journey led me to seek out professional help and the support of major organized groups that deal with this issue of sexual orientation openly, supportively and intelligently. With my background in scripture and theology, along with my present studies in psychology, I have been able to deal effectively in my own life in accepting my sexual orientation. However, I could no longer remain silent knowing first-hand the pain and suffering of so many children and young people and their parents. I saw too much in the support groups that I have been part of what the lack of love can do to our young people. It sends them searching for love in all the wrong places. 

I never meant to come out so publicly. I tried to think of thousands of reasons how to avoid it. I have not done anything wrong. But to continue to remain silent, when innocent lives are being threatened and at times destroyed by ignorance and misplaced anger and hatred of others, would be the most grievous sin of neglect. How could I ever live with myself knowing all the various aspects from the psychological. Biological, spiritual ad personal side of this issue and the witnessing of all the pain of so many others, when speaking out could possible make a difference? How could I every call myself a priest of God after all I have learned and witnessed and not try to make a difference? 

There are many angles on this issue of homosexuality that don’t add up. There is not a lot of readily available information on this topic. So for the way some people are so violently opposed to homosexuality, you would think that they were speaking from first-hand information on the topic. What is sending them into such a frizzy? 

Some call the sexuality of homosexuals unnatural. Well, I wouldn’t know being a faithful celibate priest, as I am sure all the hierarchy. But in order to be fair and just, and of course, we all do want to be fair and just, we need evidence from both sides, heterosexuals and homosexuals. We should place a secret video camera into everyone’s bedrooms and then we can all decide together, what is natural and unnatural. This isn’t absurd; Jesus did say what is done in the dark will be told on the rooftops. The point here is that sexuality in general is not fully understood and many people have difficulties. But to get self-righteous about what is natural or unnatural is a bit premature and prejudice without full knowledge. 

There is evidence in recorded history that Michelangelo was a homosexual. If homosexuals are intrinsically evil, the Vatican needs to be re-thinking about buying some new statues and painting over their newly restored Sistine Chapel. Oh! But here an exception is made. Just like an exception would be made by most people who are prejudice, narrow-minded and self-righteous, if one of the hatred minority groups discovered the cure for cancer. 

Oh! What a fuss was made about gays in the military. Oh, that we would have such enthusiasm on the part of so many to speedily help the starving, the incurably ill, the homeless, and others in life-threatening situations. Oh please, now whose slip is showing? From time to time, we must honestly take a look at ourselves and situations and admit, it’s not working and then work together to make a difference for the better. 

The labeling and classifying all members of a particular group as being exactly the same, is a sign of ignorance about that group. Everyone is unique, no matter to what group they belong. This is not hard to understand, because in each individual’s mind is also great diversity. 

People will say that homosexuals are odd. I say, you lock up anyone in a closet for centuries and they are bound to look a bit odd “coming out.” But when we feel the need to lock up some group just because they are different, we need to know that that idea came from within where we are imprisoned ourselves. 

One experiment was done on individuals who expressed strong homophobic fear having some homosexual tendencies. The Kinsey Report of the [late 1940’s early 1950’s] placed sexuality on a six-point continuum with homosexuality on one end and heterosexuality on the other. Their theory stated that everyone varies at different points on the continuum, meaning that to one degree or another they have varying degrees of heterosexual and homosexual feelings. 

On Palm Sunday, I could hardly read the Passion of Our Lord without seeing Christ in so many minority groups, young and old, who have done nothing wrong. These people are harassed by us. We are mirroring the Pharisees’ [church leaders] self-righteous, fearful and ignorant behavior that they display towards Christ. When we incite others to hate an individual or some particular group of people, we are in essence crucifying Christ all over again. It is sad to say that Good Friday does not come only once a year. Whenever we hate or allow others to hate from ignorance and fear, we create another Good Friday. It also comes whenever we violently abandon ourselves because we believe we are defective and try to become like someone else we think others will love. Christ is in us individually. It is personally working with Christ, facing and growing from our struggles, that the Easter resurrection happens in us. It is with every step that we take courageously with Christ, allowing Christ’s love and words to support and guide us in all of our personal struggles, do we become His new creation. It is by once again finding that love for self not to abandon ourselves as no good or defective but to care for ourselves as we would for any child. This is the work we need to be responsible for, and not to abandon ourselves and search like a roaring lion for someone else or group to devour with our anger and self-hatred. 

WHERE WILL WE BE ON GOOD FRIDAY? Are we one of the crowd yelling “Crucify him, crucify him!”, because we never met Christ in our personal struggles? Or, are we with Christ courageously facing ourselves and our personal struggles, as we step by step become His new creation, leaving behind our false identity. The people in the crowd, screaming “Crucify him, crucify him,” will experience no new life after Christ dies. They will anxiously need to find another target to vent their self-anger and self-hatred. However, the monster that they are seeking is not out there somewhere, but within themselves. Their sprits will not be at rest until they find Christ within and begin facing their own personal struggles. 

My “coming out” has taken over 40 years. I was fortunate to have the education, the input from many, many credible and reliable sources, as well as many years of professional counseling to help me better understand the meaning of my sexual orientation and to be able to accept it. To my friends I jokingly say I have bought my counselor a fleet of Lincolns. But, I knew it would be valuable for me and I would be much better able to help others. I truly believe what I was told at the Trappist Abbey, if you want your congregation to be healthy, get healthy yourself first. I am not at all ashamed of my sexual orientation. I have been and remain a faithful priest. I am not concerned for people who will react like the Pharisees [church leaders]. Jesus wasn’t able throughout the Gospels to help them. I am concerned about those who may be trouble or confused by whatever I have said. I would be very willing to meet with you to discuss your concerns. Please write me personally in two or three sentences explaining your concerns, listing your name and phone number. I will then schedule a general meeting date for those parishioners.

We are all on a journey to make a difference in this world as we follow Christ’s example. As individual members of the parish, we each must face our own personal problems and struggles in growing. We collectively made a safe environment for people to become the creation God made us to be. In the past twelve years, we have all worked very hard following Christ. We were able to build a large new addition to continue Christ’s work in us all. We have struggled so faithfully in His mission and have made a big difference for others. My term as pastor was for twelve years. It will be complete this, June 30, 1997. This by far will be the hardest place I ever had to leave. It has been a bit of a miracle to see what a community can do when we all focus intently on the authentic truth and the love of Christ. May God bless you all for all your kindness to Holy Family Parish and to me. 

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Marin S. Kurylowicz


March 7-9, 1997

“New Ways Ministry Symposium” Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaSr. Jeannine Gramick, SSND, & Father Robert Nugent, SDS, Co-Founders

June 28, 1997 

The Grand Rapids Press 

Kurylowicz comes out By Charley Honey, Religion Editor

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference said Kurylowicz's coming out to his congregation, first in a newsletter then from the pulpit on Holy Thursday, is "unprecedented." "No one knows of anyone who has spoken of this from the pulpit," said Sister Mary Ann Walsh. The Catholic Church, she added, would "question the wisdom of bringing your own issues into the pulpit." Kurylowicz says he had to speak out to call attention to the pain of gays and their families -- a pain he experienced most of his adult life.

September 1o, 1997

"Always Our Children" A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers document writtien by the United States Catholic Bishops Conference

October 8, 1997 


In the Ordinary Session of October 8, 1997, the Cardinals and Bishops who make up the Congregation judged that the statements of Father Nugent and Sister Gramick, which had been identified through the above-mentioned procedure of the Regulations for Doctrinal Examination, were in fact erroneous and dangerous.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

+ Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect [Pope Benedict XVI]

To read more: 

The following is Fr. Robert Nugent’s and Sr. Jeannine Gramick’s account of the Vatican investigation into their ministry to homosexuals. Many of the documents and letter mentioned in this account are also available on NCR’s website. (National Catholic Reporter)

Read more

Family Acceptance Project - building healthy futures for youth

Groundbreaking Research on Family Rejection of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Adolescents Establishes Predictive Link to Negative Health Outcomes

1 comment:

Boo said...


I would like to share with you a good ebook that's free to help pastors and their wives with discouragement and burnout. You can find it at: . It's quite helpful.

If you have pastor friends or even their wives, we are currently inviting pastors and pastor wives to join charter membership club for free for 2 months,you might want to share this with them. You may visit for more information.

We would also like to invite you to view our video on this topic at

Feel free to share this with your friends or people you care for.