There is a long history of LGBTQ presence at the Church of Saint Paul the Apostle, the Mother Church of the Paulists in New York City. LGBTQ persons have been active in the life of the parish for many years, including during the height of the H.I.V./AIDS epidemic beginning in the 1980s. We are recognized on Saint Paul’s website as a formal ministry of the church.
Our formal LGBTQ ministry began in the early 2010s when a group of parishioners under the leadership of our former pastor, Paulist Father Gil Martinez, started Out at Saint Paul (OSP). Our mission statement reads: “Out @ St Paul is the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Ministry of our parish at St. Paul the Apostle in New York City, which seeks to engage our Catholic faith through service to our community, social activities and the exploration of Catholic spirituality.”
We explore our Catholic spirituality by coming together to worship at the 5:00 p.m. Mass every Sunday and through hosting events where we learn about the theology and history of our Catholic faith. Every month, we have a Bible study where we explore the Scriptures and talk about them from our experiences as LGBTQ persons.
Some of the highlights of our calendar are the annual retreat, where we take a weekend to get out of the city and reflect on our Catholic faith together, and our Pride Mass, celebrated at the Stonewall National Monument every June, where we remember our LGBTQ history and offer a public witness to queer Catholics.
A few years ago, a few enterprising members of Out at Saint Paul’s created a short documentary on the lives and witness of several of our parishioners. We share a commitment to social justice with several organizations, including Covenant House, New York’s largest provider of services to young people experiencing homelessness. We maintain and continually update a calendar of events on our website.
We serve our wider New York community in a variety of ways, including with a monthly dinner service at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, where we share a meal with persons living with H.I.V./AIDS. We enjoy coming together for social activities, such as a trip to the Metropolitan Opera or a happy hour at one of the local gay bars near our church. Such occasions provide a chance to enjoy each other’s company, and sometimes to share our faith with others who are surprised to see a group of Catholics at a gay bar.
At OSP, we are committed to addressing the crucial issues affecting our church and wider society. We have hosted events addressing racism, misogyny and transphobia in the LGBTQ community. We seek to be a place where all are welcome, no matter where a person is on their faith journey. If you ever find yourself in New York, please come visit us and know that you have a home at the Church of Saint Paul the Apostle.