Sheil launches first LGBTQ prayer group

Sheil+Catholic+Center+will+hold+a+special+prayer+group+on+Feb.+6+for+members+of+the+LGBTQ+community.+The+group+will+stay+true+to+the+Catholic+Church%E2%80%99s+stance+on+homosexuality.
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Sheil launches first LGBTQ prayer group

Sheil Catholic Center will hold a special prayer group on Feb. 6 for members of the LGBTQ community. The group will stay true to the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality.

Sheil Catholic Center will hold a special prayer group on Feb. 6 for members of the LGBTQ community. The group will stay true to the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality.

Sean Hong/Daily Senior Staffer

Sheil Catholic Center will hold a special prayer group on Feb. 6 for members of the LGBTQ community. The group will stay true to the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality.

Sean Hong/Daily Senior Staffer

Sean Hong/Daily Senior Staffer

Sheil Catholic Center will hold a special prayer group on Feb. 6 for members of the LGBTQ community. The group will stay true to the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality.

Alice Yin, Reporter

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Sheil Catholic Center will launch a new prayer group next week in an effort to create a safe space for Northwestern students who identify as LGBTQ.

McCormick junior Bryan Matias spearheaded the establishment of the weekly support group, which intends to support students in the LGBTQ community through teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church does not condemn members of the LGBTQ outright. According to the Church, it is only acting upon sexual desire that violates a person’s relationship with God.

The group, which will meet for the first time Feb. 6 at 8 p.m., will be structured similarly to Sheil’s “Prayer Buddies” program, which pairs people to pray with one another. Sheil is also considering developing a mentorship system, depending on demand.

“It’ll vary depending on what the people that come want to talk about,” Matias said. “At the beginning of the meeting, we’ll write down questions, anonymously, and have a free discussion within the limits of being respectful.”

The idea has been discussed for a few years, waiting for a student like Matias to take initiative, said Mary Deeley, Sheil Pastoral Associate who worked with Matias on the development. A few members of Rainbow Alliance, including board member Peter Cleary, have helped with the group’s establishment and will be present at the kickoff next week.

To help maintain a student-friendly environment, no adult Sheil staff member will be present during the meetings, Deeley said. She said the group is open to anyone interested in tolerant discussion. Sheil hopes to build an accepting place for students to come to terms with any questions and struggles and without judgment.

“It’s not typically something that you advertise. At Mass, you don’t say ‘Hi, I’m queer,’” Matias said.

Sheil believes this group will dispel many of the misconceptions surrounding the Church’s stance on the LGBTQ community.

“There are individuals in the Church who have been hurtful — saying they’re going to hell — which isn’t the official stance of the Church,” Deeley said. “They aren’t doing something wrong by being what they are.”

Sheil has had members with varying opinions on the LGBTQ community. Still, Deeley and Matias say they will ultimately stick to the Church’s teachings in order to keep it spiritually anchored. Though the group will allow people to have differences of opinion, it will not purposely misinterpret the Church’s teachings, they said.

The Rainbow Alliance board will announce this event to members through its email list. In the past, the group has had discussions about the intersection of religion and sexuality, Cleary said, though nothing to this extent.

“It’s important to foster healthy dialogue about spirituality, because there’s still ambiguity there,” Cleary, the Weinberg junior, said. “It’s not always super clear where the school stands.”

Email: aliceyin2017@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @alice__yin

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