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History

 

A prayer, written during the transition of our community to Farm Street church, from the church of the Assumption, Warwick Street, and for all of us, as we journey on.

 

THEY'RE PROPHETS, LORD, AND THEY'RE GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL, & TRANSGENDERED

They stand inside your Church, and know a wholeness that can benefit it. Long ago they learned that they must regard the lilies of the field, putting their trust in you. Pressured to hide their identities and gifts, they have served you with an unyielding, fierce love inside the same Church that condemned them. Taught that they must feel self-loathing, nevertheless they learned integrity and dignity, and how to look into your face and laugh with grateful joy, Lord. Victims of a long and continuing torture, they asserted a stubborn faith in the justice of your kingdom. Negativism was drummed into them as thoroughly as if they were sheet metal. They learned what it is to be hated. Yet, despite such rejection, they insisted on attesting to the fullness and beauty of all human creation, including theirs, in your image. They are alive and well and standing inside your Church. Bless them, Lord, for they are true missionaries. Amen.

 

Bernárd J. Lynch

(with permission)

Thank you Bernárd

LGBT+ Catholics Westminster is the RC Diocese of Westminster’s official pastoral outreach to LGBT+ Catholics. The LGBT+ Catholics Westminster group extends a warm welcome to all LGBT+ Catholics, their friends, partners and families and indeed to all people of good will, LGBT+ or not. All are welcome in the house of God. Outside of Covid-19 lockdowns, we meet as a community to attend the 17:30 evening Mass on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, 114 Mount Street, Mayfair, London W1K 3AH. Please see our posts for more information on Mass times and other activities during Covid-19 times.

 

 

We provide below a short history of the evolution of LGBT+ Catholics Westminster.

 

Masses in Westminster Diocese, welcoming LGBT+ Catholics, parents, families and friends, began in April 1999 on the Sunday following the bombing of the Admiral Duncan public-house in Old Compton Street. These liturgies were first held in the Convent of the Helpers of the Holy Souls in Camden Town, London.

 

When the convent property was sold in 2001, the LGBT+ worshiping community relocated temporarily to St. Anne’s Anglican Church, Dean Street, Soho. As the congregation enlarged in its Soho location, it eventually outgrew the space available.

 

In March 2007, following a period of consultation with Diocesan representatives, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered Catholics, parents and friends were invited to transfer the 1st & 3rd Sunday 5.00 pm Masses from St. Anne’s Anglican Church, Soho to the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St. Gregory, Warwick Street, Soho. A statement encouraging “full and active participation” by LGBT Catholics in the life of the Church was issued by the Diocese of Westminster on 2 February 2007. The Soho Masses Pastoral Council was invited to make its own statement regarding the initiative. A further statement from Westminster Diocese confirming this pastoral provision was released on 17 December 2007.

 

The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St. Gregory, Warwick Street, Soho, is one of the most historic churches in the Diocese of Westminster, reaching back to 1724. British History Online suggests that due to the ministrations of clergy serving the then Royal Bavarian Embassy chapel in 1780, the area may have been a focus for English Catholics to gather around, with 1000 people, including Catholics, living in St. James’ Parish and many more in St. Anne’s Parish, Soho. Other references suggest that in the latter part of the 18th & 19th centuries, parts of this area offered refuge to poorer people who served the better-off merchants living in nearby Mayfair. The “Portuguese Chapel” and St. Anne’s Parish Church were noted for their ministry to the poor. There are, therefore, historical precedents in reaching out to marginalised groups in the area.

 

The regular 1st & 3rd Sundays’ evening congregation at the Church of the Assumption had a regular attendance of well over 100, but there was estimated overall contact with 250-300 people, some being occasional participants. These masses were served by a rota of 15 priests from a variety of dioceses and religious communities, some of whom were resident or work in Westminster Diocese. The Soho Masses Pastoral Council, 12 people, elected on an annual basis by regular Mass participants, was responsible for planning these liturgies, and a number of other pastoral events.

 

Present day

 

In early 2013, the Church of the Assumption was given over to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the body set up Pope Benedict XVI to welcome Anglicans at odds with the Church of England's position on female clergy into the Roman Catholic church. As a result, the LGBT+ community worshipping at the Church of the Assumption was invited to move to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, administered by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Outside of Covid-19 lockdown, we participate in and attend the 17:30 evening parish mass on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month, and provide refreshments and socializing in the parish hall afterwards. During the year, we provide a range of pastoral and social activities, and members of the community participate in various aspects of the wider parish life.

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