April 7, 2016 Dear DignityUSA,
I joined Dignity/ Pittsburgh in the summer of 1981. We had 45-50 members. We met at St. Pamphilus, a Roman Catholic Church under the pastoral care of Franciscan Friars. Now we are in 2016 and I can truly say without hesitation that... “our Pittsburgh chapter has finally grown to become a community, a faith family.” For years we were struggling to become a community.
In the last couple of years Rev. William (Bill) and Donna Podobinski returned to our chapter. Though actively absent for a couple years due to health reasons, they always lovingly supported us in prayer and financially since their initial association in 2001. Both of them and I are Board Directors for CITI Ministries, Inc. CITI Ministries is an organization that promotes the ministries of married priests and building up of small faith communities. Rev. Bill and Donna became our spiritual parents. The Spirit worked with Bill, Donna, and our core group to form our community, a family where all find a place to call “home”.
Bill presides at our weekly celebration of our Eucharistic Liturgy, occasionally with a guest celebrant. We began to have more members of the transgender community attend our liturgies. One member said that when she first came to Dignity/ Pittsburgh, it was as she was beginning her transition, and in need of a spiritual home. We were the family she needed. Now she serves on our Council as our Vice President along with our other dedicated Council Members: Treasurer Donna B., Secretary Joe H., Community Representative Tom J, and yours truly as our president.
We have been successful at having the founding members of Dignity/Pittsburgh gather together with our currently active members for an annual Reunion Summer Picnic, as well as a Spring Potluck Dinner. We also plan an outdoor Eucharistic Liturgy at one of our member’s homes. Bill and Donna P host a game night each Thursday evening for our members and supporters. This past Holy Thursday, those attending game night also celebrated
Eucharist together with the simplicity of those who gathered with Jesus at His Last Supper. Donna P provides us with a “spiritual snack” seven times a day in an email to help us remain centered in our indwelling source of peace and love, Jesus’ Spirit, through all circumstances.
Three of our members, Donna B, and Bill and Donna P, serve on the planning committee for the Circle of Faith annual June Outdoor Program, which began four years ago. This COF gathering is a public interfaith welcome and inclusion program for LGBT individuals, their families, and their allies in the Pittsburgh area.
I am Dignity’s representative for Shepherd Wellness which is a community in service and ministry for those affected by HIV/AIDS. We are also blessed to have Shepherd Wellness’ founder FR Lynn C. Edwards joining us for our Sunday evening liturgies and socials.
We have helped in the Pittsburgh area in the service and feeding of our homeless population. During our Sunday evening social following liturgy, Donna P prepares a “one-pot-meal” for us to share along with home-baked desserts.
We will be having a retreat this May, facilitated by our past spiritual director and president.
We have welcomed the incorporation of a couple’s marriage vows with a ceremony during our Sunday evening Eucharistic celebrations with the supportive presence of our faith community.
We are glad to have a relationship with DignityUSA and look forward to more networking.
Dignity/Pittsburgh meets for liturgy every Sunday at 5:00 p.m. at the Church of the Redeemer, 5700 Forbes Avenue, Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh PA, 15217.