Chicago, IL, March 14, 2001 — DignityUSA, the nation's oldest and largest advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Roman Catholics, will hold its 15th biennial convention in Chicago, IL July 5-8, 2001 at the Westin Hotel on North Michigan Avenue.
With Dignity: Purifying Fire, Renewing Spirit as its theme, the convention will call GLBT Catholics to an examination of the impact Dignity has had in over thirty years of seeking full inclusion and acceptance of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered persons in the life of the Roman Catholic Church and in our society.
The convention's keynote speaker, Christian de la Huerta, is the author of the best-selling and critically acclaimed Coming Out Spiritually: The Next Step. De la Huerta's talk is titled "Renewing Spirit — Reclaiming Our Spiritual Heritage" and will address the idea that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people have a deep and rich spiritual history that must be understood and celebrated.
Said Executive Director Marianne Duddy, "We are pleased to have Christian de la Huerta speak to us about reclaiming our spirituality as GLBT people. So many of us have given up on that part of our lives because we have been told that we have no right to be spiritual and accepting of our sexuality. Dignity is here to say 'nothing could be further from the truth.' Mr. de la Huerta makes a strong argument that it is time for us to acknowledge how important our spirituality is, in our individual lives and in striving for justice for our community."
DignityUSA President Mary Louise Cervone, said, "There is truly a renewing spirit blowing through Dignity here at the beginning of the 21st Century. Prior to the convention, our House of Delegates will gather to discuss, debate and examine the Re-Imaging Dignity initiative which seeks to restructure the organization and its programs to better meet the needs of GLBT Catholics, our families, our Church and society."
The convention will consist of a series of workshops, major addresses and opportunities for both private and communal prayer. Among the key workshop leaders are Sister Jeannine Gramick, forbidden by the Vatican from continuing her 30-plus years ministry to GLBT Catholics and their families; psychologist and author (What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality) Daniel Helminiak and theologian and co-founder of WATER, Mary Hunt, who will lead a panel discussion on the morality, ethics and sexuality for GLBT persons; and John McNeill, a former Jesuit silenced by the Vatican, psychotherapist, retreat leader, and author of four influential books on GLBT spirituality.
Dignity will introduce a special track of workshops and caucuses focused on GLBT youth at this convention. The workshops will address ministry with GLBT youth by adults and how GLBT youth minister to each other. Said president Cervone, "This is an effort on Dignity's part to take up its responsibility to make sure our young people know that there is a place for them in the Church. There are many young folks who are just coming to terms with their sexuality and are questioning whether that means they have to give up on their relationship with God. We want to spread the word that Dignity can provide a safe and nurturing place for them to find the answer to those questions — that their sexuality is not a burden, but rather a gift from God."
The workshops will also include sessions focused on ministry with persons with HIV, building interpersonal relationships, women's and men's spirituality, leadership training, and legal issues facing GLBT persons as they work to safeguard their families.
The homilist for the convention's major liturgy will be Linda Pieczynski, a member of Dignity and former president of Chicago-based Call To Action, an organization seeking progressive change in the Roman Catholic Church.
Said James Bussen, chair of the convention committee, "Chicago is pleased to host Dignity members from across the nation at this convention. We hope that Chicago's wind will help fan the flames of renewal for the attendees and the organization."
15th Biennial Convention
July, 5, 6, 7, & 8, 2001
The Westin Hotel
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