DignityUSA Convention Sets Course for the Future
Washington, DC, September 14, 1999 — At its August biennial national conference in Denver, CO, DignityUSA positioned itself for its twofold work of ministry for and by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics and their families and friends, and of education and reform of Church and society.
On October 1, 1999, Mary Louise Cervone of Philadelphia, PA will become president of the thirty-year old organization, founded in 1969. Ms. Cervone is a certified public accountant in private practice and has previously served DignityUSA as treasurer and vice president and as president of her local chapter.
Joining Ms. Cervone will be Patrick McArron of San Diego, CA as vice president; Peggy Burns of Boston, MA as secretary; and Joseph Sinico of Rio Rancho, NM as treasurer. Ms. Cervone said: "I am excited and hopeful about the future of Dignity in the next century, and am honored to serve as its next president. The leadership team looks forward to partnering with our member chapters as we re-imagine Dignity — who we are and what we do, expanding our ministry, and shaping the future of our church and our world in the 21st century."
Out going DignityUSA President Robert Miailovich extended his best wishes and pledge of support to the new officer team and said: "The many years of experience which Mary Louise and her team bring to our leadership is a very positive omen for the continued success of the Dignity movement."
All concerned also expressed their praise and excitement over the several policy positions taken at the convention by the gathered delegates from across the nation. Below are highlights of some of the actions taken by DignityUSA.
- DignityUSA expressed its support for Father Robert Nugent, SDS and Sister Jeannine Gramick, SSND, whose ministry to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons was recently disciplined by the Vatican and urged that the decision be reversed. DignityUSA also stated its deep concern that there has been a violation of justice principles and is calling for a nationwide day of protest.
- DignityUSA voted to join its voice with that of the Catholic hierarchy and other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organizations in opposing capital punishment. As heinous as are several recent hate-crime motivated murders involving our community, the death penalty for the perpetrators is not what we want.
- DignityUSA expressed its intention to seek opportunities to work with others in the Catholic Church who are not associated with Dignity but who seek to do ministry for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, or who work for the reform and renewal of the institutional Church. The delegates adopted a 12-point list of reforms of Catholic Church governance, which is a basis for working in coalition with other progressive organizations. Most of the points deal with creating a greater degree of collegiality and consultation in the making of church appointments and decisions.
- In this light, DignityUSA defined its own role as seeking to foster a Church with a comfortable and welcoming worship environment, an access for all to the sacraments, an affirmation and willingness to discuss our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender identities, a recognition of same sex relationships, support for the families we create, inclusion of women and sexual minorities in all levels of Church structure and life, a faith-based advocacy for civil rights, and a renewed structure of church governance that protects the rights of all its members.
- Internally, DignityUSA created a category of "supporting member" for those who may wish to support our movement but are not part of a particular chapter; adopted action plans for increasing membership; began a process to consider possible structural changes in the DignityUSA organization; and committed itself to development of resources for chapters with a shortage of priests to minister to them.
- An official vision statement, summarizing who and what we are, was adopted. It says: "DignityUSA envisions and works for a time when gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender prophets are affirmed and experience dignity through the integration of their spirituality with their sexuality and as beloved persons of God, participate fully in all aspects of life within the Church and Society." This statement is important as a short distillation of Dignity's history and the longer documents that define it.
- Flowing from its work on many issues, DignityUSA agreed to a prayer to guide its work. It says: "We, as members of Dignity, pray that we make decisions which are rooted in the uniqueness of our ministry, as sons and daughters of a loving God, choosing actions which are defined as life-giving, and displaying the courage and commitment to revitalize our spirituality and energize our message. We pray this in the name of our loving Redeemer, Jesus. Amen."
A copy of the full text of all resolutions is available upon request.
DignityUSA, founded in 1969, is the nation's largest organization of Catholic lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender persons, and their loved ones, families and friends.