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prize winners

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Apr 16, 2007

Back in 1999, Boston Magazine celebrated creation spirituality in its Best of Boston contest, giving the Best Place to Meet a Gay Mate award to

The Jesuit Urban Center, South End. True, many happy couples found their love in the Ralph Lauren paint department of Homo Depot -- er, Home Depot. But Sunday morning Mass at the Jesuit Urban Center spawns more blessed pairings. The Urban Center's liturgy is both classic and contemporary; its mixed congregation is mostly gay; its AIDS and HIV support programs are some of the best in town; and its coffee hour is a great place to get phone numbers. 775 Harrison Avenue, Boston, 617-536-8440.

Today, alas, the Boston Globe brings the sad news that those blessed pairings will need to spawn elsewhere.

The Jesuit Urban Center, a predominantly gay Catholic congregation in Boston's South End, will close at the end of July, and the landmark church in which services are held will be put up for sale, the Jesuit religious order announced yesterday.

Congregants who can afford carfare will still be able to worship at the few remaining churches that don't conduct a Libidinal Orthopathy Screening at the door:

[The Jesuit Provincial superior] said that the Jesuits would continue to welcome gays and lesbians to worship at St. Ignatius of Loyola , the parish they oversee in Chestnut Hill, and that there are two other downtown congregations that have been reaching out to gay Catholics, the Paulist Center on Beacon Hill and St. Anthony Shrine, operated by the Franciscans, near Downtown Crossing. ...

[chop]

"I, and my friends, while not surprised, were saddened," said Dr. Juan Jaime de Zengotita, who has worshiped at the Jesuit Urban Center for four years. "This comes after a few years of rough times for gay Catholics, with Vatican and local Episcopal declarations that have not been so friendly. I don't know what will be the future of gay ministry."

I suppose there's always the Ralph Lauren paint department of Home Depot. After all, anyone interested in cleaving to the Church instead of changing her would walk into the nearest Catholic parish, whatever it happened to be.

Some folks, however, convince themselves they have special needs. For those that demand inscape in their outreach, only The Best will do. Perhaps it's no coincidence that the Jesuit Urban Center's Manhattan counterpart caught the admiring attention of the Village Voice (2001) for its non-judgmental ministry of reconciliation for Thinking Catholics:

Best Place to 'Fess Up -- ST. FRANCIS XAVIER CHURCH: No black box. A priest in a sweater and khakis sits you by a big open window and chats with you about your problems in a nonjudgmental way. Says things like "No matter what you choose, you are loved in the eyes of God." (This was in reference to me telling him I wanted to kiss a girl.) Here, sexuality is as fluid as the blood of Christ. Amen.

Comfort. Being comfortable with who I am. That's the message God became man to communicate to us.

Well, to those better dressed among us.

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