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Conference 2017 Website

A Place at the Table

Workshop Breakout Descriptions

Jean Beebe: Meditation, Mindfulness, and Social Activism

How do we who seek to address social injustice ground ourselves spiritually? Jean Beebe will address how the practice of meditation, used in many religious traditions globally, can nourish the soul and the body. Jean brings expertise in meditation among LGBTQI people to our gathering.


Krzysztof Charamsa:  The Pathological Constitution of the Catholic Doctrine on Homosexuality

The former Assistant Secretary of the International Theological Commission of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will draw on his personal experience to tell us about the factors that contribute to the homophobic and transphobic texts and actions that originate in the Congregation. He calls the Vatican “intensely homoerotic and intensely homophobic.” What will it take to affect this culture, and to reverse the negative impacts of the dogma that it generates?


Michele Dillon: Table of Plenty: Catholicism with Francis

This well-known scholar of Catholic attitudes will present an analysis of the church’s struggle with the regularization of same-sex relationships as evidenced in the Synod on the Family, Amoris Laetitia, and subsequent statements, and how dogma, doctrine, and faith in practice clash. Where do Dignity and similar movements fit into the Church under Francis’ leadership? How can the richness of Catholic tradition feed the multitudes in these challenging times?


Bob Linscott: LGBT Aging Project of Fenway Community Health

What are the particular challenges faced by LGBTQI elders, and what is the role of faith communities in addressing their needs? Bob Linscott will provide an overview of the barriers LGBTQI elders can face in trying to access medical and social supports, resources available, and things caregivers need to know.


The Aging Project’s second session will consist of a screening of the award-winning documentary “Gen Silent.” The film follows six LGBT elders as they try to navigate the long-term care system. Will they need to hide their identity to survive? What is the impact of coming of age in the pre-Stonewall era? View the film and join the discussion.


Casey and Mary Ellen Lopata: 20 Years of Always Our Children: Significance Then and Now?

The co-founders of Fortunate Families, a ministry for Catholic parents of LGBT children, will reflect on the significance of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Always Our Children on the document’s 10th anniversary. What impact has this pastoral message to parents had in our Church and in the larger society? How is it being used now, in parishes, by families, and by advocates?


Jamie Manson: The Ethical Framework of "Just Love"

Jamie will discuss a viable sexual ethics for the modern LGBTQI and ally community based on the framework of Margaret Farley, RSM’s Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics. How do we enter into relationships in a way that is just and not dictated by heteronormative or cisgender-normative standards? The Friday afternoon session will be particularly geared for young adults. An important conversation for our community.


Louis Mitchell: Inclusivity, Diversity, and Relationship Building

All of us have deep-seated biases. Each of us operates at times from privilege, and at times from a place of oppression. How do we navigate complex and ever-changing networks of relationships—casual and deep—in a way that acknowledges but transcends these realities and allows us to create authentic, respectful, and enriching relationships with a wide variety of people? How can faith facilitate this process? Join Plenary Speaker Louis Mitchell for an important conversation.

Rev. Irene Monroe: Intersectional Activism as a Spiritual Practice

This talk provides spiritual guidance to help promote social action.

It looks at holistic and inclusive approaches of working on multiple issues- misogyny, xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or homophobia, to name a few- by doing the following:

  • addressing their complexities and intersectionality,  
  • action occurring in balance with each other,
  • developing strategies and tactics that are just as important as understanding the issues.


The above-mentioned objectives will allow for broader solutions to social justice problems that address multiple movements simultaneously and different dimensions of intersectional activism that single-issue organizing failed to recognize.


Nina Morrison: Making Space at the Table: Using Movement to Envision the Future

We bring our entire bodies, not just our minds, to our various tables. This experiential workshop will use theater movement techniques to explore feelings and emotions of belonging as individuals and as community. It will also offer an opportunity to try out new approaches. A different, deeply spiritual way, to explore how we interact with others.


James Nickoloff: A Catholic Gift:  Three Paths to God

One of the strengths of the Catholic tradition is its equal emphasis on the experiences of Beauty, Reason, and Justice as ways in which we meet God and God meets us.  This workshop will invite participants to reflect on their own aesthetic, intellectual, and ethical experiences as encounters with the Holy One.


Lula Ramires and Warry Joanita Ssenfuka: A Truly International Table

Our Church is a global network, reaching to all corners of the world. In this session, we will hear about the experiences of Catholic LGBTQI activists from Brazil and Uganda. Lula Ramires is a coordinator of a group of LGBTQI Catholics in the most Catholic nation on earth, and is on the planning team of a Global Catholic Synod planned for 2018 in Brazil. Warry Ssenfuka is the Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), and has been active in almost every recent effort to advance rights for LGBTQI people in her country. She is also on the Board of Sexual Minorities Uganda, and a plaintiff in the Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Scott Lively lawsuit, seeking to stop the export of religiously motivated anti-LGBTQI propaganda.


Walter Robinson: The Use of Investigative Reporting for the Advancement of Justice

The editor of the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team who oversaw the reporting on the clergy sexual abuse and coverup scandals in the Archdiocese of Boston will share his thoughts about how investigative journalism can further social justice issues. A particularly timely discussion!


Ellyn Ruthstrom: Telling LGBTQ Stories to Create Social Change

SpeakOUT Boston believes in the power of personal storytelling to make positive change in the world. For almost 45 years, SpeakOUT has been training members of the LGBTQIA community to tell personal stories in an engaging way and to foster dialogues within schools, colleges, businesses, religious classes, organizations and more. We speak from our hearts. We speak from our own experiences. We speak to dispel stereotypes. We speak to let other members of the LGBTQIA community know they are not alone.


Transgender Support Caucus: Trans Catholic Voices

How do we ensure that there is a place at the table for transgender persons, both in our churches and in society? What are the core issues facing transgender Catholics today? How do we create a Church that is inclusive and affirming? What do we think about the recent statements by Pope Francis and other church officials regarding gender theory and what might we glean from Bible passages that may allude to gender variances? What might the Catholic Church learn from other inclusive Christian, Jewish, and non-denominational churches and what steps can we take to influence Catholic doctrine regarding transgender persons?


Join DignityUSA’s Transgender Support Caucus members Lauren Carpenter, Linda Roberts, Fredrikka Maxwell and other panelists for a conversation addressing these questions and more.