“All Are Welcome” Loretto Welcomes Jeannine Gramick SL
by Maureen Fiedler SL
For me, the most compelling symbol of the day came early. On the road in front of the Motherhouse, two men walked and talked quietly, holding hands. They obviously felt at home, accepted, welcomed. Within minutes, the opening hymm of the Eucharist burst forth: "All are welcome...All are welcome in this place..." It was sung with such power that it seemed it could be heard from Louisville to Lexington. Indeed, I thought with pride, all *are* welcome. This day, June 26th, Loretto members joined more that 60 other guests to celebrate Jeannine Gramick's incorporation into Loretto. Those who have been part of Jeannine's ministry, gay men and lesbians and the parents of gays and lesbians, joined sisters from Jeannine's former SSND community and scores of others for a Eucharist followed by a festive dinner and party. The celebrant was Bishop Leroy Matthiesen, retired Bishop of Amarillo, Texas. The service focused on four major influences in Jeannine's life. Amy Stenson, former Loretto volunteer at New Ways Ministry and co-member in process, talked about Jeannine's family, especially the inspiration of her father who passed away earlier this year. Marie DeChantal Haigley SSND briefly recounted Jeannine's 40 years as an SSND, expressing both sadness and good wishes for Jeannine in Loretto. Frank DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, told how a gay man, Dominic Bash, challenged Jeannine in 1971 with a question that led to her lifelong ministry, "What is the Church doing for my gay brothers and sisters?" Mary Ann Coyle SL told of Jeannine's love for Loretto. Mary Catherine Rabbitt SL officiated at Jeannine's vows and recieved them in the name of the community- to sustained applause. After the liturgy, guests gathered for dinner in a rainbow-decorated room. After great homespun entertainment, Jeannine invited out-of-town guests to say why they came. One couple with three gay sons said they felt "alone" in the Church until they met Jeannine- someone who finally understood. A Maryknoll sister thanked Jeannine for her books because they had been very helpful in dealing with gay/lesbian issues in the Philippines. A lesbian couple testified that they are committed Catholics today because Jeannine welcomed and affirmed them in a Church where they had felt rejected. All the stories caught the theme of the day: "All are welcome..." in Jeannine's heart and in Loretto.