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Campus Ministry, Gender Relations to host LGBTQ retreat

| Friday, February 2, 2018

A Campus Ministry and Gender Relations retreat geared towards LGBTQ students will take place Saturday afternoon at the Sacred Heart Parish Center.

Open to the Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross community, the six-hour retreat aims to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) students recognize that God is calling them to love others through the unique grace of being LGBTQ, Fr. Joe Corpora, the Campus Ministry chaplain to LGBTQ students, said.

“​[My goal is] that students will leave the retreat being more convinced of God’s merciful love no matter what,” Corpora said in an email. “There will be presentations, discussions, time for quiet prayer and, of course, celebration of the Mass and dinner. There will also be an opportunity to go to confession.”

Corpora said the retreat, which costs $10, is specifically focused on LGBTQ students and he expects its atmosphere to be a “prayerful quiet day” with time for presentations and discussion​.

As the main speaker of the retreat, alumnus Matt Devine (‘15) said he will be discussing the idea that the Catholic and LGBTQ communities are not mutually exclusive despite some perceptions of it.

“There is a difference between being a Catholic for me and being a Catholic within the institution of Catholicism and that’s something that I do find hard to reconcile and I understand how other people do as well,” Devine said. “But I have found such great peace; being Catholic is how I see the world as well as being a member of the LGBT community.”

Devine said he feels lucky to be in a position in which he feels comfortable enough to come back on campus, share his experiences and “rewrite history.”

“I‘m excited to see where Notre Dame has come over the even three years since I’ve been there,” he said. “Three years ago I could not have thought that 20 people would be on this retreat. As of Monday there was 17 people who had signed up and registered to come which is kind of baffling to me.”

The idea of an LGBTQ retreat was started over 20 years ago out of Campus Ministry, Tami Schmitz, Campus Ministry’s associate director of pastoral care, said.

“We wanted to give students from the LGBTQ community an opportunity to gather, pray and share stories of their lives within a faith context,” she said in an email. “The retreat has taken different forms over the years. Sometimes it’s over a whole weekend and sometimes it’s an afternoon of reflection.”

Senior Liam Maher said he decided to register for this year’s retreat because as a gay Catholic, he appreciates opportunities to engage his faith in a holistic manner.

“I think retreats like this are so important for LGBTQ Catholics because it gives us the opportunity to affirm our identity at a time when many exterior pressures can make it difficult to see the good in who we are as people,” he said.

Maher said he doesn’t often get to speak about his life, spirituality and theology as someone different from “the heteronormative mainstream.”

“I am so grateful to Campus Ministry for planning and executing such an inclusive and thoughtful event,” Maher said. “It gives me hope for the future of our church and the Notre Dame community.”

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About Kelli Smith

Kelli Smith is a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame. Originally from El Paso, Texas, she is currently serving as Associate News Editor at the Observer and is pursuing a double major in political science and film, television and theatre with minors in journalism and computing.

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