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Friday, April 19, 2024
The Observer

Tri-Campus Thursday: ‘No one has to clean up their act to be accepted and loved by God’ — Dillon Hall hosts LGBTQ+ Mass

Saturday evening, a crowd of about 20 students and faculty members trickled into Dillon Hall, past a cart of Jimmy John’s sandwiches promising a post-worship meal, and into St. Patrick’s Chapel. The group gathered to celebrate an LGBTQ+ Mass presided over by Fr. Joe Corpora, C.S.C., and Fr. Robert Lisowski, C.S.C. 

Advertised in a student government email as part of Pridefest events occurring last Thursday through Saturday, this Mass is actually a monthly occurrence organized by Fr. Corpora, Interim Director for Multicultural Outreach in Campus Ministry and Dillon Hall’s priest-in-residence.

“I’m trying to respond to the Pope’s plea that we live among the people,” Fr. Corpora said. 

The Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Lent was from the 15th chapter of Luke, the parable of the prodigal son. The passage tells the story of two brothers, one who wastes his inheritance on a life of sin and excess and one who stays with his father, behaving as he believes he ought to. The lesson of the parable comes from the way the father welcomes the prodigal son back home, although the other son is appalled that his father would celebrate his wayward son and not he, the seemingly more righteous of the two. 

Fr. Joe’s homily addressed the similarities between the two seemingly opposite sons. The fault in both sons, Fr. Joe said, was that they had their own ideas of what would bring them happiness, and both were wrong. This resulted in one son who believed he was too good to need salvation and another who believed he was too bad to deserve it. 

“Today’s Gospel is about salvation, which is our inheritance,” Fr. Joe said. “You cannot earn it, so don’t even try. You cannot lose it, no matter how much of a schmuck you are.” 

A key moment in the reading that Fr. Joe noted was when the father welcomes his son back into the house to celebrate his return. The father welcomes the son as he is, which indicates, as Father Joe said, “No one has to clean up their act to be accepted and loved by God.” 

Following the service, attendees gathered in Dillon Hall’s 24-hour lounge to break bread, or more specifically, share hoagies, chips and cookies. There was a welcoming sense of community, as Father Joe made his way around the room, greeting everyone and introducing himself to those he did not yet know. One individual stopped him to voice their sincere gratitude for the message he preached in the homily, and others nodded in agreement.

As people shared dinner and laughed after a heartwarming service, it was evident that Mass fostered a feeling of belonging.

“It’s nice to have a space I can be myself, even in God’s eyes,” a student said. 

At a Mass for those who are often shamed and pushed away from the Church for their identities, the message of salvation and acceptance contributed to the warm atmosphere.

“I went to Catholic school my entire life, from second grade then on to college. I had to go to Mass every Friday in grade school, monthly in high school,” one member of the congregation said. “I don’t go as often now, in college, but that was hands down the best homily. I really appreciate it. God’s salvation isn’t something we have to earn. It never will be.”