History

1992

March Eight religious and lay ministers (including Casey & Mary Ellen Lopata, parents of a gay son) from Rochester, NY attend the New Ways Ministry Symposium, “Homosexuality and the Church: the State of the Question.” Inspired and committed to “do something” the group begins meeting regularly and eventually becomes Catholic Gay and Lesbian Family Ministry (CGLFM).

November CGLFM facilitates a meeting of Rochester Bishop Matthew Clark and gay and lesbian Catholics and their family members to discuss the 1992 Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith letter, “Responding to Legislative Proposals on Discrimination Against Homosexuals.”

1994

July National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian & Gay Ministries (NACDLGM) (Now: Catholic Association of Lesbian and Gay Ministries -CALGM) is founded at a meeting of representatives from thirteen dioceses. The Lopatas are among the twenty-eight founding members. In 1995 Mary Ellen is elected to the first board of directors, serves on the executive committee from 1997-2003 and as president 2001-2. Since 1998,Casey has served on the Pastoral Resources Committee

October The first national retreat for Catholic parents, sponsored by New Ways Ministry and facilitated by Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Robert Nugent, is held in Stamford, CT. The Lopatas attend and become charter members of the Catholic Parents Network which emerges from this meeting.

December The first issue of the CGLFM Newsletter is published by Casey Lopata.

1995-1996

The Lopatas are consulters to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and the Family on Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children –AND—Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers, issued in September 1997.

1996

September CGLFM and the Diocese of Rochester formalize their relationship, stating that CGLFM does ministry with gay and lesbian Catholics and their families on behalf of the Diocese.

1997

March CGLFM and the Diocese of Rochester celebrate a Mass with Gay and Lesbian People, Families and Friends, with Bishop Matthew Clark as presider and homilist. Over 1300 people attend.

1998

September The Lopata’s chair the annual NACDLGM conference. Held in Rochester, the theme is “Imaging Justice.”

2001

July Seeds of Hope: Compassionate Ministry with Gay and Lesbian Catholics and Their Families—A practical resource manual published. Edited by Casey Lopata.

2002

August More Seeds: A supplement to Seeds of Hope published. Edited by Casey Lopata.

2003

October Fortunate Families: Catholic Families with Lesbian Daughters and Gay Sons, by Mary Ellen Lopata with Casey Lopata, published. (Trafford Publishing)

2004

April The Lopata’s leave CGLFM and start Fortunate Families to focus on ministry with parents of lesbian daughters and gay sons on a national level.

December Fortunate Families becomes a not-for-profit corporation.

2005

January Fortunate Families adopts by-laws and elects its first board of directors: Mary Ellen Lopata (President), Tom Ferrarese (Secretary/Treasurer), James Buckheit, Jean Kearse, Casey Lopata, William Pickett, and Rosalie Muschal-Reinhardt.

April The Lopata’s receive New Ways Ministry’s Bridge Building Award “For compassionate ministry, personal witness, and national leadership to promote justice for lesbian/gay Catholics, their parents, and families.”

May Fortunate Families, Inc. files 501(c) (3) application.

2006

February Received 501(c)(3) exempt ruling from IRS.

April Tom Ferrarese resigns from Board of Directors, Ann Franczyk is elected to complete his term (through June 2008) and William Pickett is elected Secretary/Treasurer for remainder of the business year.

June Rosalie Muschal Reinhardt resigns from Board of Directors, Linda Karle Nelson is elected to complete her term (through June 2007); James Buckheit, Jean Kearse, and Thomas Nelson are elected to three-year terms; for the 2006-07 Business year Mary Ellen Lopata is elected President, and William Pickett is elected Secretary/Treasurer.

July Parents Voice Project launches a survey of Catholic parents of LGBT Daughters and Sons.

2007

March Fortunate Families Board of Directors attends New Ways Ministry Symposium in Minneapolis. They facilitate a listening session for parents to tell their stories to Bishop (Ret.) Joseph Sullivan of Brooklyn, and Archbishop (Ret.) Francis Hurley of Anchorage. July Parents Voice Project launches a survey of Catholic parents of LGBT Daughters and Sons (Hot link to Survey)

June Bill Pickett leaves the Board of Directors at the end of his term. Jerry Furlong of Omaha, Nebraska elected to Board of Directors.

September Parents Voice Project Survey Report of Catholic Parents is sent to all U.S. Bishops.

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