New York’s gay Irish keep mass attendance alive


Fay attended a conference on marriage chaired by Dolan in Poughkeepsie last September. “I sat for hours listening to people use their intelligence and power to denounce our families, our humanity,” recounted Fay. “The Pope welcomes conservatives. I would love to see him welcoming the gifts of progressive Catholics.”
On a recent Sunday evening, Morris stood in the small hall of St. John’s, and addressed his fiercely close-knit congregation. The focus of the service was solidarity, and Morris reflected on Dolan’s anti-gay message.

“The Archbishop could have written to President Obama about the hundreds starving in New York, the children in third world countries dying every day, or even the plight of those Americans unemployed in these tough economic times,” said Morris, arms outstretched and his unusual off-white habit hanging down from them. “Instead he chose to complain about homosexual love.”
For Dignity members, weekly mass is more than a refuge from traditional Catholic dogma. Lay homilists are routinely encouraged to participate, and the ritual mid-service greetings are taken a step further; as the congregation respectfully comes to a pause so that individual members may say prayers for loved ones, the sick, the poor, or anyone on their minds.
“In Dignity, we are fully able to support who we are,” said Dignity communications officer Jeff Stone, 56, whose family comes from Galway. “We are part of the broader fight for gay rights.”