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Controversial gay priest retreat coming to Racine

Posted at 5:11 PM, Aug 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-23 19:14:24-04

A fall retreat for gay priests coming to Racine is causing controversy among Catholics.  The Archdiocese is publicly distancing themselves from the retreat after they received questions from parishioners.

"I'm glad that they're getting together and coming out actually," said Marty Burch. "It's a good thing." 

"I just don't think it's morally right," said Bill Stater.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki sent a letter to parishes about the retreat.  It said in part, "This event is not in line with Catholic Church teaching and is in no way connected to or endorsed by the archdiocese, and New Ways Ministry is not a Catholic organization."  

Read the whole letter here:  

Father Nathan Reesman pastors two parishes in West Bend.  He also ministers to those attracted to the same sex.

"We find it really hard to endorse a retreat that's put on by an organization that doesn't agree with our teachings about the topic," said Father Nathan Reesman. 

New Ways Ministry is the group sponsoring the event.  They said their mission is to advocate for justice and equality for LGBT Catholics. 

"We know we want to give these guys who experience this attraction the best guidance possible, but we also know that New Ways is very public in their opposition to our teachings on same sex attraction as a church," said Father Reesman.

Even though the archdiocese isn't behind the retreat, it is being held at the Siena Retreat Center.  The center is operated by the Racine Dominican Sisters and it is part of the archdiocese.  The Dominican Sisters put out this statement regarding the retreat:

"Siena Retreat Center often provides space for gatherings, retreats and meetings to many kinds of groups. In this case, New Ways Ministry reserved the space for their retreat. All are welcome as long as their purpose is not contrary to the uplifting mission and vision of the retreat center.  Siena Retreat Center doesn't discriminate against anyone or any group based on sexual orientation, or any other protected class. A retreat that supports gay priests, deacons and brothers to live authentically the vocation to which they have been called aligns well with the mission and philosophy of the retreat center, which is to nurture a healing and holistic spirituality in an environment of joy, peace, and beauty. We encourage people of all faiths and spiritual inclinations to come, to learn, to be nourished, and be renewed in faith."

The retreat is scheduled for the first week in October.  The same group has a lesbian sisters retreat planned for November.