CHERRY HILL — “How can gay Catholics give and receive love” in today’s society?
This was the question asked by Eve Tushnet to a crowd of 60 young adults here at Tir Na Nog Bar on Jan. 12.
Tushnet, author of “Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith,” was the featured speaker at the monthly Theology on Tap program for 20- and 30-somethings, sponsored by the Diocese of Camden’s Office of Young Adult Ministry.
Father James King, chaplain at Stockton University’s Catholic Campus Ministry, was master of ceremonies for the event. Introducing Tushnet, he said, “Here is a woman with a voice we need to hear in the church today.”
Tushnet, born in 1978, first came out to her family at the age of 13.
Twenty years later, in 1998, finding herself (and, today, still), “in deep need of the Eucharist,” she entered the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil.
Today, she is an openly lesbian and celibate follower of the church and its teachings.
She spoke of finding her vocation, what she described in her book as “the path or way of life in which God is calling us to pour out our love for him and for other particular human beings,” and how gay Christians can live this out. Tushnet works at a pregnancy center where she engages with women and their families.
Tushnet called for parishes to be more welcoming and include more “individualized and compassionate spiritual direction” for gays, who are “longing for solidarity, communion, kinship and caregiving.”
“The church should be a place where gay people have more opportunities to love,” in the same sacrificial love Jesus displayed on the cross, she urged.
“She gave a great presentation,” said Scott Stueber, a junior at Stockton University in Galloway Township, and president of the school’s Catholic Campus Ministry. He and nine other students, still on their winter break, filled up a row of tables in front of the speaker.
“She showed what the church needs to be about,” he said.
Nina Camaioni, coordinator of Catholic Campus Ministry at Rowan University in Glassboro, said Tushnet’s talk “gave all a lot of practical ways to deal with (what can be) the elephant in the room.”
“For some, (being gay) can be a stigma, and we need an attitude of openness and listening,” she said.