LGBTQ2 community, allies rally outside Picton church in ‘Pride mass’

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WATCH: Members of the LGBTQ2 community rallied outside St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church on Sunday to welcome parishioners to Sunday mass – Jun 17, 2019

Spreading love and not hate: that was the message hundreds of Pride supporters and members of the LGBTQ2 community shared as they crowded Church Street in front of St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Picton, Ont., during Sunday mass.

The peaceful demonstration was organized on Facebook by a Picton resident, Curtis Jeffry, in response to Father Robert Chisholm’s weekly bulletin notice in which he notified his congregation that Catholics and Christians “should not attend Pride events.”

Surrounded by supporters, Jeffry said he was amazed by the turnout.

“I wish we saw this support when I was in high school. But this is amazing, especially for the kids that are currently in high school who are getting this support. I think it’s incredible,” he said.

READ MORE: Hundreds turn out for Kingston Pride parade

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Patrica Gin identifies as a lesbian and proudly stood on the steps of St. Gregory’s, welcoming the parishioners to the 10 a.m. mass.

As a Catholic, she says it’s hard to be hated for being yourself and that she attended the mass to stand up for her community and face Chisholm in person.

“What happened was wrong and so, today, I have received communion from Father Chisholm and I hope he got the message that I, too, am a child of God.”

It wasn’t just residents of Prince Edward County who showed up to preach love.

Minister Jennifer Sokolowsky of Erindale Presbyterian in Mississauga made the trip to share her message.

READ MORE: Coming out later in life: ‘I was finally an authentic human being’

“Everyone’s the same, and God believes that, and I believe that and the church should believe that,” Sokolowsky said.

Meghan Betty and her mom drove to Picton from Trenton, Ont.

“Everybody who is hurt by that statement, I want them to see this crowd. I want them to know there is a community here. I grew up in this area and I didn’t think there was a life for me as an adult lesbian but there is, and we’re all here,” Betty said.

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According to churchgoers, Chisholm apologized for his message to the congregation during his Sunday mass.

While attempting to reach Chisholm for comment on the matter on Sunday, Global News was asked to leave church property multiple times by an official with the church who wouldn’t identify himself further.

As of Monday, Global News has attempted to reach out to Chisholm but has received no response.

Most parishioners wouldn’t agree to an interview, but David Bongard, who has been a member of St. Gregory the Great for 20 years, says Chisholm’s remarks don’t align with his beliefs.

“I don’t go around with hate on my shoulders. I’m here to love and have a good time in life,” Bongard said.

Gin, Pride supporters and those allied with the LGBTQ2 community say they will continue to spread love in the face of hate.

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