You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Priest cites ‘gay lifestyle’ in denying man’s request to sing at grandmother’s funeral


An Indiana man has filed a complaint against his family’s parish church, which he said denied him the chance to sing at his grandmother’s funeral after the priest learned that he had attended a gay pride rally.

Connor Hakes of Decatur told WANE in Wayne, Indiana, that he and his relatives are longtime members of St. Mary’s of the Assumption Catholic Church, where his grandmother’s funeral was planned earlier this month. Hakes said he contacted the church after her death to get permission to sing in tribute to her.

The Rev. Bob J. Lengerich denied the request, citing concerns that Hakes was living a life that “could scandalize (the) congregation and neighbors” attending the funeral. Hakes said that Lengerich based his decision on a photo from a gay pride rally last year in which a friend tagged him on Facebook.

“This priest had judged me and really formed an opinion about me without ever communicating with me,” Hakes told the news station.

>> Read more trending stories

Hakes said that he has sung many times in the past for the church’s congregation and that Lengerich never approached him to find out if he was participating in a “gay lifestyle.”

Hakes posted to his Facebook page a Nov. 23 letter from Lengerich in which the priest said that the Catholic Church forbids those who “openly defy tenants (sic) of (the) faith” to serve in positions that make them public representatives of the church. That includes divorced or remarried congregants who have not had their terminated marriage annulled, people who openly support abortion rights and those “openly participating in unchaste same-sex relationships.”

Because Hakes’ grandmother was so well-loved, Lengerich wrote, the funeral would not be a private affair but one involving the community. The priest said that Hakes was welcome to honor his grandmother with a song, but only “outside of the Mass and outside of the church.”

Because a funeral Mass begins when the casket is closed after the wake and doesn’t end until the final blessing at the gravesite, however, “there (would be) no opportunity within the Church to offer a solo during” the funeral, Lengerich wrote.

Hakes told WANE that he had always felt loved and welcomed in his home parish, but now, he feels “very ostracized.” He and his family have filed a formal complaint with the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

St. Mary’s issued a statement regarding the situation: “Having become aware of the painful situation at Saint Mary’s Parish in Decatur, the diocese is working on fostering healing and reconciliation between the pastor and the Hakes family. We encourage all to move forward with genuine Christian love and mercy and with respect and prayer for one another.”

In posting the letter on Facebook last week, Hakes wrote that both of his deceased grandparents would be “disgusted” by their parish.

“Their compassion and empathy was abundant, no matter who you were,” Hakes wrote. “They saw beyond race, religion, sexuality and social class. They loved everyone. That is what it means to be a Christian. That is what it means to be Catholic.

In a follow-up post, Hakes thanked people for the love, support and prayers since his story gained traction.

“May we pray for the softening of hearts and the healing of those hurt,” he wrote


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

TSA pulls giant lobster from suitcase at Boston airport
TSA pulls giant lobster from suitcase at Boston airport

Among the list of things the Transportation Security Administration doesn’t often find in checked bags is surely giant lobsters – even at Boston’s Logan International Airport. But according to the TSA, that’s exactly what an agent found while screening checked luggage over the weekend. In a tweet, TSA spokesman Michael McCarthy...
Woman trapped in courthouse holding cell for nearly 7 hours finally freed
Woman trapped in courthouse holding cell for nearly 7 hours finally freed

A South Florida woman was trapped inside a courthouse holding cell for almost seven hours, before she was finally freed by a deputy.  Deborah Johnson, 61, was conducting an after-hours inspection of the new courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale when she got stuck in the cell, according to WPLG. Last Wednesday Johnson entered the cell from the...
Vacation rental sites lead to problematic mansion parties across the nation
Vacation rental sites lead to problematic mansion parties across the nation

House parties, sometimes called mansion parties, are popping up all over Palm Beach County and the nation. It’s a way for underground organizers to make some fast cash at someone else’s expense. With party names like “Palmghanistan,” organizers hope to draw huge crowds to properties they don’t own. Industry experts say...
Woman diagnosed with cancer the same day her husband dies
Woman diagnosed with cancer the same day her husband dies

A Minnesota woman was making her husband’s funeral arrangements earlier this month when she got a devastating phone call from her own doctor, who told her she has inoperable cancer.  Tessie Sylvester and her young sons, Gus, 6, and Freddy, 5, sat at John Sylvester’s bedside on June 16 as the beloved husband and father drew his last...
Someone made a ridiculous video about NASA finding aliens. News outlets took the bait.
Someone made a ridiculous video about NASA finding aliens. News outlets took the bait.

The headlines sounds thrilling. One might say they bait a click. "ANONYMOUS SAYS NASA HAS EVIDENCE OF ALIEN LIFE. DOES IT?" — Newsweek "The world's biggest hacking group thinks NASA is about to announce alien life." — the Independent It's June 2017 — still early days in a century full of scientific...
More Stories