"At Dublin, Ireland’s 18th Annual LGBT Christmas Carol Service , the guest speaker was Ursula Halligan, Political Editor with TV3. Ms. Halligan, a Catholic, came out publicly as a lesbian a few days before Ireland’s successful marriage equality referendum last year. In the op-ed essay where she came out, she made the following observation about voting for marriage equality:
“As a person of faith and a Catholic, I believe a Yes vote is the most Christian thing to do. I believe the glory of God is the human being fully alive and that this includes people who are gay.
The service was held at Unitarian Church, Stephen’s Green, Dublin, on December 10, 2016. The prayers were led by Brian Glennon, who originated the Carol service for the LGBT community 18 years ago.
The following is the text of Ms. Hallgian’s reflection at the prayer service:
Thank you Brian. My goodness you are in fine voice tonight! Now, I know it’s Christmas. And what do we do at Christmas? We go home. And that’s why I’m here with you tonight. I wanted to be at home with my family at Christmas time. I wanted to say a big thank you to the LGBT community for the love and support you’ve showered on me since I wrote my piece in the Irish Times.
Up until May 2015 I never knew I had such a wonderful family. (I certainly never knew they had such beautiful singing voices!) And for you and me, it’s all been about voice; hasn’t it? You and me; we’ve shared a common journey. We had to find our voice. We had to find our inner truth. We had to find the courage to speak it. To throw away the masks. To be real. To be true to our selves.
It took me a long time to find my voice but I am so glad I did. Because as Martin Luther King said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” We shrivel up as human beings if we don’t speak our truth; if we don’t speak from our conscience. And for me, as a person of faith, conscience is the voice of God that echoes in the depths of each one of us. Our truth comes from the God within us; not from any institution.
And if God doesn’t have a problem with us, why should anyone else?
Last year the people of Ireland threw their arms around us and set us free to be equal citizens with everyone else. It was a magnificent act of love. And it is all about love. We come from love. We are love. We go back to love. God is love.
It was love that first prompted me to speak up because I believed our love is as good as anyone else’s love. Love is love. There is no inequality in love. And that’s why it saddens me that the church I belong to and love has yet to accept us the way the Irish people have.
It is important for our flourishing as human beings that we have a vibrant faith community that welcomes and loves us; a place where we can be ourselves without fear or constraint. A place where we are affirmed; where we’re told we’re ok. We need to hear the good news of the Gospel in a place that totally respects us for who we are, exactly as we are. We need to look after one another.
Over the years, thanks to the Unitarian Church here on Stephens Green; to you Reverend Spain and to wonderful Catholics such as Brian Glennon and others, the LGBT community has been trying to grow its own faith community to meet that need. You have kept the candle burning in the darkness.
But I have a dream that one day all the churches will fling open their doors to their LGBT brothers and sisters. That a blaze of warmth and love will welcome us home. That we will be granted equality in marriage and treated the same in every respect with others in the church. That we will be accepted and loved in our wholeness as human beings. That anything that divides the people of God, even labels like “Gay” and “Straight” will be replaced by brother and sister. "
Because we are all one. Just like our love. We are all the same in God.
Bridget Mary's Response:Ursula Halligan's affirmation of equality for LGBTI is inspiring. "We are all the same before God." May it be so in every church and religious community. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, www.arcwp.org