DE PERE, Wis. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Catholic college in Wisconsin was about to kick off its first LGBTQ-themed week with a "Coming Out" Mass on Oct. 13.
But, after a number of the college's concerned Catholic students pushed back, the Coming Out Mass was canceled.
The St. Norbert's College (SNC) in De Pere, Wisconsin, is nonetheless scheduled to host a variety of gay-related activities from Oct. 11–18 to honor LGBT History Month and National Coming Out Day, which was Friday, Oct. 11.
The Coming Out Mass was scheduled to be celebrated at "Old" St. Joseph's Church in the heart of the St. Norbert's campus.
Church Militant was informed that a group of St. Norbert students were "greatly upset" when they heard the initial announcement about the Coming Out Mass at the Oct. 6 Mass.
One student said: "When I first heard the announcement at church, I thought that it was some kind of mistake," adding, "I hope that there is some kind of force in the Catholic Church and in this college to say that it is wrong."
The traditionally Catholic students were said to have prayed the Rosary and to have approached St. Joseph's chaplain for support and guidance.
Another group of St. Norbert students protested the cancelation of the Mass outside St. Joseph's on Sunday before 6 p.m. Mass on Oct. 13. They carried signs that read, "Why do I have to pay $50,000 to a school that won't support me," "Why Hate When You Can Love" and "Love Love Love."
The counter-protesters say the college reneged on its promise to hold a coming out Mass that was intended to represent "solidarity" between the Catholic Church and the LGBTQ community.
The protesting students say the theme of the Mass was changed because of the "Catholic religion not agreeing with the theme of the event."
President of the LGBTQ+ Spectrum Alliance at St. Norbert College Randi Groff said, "Solidarity means unity," Groff says. "It means we're all here for a common purpose, that we're all here to support and love each other. Not necessarily that our views have to align with each other, but that we both have genuine love and support for each other."
Protesters were promoting solidarity by writing messages of "love and inclusion" on the sidewalk, including "Queer as in Abolish Ice."
Other LGBTQ events at SNC include a coming out celebration, a panel presentation of parents who attest to loving LGBTQ children "unconditionally" and a lecture by Dr. Brianne Jacobs called "Engaging the Catholic Tradition, Moving Toward Gender Flourishing."
Jacobs' biography indicates she is a Catholic feminist theologian "interested in engaging the resources of the Catholic intellectual tradition to work for gender justice and flourishing."
Another event on "Fem Friday" promises to "share space" with Drag Queen Persephone Diamond and to celebrate "feminism expression."
The Norbertines at St. Norbert College are descendants of St. Norbert of Xanten who, upon observing a great decline in the faith of the priests he encountered, founded a religious order that was vigorous and faithful to the Gospel 900 years ago.
While St. Norbert prayed, he was said to have seen St. Augustine, who said, "Behold here the rule which I have written; if your fellow-brethren, my sons, shall have observed it well, they shall stand without fear in the presence of Christ on the terrible day of the last judgment."
Weekly novenas to St. Joseph first began in 1888 which continue to this day with novena prayers on Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. One SNC student told Church Militant that the novenas to St. Joseph helped the Catholic students push back against the Coming Out Mass.
Church Militant reached out to Fr. Brennan, chaplain of St. Joseph's, who declined comment.