by Maurice Francois
One day in spring, I received a phone call asking me for a meeting. Three people had seen a sign for our Hispanic Mass as they passed by our church building. Of course, I marked my calendar and scheduled a meeting. The day and time arrived and punctually arrived three women who wanted to know if they could attend the Mass without being rejected and expelled. They had already experienced negative situations in other denominations in the city. I invited them to our regular Mass on Sunday at 2 pm. The reception by the congregation was great, and one of the women shared her testimony and immediately after her words, she received hugs of support and our three new guests became members.
There was a challenge in how to provide a more focused spiritual support for the three women in their journey, so we started to meet and organize a group. Since the spring of 2016, we meet twice a month to share stories and artistic talents. This space started to be well known as an oasis because it is maybe one of the few places where the focus in on the spirituality of these women on their journey.
The liturgy of San Esteban was also challenged, and slowly we adapted from inclusive language for gays and lesbians into inclusive language for transgender. We are happy to evolve especially when Spanish is a language heavy with gender. We are offering the women the renewal of baptismal vows which is a great opportunity to embrace references to their new identity with their new name. This idea is moving along and was totally accepted.
Music is an important component for these women to channel their creativity and happiness of life, so, very often at the end of our meetings we have shows, karaoke and dance which liberates everyone from heavy days of adversity. They are just friendly and honest people seeking harmony and communion with God and with others who understand the liberating and transforming Gospel.
We have the blessing to work with Reverend Margaret Rodrigues who is beloved by the members of Trans Esteban. Her wisdom and personal journey give courage and motivation to others who are in the beginning or middle of their path. The group is shaping identity and personality and we are happy and proud to provide a safe, friendly and welcoming space in the core of the city, in our mother church of The Holy Trinity – San Esteban.