'Most Holy Redeemer is our home'

This story appears in the God's community in the Castro feature series. View the full series.
Cover of "MHR is Our Home" parish pamphlet
Cover of "MHR is Our Home" parish pamphlet

by Thomas C. Fox

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In the spring of 2013, Most Holy Redeemer parish began the "MHR is Our Home" project, gathering parishioner faith journey stories as a Lenten project. Dozens of parishioners responded. For many it was the first time they shared personal details long hidden to others. These are a few that were published in a "MHR is Our Home" pamphlet. Read more about Most Holy Redeemer Church.

Paul Hufstedler: [I] came MHR through its "Reconnecting Program," which helped me deal with some of the issues which caused me to break with the Church many years ago. The process helped me accept the fact that, although I had differences about some matters, I could still call this community home. ... When my faith is shaken, I focus on God's word, on Christ's message of healing, forgiveness and inclusion."

Kevin and Brian Fisher-Paulson: "We got married 25 years ago. In those years we fostered medically at-risk triplets, nursed friends dying of AIDS, helped friends detox from heroin, taken in rescue dogs, and adopted drug exposed, multi-racial foster children. Our family attends Most Holy Redeemer because it's one parish that tries to put Christ's example into action."

Nanette Miller: "I consistently get from my lesbian business associates, how can you stay with all the negative chatter from outside your parish? Well I can and I do because this is my home. I am a practicing Catholic, and I get spiritual fulfillment here. ... Do I get frustrated and upset at times? I do. But if I leave, the negative voices win. This is my spiritual family and I love my family."

Andy Pino: "I came out of the closet, met Jason, and we fell in love. Soon after, I realized that I had become a person of faith staring at the Catholic Church from the outside in. ... For nearly a decade Jason and I were Catholics without a parish. ... We found Most Holy Redeemer online, by reading parish reviews on Yelp. What we found was a community that far exceeded our expectations. The Catholicism I had known and loved as a child was alive in the Castro."

Jacque Grillo: "When DignityUSA was excluded from worshipping in any diocesan space in the late '80s, I ... felt so hurt by the church's rejection that I vowed to never again step foot in a Catholic Church -- and I had a least a hundred good reasons for that decisions. For the next 15 years I was a bit of a spiritual wanderer.  ... I returned to Massachusetts to be with my mother who was dying of cancer. I was blessed to spend the last two weeks of her life with her. ... The day before she died, the priest came to bring her Communion. We gathered in a circle and each of us received the host. It was in witnessing the transformative power of the Eucharist that I realized what had been missing in my life. I returned to San Francisco the next week and came here to MHR the very next Sunday. I knew I was home and have been coming ever since."

Ramona Michaels: "I am grateful to God for giving me a real parish community. I delight in the diversity of men, women, gay, straight, families and (my category) the elderly. What better way to live out my life? I'm proud that MHR is my home."

Karen Scott Sullivan: "You might wonder what a single, straight, 20-something female could possibly find here? I would answer EVERYTHING: life, love, joy, compassion, hope, consolation, forgiveness, redemption -- in a word, Christ."

John Sedlander: "Here at Most Holy Redeemer, we often sing as our gathering hymn: 'all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.' So even though I consider myself a friend of Christianity rather than a Catholic Christian, I sense that I can still consider Most Holy Redeemer my spiritual home in this city."

Editor's note: It is with deep regret that we have decided to end commenting on this series of stories. We gave a fair hearing to those who object or question aspects of this story, but too often, the same few points were being raised multiple times, which is against our user guidelines and was disrespectful to some of the people portrayed in the article. We encourage respectful discussion in our comments threads but reserve the right to close them when discussion is no longer productive, which has happened in this case.

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