With a huge Cheshire-cat smile on her face, Joan pressed the white envelope into my hand right after Mass. The word “confidential” was written next to my name. I was puzzled.
“Open it later,” she said, with that grin that wouldn’t quit.
When I did, I understood both her delight and her discretion. The mystery envelope contained an invitation to Joan’s wedding reception, an invitation unlike any of the hundreds I’ve received over the years. The invitation was to the reception only, not the wedding itself; yet far from being insulted, as a Catholic priest I was grateful for that sensitivity. I was moved, in fact, that the couple wanted me there at all. For Joan, a regular and active parishioner, was marrying her long-time partner, Jane—and as we all know, though some states now recognize these unions, the church does not.
In the weeks leading up to the event, Joan filled me in on the details. The ceremony would take place in a nearby park, presided over by an Episcopal priest who was a friend of her partner’s; a reception would follow in their backyard, with just family and a few close friends present. Dress, Joan said, was casual. With some nervousness in her voice, she asked if I could “say the grace” at the reception. I told her that as far as I knew, no canon law prohibited me from blessing lesbian party food, so I would be honored.