Until recently, Colleen Simon was a Catholic church worker in Kansas City, Missouri who performed duties as a coordinator of social ministries and played a prominent role in supporting the food pantry at the St. Francis Xavier Church while assisting dozens of less fortunate families.
Simon sees that act as a way to answer the Lord’s call to serve others. Despite her devotion, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph have decided she’s no longer fit for the task. Their reasoning? She is married to a woman, the Rev. Donna Simon of St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church, and their relationship was mentioned briefly in a local piece that shed light on Simon’s career.
The couple were wed in Iowa last May, and the Catholic church worker never intended to hide her relationship. Rather, her goal was to not flaunt it, even though that often meant avoiding pronouns that would call attention to the gender of her partner. Instead, while on the premises of the Catholic church, Simon used neutral identifiers like “my spouse.”
A freelance writer who wrote the piece that briefly mentioned the Catholic church worker did not realize the ramifications of the revelation. When Simon was hired last July by a pastor who is no longer at the parish, she told him the details of her marriage. However, certain people at the Catholic church are not as accepting as that member apparently was.
In an article by the Kansas City Star, the outed woman noted “…there are laws, and until that law gets changed in the church, it is what it is.” Beginning last week, she was a central part of discussions and e-mails that ultimately asked her to resign. Although she isn’t sure, and the Catholic Church is declining to comment, Simon thinks the order for her to leave her job behind came from a bishop named Robert Finn.
However, the Catholic church worker is refusing to tender her resignation and asking to be fired instead. That’s because she’s trying to be practical and realizing she may need to seek unemployment benefits.
While working at the Catholic church, Simon had a pastoral role where she took great pride in encouraging parishioners to take active roles in supporting the food pantry. She also wanted members to look more closely at the reasons behind why people go hungry.
In her current situation, now no longer welcome at the Catholic church she once served, 58-year-old Simon is concerned she may not be able to find another job immediately. Things also are complicated because she still has medical bills that remain from a successful cancer treatment that began several years ago.
Although the future is uncertain for this Catholic church worker, this situation has put her in the spotlight, which may make it easier for her to draw the attention of a similar organization that will accept her contributions regardless of sexual orientation.
[Photo Credit: Ecclesio]