An Encounter with Honesty and Love – from Sr. Joy Connealy

As a young sister I was working with a team to develop young adult ministry in our diocese. We had to find out what young adults saw as their needs and so we did interviews with a variety of young people.

I had conducted several interviews and the concerns and needs they shared were about what I expected. Many valued their faith and hoped the Church could be more open to how they live their faith.

One night I had an appointment with a young man who was very articulate. He hand a deep commitment to social justice and was giving a lot of his time to others who need a helping hand. When I got to the question of what he wished the Church would do for young adults he broke into tears. He explained through his pain that he was gay and that the Church didn’t recognize or welcome him as he was. He said he felt deeply connected to God, had an intimate relationship with Jesus – but the official Church told him he was a sinner. He poured out his heart and soul and I had never before heard such honesty and integrity.

This brief, intense experience led me on a path of discovery. It challenged me to reflect on how we are all created in God’s image. It helped prepare me for ministry and how listening to another’s pain opens us to new insights and frees them to let go of some of the pain they are carrying.

This young man later wrote me a letter and said how meaningful our dialogue had been for him. He had never shared his pain with anyone who represented the Church and it gave him hope that his desire to be part of the Church could become a reality.

He taught me to speak my truth because the truth, even if it’s painful, could help someone else find their way in life. That short encounter was filled with honesty and has been a reminder that God’s love and compassion reaches through pain and brings healing.

~Sr. Joy Connealy, ND