The LGBTQ+ Initiative of the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative, a sponsored effort of the Marianist Family of North America, is delighted to host Imago Dei: Embracing the Dignity of LGBTQ+ Persons, an assembly for the Catholic LGBTQ+ community. Imago Dei aims to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a 1974 groundbreaking conference centered on LGBTQ inclusion and ministry which was held in Dayton at the Bergamo Center. We hope to honor those who foresaw the importance of developing pastoral care and outreach, and to envision how we can continue to respond to the needs of the LGBTQ+ community within our Church and world. 

At Imago Dei, theological and pastoral leaders will share insights gained, as well as to consider challenges encountered in their own roles to advance justice for the LGBTQ+ community within the Church and broader society. Facilitated roundtables, small group discussions, prayerful reflection, and opportunities for networking will be key features of this assembly. Imago Dei will utilize all of the beautiful Mount Saint John property, over 150 acres of grounds which includes nature trails and a labyrinth under the care of the Marianist Environmental Education Center

Join us as we explore the possibilities and limitations in the evolving pastoral care of LGBTQ+ persons within the Roman Catholic tradition!

June 27-30, 2024

Bergamo Center for LifeLong Learning, Mount St. John, Dayton, OH

A Marianist Assembly Celebrating LGBTQ+ Ministry 

Save the date for our 2024 LGBTQ+ assembly, which will be held in Dayton Ohio to honor the 50th anniversary of the Bergamo Conference. More details below!

Bergamo Conference and Retreat Center 

Flyer of the Original "Gay Christian" Conference

50th Anniversary History

In June of 1974, the Society of Mary (Marianists) hosted “The Gay Christian, a national training for clergy and laity on developing a ministry to gay Christians” at the Bergamo Conference and Retreat Center in Dayton, Ohio. This conference was an effort to respond to the signs of the times after the Second Vatican Council and the deepening awareness of the pastoral needs of the lesbian and gay community which came out of the Stonewall uprising in the late 1960’s. Out of the gathering at Bergamo, pastoral leaders within the Church formed and shaped a variety of responses. Many considered this conference, and the subsequent ones in 1975 and 1976, a strong impetus for pastoral efforts to support lesbian and gay Catholics and their families. It became known among pastoral leaders as the “Bergamo Conference”. 

The original exploration of the conference in 1974 unfortunately remains much the same 50 years later. Throughout the Imago Dei assembly, we hope to build on Pope Francis’s call to embrace a theology of encounter, to be a presence among those in need. As he wrote in Amoris Laetitia (275): “We would like before all else to reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration.”

We look forward to welcoming participants to Imago Dei: Embracing the Dignity of LGBTQ+ Persons in June 2024! 

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