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.”

Bergamo Conference & Retreat Center

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