|Hector, Me, Richard, Robin, ??, Joe, Barb|
1987 March on Washington and Protest at Supreme Court
I learned more about Richard from today's eulogies. He was drawn to the Church, to the priesthood and to the Franciscans from a young age and entered the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin after graduating from college. Richard took his ministry seriously, but that's not to say he was without a sense of humor. Those who knew him best recall sharing much laughter together with him.
Richard was arrested more than once for non-violent demonstrations, championing causes such as anti-nuclear proliferation, Civil Rights, and protesting the Supreme Court decision upholding Georgia's sodomy laws in Bowers v. Hardwick.
Richard was gay. He was an out, gay, celibate Franciscan priest and friar. His Dignity flock knew it, his Franciscan brothers knew it, the Archbishop knew it. His special ministry to the LGBT community was dear to his heart and he was vociferous in his ministry.
Richard was very intelligent and an inspired preacher. His sermons at Sunday Mass at Dignity were always affirming of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender persons and when preaching on the gospel and readings he always found therein evidence of God's all inclusive love. But expressing God's unconditional love for his Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people eventually put him at odds with the Archbishop and official Catholic teachings.
I don't know all the details that led up to his excommunication from the Catholic Church but I do know that that was the most devastating event in his life and began a period of great anguish for him. He began drinking heavily to ease his overwhelming depression. After receiving treatment for his addiction he remained sober and began secular social work with psychiatric patients - but even his work there was always done in the spirit of St. Francis.
His personal spiritual journey took him to several independent, non-Roman, Catholic churches and other Ecumenical Churches. He ultimately found a loving home in the Society of Saint Francis, an Episcopal religious order where he was professed and where his priestly orders were recognized. He was with the Society of St. Francis for the past 10 years and served in San Francisco and Long Island where he was the director of vocations.
I am glad he found a loving home with his Episcopal Franciscan brothers but I am so ashamed of the Roman Catholic Church for cutting him off like some infected limb from what they believe to be the body of Christ, the Church.
Todays services included all the candles, incense, robes, bells, hymns, organ music and even Gregorian chant that he would have loved. Of course, he had planned the whole service before he passed away.
I owe my personal coming out to the existence of Dignity/Hartford and to a great extent to Father Richard Jonathan Cardarelli whose support was vital. Father Richard, may you be with your loving God.