Eden Invitation offers integrated approach to Catholics with an LGBT+ experience

“As culture’s ship of sexual identity sails for open waters, many well-meaning Christians watch in confusion and dismay. In our increasingly open society, what is a Christian to make of the changing attitudes towards gender, sex, and love? How do we balance truth with love, or accompaniment with our heavenly destination? Are we even going the same direction?” 

Taken straight from Eden Invitation’s website, these and similar questions deeply resonate with modern Catholics. Thankfully, the Church offers answers — and Eden Invitation is committed to sharing them. 

Eden Invitation is a ministry for young adult Catholics on the LGBT+ spectrum seeking to follow Christ and live in communion with the Church. As explained on their website, Eden Invitation “celebrates personal integration and promotes solidarity beyond the LGBT+ paradigm.” Informed by and faithful to Catholic teaching on gender and sexuality and shaped by Christian tradition, the ministry promotes the authentic freedom offered by Christ, which is abundantly available to all. Through individual conversations, retreats, online book clubs, and backpacking adventures, Eden Invitation invites LGBT+ Catholics to enter a community committed to accompaniment through the triumphs and struggles of human life. 

Raquel Storey, a double domer with an undergraduate degree and Master of Divinity from Notre Dame, serves as the Mission Engagement Coordinator for Eden Invitation. She graciously shared her words and witness through the following interview with the Rover

What does Eden Invitation offer? What drew you to this ministry? 

“We provide community & formation for a vibrant and hopeful life in Christ. Through receiving the whole person, growing systems of mutual support, and empowering for creative discipleship, Eden Invitation is creating spaces for Catholic millennials who experience same-sex desires or gender discordance to thrive in community and in the Church. 

What drew me to this ministry was that it was led by other young adults in the Church whose stories resonated with my own experience of same-sex desires and who were living with joyful hope as faithful Catholics. Through confidential online book clubs, in-person retreats, and deep friendships with others in the community, I was invited into the joy of trusting that God sees me, knows me, and has a plan for my life.” 

What kind of value do you see in Eden Invitation’s message on a Catholic campus like Notre Dame? 

“I think the value of Eden Invitation is that it serves as a home for Catholics & Christians who are looking for solidarity and encouragement from fellow disciples who ‘get it.’ It can be hard to find spaces where we can, on the one hand, acknowledge and reflect on our experience of attraction or gender while also, on the other hand, feel supported in our commitment to our baptismal call. 

For those young adults who are still in the process of conscience formation regarding sexuality & sexual identity, Eden Invitation has served as a place to “come and see.” It’s a place for those who are seeking to ask: ‘What does it feel like to be surrounded by young adults like me who are conforming their lives to the Gospel in this way?’” 

What would you say to someone who feels torn between their sexual identity and their Catholic identity? 

“I would first ask if they wanted to share their story with me, and then I would listen. Everyone’s story is complex and unique, so ready-made answers aren’t going to be very helpful. From there, who knows where the conversation would take us! But, if they were looking for a community of folks to hash it out with, I’d invite them to check out Eden Invitation.” 

How can we promote a healthy approach to sexuality in our everyday lives as students and Catholics? 

“A healthy sexuality needs to begin with humility. It’s really hard to live into the integrated, resurrected life that God desires for us, and that is not something to be ashamed of. As we like to repeat at Eden Invitation, “There is no cause for shame under God’s gaze.” We need to bring those difficult parts of our experience of sexuality before God in prayer to receive His unconditional love. I’d also recommend finding friends, mentors, and spiritual guides who are striving for holiness, too, and with whom you can be vulnerable and find accountability. Praying for the grace to share courageously in these relationships can be a good place to start.” 

Visit www.edeninvitation.com to learn more about the ministry, find resources about the Catholic LGBT+ experience, and explore the rich dialogue between tradition and the modern world. 

Mary Frances Myler is a junior majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies with minors in Theology and Constitutional Studies. Recent warm weather has her dreaming of summer days spent on the shores of the Great Lakes. Remind her that beach days are still several months away at mmyler@nd.edu.