Michigan parishioners ask priest to resign over comments made about gay author

Michigan Parishioners Demand Priest’s Resignation After Controversial Remarks on Gay Author

In Beal City, Michigan, a growing number of parents and churchgoers from St. Joseph the Worker Church and School are voicing their desire for the resignation of their priest. This comes after remarks he made about a gay author, which have raised doubts about his ability to embody the church’s values in Northern Michigan.

A letter released on Friday criticized the priest, Father Tom Held, for not meeting expectations during his time at the parish. It highlighted his lack of involvement with St. Joseph’s children and his interactions that have made some community members feel ignored or sidelined.

The issue gained attention when parishioners expressed their dissatisfaction following Father Held’s comments about a gay author.

Kate Johnson, a concerned parent and member of the parish, believes that everyone should feel welcomed in the community. She feels that the situation escalated unnecessarily due to Father Held’s remarks.

Two days before the controversy erupted, Father Held had used the church’s Facebook account to issue an apology for inviting Dominic Thrasher, an openly gay author from Mount Pleasant, to read his book to a Pre-K class at the school.

Father Held stated that the guest did not align with the Catholic faith’s values. He promised to implement a new vetting policy to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Despite the controversy, the book titled “The Adventures of Cece and The Sheriff” was deemed appropriate by the priest. Johnson mentioned that Thrasher’s visit was merely for a book reading as part of St. Joseph’s National Reading Month celebration and did not warrant the backlash.

In an interview with FOX 17, Thrasher expressed his frustration, questioning why his sexuality should impact his ability to share his work. He felt unfairly judged by Father Held’s post.

Following the incident, the school closed on Thursday due to the negative online reactions. The next day, a significant number of students, including Johnson’s children, stayed home.

Johnson believes that the only resolution is for Father Held to resign or be removed, as this incident was the tipping point for many parents and parishioners.

Complaints about Father Held have been sent to the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw for years, according to Johnson, but no action has been taken. The community has criticized Father Held’s approach to managing church relations.

The Diocese of Saginaw responded with a letter on Friday, stating they are in touch with the parish and school leadership. Superintendent of Schools Cormac Lynn mentioned he would visit Beal City and that Bishop Robert Gruss is open to meeting with parishioners and has reached out to Thrasher.

Johnson hopes for a leader who can unite the community and dispel the negativity that has arisen.

The controversy could also affect the school financially, as Johnson revealed that donors for an upcoming fundraising auction have withdrawn their support, demanding a change in leadership.

The community’s wish is for Father Held to be removed so they can move forward and heal.

As of Saturday, St. Joseph the Worker Church had not responded to a request for comment on the matter.