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To whom it may concern

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I have debated for about two full weeks whether or not I even wanted to write
this letter. I debated this for many reasons. I think mainly because I have moved
on from my resentment and my "need" to be a part of the Catholic Church. My
spiritual life and relationship with God is better than it has ever been. I don’t need
anything or anyone to define that for me. I decided to write for the future of young
people. I decided to write because deep in my heart I truly miss the Catholic
Church.
The Catholic Church molded me and introduced me to God. How can I forget
that or not somehow be thankful? I guess what I am trying to say is I miss the
Catholic Church. The Catholic Church will always hold a special place in my heart,
but I do not feel welcome and presently today I feel uneasy about being a part of
the Catholic Church. Typing this out brings sadness to my heart. It brings back
some of that pain I felt for so many years. A church of any kind should never make
one feel that way, and for that reason I am writing this letter.
I was born and raised in Nashville, TN. I attended Catholic school for thirteen
years. I was awarded best Christian attitude my eighth grade year. My mother
attended Catholic school and also taught at St. Henry, where I went to school for
nine years. My mother’s parents, my grandparents attended Catholic school in
Nashville, TN. My mother and father have been happily married for 37 years and
were married at St. Henry Church. My father has been in the funeral business for
over forty years, and has served the Catholic Church and families for almost his
entire career. I have friends and relatives who have taken their vows to serve God
and all his people. I am the youngest of three. I have two older sisters. One was
happily married at St. Henry Catholic Church. She and her husband have two
beautiful children. My niece, Corinne started her first year at St. Henry this year,
and we are all excited and proud of her! My oldest sister Christina is engaged to be
married next year to her girlfriend of 5 years. We are all a very loving, accepting,
and kind family. We are a very normal middle class family who continues to strive
and try our best to live peacefully in this journey of life.
I was born August 5th 1987 into the most loving family. I thank God for
this every day. If it were not for my family I would not be here today typing this
letter. I knew at a young age I felt what I perceived then to be different. At that
time I did not have a name for it. After a few years living in fear and depression at
such a young age I told my mom that I was gay. It was my freshman year at Father
Ryan High School. I was scared and deeply depressed. I had lost weight and had
developed Ulcers. I began cutting myself to take away all my emotional pain. I had
suicidal thoughts daily. I was bullied by classmates. I was bullied by adults. I was
bullied by the Catholic Church, a religion and place that I thought was my safe

place. Was not the Catholic Church my place to get comfort and help? I thought it
was my place to find love and acceptance. I thought it was my place to be told
everything will be ok. I thought wrong. I was taught I was a sinner. I was taught I
would go to hell. I was taught everything I felt in my heart and who I am is wrong.
I had no idea where to turn. I drank excessively. I used drugs. I thought
constantly about how I could end my life. I even attempted this one night and
overdosed on my medication which resulted in having my stomach pumped. I
believed everything I was told. The one place I thought I could get comfort and be
with God was telling me all these negative and hateful things. I was young and
impressionable and vulnerable. When does this end? I could continue with horror
stories, but let me get to the point. I and many others do not feel welcome in a
place where welcoming is supposed to be the mission. I hope one day this changes.
The Catholic Church has forgotten the point.
I have been sober for two years and my life is full of happiness and love. I do
not blame anyone for my alcohol or drug use. I was born an alcoholic. Today, I
have a solution one day at a time. I have just started college again to study Social
Work. My relationship with God is full, but there are days when I feel as though I am
missing something. I believe I could find that missing piece in a Church I once loved
with all my heart. I beg of you to look deep in your hearts and ask yourself if this
truly is right. I beg of you to be open minded and see that the Catholic Church is
forgetting the most important missions. Thirty percent of the homeless in Nashville
are LGBT youth ages 18-25. They have been abandon by their families, friends, and
churches. These young people should be welcomed with open arms in any church.
I am proud to be gay, but I cannot find it in me to say I am proud to be raised
Catholic. I cannot be associated with a church full of fear and hate.
I know you, all the bishops and clergy are wonderful people. I know you are
full of love and have done great things in this world. I know in my heart all of you
seek to be consoled as to console. I know the Catholic Church is a good church. I
am writing because I care. I am writing because I love the Catholic Church. One
last thing before I close. I ask you to take off the vestments. Take the Mitre off and
put down the Crosier. Look in the mirror and ask yourself are you doing God’s work?
Are you continuing to fulfill the mission you first set out to do when you made those
first vows in the Catholic Church? Are you simply loving and accepting all who seek
to be loved in the Catholic Church?
I hope this letter is read. I hope it makes you think. My prayers will be with
you and all. I ask for your prayers as well. I will go to bed tonight knowing I did the
right thing by writing this letter. I will continue my mission to make sure all who are
in this world who may feel unloved or judged, feel loved and feel like they can live
their best in a world that sometimes makes you feel your worst. I hope this at least
finds you questioning inside what is right. I hope when you get on your knees

tonight in prayer you ask God for the answer and stay open minded to what just
may come. As for myself, I promise to practice patience as best I can.

“In a world where you can be anything, be yourself”.
Thank you for being a part of making me who I am today, I only hope and
pray that one day I feel welcomed again.....
With all my pride,
Alan Whitley