After four years working as the
full-time director of music liturgy at St. Andrew Catholic Church in
Verona, Wisconsin, Charles Philyaw was fired for participating in the
gay relationship he openly disclosed to parish priests when he was
hired, reports the Wisconsin State Journal.
Philyaw and his partner participated
fully in the religious community. And as their faith grew deeper, so
did their commitment to the church. But trouble began earlier this
year when Philyaw's partner, James Mulder-Philyaw, who came to the
faith as an adult, expressed his devotion to the church by receiving
training so that he could serve the Eucharist – the body and blood
of Jesus Christ – as a layperson.
Some parishioners became alarmed at the
couple's elevated leadership in the church. Five members contacted
the diocese, some said they felt “uncomfortable” after receiving
Communion from Mulder-Philyaw, while others called the couple's
After the dismissal, 116 church members
signed a petition delivered to their bishop praising their musical
director and lamenting the loss.
“I consider myself to have been a
good Catholic for over 70 years and find it morally unacceptable for
a person's job to be in jeopardy because of his or her sexual
preference,” said Nancy Oswald, a St. Andrew member for 40 years,
and signer to the petition to retain Philyaw.
Other members expressed concern over
the firing, saying it had caused them to curtail church involvement.
The loss of the job has left the couple
financially vulnerable – foreclosure of their home is likely.
“It's been devastating,” said
Philyaw. “These five people didn't think through how they were
going to be impacting our lives.”