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Church music director unceremoniously fired after being in same-sex marriage for almost a decade

Lily Wakefield June 25, 2020
Terry Gonda: Church music director fired for being in same-sex marriage

Terry Gonda (right) said her church accepted her marriage to wife Kristi (left), but the archdiocese did not. (Terry Gonda/ Facebook)

Terry Gonda, a music director at a Chicago Catholic church, has been fired for being in a same-sex marriage, despite being openly married to a woman for almost a decade.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Gonda was notified that she had been fired from her job at Saint John Fisher parish in a June 12 email from the Archdiocese of Detroit, which read: “The Archdiocese is choosing to activate its morality clause to terminate your employment.”

Gonda, 59, met the love of her life Kirsti Reeve, 51, in 1994 and they got married in 2011. She said she never kept her relationship a secret from anyone, including her family, friends and church, and they even perform folk music together.

Gonda said: “It’s a shot to the head from headquarters. The dehumanisation of this is just not right… my heart just hurts because I have an outpouring of love for them.

“I love them. I believe that they believe they’re doing the right thing —  they’re trying to protect the church.”

Catholic church same-sex marriage
(Terry Gonda/ Facebook)

Gonda said Saint John Fisher parish “took a Pope Francis approach of not judging but seeing our hearts” and accepted and embraced her identity, but the Archdiocese apparently did not.

The problem, she said, is conservative Catholics trying to crush more liberal parts of the church, and so she felt compelled to speak out.

She said: “I need to say something. People are terrified, thinking, ‘If they can fire Terry, I’m next.’

“My soul is filled with grief. But in my soul, something is happening.

“There are signs. God is in this… God is preparing us for what’s in store. There must be a better way.”

One Saint John Fisher parishioner, Sheran Tioran, 77, said Gonda’s firing was “unjust and un-Christian”.

Tioran said: “I’m saddened and I’m angry. For us here at the chapel, this is not the Jesus that I know… Jesus would not be turning Terry and Kirsti away.

“He’d be welcoming them with open arms. It’s just ridiculous.”

But Gonda said despite being fired from the church because her same-sex marriage, she and her wife will be in the front row at Sunday mass.

She added: “I’ve got God. I’m filled with joy and love.”

Gonda was fired just nine days after the historic US Supreme Court ruling which provided employment protections for LGBT+ workers. However, because she works for a religious institution, the ruling does not apply to her.

More: Archdiocese of Detroit, Catholic Church, Chicago, Saint John Fisher parish, same sex marriage, Terry Gonda

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