More Than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church - Vol. 1

By Christine Firer Hinze; J. Patrick Hornbeck II | Go to book overview

17 “Church, Heal Thyself”
Reflections of a Catholic Physician

MARK ANDREW CLARK

Columbia University

I grew up in a working-class family in Rockland County, New York, the fifth of six children, one of two boys, and the only gay child of my parents. I was fortunate to have very loving parents whose primary focus was on their family and on their faith.

From my earliest memories, being Catholic was not peripheral but really central in our family’s life. We children were diligently schooled and received the sacraments, prayed the family rosary, and absorbed the rhythm of the liturgical calendar as part of the flow of daily life. When it came time for my first confession and communion, and later my confirmation, I remember being drawn in by the sacredness of the mystery of faith. My CCD teacher and my parents communicated that mystery to me, and somehow it struck me that these sacraments were in fact encounters with God, who, I was told, had a personal interest in me. That early period began for me the pro cess of deepening my knowledge of the reality of God’s presence in my life. I was utterly convinced that God is real, present, and interested.

At about the same time, I began to know that I was different in a way that I could never speak about to anyone. I didn’t know what it was to be gay; I didn’t know that such a thing existed. But, somehow, I knew that I had a shameful secret that I had better keep to myself. And I did. I buried it so deeply that it didn’t resurface until my second year of college. Like many gay and lesbian people, I managed to keep myself compartmentalized in such a way that would allow me to function in this world of contradictions.

My love for God was real. I attended Fordham University as an undergraduate at the Rose Hill campus in the Bronx, where I studied philosophy. I was thinking about becoming a priest, and I spent the first year and a half of college in the newly minted Neumann Residence, a pre-seminary house of formation for the archdiocese of New York. I was blissful. I loved

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