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Priest Apologizes After Gay Author Gives Reading at Catholic School

Dominic Thrasher

A Michigan priest has publicly apologized for allowing a gay author to read to a preschool class at the parish school, claiming the invited author “does not represent the values of our Catholic faith.”

Fr. Tom Held, pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Church, Beal City, posted his apology on Facebook, which garnered attention and was shared widely beyond the parish community before it was taken down. Most comments on Facebook, however, supported Dominic Thrasher, the author who had read to students and is gay. Thrasher has been writing children’s books since the pandemic, mostly inspired by the family’s dogs, Sheriff and Cece.

Thrasher was upset that the priest felt the need to apologize for the author’s presence at the school. Interviewed by Fox 17, Thrasher said, “It just angers me…The way he made me feel like I’m a predator or like a convict or something coming into the school.”

This is not the first time that Thrasher has been excluded from Catholic education spaces. He revealed that he was once asked to give the commencement speech at his alma mater, a Catholic school, but was disinvited when administrators learned of his sexual orientation.

Commenting on the recent reading incident, Thrasher explained:

“’I came into a classroom to share the joy and love that I have for what I created, and to share that with other people. Why my sexuality has anything to do with that? Anything? It makes me mad.’”

Fox 17 reported that “Thrasher said he hopes Pastor Tom Held will be removed by the St. Joseph the Worker Church.”

WNEM reported that before Held apologized, Thrasher was very pleased with the reading itself and ultimately enjoyed it. Thrasher stated, “I hate that this situation has put a damper on something that has been bringing me so much joy.”

In the apology post, the priest acknowledged that the “conversation was appropriate for our students” and that “a teacher was present in the room at all times.” Held has since not responded to the uproar his apology caused, but the Diocese of Saginaw issued statement in support of the priest, stating:

“Several days after the visit, the pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Parish was contacted by school parents and parishioners who expressed concerns about the guest’s civil union, which is contrary to the Catholic Church’s teaching on human sexuality and marriage. The pastor appropriately responded to those concerns within the parish community in a way that recognized the guest’s privacy.

“Our Catholic Faith respects the dignity of every person. The Church teaches we are all created in the image and likeness of God and called to love one another. With that love comes our obligation to uphold and live the teachings of the Catholic Faith, individually and within our institutions.”

A year ago, Thrasher received an ALS diagnosis which has meant, in his words, that “I don’t have a lot of time.” But the author is resolved to seek making positive change in the time that is left. He commented:

“‘I just want to share my gifts and my love to the world. . .I had a friend yesterday say, “You know, Dominic, you were born to make waves.” And I go, “You know, if I’m the person that has to represent so many people out there like myself, I will do — I will fight until the end.”‘”

—Liam Myers (he/him), New Ways Ministry, April 3, 2024

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