Parishioners show support for fired gay music director

Dozens of parishioners from Holy Family Parish in Inverness gathered at the church Sunday afternoon to express support for the parish's former music director, who is trying to get his job back.

Colin Collette was fired from the job in August after announcing his engagement to his male partner. He plans to meet with Cardinal Francis George on Tuesday to discuss his situation.

In the meantime, Collette's supporters participated in a prayer vigil on Sunday to show that they are behind him.

“Colin has been a tremendous force in our parish, a source of inspiration to people of all ages,” said parishioner Kathy Zweidinger of Hoffman Estates. “This vigil was a way for us to say that we'd like to see some changes in Church policies.”

The vigil, which was held before the regular 4 p.m. Mass at Holy Family, included songs, prayers and short talks from Collette's friends. The first to address the crowd was Will Nifong, Collette's fiance.

“Thank you for being here at this gathering, which is so vital to the health and integrity of not only this faith community here at Holy Family, but the faith community everywhere,” he said.

Pat Lynch talked about the effect that Collette has had on people he's worked with at the parish.

“He has illumined all whom he has served,” she said. “The lyrics of the songs he chooses have words that touch and break open our hearts.”

After the vigil, Collette said he was “amazed” by the support the Holy Family community has given him.

“I'm not so naive that I don't realize there are people here who want me gone, but I continue to be amazed at how loving this community has been,” he said. “To see everyone here — especially when there's an overtime Bears game on! — is really touching.”

Collette said he views his upcoming meeting with George as a way for Collette to let him “get to know me.”

“I want him to see who I am and why I want to be back working in this community,” he said.

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  Parishioners at Holy Family Parish in Inverness hold their hands up in blessing during a prayer vigil held Sunday in honor of former music director Colin Collette. Matt Arado/
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