Inverness church music director fired after engagement to longtime partner
Holy Family Church, Archdiocese of Chicago not commenting
Colin Collette, the longtime music director at Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness, said posting pictures on Facebook of the happiest day of his life led to one of the worst one in which he lost his job of 17 years.
While on vacation in Rome last week, Collette's male partner proposed to him in front of St. Peter's Basilica. Collette said "yes," and the happy couple posted pictures of the occasion online.
On Sunday, after leading the music for all five Masses at Holy Family, Collette said church pastor Terry Keehan asked him to come to his office.
"He said, 'I know this is something you've been longing for a long time, and in light of this I'd be happy to accept your resignation,'" Collette said, recounting what Keehan told him.
Collette said at first he considered resigning, but something inside him told him he shouldn't because he had done nothing wrong. He left Keehan's office without resigning, but was fired Monday, he said.
Holy Family officials directed questions to the Archdiocese of Chicago.
In a written statement Wednesday, Archdiocese officials said they were aware of the action taken by the leadership at Holy Family.
"The decision by the pastor of Holy Family was made with the knowledge of the Archdiocese and in consultation with the Archdiocese; however, we do not comment on or discuss an individual's personnel issues," the statement reads.
"Those that serve as Ministers of the Church, including worship ministers, are expected to conform their lives publicly with the teachings of the Church," the statement concludes.
Keehan called him Monday evening and asked him again to resign, Collette said. When Collette refused, Keehan told him his services were no longer required.
Collette says he is hurt deeply by the decision.
"Holy Family was supposed to be a place where all are welcome," he said, noting the church's motto is "Inviting all to new life in Christ."
"The face of Holy Family has been changed forever and that's so sad," Collette said.
On Tuesday Collette sent an email about his firing to all the members of the church's choir, which he estimates to include 100 to 120.
"I needed them to know that I'm not doing this to contradict church teachings or make a political statement," he said. "I believe God has given me this in my life and saying no to this relationship would be saying no to God."
The response from his choir was overwhelmingly positive, Collette said. Their kindness and acceptance often moved him to tears.
Collette drove to the church Tuesday afternoon to gather his belongings. He said he was allowed to do so any day this week except Thursday, which is when the choir meets.
"This has been so horrific that I just pray that we even have a wedding," Collette said. "There's no way to describe how horrible this has been."
Editor's note: Colin Collette found a largely supportive crowd at a special meeting that was described as being "bigger than at Christmas." Click here to learn more about the meeting