'You can come and just be yourself': 'Alternative' Catholic church hosting Pride Mass

  • Colin Collette co-founded Agape Community of New Hope in Palatine, a church with an alternative Catholic worship experience. Agape will have a Pride Mass at 5 p.m. Saturday, at Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist in Palatine

    Colin Collette co-founded Agape Community of New Hope in Palatine, a church with an alternative Catholic worship experience. Agape will have a Pride Mass at 5 p.m. Saturday, at Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist in Palatine Daily Herald File Photo, 2017

  • Agape Community of New Hope, an alternative Catholic worship experience, will host a Pride Mass at 5 p.m. Saturday at Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist in Palatine.

      Agape Community of New Hope, an alternative Catholic worship experience, will host a Pride Mass at 5 p.m. Saturday at Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist in Palatine. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

  • Agape Community of New Hope, described as an alternative Catholic worship experience, will host a Pride Mass on Saturday at Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist in Palatine.

      Agape Community of New Hope, described as an alternative Catholic worship experience, will host a Pride Mass on Saturday at Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist in Palatine. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/27/2019 8:57 AM

Fired as music director at Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness five years ago after publicly announcing his engagement to a man, Colin Collette today is hoping to attract widespread support for a Pride Mass this weekend at a Palatine church he co-founded.

Agape Community of New Hope, described as an alternative Catholic worship experience, will host the service at 5 p.m. Saturday at Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist, 1025 N. Smith St.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Mass will be celebrated by a member of the organization Roman Catholic Womenpriests. The woman who will provide the homily is the mother of two sons who are gay and transgender.

While it'll be Agape's third Pride Mass, organizers for the first time are inviting worshippers from outside the congregation. The church's mission statement and core values call for inclusion of LGBTQ people, their families and friends.

"Communities need to start living what they believe, that the word 'Catholic' means 'universal' and by definition 'all are welcome,'" Collette said.

Collette said the Pride Mass is needed because the LGBTQ community "is still under attack" by the Catholic church. He cited last week's case of a school that refused to fire a gay teacher as ordered by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, leading church officials to indicate they would no longer recognize it as a Catholic school.

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But here in Illinois, the Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach of Chicago will host a Pride Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in the city.

Collette was fired from his 17-year post as Holy Family's music director after announcing his engagement to Will Nifong in 2014, a move that sharply divided parishioners. Collette and his partner were married in Rome in July 2015.

A federal court in April 2017 ruled in the Archdiocese of Chicago's favor in a discrimination suit brought by Collette.

Agape, which is not sanctioned by the Archdiocese of Chicago, was co-founded by Collette and Jill Piccolino in her Palatine basement four years ago. Agape went on to rent space at Hoffman Estates Park District's Willow Recreation Center and St. John United Church of Christ in Palatine before settling at Countryside Church.

The church describes itself as "an intentional Eucharist community rooted in the Roman Catholic tradition."

Piccolino spent 17 years at Holy Family before leaving her position as assistant director of worship in support of Collette. She said she and others are encouraging those who don't attend Agape to visit Saturday.

"You can come and just be yourself and not have to hide," Piccolino said.

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