Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-04-25
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Rockford Music Director Fired by Catholic Church

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

The news spread quickly through Rockford, Ill., when the popular music director at the town's largest Catholic church was fired because he is gay and would not promise to live a celibate life.

Bill Stein's supporters rallied to his defense, sending protest letters to Holy Family church officials. While church officials are not talking, Stein is not remaining silent. Never an activist, the Rockford-area native is more than happy to speak out against what he views as an injustice—especially in light of recent progress on gay rights.

More than 2,700 families are part of Holy Family. Stein has worked there five years, but three months ago his sexuality became public only because he mentioned to colleagues that he and his partner of 10 years were going to adopt. While his co-workers were supportive, some families found out and took their concerns to the church's leaders, saying they couldn't believe a gay person could be allowed to work in church and be close to children. Stein did not know these parents, but both had daughters in his junior high school choir associated with the parish. One family went right to Bishop Thomas Doran.

Stein's supporters rose in support, sending letters to the Bishop. 'So that fizzled out because of the backlash of people standing up for me,' Stein told Windy City Times. Stein said his pastor, Msgr. Thomas Bales, was supportive and said this is 'just wrong.' Things changed when Msgr. David Kagan came in as parochial administrator at Holy Family when Bales went on leave for health reasons.

On June 17, Stein went to what he thought was a routine budget meeting. Kagan (who is the Vicar General—right under the Rockford Bishop) was there with the diocese attorney and one of the church's new priests. Kagan said he had a letter written by Bales, dated the beginning of May, saying while he thinks Stein is a good guy, he was also aware he is in a relationship with another man, they plan to adopt a child, and 'I think this will cause the church scandal and he should be terminated.'

Stein questions the validity of the letter, and said he will not believe it until he has a chance to verify it with Bales. Was there a conspiracy to oust Stein while Bales was away at the Mayo Clinic? Even during the termination, Stein said he was told his work was 'impeccable.' 'I built the music program substantially,' Stein said. < p>'Two of the adult choirs toured Austria and Italy last year.' They performed at Pope John Paul II's canonization of a saint. Kagan told Stein if he promised to live a chaste life, 'Then you can keep your job.'

'I know church teaching,' Stein said. 'I was raised Catholic and have worked for a long time in the church, which calls this the 'homosexual condition.' It says we accept homosexuals as brothers and sisters in Christ, but according to the Catholic religion, sex is only allowed within marriage between a man and a woman. Kagan is a canon lawyer, so I know chaste meant get on your knees and pray for forgiveness, or lose your job.'

'I said I am comfortable with my sexuality, I have accepted who I am, and I have never once flaunted anything at work. It is my job—I am a professional. I told Kagan yes, I have had a partner for 10 years, and our integrity and dignity as children of god are not worth losing for a job,' Stein said.

Kagan 'thanked me for being honest and told me I was fired. The lawyer, she said 'you need to understand we are not firing you because you are homosexual, but because you engaged in homosexual activity.' I did not even respond. You can't argue with these people,' Stein said. 'I wanted to walk out with every ounce of dignity.'

'Word got out—to my choir members,' Stein said. Parishioners were 'very supportive. People were outraged—much angrier than I ever was, or my partner. Anger, yes. Hurt, yes. But these people were livid. ... The church had pedophile priests it moved around from parish to parish and allowed them to continue. And they fired me. I have done nothing illegal and I was fired. We're at a point after all the things, as lay people, of saying, 'this is our church.' We need to speak up. A lot of people are sick to death of doing 'whatever you say father' ... god gave us all an intellect and a mind and he expects us to use them.'

Prior to moving back to Rockford, Stein worked for more than four years at St. Priscilla Church at Harlem and Addison in Chicago. His sexuality was not an issue there, he said. Prior to St. Priscilla he was an undergrad at Illinois Wesleyan. During his post at St. Priscilla, he did graduate work at Northwestern, where he received a degree in Church Music and Organ Performance. At Holy Family, Stein was in charge of adult and children's choirs, and music for funerals and weddings. He was the director and organist, and he oversaw a three-year, million-dollar project to find a pipe organ builder and raise funds for its installation. Stein and his partner, Manny Ahorrio, who works as a part-time waiter while he is a full-time culinary student, may have to delay plans to adopt until Stein finds another job. The couple knew this incident would create a big story—they wanted to get their story out to raise public awareness, but Stein said he does not plan to sue the church.

Both of their families have been '100 percent supportive.' Ahorrio's parents are in Chicago, Stein's are in the Rockford area. 'Both parents told us they have never been so proud of us for what we are doing.'

Rockford, in Northwest Illinois, is generally conservative, but Stein said the initial response has been 'overwhelmingly in our favor—it's just incredible. ... With what just happened in the Supreme Court, I have become the unofficial gay spokesman in Rockford. I believe all things happen for a reason. I lost my job, it's horrible. A lot of people lose jobs. But fruit will be born out of this. We have received letters from gays in the community that say thank you for being a positive voice.'

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Billy Masters 2018-04-25
Illinoisans lobby on behalf of curriculum bill 2018-04-18
Billy Masters 2018-04-18
Guzzardi files bill expanding employment protections 2018-04-11
Billy Masters 2018-04-11
Billy Masters 2018-04-04
Billy Masters 2018-03-28
Billy Masters 2018-03-20
ELECTIONS Illinois Attorney General candidate Aaron Goldstein on progressive AG agenda 2018-03-18
Billy Masters 2018-03-14
New Hampshire House Passes Transgender Nondiscrimination Bill 2018-03-07
VIEWPOINTS Billy Graham's ministry of LGBTQ intolerance 2018-03-07
Billy Masters 2018-03-07
Billy Masters 2018-02-27
Anti-gay pastor Billy Graham dead at 99 2018-02-21
Billy Masters 2018-02-21
NATIONAL Trans foster-child bill, Black queer artist, breast-feeding first 2018-02-20
State 'License to Discriminate' Bills Threaten LGBT Access to Services 2018-02-18
Bill introduced for school curriculum including LGBTQ history 2018-02-16
Billy Masters 2018-02-14
Woodward, Bernstein talk about Nixon, Trump and Watergate at NEIU 2018-02-13
Woodward/Bernstein event Feb. 8 at NEIU 2018-02-07
Billy Masters 2018-02-07
Gloria Steinem attends Marie Newman Congressional benefit 2018-02-06
Billy Masters 2018-01-31
World news: Cuban custody, Gay Games, Chilean pro-trans bill 2018-01-30
Billy Masters 2018-01-24
Billy Masters 2018-01-17
Equality Calif. comments on Bernstein death 2018-01-17
World news: Israel lifts blood ban, EU opinion, Billie Jean King 2018-01-16
Billy Masters 2018-01-10
Billy Masters 2018-01-03
Billy Masters 2017-12-27
Billy Masters 2017-12-20
HRC: Puerto Rico Gov. Rossello Must Veto Anti-LGBTQ Bill 2017-12-15
Billy Masters 2017-12-13
HRC Calls on Congress to Reject NRA Gun Bill 2017-12-06
Billy Masters 2017-12-06
Billy Masters 2017-11-29
Billy Masters 2017-11-21

Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.