2021 Anniversary Drive Donor Spotlight | Fr. Peter Towsley
As Christians, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all the needs we see in the world, feeling desperate to help, but painfully aware of our limitations. And yet, something truly powerful happens when we recognize and support other members of the Body of Christ who are using their particular gifts and passions to meet needs; responding to the unique mission that God has given them. For Eden Invitation donor, Fr. Peter Towsley, this is what happens when he gives to Eden Invitation.
Fr. Peter has given his life in service to the people of God in a myriad of ways over the 30 years of his priesthood. From working with Mother Teresa and those suffering in the AIDS epidemic in the Bronx, to serving as a vicar in his diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., to his current role as chaplain for Paradisus Dei, a ministry supporting marriages and families, Fr. Peter has always sought to be open to where God was leading him, seeing his calling to be that of a missionary, spreading God’s love wherever he is.
“I can’t be in every place, I can’t,” says Fr. Peter. “But here is Eden Invitation, as an invitation (for people) to dialogue and encounter Jesus Christ. I can’t be in every place, but that’s the beauty. Eden Invitation is my means to reach out to a community and enrich them with the Gospel and help others encounter Christ through this particular ministry.”
Having been involved in fostering the early growth of Courage International, creating space for those experiencing same-sex attraction has always been on Fr. Peter’s radar. He feels a particular call to serve and empower families, through his work with Paradisus Dei and yet, feels strongly that he also has the responsibility to empower others who are engaged with this community.
“This movement’s always on the front line, encountering the culture,” says Fr. Peter. “(People) ask me, ‘Why aren’t you dealing with same-sex attraction?’ That’s not what God has put on my heart. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a care or concern for these ministries.”
“This is what separates Eden Invitation,” he says. “They’re on the frontline, trying to engage that particular part of the culture. And, to my knowledge, there’s nothing else out there that is trying to engage that; (they are) unique and unlike any other.”
Knowing the importance of a missionary spirit from the early years of his formation with the Missionaries of Charity, Fr. Peter values apostolates that open the doors to dialogue and meaningful conversation. For him, this is what Eden Invitation represents to the LGBT+ community.
“I look for groups that are willing to dialogue, and that’s where Eden Invitation stuck a real note for me,” says Fr. Peter. “We have to help people to encounter Jesus Christ. I see Eden Invitation as being an avenue to encounter Jesus Christ.”
Fr. Peter likens the ministry of Eden Invitation to the story of Jesus calling Zacchaeus from simply observing him from the tree, to dining together.
“Eden Invitation is Jesus walking and inviting the Zacchaeus to, ‘Come down, we want to dine with you, we want to get to know you,’” says Fr. Peter. “We have to walk the byways and highways of life, inviting Zacchaeus out of the tree.”.
“That’s what makes the ministry unique,” he says. “It’s thinking outside of the box and it is not waiting for them to come to us. We have to get out of the pews and go into the streets… Now is the moment. Eden Invitation has put up their hand and said, ‘I’ll go Lord.’”
Despite encountering numerous apostolates of all varieties throughout the decades, Eden Invitation is the first one that he chose to financially support.
I’ve never given to any other apostolate—outside of my godchildren or families in need—this is the first,” says Fr. Peter. “My reason being as simple as (Eden Invitation) was willing to dialogue, and not out of their richness, but out of their poverty, out of their brokenness. There is a willingness to open their own lives and how they’ve encountered Christ, to help others to encounter Christ.”
“Eden Invitation is an invitation to a global community who in a small, but significant way is dialoguing with individuals who are on the periphery,” he adds. “That, I need to support.”
Fr. Peter recalls the words of Mother Teresa in encouraging others to give generously to support the efforts of Eden Invitation.
“God cannot be outdone in our generosity,” Fr. Peter says. “Mother (Teresa) put it this way, ‘Give until it hurts.’”
“Mother (Teresa) saw the wounds in the Body of Christ and she knelt to minister to them,” he says. “That’s what Eden Invitation is doing.”