“The growth of EI is needed in the Church.” | Meet EI Mission Partner, Mark
It’s a beautiful thing when mission partners embody the postures of Eden Invitation. For Mark, real people and their real stories are at the heart of his call to support the work of Eden Invitation in the Church.
Mark first encountered Eden Invitation through a friend and fellow graduate student back in 2018. “Eden Invitation played a big role for her as she was thinking about her own life and vocation,” Mark remembered. Integrating the Church’s teaching on same-sex relationships wasn’t part of his personal journey, but witnessing his classmate’s wrestling and Eden
Invitation’s role in helping her come to a place of peace and joy caught Mark’s attention.
“There was something about the personal way that she connected with [Eden Invitation] and that people [in the community] seem to connect with one another,” he went on to say. For his classmate, Eden Invitation wasn’t just another resource there to explain Church teaching. It was a community of peers to walk with in the midst of similar experiences.
As graduate studies continued, Mark learned more about Eden Invitation’s strategy from his classmate’s involvement. “[EI] has a receptive approach, taking the stories of people and the stories of their lives and starting from a listening point of view, having the Church’s beautiful and cohesive vision of sexuality in mind.” This personalist receptivity resonated deeply with Mark’s own values, so it wasn’t difficult for him to get excited about Eden Invitation’s mission on a variety of levels.
The real people and real stories in Mark’s own family also highlighted the necessity for a space like Eden Invitation. “Two of my brothers have LGBT experiences—one brother is gay and also Catholic, and I know he’s wrestling with the same questions [as my classmate did]. I pray for him a lot, for his discernment and his journey,” Mark shared. “And I have another brother who is trans and has totally rejected Catholicism.”
These stories have given Mark “a heart for people with these experiences” and a desire to address that “there’s often not room in Church settings for people with LGBT experiences to be acknowledged.”
Mark, who is married with several young children, is committed to fostering holistic conversations about the Church’s sexual ethic in an effort to bring the family of the Church into greater communion. “Seeing the married vocation in a complimentary way to the vocation of someone who is called to celibacy,” for instance, is a way in which EI’s mission is relevant to his own state of life. “There are challenges for married people as well,” Mark reflects. “The married vocation and the single vocation can support each other in those challenges. And when it all fits together, it’s a beautiful picture.”
As a result of seeing not only the real impact of Eden Invitation so far and the potential for it to meet the needs of so many others, Mark and his family discerned becoming consistent mission partners by making a monthly gift. “I encourage people to give,” Mark said. “EI’s mission is more and more relevant as [culture] continues to evolve. It provides for a need that is not met in most Catholic communities.”
He also encourages others to consider that the mission’s relevance expands beyond those with questions about sexuality or sexual identity. “It’s not only helpful for people with LGBT experiences,” Mark says, “but also for family members or people who are concerned for loved ones.”
In the end, Mark’s desire to cultivate the growth of Eden Invitation is rooted in his love for the Body of Christ. The way Mark sees it, “The growth of EI is needed in the Church.”
Along with Mark and his family, consider going deeper as a mission partner this Advent season!
Visit www.edeninvitation.com/donate to learn more.