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The Athy parish has been the subject of debate online.
Mass Protests

Gay married couple to return to church choir in Kildare after 'overwhelming' public support

A local Catholic activist had objected to their presence.

Updated 4.08 pm

A MARRIED GAY couple have decided to return to their church choir in a Kildare town after receiving huge support from locals in the area.

Jacinta O’Donnell and Geraldine Flanagan decided to stop singing at St Michael’s Catholic Church in Athy after a parishioner and Catholic activist objected to their prominent role.

The pair got married over the summer and Jacinta O’Donnell says that she was subsequently contacted by Anthony Murphy who said that their involvement was not appropriate.

Murphy is also the editor of the Catholic Voice newspaper.

O’Donnell grew up in the local area and has been singing in the parish for many years. Speaking yesterday, she said that she and her wife had taken the “difficult decision” to step aside.

The case has provoked huge interests and today O’Donnell has said that the support they’ve received has meant that they are to reverse their decision.

“Since the interview on Kfm yesterday, both Geraldine and I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the public support we have received,” she said on Kildare Focus on Kfm before asking people not to direct abuse towards Murphy.

We will never be able to sufficiently thank you, the people of our congregation, the people of our town Athy, for your love, your support and your prayers. Buoyed by all of this support, we as a choir will be returning to sing at 6pm Mass in Athy tomorrow evening.

“It is our wish that the focus should now turn to the love of God and his mercy,” she added.

Before their case came to widespread attention, O’Donnell yesterday explained why they had come to their initial decision.

“Well we were mulling it over all summer when we were made aware of Anthony Murphy’s feelings and when we saw some of the very negative and I suppose hateful stuff that was on his Facebook page et cetera. And then I got the personal text message from him,” she told the the same station.

Geraldine and I, the only things we’ve tried to do is provide a music ministry and the whole idea behind that was to enhance the Eucharist and bringing this trouble to the church would be really futile and would negate anything we’re trying to do. So we thought about it very hard and it was and still is a very difficult decision that we came to and we’re both very upset by it.

The couple say that the parish parish priest Canon Frank McEvoy has been supportive of them but that Murphy also contacted him to voice his opposition.

Kfm Radio Kildare / SoundCloud

(Click here if audio doesn’t play)

Speaking on the same programme, Murphy argued that the prominence of the couple on the altar during Mass presented a contradictory message to the church’s opposition to the marriage of gay people.

“This is not about personalities,” Murphy told presenter Shane Beatty.

Clearly, the way the choir operates in Athy, Jacinta and Geraldine are positioned on an altar in the sanctuary, in a stage almost, sharing the stage with the parish priest. You can not have contradiction where the church teaches one thing and people who are right next to the tabernacle, the blessed sacrament, contradict all of that teaching.

Murphy denied that he actually asked the couple to step aside but that he suggested they do so. During the programme the presenter read back the text message he sent to Jacinta three days after the pair married. It read:

Jacinta I trust following Wednesday you will have the decency to resign from the choirs and as Eucharistic minister in the same ways you had the decency to resign from the lay Dominicans. Anything else would be a contradiction and hypocrisy.

Addressing words “contradiction and hypocrisy” that ended his message, Murphy said “well that is what it is”.

A request for a comment has been made to St. Michaels Parish, Athy on the matter.

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