Kansas City, MO, May 16, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Coordinator of Social Ministries at the Jesuit-run St. Francis Xavier Catholic Parish in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has been removed from her duties after she revealed publicly in an interview with a local magazine that she had “married” her lesbian lover.
Colleen Simon – a lapsed Catholic and divorced mother of two adult children who now embraces the faith of her same-sex partner, Lutheran pastor Donna Simon – was asked to resign last week after 816 Magazine ran a profile of local community leaders which stated Colleen and Donna had been legally “married” in Iowa in 2012. That is a clear violation of Catholic moral teaching, which says marriage is a sacred union between one man and one woman.
Colleen refused to resign, telling diocesan officials that they would have to fire her if they wanted her to leave. She told the Kansas City Star it was not a principled stand – she merely wanted to ensure she would receive unemployment benefits upon her separation from the diocese.
The diocese opted to go ahead and fire her – a decision Colleen told the Kansas City Star she believes was made directly by Bishop Robert Finn. She said she was not surprised by the decision. “I knew this was a losing engagement,” she said. “I was just hoping for a longer engagement.”
Colleen claims the previous pastor at St. Francis Xavier knew she was in a same-sex “marriage” when he hired her last year (he has since been replaced). She said she spoke openly about her “spouse” and her “beloved,” but tried to avoid referring to Donna – who flies a rainbow flag outside her St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church – as her “wife.”
Still, the pair appear to have been very “out” in their local community. Multiple posts on Donna’s public Facebook page openly refer to Colleen as “my beautiful wife” – including a photo caption from the Easter Vigil in which she described her partner as “totes adorbs” – and on the day the diocese first contacted Colleen about the consequences of the article, Donna wrote on Facebook that she was “angry” and called the Catholic Church a “homophobic institution.” She also said, “It wasn't a secret that Colleen is married to me. She was honest with the parish and its leaders.”
Colleen herself hinted publicly at the nature of their relationship in print back in April, in an article for the Ecclesio blog entitled, “You Must Be A Pontiff.” In her bio for the blog, she described herself as living “with three dogs, three cats, and one Lutheran pastor, to whom she is legally married, at least in Iowa.”
St. Francis Xavier had been Colleen’s fourth job in the Catholic Church since leaving her former career as a pharmaceutical representative. Previously, she worked in the Virginia’s Diocese of Richmond as the associate director of the Office of Justice and Peace and the diocesan director for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). Prior to that, she worked for Commonwealth Catholic Charities as a regional coordinator for Justice and Peace. Both of those jobs were held under her previous married name, Colleen Barranger.
After her “marriage” to Donna Simon, however, she changed her name, relocated to Kansas City and took a job as a secretary at St. James Catholic Church before finally moving on to St. Francis Xavier.
LifeSiteNews contacted the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese to request comment regarding Simon’s hiring and eventual termination. However, diocesan spokesman Jack Smith said the diocese was unable to comment on personnel matters.