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Dignity Philadelphia's
50th Anniversary:
Celebrating Our Past, Present and Future

On May 20 & 21, 2023, Dignity Philadelphia celebrated its 50th Anniversary, honoring Sr. Jeannine Gramick.  


Sister Jeannine Gramick,

Dignity Philadelphia 50th Anniversary Honoree


LGBTQ Philly Walking Tour

The deadline to register for tickets is Friday, April 28


Saturday, May 20, 2023
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.

Hosted by Beyond the Bell

About the Event

Led by Beyond the Bell Tours, enjoy a walking tour of Philadelphia's Gayborhood and take in LGBTQ history. Beyond the Bell Tours is a local, small business inspired by the stories that go untold in Philadelphia. The tours are designed to include and to share the incredible stories of women, people of color, queer folks and indigenous peoples who have made Philadelphia the city that we know and love. Start time: 3:00pm on Saturday, May 20, 2023 The start location: The corner of 13th and Locust by Bud and Marilyn's (1234 Locust St, Philadelphia, PA 19107) What you need to know: Tour is approximately 1.5 miles long and will end at 13th and Locust. Tours last between 1:30-1:45 hours. What you need to bring: Come wearing weather appropriate clothes, shoes to walk in, and water to stay hydrated. A special thank you to Dignity USA for helping to organize this event!

Jubilee Dinner

Event dedicated to the memory and legacy of Jimmy Calnan (1942 - 2022)

Saturday, May 20, 2023
6:00 - 10:00 p.m.
The Mummers Museum

1100 S. 2nd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147

About the Event

A dinner and dance to celebrate Dignity Philadelphia’s 50th Anniversary, with Guest of Honor Sr. Jeannine Gramick. Enjoy dinner and dancing, connect with old friends, and celebrate our Guest of Honor Sr. Jeannine Gramick at the Dignity Philadelphia 50th Anniversary Jubilee Dinner taking place on Saturday, May 20, 2023 from 6:00 - 10:00 pm at The Mummers Museum (1100 S. 2nd St. Philadelphia, PA 19147). Tickets are $50 per person, however no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Please email us at to inquire about scholarships to cover the cost of any event. For more information, including about accessibility, dietary requirements, and the guest of honor, please visit the online event site by clikcing the 'Get Tickets' button.

Q&A with Sr. Jeannine Gramick

Sunday, May 21, 2023
4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
The Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany
330 S 13th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19107

Street Level

About the Event

Sister Jeannine Gramick was instrumental in the founding of Dignity Philadelphia. Hear from Sr. Jeannine during a question and answer session as she reflects on the early days of Dignity Philadelphia. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask Sr. Jeannine their own questions. Location: The Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany, 330 S 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, Street Level Time: 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. After the event, stay/come back for the 50th Jubilee Mass taking place in the same location from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. For more information please visit the online event site by clikcing the 'Get Tickets' button.

Jubilee Mass

Sunday, May 21, 2023
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

The Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany
330 S 13th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19107

Street Level

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Hotel Information

For those guests traveling from out of town, we invite you to stay overnight in Philadelphia using the Dignity hotel block at the Warwick Rittenhouse Square for $229/night. Use the button below to book your room.
The reservation deadline of April 19, 2023 to guarantee the room rate has passed. You can still contact the Warwick Hotel to book a room at their available, individual rates.

Thank You To

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Founded in 1996, Tolsma Productions is a full-service video production and consulting company serving the nonprofit and business communities. Certified by the NGLCC as a LGBT Business Enterprise, Tolsma Productions is proud to support Dignity Philadelphia’s 50th Anniversary.

Donate & support
the 50th Anniversary

Registration fees cover only a portion of the cost of running the anniversary celebration. Donations are welcome to help keep costs accessible for as many attendees as possible. It is our goal to raise $10,000 to support Dignity Philadelphia's 50th Anniversary. 

A gift of $50 covers the cost of attendance for one person unable to pay. 

A gift of $100 or more gives you the opportunity to dedicate your donation to someone who has passed away or who you would like to honor, which will appear in the program book. 

Gifts of all sizes are welcome. You can make a donation via the button below or by writing a check to Dignity/Philadelphia and mailing it to our PO Box. Additionally, if you plan to purchase a ticket and make a donation, you can do all of that via the online ticketing platform.

If you have any questions, please contact us at

Thank You To Our Donors



Robert Bodnar

Michael Bradley
In Memory of Lorraine Bradley

Susanne Cassidy
In Honor of Sr. Jeannine Gramick

Leo Chang

Bob Cunningham
In Memory of Bill Clossey


Brian Fagan
In Memory of Frederick A. Brown


Barbara Gindhart
In Memory of Barbara A. Gindhart


Knock Restaurant & Bar

Michael Leiendecker

In Memory of Our Deceased Celebrants | In Honor of Henry Chau

Kevin Mahoney
In Memory of Father Ronald E.F. Hoskins

Dugan McGinley & Scott Rowlier
In Memory of all members who died of AIDS

Chuck Mills

Fr. Paul Morrissey, OSA
In Memory of Richard Cannuli, OSA and Ralph Monteiro, OSA

Emily Mullin & Liam Deihr
In Memory of Bill Quinn & Jimmy Calnan

Karen Murphy

Marc Radell

Br. Ben Regotti, OFM Cap
In Memory of Fr. Ron Hoskins

Michael Rocks
In Memory of Clyde Sams

Patricia Stubenbort
In Memory of Fr. Paul Stubenbort

Anne Tatreau
In Honor of Kate Huffman

Tom Yates

In Memory of Maurice Lapierre


List includes those who gave $100 or more as of April 22, 2023. We thank everyone for their contributions - no matter the size. We apologize for any unintentional omissions.

Dignity Philadelphia:
The Founding Vision, the Present Moment, and the Future

by Norman Simmons

As Dignity Philadelphia celebrates 50 years, we gain inspiration from the women and men who formed the early community and guided it during its those years. These people of faith set out on an amazing venture to explore what it means to be Catholic and LGBTQ. They changed their lives, our lives, and hopefully the lives of more LGBTQ people in the future.

The roots for Dignity Philadelphia go back to 1968, before even the first Dignity group in California started. John Politis, the first co-chair of Dignity Philadelphia, wrote:

“We were coming to home liturgies about once every other week for about six years before that [the start of Dignity Philadelphia]. We didn’t start on Sundays until 1974. We were advertising the liturgies on Tuesday and changed to Thursday nights and people referred to it as Tuesday night liturgy. We advertised by putting posters on poles in the gay areas of center city and west philly.”

The lesbian and gays who gathered for the home liturgies, were Catholic and Episcopalian. They cherished their ecumenism and lay leadership. Politis said they were inspired by the small Christian communities in Latin America.

Meanwhile in 1973, Sr. Jeannine Gramick, who was serving as a chaplain for Dignity Baltimore, published her article, “Myths around Homosexuals,” in the publication Intellect. One myth that she debunked was that homosexuals were pedophiles. Also, Sr. Jeannine would minister to the newly formed Philadelphia Chapter of Dignity.

In 1974 Dignity USA, the National Dignity organization, appointed John Politis and Bob Kahn as co-chairs of Dignity Philadelphia. They oversaw a year of progress with the Chapter. They joined the crusade (started by Barbara Gittings and the Gay and Lesbian Task Force of the American Library Association) to demand more books for lesbians and gays at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Also, they formed a committee to draw up a constitution for the Chapter.


In 1974, when Fr. Robert Nugent addressed Philadelphia City Council in support of the gay civil rights bill, the Archdiocese spoke against gay civil rights, and the bill did not pass.

In 1975, the president and vice-president met with the chancellor of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, but the results were negative: the Archdiocese gave no recognition of the Dignity/Philadelphia nor allowed the Chapter to use church property. 

The Archdiocese would ban Fr. Nugent from celebrating the Eucharist in Philadelphia. He and Sr. Jeannine left Philadelphia to found New Ways Ministry in Maryland.

Dignity members held protests to draw attention to discrimination. When the opportunities for lesbians and gays to socialize were few, Dignity hosted Halloween and New Year’s celebrations–sometimes with other LGBTQ groups. A member coached a baseball team. Some gathered to watch movies in their homes. The Chapter offered workshops to educate people on HIV/AIDS, made an AIDS quilt, and displayed memorial panels for Sunday Liturgy.

The vision of these Dignity Philadelphia pioneers bears these significant marks:

  • Roots of the community pre-dates the founding of Dignity chapters in Philadelphia and elsewhere

  • Chapter includes gay men, lesbians, and married couples with children

  • Ecumenical, includes Episcopalians, Catholics, even a Protestant of Jewish heritage

  • Lay leaders hold responsibility for running the Chapter

  • Membership tends to be middle-class

  • Members actively fight for gay civil rights

  • Ordained priests celebrate liturgies, despite Archdiocesan disapproval.

The vision of these founding women and men is a gift not just to us, but to the Church of Philadelphia.

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes but the passing on of the flame.” Pope Francis shares with us this insight from Gustav Mahler (Querida Amazonia, 2020). As we consider the following questions and dream of the future of Dignity Philadelphia, what is the flame that we will we pass on?

How does the founders’ vision open our future as a Chapter? 
What are the challenges of the present and the next years? 
How might we respond to those challenges? 
Do we take responsibility to hand the flame to a new generation and the next 50 years of Dignity Philadelphia?


Please send your comments on the founding vision, the Chapter’s challenges, and your hopes for the future to hello@dignityphila,org.

P.S. Join us in May 2023 to celebrate the past, present and future of Dignity Philadelphia!

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