Independent Catholic Church Group Ordains Its First Transgender Priest

Minneapolis just ordained its first transgender priest this week, but you probably won’t be reading a statement from the Pope about it.

Shannon T.L. Kearns (via

The North American Old Catholic Church, an independent branch of Catholicism not affiliated with the Vatican, ordained Shannon T.L. Kearns to the priesthood on January 19th. Kearns is a transgender man with a track record of advocating for LGBT people in interfaith circles.

Kearns will start a new Minneapolis parish called House of the Transfiguration, according to a press release from the church.

The Advocate reports:

“I am honored and humbled to have my calling to ministry affirmed by the North American Old Catholic Church,” said Kearns, who transitioned while attending Union Theological Seminary, where he received a master of divinity degree. “I look forward to many years serving as a priest.”

The church blends Catholic tradition with progressive values such as LGBT inclusion, according to its website:

We consider gender diversity a blessed part of life and promote the full inclusion of LGBT persons in our religious life, sacraments, and clergy. Similarly, we advocate for the full inclusion of LGBT persons throughout society.

Big day for the transgender community — and for churches who totally reject conforming to the ways of the Vatican. Congrats to him!

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at