Hi! We’re Claire Dente and Leslie Campo from Media, PA. Leslie was born and raised in the Philadelphia area. Claire was born in New York City and grew up in northern New Jersey, moving to Philadelphia to attend college. We met on April 15, 2000 on Long Beach Island, New Jersey at a retreat sponsored by a gay and lesbian spirituality group at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Philadelphia, PA. We were married on December 26, 2014 in Swarthmore, PA.
We are members of St. Vincent de Paul Church in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Claire has served on the Parish Pastoral Council in the past, and Leslie cooks casseroles for the dining room of Face-to-Face, an outreach program begun by St. Vincent’s and now independently run from its location on the church grounds. We were both raised in the Roman Catholic tradition and our faith is very important to us.
Leslie has a degree in theology from Immaculata University and a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has taught elementary school in both Catholic and public schools and currently teaches 5th grade in the Ridley School District in Pennsylvania.
Claire has a Master of Social Work from The Catholic University of America and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Temple University. She taught in Catholic schools at the elementary and college levels, and worked as the director of a College Counseling Center and Disabilities Services Office at a Catholic university. Claire is currently a tenured Associate Professor in the Undergraduate Social Work department at West Chester University of Pennsylvania where she teaches about issues related to the intersection of religion, spirituality and sexual orientation.
We are traveling to World Meeting of Families to ask Pope Francis to listen seriously to the lives and stories of LGBTQ Roman Catholics. We are committed to the values of our faith and to our families. There are many other LGBTQ Roman Catholics who share this commitment. When Leslie’s brother-in-law died suddenly in 2012, we stepped in to assist her sister and three children with homework, meals, rides and cheering at sporting events. As our parents age, we do what we can to give them support by spending time with them and making sure that we can help them out with any needs. We hope that Pope Francis and the Church will come to recognize, validate and support our relationship.
We hope that through this pilgrimage we will find affirmation from our church. Many people ask us why we stay in the Roman Catholic Church when it has often been less than welcoming of LGBTQ people. We love our faith and hope that our simple presence can call our Roman Catholic community to welcome LGBTQ Catholics and the gifts that God offers to the community through us.