Meet Meli

Hi all! My name is Meli Barber; originally from Columbus, OH, I now make my home in Indianapolis, IN with my wife, Carli. I’m thrilled to be joining the Equally Blessed pilgrimage to Panama! I am committed to working for LGBTQI inclusion in the Church and witnessing to the holiness of LGBTQI people.

I first came out when I was in college; I was lucky to come out surrounded by amazing Catholics who accepted me and encouraged me to find ways to hold these two parts of myself in tension. I never questioned whether it was possible to be gay and Catholic – buoyed by the love and support of my friends, community, campus ministry, etc. it seemed obvious that these identities could peacefully coexist. When I was in college, I became very involved with campus ministry and discerned a call to ministry. After I graduated, pursued an MA in theology and began working for a parish in Indianapolis doing youth and young adult ministry.

It was only after I started working in parish ministry that I realized how hard it can be in our Church to be gay and Catholic, and how dangerous it would be for my employment to be out. I went back in the closet for almost 8 years to work in religious education, youth and young adult ministry. After meeting and quietly dating for almost three years, I quit my job in 2016 to propose to my now wife.

I am thrilled to be part of this pilgrimage because I want to show our Church that I exist and that there is a place for me in the church too. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life and have it in abundance.” I am finally living abundantly not despite of my relationship, but because of it. I truly believe that my relationship with my wife calls me to greater holiness; I believe I am better because she loves me. I also believe that I have a gift for ministry and did truly good work at the parish. I think it’s sad that I had to leave my ministry in order to be married.

I’m often asked why I stay Catholic when it would be so easy to abandon ship for an affirming church. I love my Catholic faith and I love my church, even when she hurts me. I believe that some people are called to stay and to work for change. I am going on this pilgrimage because I want to be a change-maker . I want to witness to the holiness of my life and the lives of other gay Catholics.

Our wedding, 11/11/17