QUEER VOICES
09/09/2014 04:29 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Church Music Director Fired Over Same-Sex Engagement Fights To Get His Job Back

The former music director of a suburban Chicago church who was let go after becoming engaged to another man is taking his quest to get his job back directly to the head of the Chicago Archdiocese.

Colin Collette, who was let go from his previous post at Holy Family Parish in Inverness, Illinois, in late July, was scheduled to meet privately with Chicago Archbishop Francis Cardinal George Tuesday afternoon. The meeting was requested by Collette.

"My hope is to get my job back, that's all I want," Collette told WGN. "This was never meant to be a political statement. This was never meant to be a challenge of church teachings. I love this church."

Collette was fired after he announced via Facebook that he would be marrying his partner, Chicago high school teacher William Nifong, after they became engaged while vacationing in Rome, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Facebook posting was forwarded to Cardinal George and Collette was subsequently encouraged to resign. He was fired when he refused to do so.

Ahead of the Tuesday meeting, several dozen Holy Family parishioners gathered Sunday afternoon to express their support for Collette. Many of the church's parishioners and its pastor already knew the popular director, who had served in the church for 17 years, was gay prior to his engagement announcement.

"He has illumined all whom he has served," parishioner Pat Lynch said Sunday, according to the Daily Herald. "The lyrics of the songs he chooses have words that touch and break open our hearts."

The Sunday gathering follows previous expressions of support for Collette. At a meeting last month at the church, some parishioners said they would consider leaving the parish over his firing. About 700 people are said to have attended the emotional meeting, where some backed the archdiocese's decision.

The Archdiocese of Chicago has defended Collette's firing, saying in a statement: "Those that serve as Ministers of the Church, including worship ministers, are expected to conform their lives publicly with the teachings of the Church."

According to WGN, a reversal of the firing decision is not expected.

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