Connor Hakes, a 23-year-old from Indiana, was not permitted to sing at his grandmother's funeral after the pastor presiding over the service saw a photo of Hakes attending a gay Pride rally.
Pastor Bob J. Lengerich of St. Mary Of The Assumption Catholic Church sent Hakes a letter over one page in length explaining that he would not be permitted to sing, as Hakes had originally planned, at his grandmother's service.
To honor his late grandmother, Carolyn, Hakes had planned to sing Franz schubert's "Ave Maria". He ultimately sang the first stanza of the piece at his grandmother's gravesite, after the funeral.
"I can no longer sing at my Grandma's funeral, because I attended a gay pride rally and a picture was posted publicly (years ago)," Hakes, who is gay, said in his Facebook post. The post included two photographs of Pastor Lengerich's letter.
According to Hakes, this is the Pride photo that prompted the letter, which someone at the parish brought to the pastor's attention:
Hakes told BuzzFeed News he was "completely shocked and taken aback" by the letter, as his family has been involved in the church community for generations. Hakes himself has participated in the church since he was a child.
A statement from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend provided to BuzzFeed News stated that the diocese is now working on fostering "healing and reconciliation" between Lengerich and the Hakes family.
“Having become aware of the painful situation at Saint Mary’s Parish in Decatur, the diocese is working on fostering healing and reconciliation between the pastor and the Hakes family. We encourage all to move forward with genuine Christian love and mercy and with respect and prayer for one another.”