Go away, gay

Matt Westerhold
Jan 20, 2014

The firing of Brian Panetta as the St. Mary Central Catholic High School band and choir director is one sad story, on so many levels.

The saddest part, perhaps, is the school had the courage to hire Panetta nearly five years ago likely knowing from the beginning he was gay. That was a courageous step for a Catholic school, and Panetta thrived as director, doubling the size of the band and giving it back its “Panther Pride.”

From a believer's perspective, one might think God had a lot to do with Panetta getting hired in the first place; he served those students for 4½ years and nobody has even suggested he did not serve them, and their families, well. He, and they, both appear to have prospered from the experience.

Men and women who don't have faith often envy those who do and wish they too could be believers. From a non-believer's perspective, however, the decision to fire Panetta might appear to be a man-made occurrence in defiance of the universe, in defiance of God.

Click here to read related articles and watch interview with Panetta

It wasn't an easy decision for the school and church doctrine appears to mandate that Panetta be cast aside and sent away from the parish he loved and the parish that loved him. Panetta could have stayed as long as he didn't make a “public” statement about who he really was, as long as he agreed to deny his own self-worth in front of the God who created him, and the world.

It's difficult for many to understand that hide the sin-use the sinner hypocrisy. It creates an image of Panetta being cast out in shame from the great institution St. Mary's is, and always has been, despite past difficulties with real sexual misconduct involving priests.

There also likely have been gay parishioners who gave a lifetime of devotion to the church and school, and past staff members at St. Mary's, who, as long as they denied their own sexual identities, were allowed to “sin” and prosper in the faith.

Making good people hide their true selves, for people of faith, must be like forcing them to deny God's perfection in creating them differently than he created others. And it's likely those past people of faith struggled with that every day of their faithful lives.

Understanding God is easier, perhaps, than understanding church doctrine, and the decision to fire Panetta does appear to have come more from outside Sandusky, and even outside the reach of the Toledo Diocese..

Again, these were difficult decisions made in the clash of 2,000-year-old tradition and belief system against the modern enlightenment that every person — regardless of orientation — has the right to love and marry the person they choose, and to love God.

But the battle over words that ensued after Panetta was fired, over the terminology to describe the separation and who made the decision, also seemed disingenuous. It was a speak the lie-hide the truth approach. Panetta was fired. Period. If they agreed to let him return, he likely would be at the school Monday morning.

Initially, school officials seemed to want to make it clear that Brian resigned, and was not fired. But firing someone one day and giving them the chance to resign a week later or remain fired is still a firing. It's sad that the “public face” they hoped to portray is not the “true face.”

There was a similar word game as to where the decision was made, with the Diocese initially suggesting it was a local decision, and local school officials suggesting it was forced by the diocese. In the end, the edict likely comes from Rome, and the men and women involved here appear to have tried their best to do what they felt compelled to do.

And one last time, these were difficult decisions in a changing world involving a religion that cherishes its traditions and beliefs and is slow to change or evolve. Local decision makers and the Diocese missed an opportunity to speak truth and foster a change that many — including Catholics — believe is needed.

Panetta seems to be a person more clear in his convictions who knows who he is, as a man, as a teacher, as a Catholic and as a musician and future spouse to Nathan than most of us do.

And he should know, his presence in Sandusky has changed us and sparked a conversation that might never have happened without him. It is truly a teachable moment, as he suggested, and the lessons for his students, especially, and for the community at large, will be reviewed and considered by many for a long time to come.

Watch the "between the Lines" interview with Panetta




I agree with you and had hoped correctly that you were trying to provoke a discussion.

John Harville

Centauri. You forgot to add that at one time homosexuals were imprisoned, executed, castrated.

Your link also didn't mentioned Deuteronomy which ordered non-virgins on their wedding night to be executed.

The 60s? Really? Not the 20s? Not both World Wars? Not the Revolutionary period?

The Family Unit: I was placed for adoption in 1950. My adoptive parents divorced in 1957. My mother reared me as a single Mom the next 12 years. My Dad married for the third time in 1964 adding three siblings to my 'family' (they also were my adoptive mother's cousins) and then added a halfbrother to the mix in 1965. My adoptive mother married for the third time when I was 18, adding a stepsister and two nieces to the "family".
After searching I learned my birthmother married a man not my birthfather and had two children. The birthfather didn't know about me but married and fathered three more to my 'family unit'.
And I'm not the exception. I have a friend in her 70s who was in utero and her brother was one when their parents divorced in 1938.
Today, many would consider your attitudes about sex, religion, family life as 'queer' as in eccentric, outside the accepted and acceptable.
As for words used disparagingly decades ago, well may we add n-----, k---, d---, c------. SOME of us have evolved and believe, among other beliefs, that two parents need not be opposite gender as long as they love the children.
I wish you could experience all the children in THIS world who are abused in traditional 'loving' 'Holy' marriages.

John Harville

But only among the human animals will one find homophobes.


Well, I'm certainly not a homophobe and would note in the animal kingdom weaker males who were used by stronger males are usually eventually killed off by the stronger males who desire ultimately to mate with females.

I would also note that only among some human males does one find the concept of misogyny. You sure like to attack Ms. Curtis. Do you hate women?


Equality has consequences, Babo.

John Harville

Babo: I do not hate - Ms. Curtis nor anyone else.
But I do speak out when people who claim to be Christian/Catholic demonstrate they are anything but what they claim to be.
Mrs. Curtis accepted a responsibility as President of SCCS - not unlike her position as Executive Director at Monroe Catholic Elementary School, a position she left within a year.
MCES began in 2011 consolidating three Catholic elementary/jr high schools into one school with buildings for Infant-Grade 1, Grades 2-5, and a 6-8 middle school and a total enrollment of 700 with Mrs. Curtis (principal of one of the schools) to be elevated to Executive Director. The new school opened for the 2012-13 schoolyear.
In 2011 SCCS began its search to fill the new position of "president" for the 2013-14 schoolyear. Mrs. Curtis was announced as the SCCS principal July 1, 2013.
As one can 'hate the sin while loving the sinner' I can greatly dislike the action and its ramifications while understanding the administrator who thought she had no choice but the action she took.
Having been an administrator and directed PR several years, I'm sorry she did not take time to consider ALL the possible consequences.
The present upheaval sits squarely on her desk - and yes I think that's incredibly irresponsible for someone who came with such high credentials.
Did she even stop to think about the students... and I mean the kindergarteners and other elementary students. She specifically was brought in for her management skills and her development and fundraising acumen.
Again... I don't hate even a misguided Pharisee like you. And I certainly don't hate the other gender. My favorite - only - wife of 45 years is a woman.


Again, we disagree. Ms. Curtis acted professionally and appropriately. It is the people who chose to make this into a public circus to advance their self serving political agenda or financial interests who had no respect for the privacy and religious rights of students, their parents and members of the Church.




Who created this??? wow had your retainer been paid???


What do my teeth have to do with this story? : )


You do know you so not have to reply to all my comments.

John Harville

yeah BABO, we disagree. Appropriate action would have included understanding the volatility of the gay marriage issue and the potential for it to spiral out of control; would have included understanding the ramifications for the students of all ages who would need answers to questions about why Mr. Panetta was leaving suddenly; would have included evaluating the potential damage to development and foundation contributions (allegedly she was hired in part because of her experience and skill in this aspect) and the long-term effect on enrollment and contributions.
The fact she made her determination within a few hours seems obvious proof she didn't have time to consider these major points let alone talk with her superiors and all the religious leaders.
What 'financial interests' will be 'self-served' by persons "who chose to make this into a public circus".
From your experience and background you realize SCCS is, bottom line, a multi-million dollar business that relies heavily on good will to prosper. The Catholic Church generally and in Sandusky specifically no longer enjoys the good will and blind acceptance it once did.


BABO....i hope that someday your eyes will be opened to Mrs. Melody Curtis....Anything can look good on paper...but IF anyone had taken the time to really look into her and her past assignments they would see the path of destruction, despair and financial strains she has put on her past employers. She never stays anywhere long and as people catch on to her facade she has already jumped to her next victims....I say this as fact and ask that someone please look into this before she ruins your town and school as well. Believe me .....she is not the pristine catholic that she portrays and hides her secrets well...


Unless you have a child in the school John Harville why do you care so much? And if you do take them out! Mrs. Curtis is a wonderful person who is LOVED at SMCC she has done so much good for the school. You cannot please everyone, the people who do not like her leadership can leave, no school is perfect look at Perkins! You just need to let this vendetta go you have with her. It just makes you look like a fool!

John Harville

Karma. I am Catholic. I'm not a 'practicing Catholic' because I don't need the 'practice' - I'm very good at it.

Someone else telling people to get and 'take your children with you'. Is this Mrs. Curtis' philosophy? Is this Dr. Tyler's position? Is Father Steinbauer really in favor of more Catholics leaving the parishes?

I don't have a vendetta with Mrs. Curtis. I do have grave concerns about the leadership of a CEO who inspires people to tell parents to take their children out of school.

And what does Perkins have to do with it? Except that's where the new band director comes from.

A few years ago the attitude at Clyde St. Mary's School was like yours... if you don't like how we do it, take your child to public school. The school closed a few years ago after enrollment dropped from 240 in 1994 to 30 before it closed.

The parish now has a circuit priest and a nun administrator and has declined from four weekend masses to two.

Look at your own SCCS. Changing to the present system was necessitated by declining enrollments, declining Mass attendance/membership, and declining contributions.

Fremont and Tiffin have undergone similar contractions - as did Monore Michigan Catholic schools which was consolidated under Mrs. Curtis' direction and administration.

I am preserving your post here and forwarding it to Mrs. Curtis and Dr. Tyler - though I understand "justagirl" was keeping up with the blogs.

You are appropriately named... Karma cometh.


BTW... Dr. Tyler has not been on the BOD since August...get your facts straight before pulling names out and throwing people under the bus.

John Harville

Dr. Tyler still (as of Tuesday) is listed on the school/foundation website.

Dr. Tyler also was one of the two men who directed the President search and with the search committee invited Mrs. Curtis.

I have my facts correct according to published information.


Once again you do not have a clue what is going one! It is not Mrs. Curtis opinion that if you do not like what is going on "pull your kids out" it's MINE! Once again "WHY DO YOU CARE"!! And about my comment about Perkins, they have been having problems with there superintendent for the last few years he has put there school system into a finical mess. So obviously you do not have a clue what is going on in this area, except you hate Mrs. Curtis for some reason and I think you DO have a vendetta against her anyone can see that just by reading what you having been writing about her. Just be gone! And as for my name "Karma" I am a true believer in it! At one point in everyone's life it does happen and it might not be tomorrow or next year but it will happen:)


Drama and hysteria from the good women of SM. Do you have a clue as to how utterly absurd you appear!


Do you?


I do it deliberately, this is all intentional.

John Harville

Karma... when you go on here representing the school and telling people to leave, you are speaking for the School.

I ASKED if this was Mrs. Curtis' opinion.

I've already answered why I care. Much as you would like, SCCS does not exist in a bubble. Those of us who give our dollars, our prayers, our time have JUST AS MUCH RIGHT to comment on an issue that has put much of northwest Ohio into national and international headlines.
I do not hate Mrs. Curtis. Just because I'm the only one who has done the research and have vast experience in understanding the ramifications of comments in promotion and fundraising, does not mean I have a vendetta.
Hers was the 'out-front' name for SCCS in all this. She was hired to be the manager for SCCS. The responsibility is hers.
Karma is part of an eastern religion that predates Christianity. Catholics are prohibited from such beliefs because it removes the element of God's free will and grace and takes control away from God.


Amen to that! Ms. Curtis is wonderful. If you knew her as a person and an administrator you would understand this was NOT her decision. Everyone forgets , it was not only her alone who brought the letter to Mr. Panetta per his interview during the basketball game. But we all forget those details, and really do not know or hear of the details involved in the background. And unsigned?

Even Mr. Panetta does not know who it came from. Ms. Curtis is a godsend from a lack of administration from previous years ho only cared about the $$$$$$. She has been and still is one of the most heartfelt people I have ever met and the ONLY reason I have kept my children in the school after last year and the past years of instability of teachers and administration. I do see a vendetta against her in this article....there are many involved in this decision. And I can know Mr. Panetta and Ms. Curtis have no issues with each other on this issue. But seems to me that it is just another way to keep the story alive and hurt the kids even more. You should do more research on what she has accomplished and put a STOP to than on bashing her publicly.

But she had to do her job, simple as that. Since it was the Toledo Dioceses itself that came down to speak with Brian, I would start talknign to them.


What's with the "amen" it's comical.

John Harville

Well, except for your post -perhaps as a member of the Board? - we have only the word from the Diocese that (first) this is a local issue; (second) the contract is with the school.
Mrs. Curtis is the 'face' of SCCS. The 'buck' stops with her. She is the one commissioned to take action.
If there are/were more involved in this decision it is time for them - especially the pastors of the parishes - to step forward and clarify. A lay person should not be the final voice on matters of religion and doctrine.
One very bad decision can undo a few months of 'good' since she arrived in July.
You are the first to speak openly about "last year and the past years of instability of teachers and administration."
SCCS should stop stonewalling.
The Diocese should release a detailed explanation - but won't because they certainly are not going to commit their position to writing that later can be used against them.
This is the first I've heard the Diocese actual 'came down to speak with Brian'. I have been talking to them. The Diocese would like this to go away. Quickly.

John Harville

Northstar: "Even Mr. Panetta does notg know who it (the letter) came from."
How unChristian. Not one person is Man/Woman enough to put name to such a letter? Then it still becomes Mrs. Curtis' responsibility since she is the one with whom he talked.
Despicable is not strong enough if it's true no one takes responsibility. Attorny Knight should know this.


Despicable, slimy, pathetic but oh so predictable.


Northstar....I have read your posts and from past experience I am just saying please be careful with your loyalty to Ms. Curtis...she is NOT who she says she is....you may love her know but unfortunately soon you will begin to see the real "her" and it isn't heartfelt or pretty...i am not trying to be mean here I am just saying to be observant as she is always pleasant in the beginning ..

Coram Deo

When Jesus came into the world he came in all "grace and truth". When he met the woman who was caught in the very act of adultery and was about to be stoned by the "religious" ruling class of the day, he did not beat her over the head with the Law. He approached her with much "grace" (grace is unmerited favor or not giving us what our sins deserve),he greased the wheel so to speak, in hopes that when he finally spoke the "truth" to her sin (adultery) she would hear it in her heart and obey it and be set free from it. Jesus told her to "go and sin no more". It's the ultimate act of love speaking the truth in love. If the Catholic Church knew at the onset that he was a practicing homosexual (there is a difference between those who practice it and those who have same-sex attraction and do not act on it) then they did this man a great disservice by not speaking the truth to him. If he was not practicing then perhaps they were just extending much grace in hopes that the truth down the road would catch up to him.

There is an excellent book called "Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son's Journey to God. A Broken Mother's Search for Hope" by Christopher Yuan. It can be purchased at any major bookstore outlet. Amazon carries it. I would highly recommend it to anyone dealing with same-sex attraction or the sin of homosexuality.

Christopher Yuan: "The focus for Christians with same-sex attractions is not primarily healing. It is to know more of Christ. http://yuan2.us/14

"And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free". John 8:32

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life." John 14:6

John Harville

coram deo... why don't you begin by explaining why your membership in Coram Deo puts you more 'in the presence of God' than the rest of us.