Twenty-five years ago, John Schaefer was a young gay man who led the singing on a momentous night at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood.

The relatively new Roman Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles, Roger Mahony, spoke to an audience of gay and lesbian Catholics about the scourge that was racing through their community. He spoke of treating victims of HIV/AIDS with “dignity” and “respect” and called for the creation of outreach ministries to care for them and to foster “a spirit of community and fellowship among gay Catholics.”

Those were not words gay Catholics were used to hearing.

“It was bold,” Schaefer recalled Saturday night after singing at a Mass celebrating the 25th anniversary of the gay and lesbian ministry that Mahony established on Feb. 2, 1986. “I’m very grateful to Cardinal Mahony for doing that.”

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