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Catholic parish cancels school, and with it a local author’s visit, to avoid ‘disruptive’ attention

UPDATE 3/21/24 6:30 p.m.

MT. PLEASANT — With one day’s notice, a Northern Michigan Catholic school made the decision to cancel classes on Thursday, when an openly gay children’s author was scheduled to read to the children. The school said unwanted media attention, protests, and what the author described as threats were the reason for their decision.

The Diocese of Saginaw has been under fire after a Saint Joseph the Worker Parish priest apologized on social media to church members last week about Dominic Thrasher’s previous visit to read his book.


Thrasher said he is still receiving a lot of support from people at his alma mater, Sacred Heart Academy, as well as local and even worldwide support despite what he sees as apparent discrimination.

“I understand that it’s not Sacred Heart that’s making the decision. It is the Diocese. I still have lots of love and support from Sacred Heart Academy itself,” said Thrasher.

The author said it wasn’t surprising that he was unable to come back for another visit, but it was especially disappointing to find out the eve before he was scheduled to come.

“Kara (the illustrator of Thrasher’s book) and I both went to Sacred Heart Academy. It wasn’t just me. We’re just two alumni who had a dream, followed the dream and created it. And we just wanted to share that with Sacred Heart Academy,” said Thrasher.


The Diocese of Saginaw and the superintendent both declined to comment, directing us back to the message sent to parents informing them of Thursday’s closure. Thrasher said if those who support him have been harassing or even threatening the school, they are seriously misguided.

“I really hope that’s not true, because then they’re standing up for me in a way that isn’t me, because I always live with love. I will never hate the Diocese.”

These canceled visits to the school aren’t the first time Thrasher has come up against the Diocese. 12 years ago he was invited to speak at commencement but had that invitation rescinded as well.

“I was not allowed to speak at the graduation,” said Thrasher. “My speech, which, again, just like my book, [had] nothing to do with my sexuality.”


Thrasher said there is a bright side that takes the sting away.

“My book sales have soared. And actually, I just saw a post on some of the parents from Sacred Heart, and they said, ‘We stand up for Dominic and share love. Buy his book.’ That is what they’re doing in solidarity for me,” said Thrasher.

He said after trying for years to give back to the school system he grew up in, he won’t be visiting any more places affiliated with the Diocese of Saginaw.

“There are many churches...who have talked to me, that are going to bring me in to read to their kids,” said Thrasher.


Mt. Pleasant Police said the Diocese didn’t file any reports with them about threats made against the school.

3/14/24 7:00 p.m.

MT. PLEASANT — Children’s author Dominic Thrasher is speaking out after what he calls discrimination by a local priest.

The Mt. Pleasant author said he was shocked and hurt after finding out a Saint Joseph the Worker Parish priest had posted on social media apologizing for the author’s visit. Thrasher, who is gay, had read to preschoolers during March is Reading Month.

“I cried immediately because I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe somebody would say something like that,” said Thrasher.

He said the post was unwarranted and unjust, and that his reading to the students had nothing to do with his sexual orientation.

“It’s just a book about dogs. They go on adventures, make new friends and learn valuable life lessons about giving, sharing, facing your fear,” said Thrasher.

Thrasher said the priest’s post created the idea of a problem where there wasn’t one.

“People who read that post really thought somebody horrible had come into their school to read to their children,” said Thrasher.

The author, who grew up in the church, said he was invited to read to preschoolers by another teacher who went to school with Thrasher as a child.

He said this isn’t the first time he’s been unwelcome by his own faith. His alma mater, Sacred Heart Academy, rescinded their invitation to have him speak at a 2012 graduation because he is gay.

“I was gay when I was a kid, too, when my parents were paying money to put me in Catholic school. But the moment I’m an adult and you bring me back in, then that’s the issue,” said Thrasher.

Thrasher said he’s supposed to read to children again next week, but now he’s worried that will be canceled.

“They invite me in to celebrate my successes. Then the moment I’m in there, God forbid I’m gay. Then all of a sudden I’m the issue, I’m the problem,” said Thrasher.

He said he doesn’t understand the church’s fears. Thrasher works as a substitute teacher in the area and said he hopes to change that.

“I never want this to happen to anybody. The fact this happened to me twice, I still can’t believe that. It’s so hurtful and painful. I don’t want this to happen to somebody else. Something has got to change,” said Thrasher.

9&10 News reached out to the priest and St. Joseph the Worker Parish for comment. The parish referred us to the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, which issued a statement saying:

“St. Joseph the Worker School recently had a guest visit a classroom to read to children during March Reading Month. The guest was warmly welcomed and treated with respect. Several days after the visit, the pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Parish was contacted by school parents and parishioners who expressed concerns about the guest’s civil union, which is contrary to the Catholic Church’s teaching on human sexuality and marriage. The pastor appropriately responded to those concerns within the parish community in a way that recognized the guest’s privacy.

“Our Catholic Faith respects the dignity of every person. The Church teaches we are all created in the image and likeness of God and called to love one another. With that love comes our obligation to uphold and live the teachings of the Catholic Faith, individually and within our institutions.”

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