World Youth Day Pilgrimage

Help DignityUSA's pilgrims get to World Youth Day in Portugal!

We are raising $50,000 to support taking eleven pilgrims to World Youth Day in Portugal this August. DignityUSA pilgrims will be a visible—and necessary—sign of encouragement for LGBTQIA+ Catholics present at World Youth Day and throughout the global Church. Our Pilgrims will represent all of us—LGBTQIA+ Catholics, family members, allies—through their witness on behalf of Catholics who believe in justice, equality and full inclusion of all in our Church and society. Due to rising costs, we know that meeting our goal will be a challenge. We believe in the power of the LGBTQIA+ community and our allies to make our witness a reality. No amount is too small—donate today to support our pilgrims' important witness at this international event!

Meet the Pilgrims

Mattia Leingang


Mattia is a 19-year-old bisexual, transgender man from New Jersey. He currently attends NYU and is active in our Dignity New York chapter. He recently organized the chapter’s liturgy for Transgender Day of Remembrance, delivering a homily about the divine beauty of transness and the parallels between the experiences of transgender people and the life of Christ. Mattia is excited to meet other young Catholics at World Youth Day. He says: “I am interested in learning about the experiences of other Catholics around the world and in visibly living out my faith as a transman.”

Catherine Buck


Catherine is a 31-year-old writer and educator from New Jersey. She attended World Youth Day in Panama as part of the Equally Blessed coalition in 2019. She now lives in Jersey City with her partner who she met though Dignity New York, and she is an active member of the Youth and Women’s caucuses. She is looking forward to being a model for other young Catholics at World Youth Day. Catherine says: “I want to deepen the connections I have already made through DignityUSA and build new ones within the global Catholic community.”

Cesar Mendoza


Cesar is a 34-year-old queer, non-binary pilgrim from Lisbon, Ohio. He has been involved in the DignityUSA Young Adult Caucus. He enjoys volunteering and has helped out at the Bethlehem Center, a food pantry and soup kitchen, as well as at the American Cancer Society. He hopes to inspire other queer Catholics to be more comfortable with their faith and sexual orientation. He says: “I am eager to share my experiences as an openly queer Catholic and to show others that it is possible to be both at the same time.”

Brian Frank


Brian is a 32-year-old gay man from Brooklyn, New York. He is a member of our Dignity/New York chapter and is a regular lector and choir singer. Brian enjoys photography, theater, traveling and community service. Brian is looking forward to having positive and encouraging interactions with other young pilgrims, while being a visible and proud witness for LGBTQIA+ faith. He says: “If my presence and visibility can help save the faith of just one Catholic LGBTQIA+ person, I will consider this journey a victory.”

Cait Gardiner


Cait is a 20-year-old queer, non-binary pilgrim from Olney, Maryland. They are passionate about uplifting the voices of marginalized communities and making civics education accessible. They are currently working as a legislative aide for a county councilmember and are working on a project which would make public spaces more accessible to those with developmental disabilities. At World Youth Day, they would like to engage with what it really means to be a LGBTQIA+ Catholic. They say: “I want to be a light to others navigating the difficult experience of reconciling their sexual orientation with their faith.”

Cassidy Klein


Cassidy is a 25-year-old ally from Chicago, Illinois. She is a journalist and a former member of Call to Action’s Re/Generation program for young leaders. LGBTQIA+ Catholic communities are a vital aspect of her faith, and she longs for queer liberation within the church. Cassidy wants to meet others who support LGBTQIA+ rights and to share in their joys and struggles. She says: “It has been a dream of mine to attend World Youth Day with others who are committed to LGBTQIA+ visibility and justice.”

Audrey Carroll


Audrey is a 24-year-old ally residing in Chicago, Illinois. She has worked with NETWORK Lobby and is a member of Call to Action’s Re/Generation program for young leaders. As an experienced communications professional, Audrey has had the opportunity to work with many Catholic social justice organizations, as well as with many interfaith organizations. She is looking forward to the opportunity to be in communion, and celebrate with, other young Catholics. Audrey says: “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to discuss the future of the Church concerning LGBTQIA+ people, a matter close to my heart.”

Carter Fahey


Carter is a 22-year-old bisexual, transgender man from Boston, Massachusetts. He is a recent convert and has an interest in doing outreach work to Catholic communities to combat misinformation and create opportunities for community among LGBTQIA+ people. Carter is looking forward to having the opportunity to discuss being Catholic and LGBTQIA+ with others. He says: “We are the future of the church and being visible as a LGBTQIA+ Catholic is one of the best ways to promote acceptance and understanding.”

Sam Barnes DignityUSA Pilgrim

Sam Barnes

(she/her or they/them)

Sam is a 24-year-old gay, genderfluid pilgrim from Arlington, Virginia. They have been involved with DignityUSA’s Young Adult Caucus and attend liturgies with our Dignity Washington chapter. They love music and have coordinated and led worship for over 8 years. Sam is looking to deepen their faith and understanding on this pilgrimage. They say: “I am looking forward to being a warm and welcoming queer presence at such a large, global gathering of Catholics!”

Thank You for Your Support!

DignityUSA works for respect and justice for people of all sexual orientations, genders, and gender identities—especially gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual and intersex persons—in the Catholic Church and the world through education, advocacy, and support.

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