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Erik Burgess, Published November 19 2012

One of Barnesville teens not confirmed in church says he withdrew voluntarily

BARNESVILLE, Minn. – The second teen who was not confirmed at the Catholic church here voluntarily withdrew in support of his friend, but was not at odds with the church regarding gay marriage, his father said Monday.

Jay Kisch said his 16-year-old son, Ryne, did not agree with 17-year-old Lennon Cihak’s support of same-sex marriage, instead withdrawing from the confirmation process at Assumption Church here “out of compassion and concern” for Cihak.

“They don’t necessarily share the same viewpoint on gay marriage, but yet they’re good friends and very supportive of each other,” Jay Kisch said.

The Cihak family has maintained their claim that the Rev. Gary La-Moine denied the teen confirmation after LaMoine was made aware of a pro same-sex marriage photo on Lennon’s Facebook page last month.

In a letter to the parish made public last Friday, LaMoine said both Cihak and another “candidate,” meaning Ryne Kisch, withdrew from the confirmation process “because of their disagreement with the teaching of the Church concerning marriage.”

When asked last week, LaMoine would not name Ryne – who, along with Cihak, was not identified in the letter – but said he was uncertain about why the teen did not go through with confirmation.

“He has his own reasons, and I don’t know what they were. People have a right to choose,” LaMoine told The Forum on Friday. Jay Kisch said his son was willing to be publicly identified because La-Moine won’t set the record straight.

“My son feels like he’s been maligned,” he said. “No one even asked him why he didn’t want to go through the confirmation process. I think it was just assumed that he believed in gay marriage.”

Although Ryne, who has been a friend of Cihak’s since kindergarten, says he does not support same-sex marriage, he still wanted to stand with his friend.

“We disagree on the views but we can still be friends,” Ryne said. “I decided to stick up for him.”

Jay Kisch says they have since left the church, which they had been attending since 1999 when they moved to Barnesville. And while he said he didn’t want to detract from Lennon’s story or blame LaMoine, Jay Kisch did show support for the Cihak family.

“They’re good Christians,” he said. “If Father Gary doesn’t want to call them good Catholics, that’s his prerogative, but they’re good Christians.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518