Sunday, March 14, 2010

So anyway, a priest and a Samaritan ran into one another on their way to...

Sometimes I get a little tired of being nice and making excuses for these people.
So here's the latest deal at my parish.  Remember a couple of weeks ago they slammed the door in the face of a neighbor woman who was looking for some assistance with the death of her mother, and when she left, she actually looked back to make sure there was still a cross above the church?  Yeah - well it really did go like that, but then later, I had to wonder if maybe both parties were at fault - kids from abusive households always make excuses for the abusive parents.  After the vigil Mass last evening - I have come to believe the woman's side of the story once again.
Here's the deal.  Two weeks ago a woman collapsed during the 5PM Saturday Mass and an ambulance was called.  The lady was taken to the hospital - it all happened at the back of church and no one save a few people even noticed.  The woman is the elderly Lutheran sister of an elderly woman who happens to be Catholic, and an active participant in the parish:  she takes care of the collection, makes sure the pews are all neat and tidy for Mass, she puts out the bulletins, and welcomes people as they come in for Mass.  When she is well, her Lutheran sister helps her with all of that.
Last evening Father asked elderly Ms. D. how her sister was doing.  Ms. D. responded,  "not too well, but at least she's up and about."  Ms. D. then revealed her sister, "wanted to come to Mass so badly"...
Father replied something like this,  "Good to hear.  But I don't want her back here, that was the 3rd time an ambulance has been called for her - I don't want her interrupting things like that.  When the ambulance shows up the lights flash right in my eyes and distract me from my homily."
Ms. D. didn't know what to say.  While telling me the story she choked up, "I just don't know what to tell A."  She then went on to explain how she became Catholic and always hoped her sister would some day become Catholic as well.  "This is the 2nd time Father has warned me - the last time I told A. and she said maybe she'd just stop going to church all together.  I felt so bad."
"It's not your fault the church put glass doors on the front entrance," I told Ms. D.  "Just don't say anything to A. and if she wants to come to Mass, bring her.  Father doesn't pay for the ambulance."  (Then it occurred to me - he's worried about liability.  It's about money again.  I didn't say anything however.)
"Thanks, I thought that same thing to myself when he told me that.  Imagine trying to keep someone her age from going to Mass."
Last week, in the bulletin, Father put a notice for people not to give alms to beggars who pass by or come into the church - send them to the rectory.  The rectory doesn't give money either but directs these people to the appropriate agencies for help.  These agencies, as well as the rectory, are usually not open on the weekends or holidays.
I think we can do better than this.


  1. Two things:

    Number one, your story breaks my heart, since it reminds me of the treatment the former secretary of parish received from two priests. I used to go into the parish office almost everyday to help "J" organize baptisms, first communions, Confirmations, marriages, etc. as well as the translation of a few things into English for her. This lady worked tirelessly BEYOND the hours she was supposed to in order to keep the pastor and associate priests happy. Let me make a long story short, while working there she was at the receiving end of their temper-tantrums and unappreciative treatment for years. I'll never know how our own clergy could have treated so poorly someone who had been so faithful to her job and to the parish.

    Secondly, I've realized for the longest time, although I never put it into words, that some of the harshest critiques of (some aspect) the Catholic faith have been, well, faithful Catholics. (Yes, I'm the last horse that crosses the finish line on this one.) By this I don't mean making anti-Catholic remarks or scandalizing the Church or encouraging apostasy of some kind. I mean a FAITHFUL and LOVING evaluation of ourselves as lay Catholics and clergy and not hesitating to point out that some of the things we do are wrong. This includes discussing openly the misconduct of some of our own clergy. I think that openness and honesty says something wonderful about us.

  2. +JMJ+

    Nobody in the awful, uber-liberal, "hippie" parish I was part of during my uni days would have done something so cruel or contemptuous of charity. I am slime for ever saying anything bad about the lovely people I used to share a pew with, just because the folk music at Mass was atrocious and Catholic education was nearly non-existent. This would never have happened there.

    God have mercy!

  3. Anonymous4:28 AM

    Father needs prayers--and a retreat, probably. Unfortunately like all of us, priests can get caught up in the "job" of their vocation and forget the love that brought them there to begin with.

  4. That's so sad! I hope it's not a new pastoral management style they're teaching in seminary, exclude people who might cause problems or inconvenience you. Such as old ladies who might faint at Mass, or grade school kids whose family life isn't according to Hoyle.
    Seriously, I'm sure Georgette is right.

  5. Someone should deck the SOB. I am sorry, but that is inexcusable.

  6. I learned in my previous archdiocese that the surest way to lose one's faith is to get to know some of the clergy and the diocesan and state Catholic Conference personnel. Since moving from there, I cut a wide swath around the priest when leaving Mass. I am better off not knowing them.

  7. I heartily agree with Fr. Erik!

  8. Anonymous10:44 AM

    There are more horror stories than what I could write. Currently am personally living one out. Pray for me. I fortunately have a collection of victim soul books, some scarce but all excellent renditions of similar themes of pathetic abuse: man's inhumanity to man. It comes dressed in clerical garb as well as recognizable clothes of family members, and as a convert, I must admit that it is far more difficult to be a Catholic as the Lord allows the suffering of this kind...and the devil is using priests or anyone to keep someone from conversion and/or the sacraments.

    I currently home bound with this pain of body but also the pain of being abandoned by my own confessor of five years, weekly confession other than his vacations, and I was a daily Mass attendee until this inoperable disc herniation in upper back. The victim soul Rose Ferron experienced the tremendous suffering of abandonment by her priest. With bodily pain, this other is horrendous--the rejection by another, especially the very ones who we count on to guide and carry our souls, lifting us to God--not tossing us out. Yet it is not to be unexpected when the devil has desire to demolish.

    So I offer my suffering of body, mind, heart and spirit for the Catholic convert to continue taking her Lutheran sister to Mass, and maybe the EMS folks will eventually convert, also, if they are called more and more to the parish.

  9. Praying for anonymous

  10. Some people can be jerks, no matter what clothes they wear...Perhaps the priest was trying to inject a bit of humor in a rather tense situation to settle rattled nerves....but it fell flat.

    I had something similiar happen a few years back at work when one of my elderly coworkers had some kind of spell--he had his head on his desk and we couldn't wake him up--we thought he had a we called 911 and they practically send out the entire army (like they do)...well people were upset and worried, yet I had one crass coworker who said " Can you keep the noise down?? I'm on the phone.." yeah..real jerk..and we told him so..he got all pouty and siad "Well I'm just trying to ease the situation a bit." Well--you're insensitive and still a jerk.

    I'd tell this priest face to face that he's a jerk too..and find a diferent confessor...but I'm a rather outspoken individualand that's what I'd do...


  11. Oh yes-I also give money to beggars..a pay-it-forward thing from a time years ago when I was down and out with car trouble..and I keep a few $25 gas cards in my purse..amazing how the Good Lord sends people my way who can really use them ...

    Even our Lord Jesus Christ Himself was a beggar--for instance in John 4--the story of the Samaritan woman at the well.. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

    When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

    If Jesus asked us for a drink would we turn Him down..or direct him the closed and shuttered rectory or aid agencies?? Especially if he looked like someone "we would not associate with??"

    Peace.. Sara

  12. Prayers for you Anonymous.

  13. Austringer12:01 PM

    Why, this sounds like it could have happened at my parish....except that I know we go to different parishes, Terry. We got the "no almsgiving to beggars" from the pulpit, though, not in the bulletin (and we're to direct them to the parish office during regular office hours -- I can assure you that Father would not want them directed to his rectory!!). Though help is, we are told, available for those who do persist. But to be told this during Lent....

    It's a sad state of affairs. When people wonder at how the scandals in the Church could have happened, all we have to do is look at our local parishes and see where it begins -- Priests ruling their parishes like petty kings, fawning parishioners excusing bad behavior.

  14. Maria2:14 PM

    Anonymous: St. Ignatius says: "Letters inform me that God our Lord has visited you with trials both of body and of soul, thus manifesting His special love for you by sending you these opportunities for merit. The less He rewards you in this fleeting life and world, the more fully will He reward your good deeds and desires in the eternal happiness of heaven [Ep. 6:161]. You are not alone. Many are praying for you!

    If you were the Enemy, wouldn't you go after priests? I like what Hardon SJ says:

    "Prayerful union with Jesus Christ, the High Priest, is the only way that a priest can remain priestly. The saddest thing on earth is a priestless priest. The priest must have learned from frequent converse with the Master who the Master is, what the Master wants, and how the Master wants His priests to minister to the people.

    That is why all the Faithful should pray daily, adding sacrifice and suffering, if necessary, to their daily prayer, for Christ's priests; begging the Savior to protect them from evil and the snares of the devil; and to give them that love of His Sacred Heart from which all who enter the life of a priest can be nourished".

  15. Aceman4:46 PM

    Interestingly enough, I recently read a similar story on a blog by a pious young man in Italy who, while attending mass at a church in outside of Rome, observed two intoixcated homeless/beggars who came in asking for alms from the faithful, some of whom gave them change. No one seemed to do anything about these men until he was kind enough to escort them outside. Not sure if he provided them with anything of his own means, or pointed them to a social agency which could assist them, perhaps he was too modest to say. Mass went on, thanks to him.

    "And the poor should thank God for giving them somebody to supply their wants."

    -Pope St. Clement (martyred 101 A.D.)

  16. Praying for Anonymous also.

  17. Austringer9:35 PM

    A good quote from the author Carlo Corretto:
    "How much I must criticize you, my church, and yet how much I love you! You have made me suffer more than anyone and yet I owe more to you than to anyone. I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your presence. You have given me much scandal and yet you alone have made me understand holiness. Never in this world have I seen anything more compromised, more false, yet never have I touched anything more pure, more generous, or more beautiful."

    You're in my prayers, Anonymous.

  18. Oh, Austringer: This is beautiful...

  19. I'd be finding a new parish, Terry.

  20. Austringer11:21 AM


    With all due respect, that is just the kind of response -- going to a different parish, that is -- that allows this kind of crap to continue. It's the laity's version of the bishops' actions that have led to so much scandal.

    The way to address this is to talk to the priest directly. If the priest doesn't respond, or does not acknowledge a problem, then talk to the parish council. If that is a dead end, then notify the bishop or Vicar General. And be prepared to take the hits that will come....

    Running away from problem priests, leaving them to continue their behavior unchecked, isn't doing the priest any good, nor the parishioners who are stuck with him. Relative to the truly awful behavior of priests that makes the news, this is pretty small, but this is how the whole culture of clericalism begins.

  21. You're right, of course. Thank you.

  22. Maria1:27 PM

    Austringer: We are all accountable, not only to God, but to each other. Right you are! You remind me that we are responsible. Our idleness permits the unforgivable.

  23. Austringer is right. I've seen what happens to a parish when the people who are mad at their priest leave -it's not good.

    But correct a priest quietly on the side and watch the fireworks. I got a public smackdown. It was spectacular - and it was all at my own expense....
    Can you imagine - a pro- choice priest? I wanted to slap him whilst the body of Christ slid down the back of my throat. I didn't change his mind either and he died a month later.

  24. LeoRufus8:55 PM

    Hmmm, "Minnesota Nice" has become "Minnesota Not-So-Nice"

  25. Anonymous7:00 PM

    Had a man collapse in Mass last year, quietly, hardly anyone noticed.
    CFD showed up, treated him, and took him away (during Mass).
    I was standing in back with my infant.

    Within 2 minutes of their departure, two of our priests were in the back of the church. They asked me, "Do you know anything? Where did they take him? What was wrong with him?"
    I am a 911 dispatcher and called work to ask where he was going and what the problem was. Stroke, Northwestern Hospital.
    "I'm on it," one priest, sick call kit in hand, told the other as he flew out the door.

    Any variation to that response would have been totally unacceptable, in my opinion.

    Prayers for Anon.

    -Cathy (of Chgo, not of Alex)

  26. Thanks, Cathy of Chicago! :-)

    This is appalling, Ter. I'm glad you took some time to hear this lady's story.

    I'll pray for all parties concerned in my evening offering

  27. Anonymous7:40 AM

    I am so thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ who prayed for me. I am the "anonymous" who is abandoned by my confessor in the greatest challenge yet, of my spiritual and physical life. What you wrote, some of you, helped me immensely. Yes, I am suffering for priests and need the reminder that it isn't going to be "pretty"--the pain! While my evangelical adult daughter wonders why I'd even want to remain, the one quote expresses it well, plus many comments that we must not flee from what we Love and know as True. Thanks, everyone. God Bless You! Your prayers are helping.


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