Post # 1
Hello. This is not actually related to my wedding at all, just related to church in general and some changes in my parish that concern me and I am looking for advice.
I belong to a fairly large parish with a very active membership. We lost our priest due to shortages a year or so ago but we had a associate priest (he is not healthy enough to be the main priest for a parish of this size) and the parishioners stepped up with organizing the churches regular fundraisers, visiting the sick, etc. We also have a very involved Deacon who is a great cheerleader for the parish and has a great relationship with church members.
We were assigned a fulltime priest again several months ago. He has changed a few things (mostly he seems to like things old-school), such as draining the ceramic holy water basins and replacing them with old style metal ones with the sponge in the center (which gets really dirty BTW). But whatever- every priest has his own style.
However I keep hearing really bad stories about things he has said, and many members are offended and attending other churches more than our own. I was always taught that if you have a problem with your parish it is your job as a parish member to address it, not to just leave and attend another parish. However the people present do not want to address it, and as I am hearing things second hand, I do not feel like I should judge without asking Fr. Tony his side of the story. But he can be rather forceful (my way or the highway) and kind of intimidating.
Who do I talk to to try and change things? I just don’t want the wonderful involved community that our parish has to scatter to other parishes.
Details of the problems:
The Deacon collects Waterford crystal, he has lots of it and uses it for church functions (we have several very formal meals a year as fundraisers and these are used for service and decor). He keeps a lot of it in his office. The priest has told him that if the crystal does not belong to the parish, he cannot leave it in his office and needs to take it home. I understand if there is a liability concern, but he is not going to haul this stuff back and forth btw his house and the parish 6+ times a year for the fundraisers- and he is allowing the church to make use of it, so why can’t it be on the property? (there is lots of space, that is not an issue)
One of the CCD teachers was out sick (I am not sure how sick) and one of the others asked the priest if he would lead them in a quick prayer for her. He said no. He didn’t feel like it.
The Deacon fell at church and cut himself, he developed a bad infection (he is diabetic). While in the hospital for the infection he had a heart attack and ended up requiring a 3 stents in his arteries. At the parish council meeting this week (right after it happened) the priest opened with a general prayer and then the committees started giving their individual reports. One committee member started to say a quick prayer for the Deacon and explain to everyone about his illness. The priest interrupted her and yelled at her that he had just said the opening prayer and they didn’t need to pray for the Deacon. The woman is normally rather soft spoken and she was extrememly embarrased and may very well leave the parish council.
Post # 3
@edgypeanuts: wow this is not right…. would contacting the diocese be an option?? i dont think confronting this priest is going to do any good.
Post # 4
Oh man, this reminds me of a priest I had. I grew up in a really small church (less than 200 people for the whole county) and the diocese liked to send priests who were about to retire or problem priests there.
We got this one priest who seemed to really wish Vatican II had never happened. He was ALL ABOUT the pomp and circumstance. He would stop mass in the middle to explain the proper way to do everything because he wanted it to look perfect. I mean, I was 12 at the time and even I was sitting there thinking “yes, we all know how to light a candle. You taking 10 minutes to explain it is making the mass losing its beauty rather than someone tilting a lit candle toward an unlit candle rather than the other way around”
He would stare down babies in church until the mother took the baby out.
My mom accidentally poured too much wine as an EM once and he turned to her on the altar and said “if there’s any left over, heads will roll.”
My parents left that church after that.
It was really, really sad because almost everyone stopped going to the church. We used to do breakfasts before church which were some of my favorite memories of childhood. But he put an end to that because of the no eating rule (fair), but then also pushed church way back in the morning so they couldn’t hold them after church either. (Mass went from 9 in the morning till 11, I think).
I wanted to get married in that church, but apparently he wouldn’t allow weddings unless he was the one saying the mass, and if that didn’t happen, he would make things very difficult for you.
I don’t really have any advice for you…but I guess just pray for him and the church?
Post # 5
The church has a facebook page and an email address (although I am not sure who sees them) I wondered about writing to those and just asking if these things are true and if so why? I just can’t imagine a priest refusing to allow a prayer for a deacon who has done so much for the church, even if they do not get along.
I certainly am not looking to cause trouble, but I don’t want to see everyone leave the parish and I kind of see that happening. I have thought about contacting the diocese, but I am not sure who I’d contact there and I have not seen a lot of the things first hand, so I feel like I am just gossiping (although I heard them from people I very much believe, they are just not willng to contact anyone.)
jedeve: It’s funny that you mentioned not approving of Vatican II. Fr. Tony would also like us to go back to having mass in Latin.
Post # 6
If you feel there is a substantial issue, you should write to the bishop’s office. However, unless you have first-hand knowledge of the events described above, you likely won’t see much happen. Talk to the people that were there and see if they would write a letter with you.
Post # 7
I once had a pastor outed. I was “new” to the church, and everyone there was terrified of the pastor. But no one wanted to say anything and get labeled. The bishop came for my confirmation, and I had the opportunity for confession. During confession I aired out the dirty laundry I had heard (all second hand hearsay). I told him I wasn’t sure any of it was true at all, but those were the rumors circulating in the parish and I was concerned about the gossip. Apparently when he investigated, the priest admitted several things and he was quickly removed. (One of them was pretty serious.) If I hadn’t spoken up, he would still be there. I’d recommend going to your bishop. Whether or not you want to give the nitty-gritty, you could still let him know that parishoners are leaving left and right and you are concerned.
Post # 8
I agree with CoffeeHound and MightySapphire. You should go to the Bishop’s office and submit a complaint, of course nicely (not like you wouldn’t). I definitely think priests should have compassion and empathy.