Saturday, August 22, 2015

HISTORIC AND DRASTIC FOR THE DIOCESE OF SAVANNAH! BUT IT IS ACTION THAT THE BISHOP FELT HAD TO BE TAKEN

 In the Macon Deanery there are two small parishes, Holy Redeemer Parish in McRae with 33 households and Saint Mark Parish in Eastman with 36 households.

For a few years now there has been great tension leading to serious divisiveness between a significant number of parishioners in both parishes and the priest who serves both parishes. One can say that it is Protestant congregationalism gone wild in two tiny south Georgia Catholic parishes. At the heart of the divisive crisis is the lost of Catholic Ecclesiastical Identity rooted in the Sacrament of Holy Orders and centered in the ministry of the Bishop of any Diocese who sends priests to parishes as a part of his ministry as the chief Shepherd of the Diocese. In other words, it is all about ecclesiology and the failure to observe a Catholic ecclesiology and the legitimate canonical and moral authority given to the  priests the bishop sends.

Thus Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer has had to take drastic and unusual steps never before seen in our diocese. You can read the public letter for yourself from our bishop:

August 21, 2015

Dear members of St. Mark and Holy Redeemer:

It is with deep regret that I inform you that Father Daniel Oghenerukevwe, MSP has resigned as administrator of both parishes effective immediately.  His resignation is due, in part, to the internal conflicts and discord that has existed in these communities in recent years. This is a serious and unfortunate situation that has not been able to to resolved.

The Diocese of Savannah is experiencing a shortage of priests. As a result, there is no priest available for pastoral care at St. Mark or holy Redeemer. Therefore, St. Mark and Holy Redeemer will remained closed for worship, religious education, and all social activities until further notice. The doors of all buildings on church property are to be securely locked. The Blessed Sacrament will be removed from both sanctuaries.

This weekend, August 22-23, all members of Holy Redeemer and St. Mark's are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. During the following weeks, I encourage all Catholics to worship at the closest parish of their choice. For those for whom this would be a hardship and grave inconvenience, the obligation of attending Mass on Sunday is lifted.

I strongly recommend the entire communities of St. Mark and Holy Redeemer bring this matter to prayer and reflection so that a suitable solution may be found to remedy this difficult issue.

My office will communicate with the parish leadership regarding further developments.

With prayerful best wishes, I am

Most Reverent Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv.
Bishop of Savannah






55 comments:

Anonymous said...

It sounds like the only sensible thing to do if these congregations were attempting to dictate to the Bishop and the parish priest. Closed long enough they will have to disperse to other parishes or go their own way. It is unfortunate that there are some parishes where certain families who have had a long connection to a parish, and are often generous benefactors, tend to take the view that they own the parish and should have a say in its running. Good on the bishop for taking a stand.

Jan

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I think that it is important to make connections. The post below this one is about the loss of Catholic Liturgical identity since Vatican II and the proper ecclesiology of the Tridentine Mass where the priest nor the congregation is seen as actors but rather God is the actor to make present His Son, the Eternal High Priest, whom the ordained priest represents in a sacramental way.

When the focus turns to congregationalism during the liturgy as it does in the post-Vatican II Ordinary Form, then the focus lies on the priest as actor, the congregation as actor and the ministries of the Mass as actors, such as lector and communion ministers. How many times are situations contrived to have hoards of lectors, commentators, gift bearers and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to show the horizontal, social theology of ecclesiology purportedly of Vatican II?

I might be wrong, but the wrong ecclesiology promoted by so many in the Church which culminates in a liturgy that is horizontal and egalitarian is the core of the crisis facing two small parishes in my diocese and many other parishes throughout the world.

John Nolan said...

Fr AJM

In view of your comments are you going to celebrate only according to the 1962 Missal? (It's not ideal but at least it represents the last gasp of the Roman Rite). No, your bishop would not allow it. Are you going to celebrate all Masses ad apsidem? No, because your successor will in all probability undo all of your reforms and you don't want to confuse the faithful. Will you clear the sanctuary of female servers, EMHC and everything else which is not conducive to true liturgical worship? No, because you risk offending too many people. Would you offer a scheduled OF Sunday Mass in Latin? No, because on your own admission this would provoke a revolt among those who may be wrong-headed and poorly catechized but who in the end stump up the cash.

So, I'm afraid everything you say is mere froth and bubble. Were I a priest I hope I would have the courage of my convictions. As a layman I do have the option of supporting those priests who do have the courage of theirs.

gob said...

In simple English, so that a dummy like me can understand, what's going on??

George said...



We must pray for the members of these parishes and all those who are not doing as God desires to do.

The Feast of the Queenship of Mary (August 22)

"He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly". From the depths of this earthly vale did God raise the Holy Virgin to the pinacle of the Eternal Heaven, above even the angels. She who is first among saints and above all the angels merited a title, since one is distinguished from others by rank. What title could it be other than queen, since her Son was the Divine King? She, who was the most humble of maidens and little known to others of her time, was raised above both angels and men. It is right proper and just that she who is greatest in humility should be most exalted in Heaven. God has looked with favor on his lowly servant. She, who was among the least of earthly inhabitants, was to be the greatest, beneath God, among the Heavenly inhabitants. It was just and fitting according to everything being rightly ordered and having its proper place that the Ark of the New Covenant would take her place in the Heavenly Temple of the New Jerusalem and do so as Queen of Heaven and earth. By God's Justice was she crowned as Queen, by His Mercy did she become our Intercessor. The Blessed Virgin's reward and stature in Heaven corresponds to her great faith and holiness, and the value of her own earthly suffering, that value being imparted to it by Christ's Redemptive Suffering and Death.
The Heavenly Queen does not impose on God's sovereignty in any way but as Pius XII said, "Her kingdom is as vast as that of her Son and God, since nothing is excluded from her dominion." There is nothing she possesses that is not given to her by Him and there is nothing she does that is not permitted by Him. Just as the Blessed Virgin was the the vessel (although more than just that), and the channel by which Christ, the Source of all Grace would come into the world, so it is that she is the channel and vessel by which all graces flow from Him to us. Our Heavenly Queen brings her maternal solicitude and compassion to God on our behalf. How great it is for us to have through the generosity of God such an incomparable intercessor and such a gracious advocate. God Himself joins us in our exultation over our Heavenly Queen.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

But John, but John, If I were to celebrate every Mass at St. Joseph in the EF manner, I would see about 3/4ths of my parish rise in rebellion and tare and feather me as they run me out of town like some of the parishioners of the two small rural parishes in my diocese have done to their last two priests.

In addition to that, while I appreciate the EF Mass, I appreciate the vernacular even more. The all Latin EF Mass in this day and age is not going to win the liturgical day in the vast majority of the world. However, if permission were given for the EF Mass to have its changing parts in the vernacular and nothing else but that changed, then I think the EF Mass would go viral! Traditionalists who want no change period in any aspect of the Church keep shooting themselves in the foot as it concerns a limited about of vernacular in the EF and I would also say a revision of the its lectionary or at least the option of the OF lectionary (but with Gradual, not responsorial psalm) in the EF Mass.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Pure and simply GOB, there is a significant group of parishioners who only want a priest to say Mass for them and then do nothing else. They have spread false rumors about their last two priests and so disrupted the parishes as to make it impossible for the priest to exercise is proper canonical authority even to the point of keeping him from his legitimate administrative authority. They have made the priest's lives miserable and when you have such small parishes, impossible for the priests assigned there.

Anonymous said...

As a parishioner of St. Mark, in Eastman, Father McDonald's assessment is correct! There was a small group of parishioners who were working very hard to grow the parish. Father Daniel made it clear, from the beginning, that he would not tolerate false rumors against him and would resign if he was accused of anything inappropriate. He understood what Father Anthony, the previous pastor, went through...which was a living Hell! I heard a rumor a few weeks ago about Father Daniel, going around Eastman, supposedly. I knew if it got back to him, he would leave. The rumor, of course, was false. The primary trouble-makers were not even attending Mass or parish activities. However, there was a force, primarily of inactive members, I believe, working against Father Daniel. He tried very hard to work with groups within the parish, but some people would agree to do one thing, but do another, time and time again. St. Mark has had a very protestant mentality for a long time. Attend Mass on Sunday and Wednesday night only, if that, and hardly ever on Holy Days of Obligation. Some of our parishioners did not even knew how to pray the Rosary and would scoff at receiving Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue, even when offered. I am not surprised the Bishop closed the doors, but it is time for a wake-up call at St. Mark.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I am sad to the point of tears for faithful Catholics like you who have had this occur in your Catholic parishes. Certainly not all the Catholics of either Eastman or McRae are as corrupt as the ones you describe who have brought about Bishop Hartmayer's historic decision.

I suppose he could excommunicate them, but that wouldn't solve the core of the problem.

I pray that something good, though, will come out of this grave evil, these mortal sins perpetrated by Catholics who know not their faith or morals!

Dymphna said...

This needs to happen in more parishes.

gob said...

Thank you, Fr. McD. for the "Church Closings for Dummies" explanation.

However, the discussion and explanation here has come from "the right", the traditionalists (upper or lower case "t", you choose). I'd love to hear the story from the point of view of some of the former parishioners who have been assigned all of the blame for what happened. I wonder what they would say.

I also wonder what "rumors" were spread about the priests...and whether there was any validity to any of them.

gob said...

I just looked up what "MSP" is. I guess it's a difficult thing to face up to....to mention openly...(correct me if I'm wrong) but it seems clear that the problem is that Father Daniel MSP is an African...a black man "in charge" of a probably almost totally white Georgia Church. I think I "get it" now..

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I have a former parishioner driving one and a half hours to come here and agree with the bishop and say what is happening in their parish is demonic and the rumors being spread are false and worthy of a lawsuit in civil court!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

If if racism is not the motivation, although it can't be ruled out, it would be wrong nonetheless!

gob said...

I don't know a whole lot about...have no experience with "demonic"...but as a lifelong southerner, I do know a whole lot about and have a great deal of experience with "racism" and "redneckism". All of these things may be related.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I could be wrong but I don't think all the troublemakers are southern.

Jusadbellum said...

How deplorable! How awful.

On the map this leaves a huge geographical hole in nearly the heart of the Diocese of Savannah.

This is mission territory - no Catholic parish or priest for an area perhaps 50 miles by 25 miles or more. Depending where they live, Catholics in those areas may need to drive an hour to get to Mass or other sacraments from now on.

Essentially they've been placed in "interdict". We'll see if the absence of water gives them thirst.

In the meanwhile, it's an object lesson for everyone else in mission territory: don't take your pastor for granted! don't take the local parish for granted! There's no surplus of priests. There's no guarantee that the sacraments will be available when you need them....

"If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts...."

Anonymous said...

"Demonic"? Aren't we getting a little hyperbolic here?

Anonymous said...

If I am correct in what I have heard and seen in my parish of St. Mark, the primary trouble-makers do not have roots in Eastman. They may have lived in Dodge and/or Telfair Counties for years, but are not originally from the south.

Anonymous said...

We had a case where in an outlying parish the priest turned up to say Mass and was sent packing by the "nun" who said he wasn't required and that the parish were quite happy with a Sunday liturgy. I don't know if the parishioners were happy or not but this went on for some years and the bishop did nothing to stop it. In fact he undercut the authority of parish priests overruling them in favour of parishioners on many occasions in inner city parishes.

More recently we experienced the situation where all bishops overseas suddenly recalled all of their priests who were on loan to our diocese - several who had citizenship and were incardinated as well we believe. We were then told, due to the "shortage of priests", parishes would be merged and lay people given the management of them - mostly women pastoral workers.

In my experience, a lot of authority has been handed over to parishioners to run parishes and many prefer it that way. They also like running liturgies. This is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what has happened in Holland where I believe in some parishes any Joe or June Bloggs can stand up and offer the "Mass". Where this is aided and abetted by the local bishop then the Church as we know it dies out.

Thankfully you have an orthodox bishop prepared to stand up against such attempted takeovers of parishes.

Unfortunately I think there will be more of this to come. There is already a split in the Church, as Gob indicates, where those who are Catholic and orthodox are reqarded by the Gobs of this world as traditionalists rather than simply Catholics passing on the traditions as Catholics have always done. The problem is that the goalposts have been moved so far to the left in many places that Gob sees himself now as the orthodox Catholic!

Jan

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why Catholics who don't want to function as Catholics, don't just go join one of the local protestant "churches" down the street. Maybe such "Catholics" are truly protestants inside Catholic Churches simply to destroy them. Looks like the closeted protestants of St.Mark and Holy Redeemer got their way in destroying two of Jesus' true Churches. Of course, I am simply speculating, but it sure seems that way. Satan is working harder than ever to destroy Jesus' true Church, His Catholic Church. Eastman and McRae need the Holy Eucharist, Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Holy Rosary and the Sacrament of Reconciliation more than ever. Even the Daily Pilgrimage to Purgatory devotion should help sway anyone, with any level of true Catholicism within their heart and soul, away from such evil. Prayers for Father Daniel and the people of St. Mark and Holy Redeemer.

Paul said...

Unusual things can happen in isolated, rural parishes. People and priests get set in their ways (and don't notice the gradual changes that creep in). Our diocese limits appointments to six years.

gob said...

All southerners are not rednecks. All rednecks are not southerners. Are all of you folks grownups?

Anonymous said...

Ah, racism...LOL! That seems to be the constant in every liberal equation. That certainly explains it all...global warming, Vat II, crummy Masses, economic depression, Iran, tick fever, bread mold, hay fever, and the market crash. Yep, that's it...racism.

Anonymous said...

There's a leak in my back porch roof and the handyman says he can't fix it until the first week of September! He must be under demonic control!!!

Anonymous said...

No, he is a racist.

Jusadbellum said...

Well, it looks like the whole country and especially some big northern cities are racist to tell from the look of this demographic map http://demographics.coopercenter.org/DotMap/index.html

Most towns and cities seem to have predominately white or black or Hispanic or Asian neighborhoods. Little Saigons or Chinatowns don't have the same ring as ghetto or white gated communities, but still.... people DO seem to prefer to live with likeminded or similar looking folk when in close proximity.

In the more scattered suburbs there seems to be almost uniform mixture. So the more rural you are, the less racist?

But this doesn't really address the situation in Eastman or McCrea.

Bill Meyer said...

It is exceedingly sad when something like this becomes necessary, but it clearly seems to have been necessary. God bless Bishop Hartmayer for his response to the problem. It is obvious that he did not move hastily, but allowed some considerable time for the problem to be resolved. Obstinacy seems to be an appropriate adjective for the troublesome parishioners. And perhaps an overly mild assessment.

Templar said...

Is this Father Daniel the same one who served at Sacred Heart in Warner Robins close to a decade ago? If so, he is a gifted, talented and wonderful Priest and the situation must have been horrific indeed for him to resign.

Paul said...

Military bases (60's, 70's) had integrated housing. Race didn't matter. How the family lived mattered. Behave decently with respect, keep the lawn mowed and premises clean. Keep the inside as if ready for inspection. Some families couldn't or wouldn't agree. They had to live off-base. Those who did agree were rewarded with an integrated, safe and clean neighborhood.

The Protestants and Catholics shared the same chapel. None of this Jack Chick "death cookie", "worshiping statues" or "we believe in the same Jesus, don't we" nonsense. People, priests, chaplains came and went per usual military life with no issue.

This was at Moody AFB, Valdosta, Georgia as well as other bases. I hope the same would still be true Father at Robbins AFB (where we were *almost* stationed).

Anonymous said...

How economically can you justify two churches that small---less than 100 households combined? I've been through that area several times on way to St. Simons (avoiding the very boring I-16) and not much to suggest either Dodge or Telfair Counties will ever be economically vibrant. Telfair County of course was home to the old Talmadge clan---Gene and Herman, the former elected governor four times and the latter elected governor twice and to the US Senate four times. Maybe something in the water down there, in Telfair County's Sugar Creek....was one of the clergy in this situation black?

gob said...

Would that we civilians could get along as well as we in the military did......

Anonymous said...

No, not the same Father Daniel that served in Warner Robins. This Father Daniel was ordained a priest in 2008 or 2009 and has only been in the U.S. since September, 2012. He told me this just three weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

I am a former member of Holy Redeemer, having stopped attending Mass there several years ago. The parish is Catholic-lite, with heavy overtones of Protestantism. Some parishioners would mock a certain orthodox and holy priest when he would help out during the years we were without an assigned priest. He knew he was disliked, but he came anyway. (Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.) I don't hold out any hope for the McRae and Eastman parishes unless their parishioners submit to the authority of the Church and pray for unity with Her. I liked Fr. Anthony. The last time I saw him I was sad to see that he was clearly beaten down.

Anonymous said...

For Anonymous above who lamented the small size of the two parish churches, you should know that Holy Redeemer was operating in the black and unsubsidized the last time I saw a financial statement. I have no doubt that St. Mark was as well. I'm pretty sure that size has nothing to do with the current problems.

Anonymous said...

Actually, as a parishioner of St. Mark, who spoke with Father Daniel regarding the church's financial situation, St. Mark was not all good financially. Sure the church had no debt, but weekly collections rarely hit the $1,304 needed to maintain the parish, financially. The weekly collection was as low as $500, but most weeks floated between $650 and $1,150. We have had tremendous expenses over the past year on the cooling system and very high electric bills. St. Mark's savings account with the diocese dwindled down approximately $40,000 in the past few years. Father Daniel also commented several times that "McRae was not ready." Meaning that the parishioners of Holy Redeemer would not respond to Father Daniel's attempts at building a more spiritual Catholic Community. When I attended Daily Mass at Holy Redeemer, I was only one of three people 90% of the time. St. Mark did better, but Mass attendance on Tuesdays, at St. Mark, was pathetic. I can tell you that a lack of Tuesday Mass attendance at St. Mark was a huge disappointment for Father Daniel. He even changed the time to accommodate those who just HAD to have their lunch social at Noon every Tuesday. We all know God only made one day of the week for lunch. Why go receive Jesus when you can go out to eat?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the update on St. Mark.

I used to go to Tuesday Mass at HR, when I had access to transportation. Being a one-car family made it difficult. Sometimes there would be five or six, sometimes only one or two attending. I totally agree with Fr. Daniel's assessment. I love Holy Redeemer. I remember much better days. It was light on doctrine and catechesis, but there were frequent gatherings to keep people connected, and for me and my family the parish was the center of our social life.

Anonymous said...

Let me say that Fr Anthony was probably the kindest and most gentle soul I've ever had the pleasure of meeting in my life. Yet I saw something I never thought I would in this century....the open persecution of a priest! How he found the strength to stay as long as he did is beyond me. Yet all the time this was going on....he never uttered a single bad comment about the persons doing these terrible things to him.....instead he would as me to pray for them that they would see the error of their ways. Considering the amount of times I saw him hollered at, talked down to, laughed at, and in one case....physically threatened (just to name a few of the things that were done to him. the actual list is much longer and much worse than what I've listed) He would always counter the action with prayer and the request for prayers. The man was the clearly the finest example of a priest you could ever ask for. Yet being human, there was a limit to his physical and emotional strength...but his faith NEVER wavered. I wish I was 1/10th of the man I saw in him. The people of the parish abused, misused, and wasted the wonderful gift of God they had in him. All in the effort to gain power, control, and personal objectives that had absolutely nothing to do with their supposed Catholic faith or accepting the authority of the Church. And yes, Fr Anthony was black, but that was not the only reason he was treated like this, any small reason that could be thought of was used against him, but his race had little to do with how he was treated. In following Fr Anthony's way, I pray that their eyes and ears will be opened, and may God forgive them. Don't get me wrong, not everyone in the parish was like this, but in the end, the wolfs outnumbered the sheep. It was impossible for me to find the Peace of Christ in that Church any longer. The Bishop clearly had no choice left to him, when people can't accept a Catholic Church run as a Catholic Church should be, then it's time to close the doors. Enough was clearly enough.

Anonymous said...

I would like to add to my earlier comments in regards to the parish of St Mark, and to some of the comments which have been posted here.

When Fr Daniel arrived, a meeting of members (both active and inactive) of the parish was held in which everyone was able to offer their comments. Again I was shocked to witness the fact that everyone who had taken part in the abuse of Fr Anthony while repeating all the wrong they thought of him...never ONCE...admitted any of what THEY did was wrong! If the woman who was caught so long ago and brought before Christ for judgment in order to "test" him had been brought instead before this group.....she surely would have been STONED. Because any one of them would have had no trouble (in their view) casting the first stone! One person went as far as to stand and holler that Fr Anthony should not be "allowed" to be a priest! So you can see, the other side WAS given an "open hearing" to voice their views, and to anyone with eyes and ears, demonstrated first hand the problems that exist at St Mark. Fr Daniel tried very hard to resolve the problems, but as with Fr Anthony, he was not allowed to succeed by a core group of people who "call" them self's Catholic but who really are not. By the way, Fr Anthony and Fr Daniel are not the only ones to have been treated this way. Fr Bill, who served at St Mark years ago was another one who suffered the same treatment.

I also saw above, a comment "scoffing" the word DEMONIC. If the devil could test Christ himself, and then to believe he (or his demons) will NOT test you or I, is the finest example of living in a fairy tale world there is. Please remember that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world that "he does not exist"! And, yes, some of the things that happened at St Mark were down right demonic, and evil in the very truest form of the words.

One person commented that the Church was "lite" on doctrine but the center of their "social" life. Please remember that the Church is there for your spiritual well being and NOT as a social club. If your looking to find Christ and your salvation then come to Mass. However, if your looking for a social club when you come to Church...that is NOT what the Church's primary function is.

I am, as you may have gathered, what some here have called a "Traditionalist" and you'd be right. Traditions are the foundation blocks the Church was built on. Like it or not, when you destroy the foundation then something starts to fall down. Besides, if you don't know where you came from...how can you really know where your going to? So, like it or not, traditions are important. And no I'm not saying that I'm perfect...I'm not even saying that I'm a "good" Catholic...but I'm trying every day to become a good Catholic...with the help of Christ, one day I'll make it.

I thank God every day for finding Fr McDonald and the parish of St Joseph. In it I have not only found again the Peace of Christ, but, also the wonderful ability to not only attend Mass,but to LIVE the Mass!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thanks! I think that it is quite clear Bishop Hartmayer made the correct decisions. I would also counsel public ex communications and if the parishes open again civil injunctions to prevent the excommunicated from stepping foot on the property

Steve Harrison said...

I do not wish to join in the opinionated discussion of circumstances that have been misstated and do not accurately reflect the events that have happened at St. Mark. I am somewhat surprised at Father McDonald's comments. I would hope that he would have shown concern for the 40 young children that have had their first communion and confirmation class cancelled. I would have hoped that a priest would have concern with the individuals who attend the Parish that have had the church closed without notice. I believe that the discussion of racism and "Protestantism" is totally uncalled for. The problems were not caused by the members of the parish not being sufficiently "catholic". I wish that Father McDonald had not judged the members of this parish without hearing the circumstances. Is a child to be denied baptism because the catholic mother had the child out of wedlock. Does the church require a state issued marriage license before a marriage can be performed in church? There was no state marriage license because one individual was undocumented. Should a priest record conversations with parishioners without their knowledge. Should a priest use a time of consoling a grieving parishioner to discuss what the priest thought about that individual's need to step down from church service. A sheriff's deputy with a gun seated in church during mass? How could such a thing happen in God's house. What could possibly be a justification? Is a priest to be welcomed when he tells parishioners that he does not want to be there and came to "put out the fire". I did not want to go into specifics things that have happened because that does no good. But neither does the misstatement and harsh judgment that this Blog has put forth as the reason for closing the churches. Does it not seem odd that both churches have had problems. As to "Anonymous", it is easy to espouse your characterization behind your opinion. I would hope that these parishes are not abandoned by the Bishop who I believed has acted without full knowledge of what has occurred. I would ask you Father McDonald and everyone who reads this Blog to pray for the members of these parishes. Steve Harrison

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Steve, the gig is up and your protests useless with this priest!

Anonymous said...

Steve Harrison, with all due respect, you have not attended a Sunday Mass at St. Mark in recent memory. I assume you are hearing a one-sided story from those that run and tell you their side. You certainly know none of what you claim firsthand. Although I agree that Father Anthony should have baptized the child in question, as a priest, he has every right to refuse the Sacrament of Matrimony to those he feels is not ready. Marriage in the Catholic Church is Sacramental, just like Holy Communion and Confirmation. Those are also Sacraments that can be denied if the priest feels as though the candidate is not ready. Marriage in the Catholic Church is not like in protestant churiches where you decide to get married, pick out a date and the person officiating shows up for a few minutes and boom...all done. The Sacrament of Matrimony takes a period of guided preparation and is taken very seriously by the good majority of Catholic priests. Also, the Catholic Church is not going to marry someone, whose true identity and background they know nothing about. What if this person has already been married in the Catholic Church? What if these people are trying to marry in the Catholic Church, but have previous Catholic marriages, their spouses are still living and those marriages have not been nullified? Those questions cannot be answered without legal identification. Plus, I don't believe a priest is going to marry a couple, where one spouse is undocumented and could easily deported out of the country. What kind of marriage is that, where one spouse lives in one country and the other in another country. Knowledgeable Catholics know the Catholic Church does not approve in marital separation. One closing thought on some of St. Mark's parishioners. Again, those who are truly Catholic know and understand that missing Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation is a Mortal Sin. If everyone at St. Mark is "so Catholic, " why so many empty pews on Sundays and only a few people attending Mass on Holy Days of Obligation? Looks like the St. Mark country club has been shut down for business.

Steve Harrison said...

My protest is for the 60 families that have been thrown to the wind to find other churches to attend. Those who should listen to the call to minister to these church families may choose not to listen. But that will not stop the heartache of these families from how they are being portrayed in this incident. You did not say that what I said was untrue. The examples are only a few of many. I assure you and anyone else that wants to hear you can hear what has happened from the individuals who were there. I therefore do not understand how you have arrived at your judgment of condemnation on the members of these churches. Is it so beyond belief that a priest may do and say things that cause a church family problems?
I hope that the Bishop will reopen the churches very soon. I understand that a priest may now be hard to find, but we trust God will lead the Bishop to place someone to minister to these families who at least wants to be there. If these churches remain closed the question will still remain did the Bishop and the Diocese abandon these churches and their members? I can assure you that the communities of Eastman and McRae who know the members of the parish will not think harshly of the members. It has not been easy over the years to have a Catholic Church accepted in a predominately protestant area. Both Parishes have been instrumental in the acceptance of the Catholic faith as followers of Christ. The problem in the churches is is not some issue of "protestant heresy". These problems that have arisen with the last 2 priests are not based on theology, church doctrine or some desire to control mass. It has been entirely personality. Doesn't it seem odd that both Parishes in two separate communities are having problems?
Again I ask for you prayers for these church families. It sounds as if you have determined "the gig is up" and we are unworthy of your prayers for a solution to this problem. Maybe like you Fr. McDonald I too may be more judgmental than I should. Perhaps you do not wish to sully your spirit by praying for those you have judged less catholic. I don't understand any position that would board the windows and doors permanently as a lesson to all who would fall short of your judgment.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Steve manipulation I can smell 100 miles away, was not the most humble Irish priest prior to the last two Africans treated the same way and have your heard what he went through and endured to the releese of many poor souls in purgatory?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Sackcloth and ashes as well as frequent oracular confession are what is needed! Nothing short of this!

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is the Catholics of McRae Helena, Rhine, Eastman, Chauncey, Cochran and Hawkinsville(Dodge, Telfair, Bleckley and Pulaski Counties)are without a Catholic church. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? Where is the compassion? Where is the forgiveness?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I would recommend that the trouble makers, mortal sinners, literally put on sack cloth and ashes, apologize to their last three pastors for their Congregationalist Protestant attitudes, their anti clericalism, apologize and ask for forgiveness from the bishop, receive sacramental confession and as a penance promise never again to interfere in the pastors legitimate authority. That would be a start. If this isn't done, the parishes should remain shuttered!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I just had a "nice" message on my voice mail. If that's the kind of thing the pastors were dealing with, then Bishop Hartmayer certainly showed the proper way to deal with it. Hopefully the message leaver will stay in Atlanta!

Barbara Troutman said...

I am from a parish in Ny and know both of the previous 2 pastors. Fr McDonald i thank you for your defense of these men who have been driven out by modern day pharisees. And mr harrison then defending those who would have probably driven Christ out too, is abhorrent. I know these men. They are kind, holy, and devout. Mr Harrison is off base. Seems too coincidental that both felt the need to leave to satisfy the self absorbed and self centered group running these parishes. Now the innocent suffer, as usual. My prayers are with Fr Anthony and Fr Daniel. Other parishes would love to be graced with either of them. Rest in the knowledge, Mr Harrison, that the Lord is the Judge, not you.

Anonymous said...

Where was the compassion for Father Anthony when he was being screamed at and made out to be this horrible person? All of us can only pray to be a tenth of the person that Father Anthony was and still is. What about the compassion never shown to Father Daniel by those accusing him of being abusing alcohol and having an affair? Maybe those spreading such dirty rumors should have realized the consequences of such lies on not only the parish, but to their own souls? Where's your proof? There is NONE! Those lies and rumors only aided in getting two Catholic Churches shut down by the Bishop!! Father McDonald is dead on! Each priest from Father Bill to Father Anthony to Father Daniel ALL witnessed conflict and experienced dissent at St. Mark. If people wanted a Catholic Church in Eastman and McRae so much, then why did they not do more to love, nurture, protect and work with the priests given to them, ultimately by Christ, himself? The very low Mass attendance numbers and the fact that no one hardly ever requested the Sacrament of Reconciliation, proves that being a practicing Catholic, in good standing with the Church, was never that big of a deal for most of St. Mark's parishioners. If the desire to repent, go to Confession, be a good-practicing Catholic, attend Mass EVERY Sunday AND Holy Day of Obligation and receive Jesus IN A STATE OF GRACE in the Most Holy Eucharist, is present, then driving to Dublin, Kathleen, Warner Robins, Hazlehurst, or wherever to attend Catholic Church, is doable and not that big of a deal. Plus, having to drive a ways and spend more on fuel, to get to Mass, is somewhat of a much-needed penance. Am I correct, Father McDonald? Maybe if that doesn't work out for our protestant...oops, I mean "Catholic" friends, from St. Mark, then maybe they could start their own "church," in Eastman, with the person who left you the very "Catholic-like" voicemail as their new "priest." Don't forget to bring the coffee, food, booze, complaints and gossip!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The voice mail I received was so manipulative (and no name or return number)in terms of his ideology of forgiveness without one iota of repentance or sorrow or acknowledgement of his divisiveness and others of his ilk who have created this. His barrage of words, completely and totally manipulated, a diatribe if you will, if directed at these poor pastors and not just him but others like him, well thank God the bishop closed the place down. As I mentioned, excommunication is certainly an option. Ignorance of the Church's teaching on the Sacrament of Penance, repentance, sorrow and a desire to avoid sin in the future was totally lacking from the barrage.

It was sanctimonious and without merit, everything that was said. Also, he doesn't know who he's dealing with in laying it out for me. Silly man!

Anonymous said...

I have two guesses of who the "Catholic" caller is. The "Atlanta" reference points immediately to two St. Mark parishioners that I know of. Both men, in question, have been called out by the last two pastors at St. Mark. One of the suspected men was called "dangerous" by one of our previous priests and the other referred to as a "bad man" by the other of our two previous priests. God bless Father Anthony and Father Daniel for always calling sin what it is and the sinner what he/she is. Both priests made me better person and truly tried to make the parish a much better place. However, when the parishioners are more concerned about "being in charge" of things and having social events, instead of focusing on Christ and His Sacraments, then everything turns into protestant chaos and the Church is doomed! How DARE those priest try to make administrative decisions and run the parish!!!!! It's MY church!!!!! Oh the mentality! How can a truly Catholic person NOT recognize the authority of a Catholic priest in his respective parish? Father McDonald, the people of St. Mark will continue to think they were "wronged" and NEVER feel as though, that maybe for one moment, they need to repent and ask God for His Grace and Mercy. I will continue to to pray my daily Rosary for the misguided people of St. Mark and ask God to have Mercy on their souls. I saw with my own two eyes and heard with my own two ears what both Father Anthony and Father Daniel went through at St. Mark. I suspect any time needed served in Purgatory, for either one of these men, before coming to St. Mark, has been completely wiped away since.

Anonymous said...

I have been a member of this church since i moved to Eastman and unfortunately i never saw many people go, especially during the Hispanic mass. Then again, even I didn't go every Sunday.

I never knew what happened with Fr. Anthony, but I heard many people complain, though I liked him just fine. He was always very welcoming.

When Fr. Daniel came along though, there was a lot of change, especially for the hispanic community. He made us feel truly welcomed and wanted us to feel a part of the church as well. I heard many of the younger members actually talk about how they ENJOYED going to classes. and honestly, many members enjoyed his sermons as well. Yes, he had a translator for the hispanic mass, but even then, we were able to understand his point. He made it known that he wanted the church to rise up and become better. He made people have hope. Hope that there was a future for catholics in Eastman and hope for a community.

I was truly saddened to hear of his leaving, and i hope that if he ever reads this that he knows that there are a lot of us who miss him. Thank you for making us feel welcomed and thank you for talking to us about God. I pray that you can forgive the people who mistreated you in Eastman and hope you know we're not all the same.

-N

Anonymous said...

Worst diocese I have ever lived in. The bishop has the same mindset that allowed the Church sexual abuse scandal to occur. I have had nothing but bad experiences in this diocese.