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http://www.somdnews.com/enterprise/spotlight/charlotte-hall-priest-evicts-congregation-before-funeral-service/article_0d78b499-ca5d-593d-96ec-492f2c5ae6ef.htmlThe Archdiocese of Washington is issuing a formal letter of apology to the family of a deceased woman whose funeral attendees Wednesday morning were abruptly evicted from a Charlotte Hall Catholic church by the priest, the Rev. Michael Briese, who was to preside over a Mass of Christian Burial.
In a letter shared with The Enterprise, the Rev. Michael Fisher, secretary for ministerial leadership, wrote to the deceased woman’s daughter: “What occurred at Saint Mary’s Parish [Wednesday] morning does not reflect the Catholic Church’s fundamental calling to respect and uplift the God-given dignity of every person nor does that incident represent the pastoral approach the priests of the Archdiocese of Washington commit to undertake every day in their ministry.”
Ed McFadden, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said the incident remains under investigation and that he expects further conversations and developments as the archdiocese continues to investigate.
“By no means should this indicate that we consider the matter closed,” McFadden said.
Between 200 and 300 people were attending the funeral of Agnes Theresa Hicks of Charlotte Hall on Wednesday morning at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Newport in Charlotte Hall.
Hicks’ daughter, Renetta Baker, said that prior to the start of services, she was greeting visitors when one of them accidentally knocked over a ceremonial cup used during Mass for communion, damaging it.
It was empty at the time. She said they initially did not see that the cup had been knocked over.
“One of the ladies [at the church] came out and saw it, and she went back and told him, told Father Michael [Briese],” Baker said. “He came out yelling at me. So I stood up and said we’re going to take care of it after the funeral. Then he went back, then he came to the mic and said ‘There will be no funeral today.’”
“Then he said, y’all get the H-E-L-L out!” added Hicks’ sister, Margaret Holton.
Ed Hill, a funeral attendant for the Briscoe-Tonic Funeral Home, said he tried to defuse the situation.
“I tried to calm him down, asked if I could pray with him, and he told me I need to get out of here, too. He told me ‘You need to get those people out of here, I want all their asses out of here right now,’” Hill said. “He was cursing, he didn’t want prayer, he didn’t want anything.”