Letters, Take Action Now

Stand Up for what you Believe In! There is still time and opportunity to reverse the wrong.

Dear People of Justice,

I received a text late last night from a friend who is actively committed to the fight for justice for Fr. Christopher Senk, pastor of St. Isabel Catholic Church in Sanibel.  She had attended a presentation where the subject of Princess Diana and her place in the pop culture of our times was discussed. Apparently, there was emphasis not on Diana’s flaws but on her decision to use her celebrity to further causes seeking to improve the lives of thousands of people. Because of her ability to use her notoriety for good, Diana’s premature death was and is still mourned by millions.  She is mourned not only by those who are fascinated by royalty but also by those who regret the loss of a person willing to stand up for what is right. Diana suffered from the relentless scrutiny of a rumor-driven press.  Constant headlines and countless television “teasers” portrayed her as everything from a loving mother smothered by her royal obligations to an immoral opportunist taking advantage of her circumstances. The tragic end of her young life didn’t end all of the speculation, but it did make way for her to be mourned and celebrated for her personal qualities.

You may, at first, wonder why my friend would relate her reactions to a presentation about Princess Diana to our struggle to restore St. Isabel Parish as a welcoming and enriching part of Catholic life on Sanibel island. I think I know why.

The contrast between good and evil, whenever encountered, forces us to examine its appearance in all aspects of our lives.

The talk of good works and of a person’s determination to use her position in life for the greater good caused my friend to think of Fr. Christopher and his more than 40 years of service to the Church and the multitude of people he has encountered as a spiritual guide. The talk of perseverance despite false accusations reminded her of the past six months when truth has taken a back seat to innuendo. The talk of mourning a lost champion of justice made my friend want more people to be aware of our loss.  She had reached a point which many of us have experienced since late October: complete and utter disgust at a bishop’s ruthless decision to display his power for the purpose of destroying a faithful priest that has also collaterally damaged a community of believers.

The overriding point is that everything that has happened since Bishop Frank Dewane placed Fr. Christopher on administrative leave and threw our parish into a sequence of missteps, misunderstandings, and mixed messages pales in comparison to the fact that an innocent man has been denied free access to his possessions, denied his right to speak out to defend himself and, most importantly, denied his right to fulfill his vocation.  Furthermore, he has been threatened that the consequences of the bishop’s actions are irrevocable.  He has been mercilessly pressured to give up his life’s work, stop fighting for truth, passively give assent to the bishop’s will, and go quietly away, never again sharing his gifts with the Church and Her people.

I believe that the absurdity of such a potential loss is what caused my friend to express her frustration to me late in the night. The thought that someone’s vocation can be ended by an unjust man in an unjust system is unacceptable.  There is no evidence that substantiates or justifies the actions taken by the bishop.  My friend is right. Everyone who believes in justice should be mourning, not just for the moment but also for the lasting impact of what we have experienced. The situation deserves it. Fr. Christopher deserves it.  Nothing less than full exoneration of Fr. Christopher is acceptable. Evil must not triumph.

The striking difference between the Princess Diana phenomenon and the St. Isabel Parish situation is that our ending has not been written yet. There is still time and opportunity to reverse the wrong.  There is an obvious answer. Return Fr. Christopher to our parish, restore our community, and let the healing begin.  For Fr. Christopher, for the people of St. Isabel, and for Bishop Frank Dewane.

With hope,

Genetha Gray

9 thoughts on “Stand Up for what you Believe In! There is still time and opportunity to reverse the wrong.”

  1. A thousand times, yes, Genny. We will NOT let this matter go unchallenged and we will continue to support our Pastor and fight this tawdry injustice which only makes Bishop Dewane suspect and unconvincing even in his few communications with us.
    Madeline Lacovara

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  2. Genny you are right….. I went to mass a couple of weeks ago, this is no longer the parish we have known for 14 years. (We miss you and deacon a lot also)
    ❤️ Kelly and Karoline

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  3. There hasn’t been a more spiritually enriching, welcoming, kinder man of the cloth in our lives than Father Chris. His “removal” by our “Bishop” is not only unjust and unthinkable, it is cruel. The damage he has caused is deep and scandalous (offensive to a sense of decency, shocking to the moral feelings of the community) and needs to be reversed. Father Chris could repair this damage. Bring him back, please God.

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  4. Such a well written letter and expressing what needs to be said. Thank you, Genny
    We will NOT give up our fight for justice!

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  5. Every day I pray for Father Christopher………….he is a good priest and the Lord knows we need good priests. I keep asking myself…What would Jesus say? What would Jesus do?
    What did Jesus already say and do ? He told us to love and be kind and honest and peace makers.
    There is NO room in our church for the sad ways we see in our nations politics…we are supposed to be different!…we are all called to heed and spread the message of love and peace, healing and honesty, kindness and forgiveness if necessary……. this sadness re Fr. Senk only divides us. Can’t some one fix this justly so we can heal and help those who hurt to heal? Why is it taking so long to show our love and mercy and healing from the authority of our church ? It really isn’t right . Please show Fr. Senk the mercy and love that he deserves. He is a Priest…forever. He is a very good Priest – forever. Let us welcome him back to our Church – he remains a good Priest —-now —and forever. We don’t want to lose a good Priest! Put ourselves in Father’s shoes…none would want to be accused unjustly….if we are good people we would and should be treated as such! Father has been a good Priest and person…let us treat him as such. Especially by the church that he and we have faithfully served. God – hear our prayer! Please bless Fr. Senk with Your Peace and Love. Amen. Mary Jo and Henry Maher

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  6. As Jesus answered when accused of doing the works of the evil one..a house against itself cannot stand. So also someone as Bishop Dewane who would destroy ministry, especially priestly ministry, surely are not about doing the work of God. Yes, Genny we must confront this evil and continue to support Father Christopher and each other in this fight for justice! Bishop Dewane should fear for the condition of his soul…he is caught up in evil. Father Christopher is everything the Bishop is not….Father Christopher is kind, forgiving, caring etc. and in his embodying these characteristics we sheep know who the TRUE shepherd is.

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