A Response to the Flocknote sent to St. Isabel’s Women’s Guild by Fr. Ed Martin
The appalling e-mail sent by the St. Isabel Temporary Administrator, Fr. Ed Martin, is a sad example of what is so terribly wrong with the local and universal Church. St. Isabel Parish is where it is because individuals, unwilling to take the time or spend the energy to discern the truth, fall victim to the lies and deceit of those for whom Fr. Martin is begging respect. It is nothing less than remarkable that, after only thirty days at St. Isabel’s, Fr. Martin chose to “dissolve” the forty-two year old Women’s Guild with no warning and in an impersonal e-mail written to the entire Flock Note community. Such a move is both insensitive and uncharitable.
There was a great deal of hope when Fr. Martin’s arrival was announced, and the PFJ organization that he and others have vilified, was quick to welcome him: “It is asked that all Parishioners of St. Isabel Parish would kindIy welcome Father Ed Martin to the community of Sanibel and please keep him in prayer as he assumes his responsibilities as your Parish Administrator. “We are grateful to Father for accepting this difficult assignment.” Sadly, it was at the same time that we commented on the Bishop’s assessment of the ‘difficulty’ of the situation: PFJ stated, “It will be difficult to piece back together a terribly broken parish community, and to heal the wounds so carelessly and unnecessarily made. But our advice to Fr. Martin is to come into his new position with an open mind, which may mean ignoring everything he has been told by some, for they do not always tell the truth.”
It is quite clear from his note to the Church community that, in spite of what he says, Fr. Martin has no real desire for “healing.” Unfortunately, he has not come to St. Isabel with an open mind, or with the kind of compassion that should mark the actions of a genuine pastor. His dissolution of the Women’s Guild will postpone healing indefinitely, in spite of what some may have told him.
Fr. Martin, with all due respect, really has no idea how “difficult” the last few years have been for many of the St. Isabel Parish community. Had he spent even some portion of his thirty days here actually talking to parishioners, seeking their advice, and understanding their pain, he still would have only scratched the surface. Apparently, he listened to those who told him that you will be able to rebuild a parish in spite of the dashed hopes and dreams of hundreds of good men and women. His accusation that we look “for our own authority and direction” is true, for we look to the gospel for direction. Currently, there is very little gospel-infused direction coming from the local or Diocesan church. Indeed, this is not the former Catholic Church which existed when parishioners were supposed to “pray, pay, and obey,” with the kind of blind obedience that is always troublesome.
It is particularly difficult to see how Fr. Martin’s announcement of the Women’s Guild demise qualified as “News from our Church – ministry updates and upcoming events.” Was such an announcement meant to convey to the church community that it is time to forget about all of the wounded people and “move forward”? It is obvious that Fr. Martin will be incapable of restoring peace and harmony in our parish if he continues the way he has begun. It is our hope that Father Martin will reconsider his hasty action and work with the whole community to bring about reconciliation and healing. As people who continue to desire the restoration of our church community, we are convinced that it is Jesus who will one day bring peace and justice to this very troubling chapter in St. Isabel’s history.
Dottie Mc Govern
•St.Isabel Parishioner 2010-2019
•Member of St. Isabel Women’s Guild – 2010-2019
•St. Isabel Lector & Eucharistic Minister – 2011-2019
•Treasurer of St. Isabel Women’s Guild – 2011-2017
•St. Isabel Financial Council Member – Oct. 2016 – Dec. 2017
•Membership Chairperson of St. Isabel Women’s Guild – 2018 -2019