2619 Wulfert Road Sanibel, Florida 33957 November 25, 2019
I respectfully request a response to my letter of concern. The question I ask is to whom does Bishop Frank Dewane from the Diocese of Venice, Florida report and to whom is he held accountable?
I ask this because it appears that the Bishop has unchecked power and control. If I may be so bold as to ask you to indulge me and take a few moments of your time to review the letters I have attached to my correspondence. These letters were written by parishioners, more articulate than myself, who share the same concerns as I do regarding our situation which has existed at St. Isabel’s Parish on Sanibel Island, Florida for nearly 3 years now.
I know you have been made aware of the “situation” to which I refer, essentially that our beloved Pastor, Father Christopher Senk, was whisked away from the rectory in a most unchristian, uncharitable and humbling manner. He was further sanctioned by Bishop Dewane, even after the supposed misdeeds the Bishop accused him of doing, were dismissed by civil authorities. You must know that previously Father Senk, along with several other Pastors in the Diocese, authored or signed a letter critical of the Bishop’s leadership qualities, and some of them have also been dismissed by the Bishop.
The treatment this priest has endured could serve as an example of everything a church authority should NOT do to a subordinate. As a manager and spiritual leader, if a subordinate is not doing a good job or if they are doing something you deem inappropriate or whatever… you must counsel, instruct, and “manage” them to the appropriate behavior. You do not humiliate and terminate them on the spot unless you are seeking revenge. How would Jesus feel about that?
Bishop Dewan should not be in the position to manage anyone, but more importantly to lead a Diocese of the faithful, if that is how he leads a subordinate! As further evidence of the Bishop’s leadership of St. Isabel’s you may be interested in how often he visited its parishioners during the time of Father Senk’s vicarage. I think you will be surprised.
Our current situation is one of deep division because of what many of us view as an abuse of power by the Bishop. It is apparent that each acting pastor the Bishop has installed since Father Senk, follows an agenda and behaves as pawns of Bishop Dewane.
The situation has gone from bad to worse with absolutely no effort or genuine attempt for reconciliation of this divided community. The latest action of dissolving the Woman’s Guild of some 42 years by the current acting pastor as one of his first acts was just so ”over the top” to be unbelievable.
We need intervention of higher-level church authorities to take the time and effort to honestly assess the devastation of a parish which was once a model of Christian community that has become totally split and fractured. Bishop Frank Dewane is not the one to heal this parish since he is the one many see as having caused the problem. We beg you and those like you to intervene, help us and pray for a Catholic result.