A PARISH WITH NO SOUL
Parishes are as different as the people who populate them, individuals lending their varied characteristics and idiosyncrasies to an ever-changing pool of talent and giftedness. It is that collection of individuals who form the cogs and wheels of a machine that is intended to run well. No single individual, not even the priest/pastor, is solely responsible for the character of a particular parish; but individuals are capable of causing the machine (parish) to break down when they forget, or deliberately turn away from, the most fundamental principles which are meant to guide their every move. Those principles are to be found in the life of Jesus, in the divinely revealed gospels. That which is contrary to the gospel, has no place in the church/parish.
A parish has a soul if it does what it is supposed to do: celebrate the Eucharist well (not multiply personal devotions) and build a community of love and respect by living lives that are deeply rooted in the gospel. While there would be some parishioners, and both recent temporary administrators, who are harshly critical of those who have stood steadfastly on the side of justice, that is precisely where good Christians stand. Where justice thrives, God is present. Not only is the present position of St. Isabel’s towards all those who have supported Fr. Christopher wrong, it is categorically evil, sharing nothing in the teaching of Jesus. Sr. Mary McGlone, speaking about parishes, states that “our call is to create communities that provide true icons of Christ’s kingship expressed through the grace of God’s reconciling love and life-giving power.” It is fair to say, that no one of late, who has any responsibility for administrating St. Isabel Parish, has done anything that resembles icons of God’s grace. Indeed, the opposite is true.
Those responsible for St. Isabel have managed to turn the House of God and its property into an armed camp. Where previously, all were truly welcome, now the Office Manager, Khristy Scheer, with the assistance of security guards the parish can ill afford, has been given the power to decide who worships at St. Isabel. On Tuesday, in a carefully planned ambush of two women in their late 70’s and mid-80’s, an ambush planned by the parish’s Office Manager, two women who came to the Church to pray, were cited for trespassing and prevented from stepping on church property for the rest of their lives. This purely vindictive act allowed by law, was executed by Khristy Scheer, for the sole purpose of humiliating the two women and wreaking vengeance.
Mrs. Scheer is well-practiced at humiliating people, having been successful, for no reason, of having Fr. Christopher cited for trespassing and banned from Church property, escorted by Sanibel Police off Church property for no other reason than “Mrs. Scheer requested it.” It is hard to imagine how this is helpful for peace in the parish (as diocesan authorities have stated is their desire) and it is impossible to reconcile anything that has been done recently with anything that resembles the gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, one would like to ask Mrs. Scheer and the Diocese why they felt this trespassing move was necessary? Is it part of their plan to demonize all who continue to strive for justice? One would like to ask the parishioners who trust the present administration of the parish, how humiliating these women, who they know well, does anything to bring about peace and healing? Can they imagine themselves prohibited from mourning friends who have the misfortune of choosing to have a funeral Mass at St. Isabel? No, how could they, but this is precisely what Fr. Christopher has experienced for the last three-plus years. Are Lyn Kern and Shirley Bohnert, let alone Fr. Christopher, such dangerous people, that they need to be banned indefinitely from the Church property? No real threats have ever been identified as coming from Parishioners For Justice. The supposed threats are the paranoid imaginings of a parish staff who sense the energy of feeling all powerful.
Sadly, the Church of St. Isabel has no soul, and those who attend and support the current administration share this shameful position, appearing incapable of becoming an icon of God’s grace and reconciliation. We are sure the Diocese of Venice, Bishop Dewane and the administration of St. Isabel must be very proud of their handiwork that has divided a once thriving, loving parish, now demolished by Bishop Dewane’s actions against Fr. Christopher and supported by the malicious actions of the current St. Isabel staff under the direction of Mrs. Khristy Scheer.