The horrific events surrounding Fr. Christopher’s removal of his things from the St. Isabel Rectory – Volume II revised!
Since there is so much disinformation circulating around Fr. Christopher’s “removal of things from the St. Isabel rectory,” including slanderous misstatements from the Bishop, Frank Dewane, a fuller account of that event, after interviews and questions, is printed here. While some of the information may sound repetitious, the fact that the parish is using the event to further demonize Fr. Christopher, who continues to be grossly maligned, necessitates a restatement of what actually happened.
It needs to be noted, that related to the removal of Fr. Christopher’s things from the rectory is enormous regret that Fr. Christopher was allowed to go to church property totally alone, something that was insisted on by the Diocese. Clearly those directing Fr. Christopher grossly underestimated the malice of Church officials, and could not have predicted their ability to construct an alternate reality that has no reference to the truth. From the Bishop down to the level of Mrs. Khristy Scheer, there appears to have been a carefully choreographed plan to embarrass and further demonize Fr. Christopher. This will become clear as we relate the actual events of December 5 and 6.
Several days before Fr. Christopher’s move, Mr. Robert Kern approached the Sanibel Police Department to inquire about the possibility of increased patrols on the St. Isabel property, or even hiring an off-duty policeman, to protect Fr. Christopher from harm and retain some semblance of fairness. In the Diocesan view of reality, this is now being reinterpreted as “a parishioner” warned the police department that supporters of Fr. Christopher had planned to cause trouble on the days of his move. It was this so-called warning that was given as the excuse that St. Isabel needed to hire private guards 24/7 (at great expense) to protect the staff from harm. Indeed, Mr. Kern’s visit to the Sanibel police department was on account of Mrs. Scheer’s demonstrable vindictiveness towards parishioners and PFJ as a whole. Mr. Kern was not issuing any warning about causing trouble. Mr. Kern was warning that the parish staff, who have been enabled to be so thoroughly disagreeable by the Diocese and the priest-in-charge, might cause Fr. Christopher trouble, and he shouldn’t be visiting the property alone. Indeed, the outcome of those two days demonstrates that the parish staff and the hired security guards were the ones responsible for the upset, and Fr. Christopher did nothing that deserved expulsion and the issuing of a no trespassing citation. Fr. Christopher had the misfortune of walking into what appears to have had the makings of a trap, and the outcome was assured no matter how hard Fr. Christopher tried to follow the rules set down by the Diocese.
On Thursday, December 5, Fr. Christopher arrived on Church property, after being given permission by the diocese to remove his belongings which had been held hostage for more than three years. His arrival, late in the day on account of an unexpected delay on the part of the contracted moving company, found him not arriving until after mid-afternoon. At that time, Fr. Christopher tried to remove most of his artwork that hung in the rectory, and while they were not allowed in the rectory, parishioners were allowed to park their vans in the parking lot as Fr. Christopher carried out all the individual pieces which had been placed in his former bedroom. Parishioners were then able to take the artwork to his new home and avoid transport by the movers. What the parishioners didn’t know was that the hired security guards were noting those who “helped Fr. Christopher,” and it would come back to haunt them when they were subsequently listed as “not wanted on the property.”
Fr. Christopher worked quietly inside the rectory, packing things as best he could with boxes and packing materials that he had been given by others. When the owner of the moving company arrived after three o’clock Thursday afternoon (the company was supposed to be there at 11:30), he was given a tour of what needed to be done, and a guard hired by St. Isabel staff informed the owner of the moving company that if “things were not removed by the (then) 5:00 o’clock deadline,” they would then become the property of the Church. The owner of the company, who drove a trailer onto the property, said I normally leave the trailer here, but the tension here is so high that “I think there is the possibility that they could lock me out, and I would not have access to my things.” He, nevertheless, agreed to show up, on Friday at 11:30, knowing that would not allow enough time to pack and remove everything. It was not surprising, given his nervousness and the presence of the guards, that the original mover hired never showed up at all, with no explanation.
The following day, Friday the 6th, Fr. Christopher, knowing the prediction was they would never finish in time on Friday, hired a second company on Friday morning, who were able to show up roughly by 10:30, with two teams and two trucks, and they started the arduous job of packing up nearly fifteen years of “things” that Fr. Christopher was desirous of moving.
Fr. Christopher arrived on Church property a little after 8:00 am, while the morning Mass was being celebrated. He was greeted by one of the hired guards who let him into the rectory. At that time no one was in the living room, and Fr. Christopher started to pack up and remove his Christmas things from the third bedroom at the end of the rectory. What wasn’t in bins was packed into boxes, and those bins and boxes were carried down to the end of the rectory driveway. At one point Fr. Christopher was at the end of the driveway when Mass was letting out, and a parishioner and friend, Tom Nachazel, came over to warmly greet Fr. Christopher. Fr. Christopher warned Mr. Nachazel that he was not supposed to have any contact with any parishioners, to which Mr. Nachazel replied that he didn’t care what anyone said, and commented that at his age he really didn’t give a damn. Tom and Fr. Christopher visited for a bit, and then Tom said, “I will load this stuff into my car and take it to your home once you give me the address.” Fr. Christopher suggested that might not be a good idea, but Tom insisted and packed his car till full, and then left for Fr. Christopher’s home. No one was around to stop him; no one seemed desirous of stopping him. A little later in the morning, Tom called Fr. Christopher and said he was on his way back to take another load of stuff. Fr. Christopher suggested that that might not be a good idea, since the atmosphere on the church property had become a little more charged. It was quite clear that Church personnel had told the guards that no one was to give Fr. Christopher any assistance, and Fr. Christopher prevailed upon Tom Nachazel not to return to the church property, in spite of his protests “that he had enough time for two more trips.” Had Tom been allowed to return he might have been able to witness first hand how unreasonable the church people had become.
In the meantime, the four movers began to pack shortly after their introduction to the job, and were making great progress. One of the movers assisted Fr. Christopher in moving an enormous TV cabinet that had been moved from the living room into a small and narrow room where the bulk of Fr. Christopher’s Christmas decorations were kept. The cabinet prevented any entrance into the room, and one was led to wonder why it was not moved ahead of time, or why it was being stored there in the first place. Let it be known, that no one offered any assistance or even a bottle of water, including the kind man who had held the door so often the day before. Overnight it appeared that they were instructed not to help Fr. Christopher in any way. Most of the time Fr. Christopher was in the rectory, he kept his distance from the unidentified couple, the two hired guards, and Mrs. Scheer and her very close friend Colleen Bauer. They ate and drank and giggled their way through most of the day, adding nothing to the process except tension.
Around the noon hour Shirley Bohnert, an 84 year old woman and longtime parishioner, showed up to give support and maybe some help to Fr. Christopher, but was told by one of the two hired guards that she had to leave the property. In response to the guard she said, “that man” (pointing at Fr. Christopher) is sick, and he “looks exhausted and is limping; he needs some help.” She was assured that that was not allowed, and she was asked to leave the premises. Shirley backed up her car and waved to Fr. Christopher. Fr. Christopher, acknowledging her wave, walked out to her car which was leaving the property. She rolled down her passenger window, Fr. Christopher said hello, and they spoke of how ridiculous the present circumstances were. At that time, the two hired guards, one with a bullet-proof vest on, approached the car and said Shirley had to leave. Fr. Christopher assured the guard she was leaving. The guard then screamed “she has to leave immediately.” At which point, Fr. Christopher said, “she will leave after we are finished speaking.” Shirley then left the property, not wanting to get Fr. Christopher into any further trouble. At that point, for the first time, the guard turned around and headed to the church office, shouting that he was going to “call the police.” Fr. Christopher said, “go right ahead.”
Indeed, the office did call the police, three patrol cars arriving, in spite of Shirley Bohnert leaving immediately. Regardless, the police showed up, and after some time spent in the office talking to Khristy Scheer, came out and told Fr. Christopher that he had to leave. He politely protested to the officer assigned to speak to him, an officer who was well aware of all that had happened over the past three years. The officer told Fr. Christopher, who had barely started the moving process, that he had to leave the property. Fr. Christopher politely protested and asked to speak to the detective in private, something the guard was reluctant to allow. Fr. Christopher and the policeman walked a distance from the guard who was told to stay behind. Fr. Christopher literally had a breakdown, and tearfully and repeatedly begged the officer not to do this, suggesting this is just what they want to have happen. The officer temporarily relented, and said he would see what he could do, and said, “It will surely be with restrictions, and if I have to come back you will have to leave.”
The detective returned after speaking with office manager, Mrs. Khristy Scheer, and suggested that Fr. Christopher do his best to ignore the presence of those who had no appreciation for his presence. The staff had reluctantly allowed him to continue moving his things. The officer suggested don’t look at “them,” don’t engage “them” in conversation, don’t cause any trouble whatsoever. Fr. Christopher promised to do his best to “behave.” This was the first warning Fr. Christopher received that day.
The afternoon went along as expected. Fr. Christopher continued to carry out boxes/bins to the end of the driveway while Khristy Scheer, Colleen Bauer, two parishioners, and both guards, enjoyed lunch, as they had done at the start of the day with coffee and donuts in the rectory living room. There was little to no interaction with the staff, except for Fr. Christopher asking the whereabouts of a pair of candlesticks and a large statue of St. Joseph, which had been gifts from parishioners from San Antonio Church and St. Isabel Church respectively. Within an hour those items were returned to Fr. Christopher from some other part of the property.
All went smoothly until about mid-afternoon, when parishioners Lyn Kern and Shirley Bohnert arrived on the property and came into the rectory where Fr. Christopher was working. Lyn handed some papers to Fr. Christopher, who received them while the guards, following close behind, shouted that they had to leave. On her way out, Lyn Kern made the mistake of picking up a bin in the hall that she said she “would bring to the end of the driveway.” The guards began shouting more loudly, protesting “you are not allowed to do that; put that bin down.” As their volume increased, Fr. Christopher finally shouted, “stop hollering at those women. You are being abusive.” Fr. Christopher knew this would not end well, and encouraged Lyn that he would “be okay,” and just put the bin down and go. Fifteen to twenty minutes elapsed while Fr. Christopher continued to pack and carry things outside the rectory. The detective who first spoke to Fr. Christopher showed up, and said “I told you (Fr. Christopher) what would happen if I showed up again; you have to leave the property.” Fr. Christopher asked him to reconsider the situation, but the Sanibel detective said there was no choice. “They” want you off the property! Fr. Christopher said for what reason? The detective said, “they don’t have to have a reason,” you have to leave and they are serving you with a trespassing citation,” in spite of the fact that Fr. Christopher had permission from the Diocese to be on the property. Fr. Christopher waited for the papers to be drawn up by one of the officers in the four Sanibel police vehicles. When Fr. Christopher asked “why do you send so many patrol cars?” he was told “we always send one car more than the number of people that are described as a danger.” One aging priest, and 83 year-old woman, and one seventy-seven year old woman, were apparently threats to the staff that Fr. Christopher had not seen for hours. Both policemen expressed regret that they were being asked to do what they were required to do. For the record, this was the second warning Fr. Christopher was given.
It was clear in Fr. Christopher’s paperwork, that the citation was the result of Mrs. Khristy Scheer registering a complaint, that an infirm older priest, an eighty-four year old woman with a fused neck, and a seventy-seven year-old woman, were somehow a threat to the Church or its staff. In an apparent outright lie, that continues to get repeated, Mrs. Khristy Scheer told the police that Fr. Christopher was “yelling and threatening” people as he was removing his belongings, something that never happened, unless the raising of his voice to the absurdly arrogant hired thugs was interpreted as “threatening people.” The lying by Church staff, however, is something that so frequently happens, that parishioners have sadly grown accustomed to it.
It would appear that the Church is trying to project the false appearance of danger. Assuming the cost of guards runs high, it is astounding that the Church’s available monies are being used to fund what is nothing more than a charade. With all the policemen who responded to calls from the Church office on Friday, none of them were because anyone was in imminent danger. The officers seemed to be perturbed that they were being called as often as they were, and for reasons that were not apparent to them. The officer reports for that day suggest that Mrs. Scheer stated that the “two elderly women” were “banging on the door” and “calling church staff names.” Further, Mrs. Scheer “wanted ex-father Senk removed from the property and trespassed. Scheer said Senk was being disruptive moving his belongings. Scheer no longer wanted him on the property.” The statement of Mrs. Scheer that Fr. Christopher was “being loud, threatening, and disruptive” is patently false. Lying, apparently, was the only way they could cause what they felt was the appropriate level of embarrassment to Fr. Christopher, and because they had cleverly arranged to have no unbiased witnesses accompany Fr. Christopher, there would be no one available to speak the truth.
Fast forward to Tuesday, December 10, when parishioners in support of Fr. Christopher gathered together to pray for Fr. Christopher as they have consistently done since October 28, 2016. It was noticed by those attending the prayer service (which have taken place some 150 times since 2016), that there was one guard and one police vehicle in the church parking lot when the prayer service began. By the end of the prayer service there were four police vehicles, one guard, and one extraordinarily vengeful Office Manager, Mrs. Khristy Scheer. As a result, attendees were encouraged to exit the side doors to avoid a confrontation. Mrs. Khristy Scheer came out of her office, unusual for a Tuesday, to inform the local police of the identity of the two women who she felt had no right to be there, since they were warned they should not come back to church property. The ladies’ assumption was surely that their forbidden presence on the property applied to when Fr. Christopher was on property, (which was only to collect his belongings), but Mrs. Scheer deliberately came out to identify the two women, Shirley Bohnert and Lyn Kern, so that the police could serve them, as they did the week before with Fr. Christoper, “no trespassing citations,” preventing them from stepping foot on Church property for the remainder of their lives. No one in the Church seems eager to retract their no trespassing citations, no doubt seeing that as a sign of weakness. Justice would never be involved in their decision making. Indeed, the Church is passing the buck to the police department, who of course cannot retract anything, without the permission of the source of the request – Mrs. Khristy Scheer, who appears to be acting as the Church Adminstrator
The behavior of Mrs. Scheer was deliberate, intentional, vindictive and malicious. Neither Bohnert or Kern, ever presented a threat to St. Isabel Church (likewise Fr. Christopher), in spite of the fact that the Diocese has weighed-in on this as saying it is their obligation to “protect Church staff from harm.” Indeed, there is no reason, for a church to walk deliberately into this situation, especially when the actual person in charge, Fr. Martin, claims he is trying to bring peace and healing to the church. It appears the temporary administrator is concerned about only a few parishioners, and he appears not to be bothered by a church which behaves this way towards those who literally “built” the church.
It is clear that the Church’s Office manager, Mrs. Khristy Scheer, has been enabled and given the power to help thoroughly ruin a church which was thriving before the Bishop intervened on October 28, 2016. Who walks into a situation that could so easily be avoided? On Tuesday, by considering that an eighty-four year-old female parishioner, and a seventy-seven year-old female parishioner, were “threats to parish safety,” crossed the line of what is reasonable. Indeed, the distress that has caused these women, who consider living on the island without the ability to liturgically mourn friends or fellow parishioners in the parish church a stark possibility, is remarkable and unacceptable. It is hard to imagine a solution to this problem, given what has happened over the past three years, but we continue to hope that those with clearer heads and more gospel-sourced precepts will realize the legitimate outrage of those who have been offended.
To those who continue to think that this is “right and just,” we ask you to think what you would do if this suddenly happened to you? If this can happen to anyone, it can happen to you – maybe not tomorrow, but on a day which you don’t expect, the tables can suddenly turn, and when those tables are turned by those with evil intent, it is certain that this will happen to you. To date, nothing has been done by the Diocese or the parish office to lift the restrictions which ban two women and the pastor of St. Isabel Church, from ever steeping foot on the property again.