Local News

Weekly mass postponed at Robeson County church after priest lock out

Posted August 19, 2009

— Bishop Michael Burbidge has postponed the weekly mass at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Red Springs.

This comes after 150 church members gathered over the weekend to protest Rev. Walter Ospina. They even padlocked the church’s doors to keep him from entering and said no mass would take place until Ospina was removed.

Ospina was appointed to St. Andrew, 301 Mercer Ave., a year ago.

Protesters said Ospina, who's from Colombia, is out of touch and looks down on the Latino community.

Burbidge said Wednesday he is looking for a facilitator to help the parish work through its problems, but that mass will be postponed “for the foreseeable future,” according to Frank Morock, a spokesman for the Catholic diocese in Raleigh.

“What happened Sunday was a hostile act – locking people out of mass, which is very important to the Catholic faith,” Morock said.

Monsignor David Brockman also read a statement to the congregation Wednesday night in which Burbidge expressed his “love, respect and appreciation for the parish community.”


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  • lauraleigh Aug 20, 2009

    What I've heard through the grapevine is that it's the largely-Mexican community who dislikes the Colombian pastor.

    Their resentment of a pastor who is of the larger Spanish-language Latino culture appears to be a matter of race and national conflicts - not of Faith or Morals.

    The point is - the parishioners do not own the church. The Church is the real property of the Diocese, who oversees its administration. There are procedures and protocols to follow when there is a problem with a pastor, and it appears from this article and from what I've heard locally that those protocols were not observed; that a group of parishioners took matters into their own hands.

    And now all the Lumberton-area Catholics are deprived of Mass, which is the heart of our Faith, because of a handful of angry hot-headed parishioners. This is wrong!

  • Idlewood Aug 20, 2009

    This story says nothing, other than parishioners on site object to their pastor while supporters from another locale have appeared to back him up. What is the nature of the conflict? Or is the language barrier too difficult for your reporters to overcome?

  • curiousgeorgia Aug 20, 2009

    Need more input...