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Mass suspended indefinitely after parishioner protest

Posted August 20, 2009

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— Catholic leaders indefinitely halted Mass services at a Robeson County church from Wednesday after about 150 parishioners locked the priest out last weekend.

Bishop Michael Burbidge has suspended the weekly Mass on Sunday and Wednesday at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Red Springs "for the foreseeable future," according to Frank Morock, a spokesman for the Catholic diocese in Raleigh.

The decision was announced Wednesday night when Monsignor David Brockman visited to try to smooth things over.

About 150 church members protested at the church last Sunday and padlocked the doors to keep out Rev. Walter Ospina.

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

Burbidge expressed his “love, respect and appreciation for the parish community"  in the statement Brockman read. Burbidge hopes to name a facilitator to help with the situation within the next week.

Protesters said that Ospina is out of touch and looks down on the Latino community. Ospina, who is from Colombia, was appointed to St. Andrew a year ago.

Parishioner Maria Perez said that Ospina needs "to be more active, more social, more friendly – basically what a priest is supposed to be."

"He's not just here to give Mass. He's here to serve the community. He's not doing that," she added.

Morock said that there are no plans to remove Ospina and that other congregation members are satisfied with his ministry style.

34 Comments

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  • Navaho1 Aug 21, 2009

    "I don't think there's another Catholic Church in that area"

    Elizabethtown may be the closest - and it is already overflowing.

  • Scarecrow Cow Aug 21, 2009

    I don't think there's another Catholic Church in that area closer than 45 minutes away so I have no idea what they're planning to do next Sunday. Makes me grateful to have Monsignor Tim at St. Michael. Having a good priest makes all the difference.

  • Navaho1 Aug 21, 2009

    You know this is really a big Catholic church for this rural area. Surely it will not be shut down for very long. REally never heard of anything like this.

  • dpm819 Aug 21, 2009

    Yes, ministering to the needs of the people is essential, but if his style doesn’t fit with what some of the people expect, again, they can go elsewhere.

    But for protesters to lock a priest and worshippers from the church building itself is horrible. The parishioners did not serve Christ well by their actions.

  • dpm819 Aug 21, 2009

    “Shame on those parishoners.If you do not like the way a Catholic priest practices here go to church in your own country!! This is America and there more mature ways to deal with things.”

    I disagree 100% with the first and second statement. Going to Church “in their own country” cannot apply here. The Catholic Church is the Catholic Church in any country and Catholics are welcomed in ANY Catholic Church ANYWHERE in the world. This IS their Church. However, this does not have to be their parish community. If they do not like their priest, go to another parish.
    Parishioner Maria Perez said that Ospina needs "to be more active, more social, more friendly – basically what a priest is supposed to be." "He's not just here to give Mass. He's here to serve the community. He's not doing that," she added.

    A priest is present to serve Christ first. He is not there to win a popularity contest. Yes, ministering to the needs of the people is essential, but if his style doesn’t f

  • yruatwit Aug 21, 2009

    Organized religion is at the absolute pinnacle of human hypocrisy.

  • stopthehaters Aug 21, 2009

    minorities are treated different in the catholic church, these undocumented citizens were right to do this,,,i have friends who go to a black catholic church and feel the same way as second class undocumeneted citizens. I cnt beleave wral is covering this since they are the friends with the bishop

  • aintbackingdwn Aug 21, 2009

    Obama beartime only happens to smooth over perceived injustices against fellow brothers.

  • newyork Aug 20, 2009

    Couldn't they have just spoken to him in private? Much better than disrupting the other Churchgoers who were there for Mass, instead of causing a ruckus based on assumptions.

  • anneonymousone Aug 20, 2009

    I'd like to suggest that if people want to go on a tirade against those whose first language is not English, then it would help their case if they were to communicate correctly in their native tongue. Misspelled, poorly punctuated, ungrammatical, badly constructed writing only reinforces negative stereotypes, especially since there are so many immigrants to the U.S. who respect their native language(s) AND that of their new home and, as a result, write better than some native writers of English.

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