Local News

Robeson County church locks out priest

Posted August 19, 2009 5:58 p.m. EDT
Updated August 19, 2009 6:21 p.m. EDT

— Parishioners at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Red Springs are asking religious leaders from the Catholic community to remove their priest from his post.

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

Over the weekend, about 150 church members gathered in the parking lot to protest Ospina. They even padlocked the church’s doors to keep him from entering and said no Mass would take place until Ospina was removed.

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

Perez said Ospina needs to be “more active, more social and more friendly.”

Ospina also leads a worship service in St. Paul at a Methodist church building. His dissenters point to a recent allegation that Ospina acted inappropriately while in that community. Police have investigated but no charges have been filed.

Frank Morock, a spokesman for the Catholic diocese in Raleigh, said there are no plans to remove Ospina from his post.

“There is no reason to reassign him,” he said. “Some may not be happy with his ministry style, but some are.”

Perez admits that padlocking the church’s doors might have been extreme. “But we had to do something to catch attention because we just felt like we were being ignored,” Perez said.

She said if Ospina remains in the parish, she'll find another church.

“He’s not just here to give Mass, he’s here to serve the community. He’s not doing that,” Perez said.

Ospina was not available for comment on Wednesday.

On Wednesday night, Monsignor David Brockman will speak at a special Mass at Red Springs. He plans to read a statement from Bishop Michael Burbidge about the situation.