Thursday, May 31, 2007

Widow Complains About Unaccomodating Priest

Anyone who has worked in parish ministry for long enough has had to deal with people who don't want to follow Church rules. You know the secular music, no dancing girls, only scriptural readings, etc. I am sure you can add plenty more to the list.

I bet you haven't run into anyone quite like Margaret McClusky. My comments are in red.

From the Daily Record:

A devastated widow took out an advert in a newspaper to slam the priest who carried out her husband's funeral.

Margaret McCluskey, 66, blasted Father Timothy Brosnan for his "cold and impersonal" handling of the service.

She said yesterday: "I've been very upset over this and had to see my doctor.
"He told me what the priest did has added to my grief."

Dad-of-three John McCluskey, 65, of Bellshill, Lanarkshire, died earlier this month after suffering an aneurysm.

The retired engineer's requiem mass took place at St Gerard's Church in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, on May 10 in front of 250 friends and family

But raging Margaret, 66, was so upset by Father Brosnan's conduct, she felt she had to lambast him publicly.

Her advert in her local paper, the Bellshill Speaker, said: "John was a quiet and unjudgemental man and I apologise for the very cold and impersonal ceremony by Rev Brosnan on John's Requiem Day.

"God knows John deserved better. I knew him so well."
Yesterday, Margaret, who had been married to John for 40 years, revealed the catalogue of complaints about Father Brosnan that had sparked her public dressing-down.

She said: "John wouldn't have hurt a fly but Father Brosnan made it clear he didn't want him in the church.

"We wanted four of John's favourite hymns at the funeral but he told us we couldn't sing them." (Something tells me they weren't liturgical hymns and probably weren't hymns at all)

The family had also arranged for a local choir to sing at the service but we were told they wouldn't be allowed into the church. (My guess is that they were either not a liturgical choir, or the organist required a bench fee which she didn't want to pay.)

"We had a picture of John and placed it on his coffin before the service - but the first thing the priest did was take it off and place it on the floor face down. During the service, he hardly mentioned John or any of his family - it seemed very strange."
Margaret was so furious, she said she threw Father Brosnan out of a car she'd hired for the funeral. (Ok, it shouldn't have gone on the floor, but pictures do not belong on caskets during. Also, the homily isn't a eulogy. The focus during a funeral Mass is supposed to be on God, not on the deceased)

She said: "After the church service, we went to Holytown Crematorium and Father Brosnan came. He said a few words and then marched out and went and sat in my funeral car. (What did she want, a song and dance number?)

"I said I didn't want him in the car and he got out - I think he got a lift back from someone else at the funeral."

Father Brosnan said he didn't want to discuss John's funeral service.
He added: "I really don't know why Mrs McCluskey would say something like that. I won't be contacting her as I think this is something that is best left alone." (Wise decision!)

Read the article here.

People in grief can do strange things which are completely out of character for them. The only information I have is what is in this article and I can't see what the priest did wrong, except for maybe his handling of the photo. There had to have been a better way to get it out of the way. Perhaps placing it on a small table away from the sanctuary or at the entrance of the church would have been a better solution. However, I don't see the problem with the other complaints. We all want a priest who is warm, compassionate, and takes his time, but circumstances are what they are. Maybe he wasn't feeling well, was tired, or just having a bad day. Maybe she imagined a completely personalized me-centered Mass.

The personal life of the priest shouldn't interfere with his ministry, but he is human. I have bad days too and while I try to not let it interfere with my work and my dealings with other people, we are only capable of so much.

I pray that Mrs. McCluskey finds the love of Christ in her heart and forgives Fr. Brosnan for whatever slights she feels he committed.

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