A Vacation from The World
But the news of a priest turning away a daughter at her own Mother's funeral snaps Guadalupe back
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer
I have been sitting around, thinking. Not cleaning up. Not even making a pot of coffee. Just going from one room to the other, dragging around with my Kindle, occasionally turning on the t.v.--just to "catch up." Immediately I am morose and sorry I did it, because I hear of a priest who turned away a daughter at her own Mother's funeral, refusing to give her Communion. Why? Because he knew she lived with "another woman" and drew the conclusion that the daughter was a lesbian.
Published on LatinoLA: March 14, 2012
I saw the daughter being interviewed on a national station, heard her say that she had stepped forward, that the priest covered the chalice and told her she would not receive Communion. The woman stated she stood there, for "what seemed like an eternity", thinking she had misheard the priest, before gradually moving away. Her brother comforted her off to the side of the Church and she managed to pull herself together in order to eulogize her beloved Mother.
Read about it here.
As she stood there, trying to capture her Mom's Life into words that would bring solace to those other of her siblings who grieved, to family and friends, the priest stood up and stalked off the altar. I cannot imagine he did this in a respectful, discreet manner. He wanted to make a statement. Then, when this woman was nearing completion of the eulogy, he returned. The final prayers were said, and the funeral procession moved toward the door.
It was there that the woman was told by the funeral director that the priest had "a migraine" and would not be in attendance at the graveside, where the final prayers for the deceased are said. The final slap. The last laugh was had by Father Marcel Guarnizo of Saint John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Barbara Johnson, the daughter who had carefully planned this last tribute to her Mom, asked the mortuary representative what they could do. He promised to try to find a priest for the final prayers. Ms. Johnson drove for thirty minutes, "not knowing what we would find." Fortunately, a retired priest was located and he was the kind man who presided over the prayers at Ms. Johnson's Mom's final resting place.
As those of you who read my articles know, I attended Catholic schools from first grade and ultimately graduated from a Catholic University. My Dad was so strict about education that he would not allow me to attend kindergarten, lest I think school was for play, not for learning.
I read as much as I could on the Internet about this horrible and disgusting action by Father Guarnizo. Maybe I was reminded of my own Papi's funeral, where they "could not find the priest." We had a Deacon, a family friend. My Papi's casket stood at the open doors of the Church. My Mami sat beside him, in a wheelchair. The family surrounded her. Family and friends sat and waited. For fifteen minutes, mi Gente, we all waited.
Well, I really was not waiting. I was in the back (sacristy) arguing with the Deacon. The Hosts were Consecrated, we had two adult altar people. Each was using their cell to locate the priest. I said, "Look, I used to teach religion here--we do not need the priest." But the Deacon dilly-dallied until he could not take my arguments anymore. We began. My Mom looked numb. She did not know of my corajitos in the back.
They gave us two sangre de atole readings and instructed us to read them. They told me I could not eulogize my beloved Papi in the Church, I could do so at the grave.
Too late, I realized I could have hijacked the funeral with my iPhone. It had "The Beatitudes" on it. And I could eulogize from memory. It was about then I saw the priest flounce in, vestments flung over his shoulder, no apology when he finally made his grand entrance on the altar.
My anger ran anew when I read about what was done to Ms. Johnson, her Mom and family. That is when I began to familiarize myself with the Church in Maryland and the hierarchy. I ascertained the name of the Archbishop, wrote him a scathing letter, copied the Pastor and priest of the Church, and e-mailed it to them. Everything they did runs contrary to what my parents and the Church taught me was Christ-like. That basically puts my statement in a thimble.
Today, I heard that Father Guarnizo has been "barred from ministry." And you know what the official statement said? They said that he had been rude to parish staff...no mention of Ms. Johnson and her family. You may draw your own conclusions: I personally think the Archdiocese is afraid of another lawsuit. And they should be.
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer:
Los Angeles Attorney In Search of A Blindfold and Earplugs