Monday, December 24, 2012

What do You Think This is - A Charitable Institution? Priests Dedicated to Helping Poor & Marginalized Dismissed Before Christmas

When Fr. Jack Martin asked Msgr. Harrington, the pastor at St. Mary of the Assumption in Elizabeth, if he would allow an asylum seeker and torture survivor from Darfur to live in the vacant third floor of the rectory, Monsignor, according to the story replied “What do you think this is – a charitable institution?” before winking and giving his approval. So it was that another ministry at the parish was born and so it has been for many years at St. Mary’s that whenever anyone was in trouble and needed help, Fr. Jack was on a short list to call. This Sunday at all the masses the parishioners of St. Mary’s were shocked to learn that Fr. Jack, Msgr. Harrington and all the priests of St. Mary’s were being dismissed by Archbishop Myers and they would be evicted from the rectory shortly after Christmas. No reason was given for this action, the priests asked for a meeting with the Archbishop, but he refused. Fr. Jack and Msgr. Harrington have already retired and will not be reassigned. Msgr. is confined to a wheelchair and St. Mary’s is fully handicapped accessible, so he asked if he could continue to live at St. Mary’s. His request was denied. We don’t know yet what will happen to the other two priests who are assigned to St. Mary’s. All of the priests at St. Mary’s are beloved not only for their work on behalf of the poor and the marginalized, but also for their respect and understanding of the culture and traditions of the diverse community of worshipers at St. Mary’s. This abrupt and drastic action by the Archdiocese jeopardizes the many ministries that serve immigrants, the poor, the homeless, the elderly, etc. This will have a tremendously negative impact on the local community. In the short term, the asylum seekers who have been living in on the 3rd floor of the rectory have already been told to leave and we expect that IRATE & First Friends whose offices have been at St. Mary's convent will be told to do the same very soon. This is a terrible injustice and we cannot remain silent. For more information on this story please contact Maritsa Jaramillo is 848-203-4310. She is a parishioner at St. Mary's and is working on coordinating the parishioners’ response.


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