Family: Priest boots funeral from church, casket and all
CHARLOTTE HALL, Md. – A priest kicked a funeral out of a Maryland church and the family says he disrespected the deceased.
Before a funeral Mass for Agnes Hicks could begin at St. Mary Catholic Church in Charlotte Hall last week, WTTG-TV reports a guest knocked over a chalice, damaging it and angering the Rev. Michael Briese. Hicks' daughter, Shanice Chisely, said Briese ordered everyone out and disrespected her mother, saying "'get this thing out of my church! Everyone get the hell out of my church!' It was very sad. I've never seen anything like that before."
Another priest later completed the service at a funeral home.
"This was uncalled for and it really hurt me. It really did. To see your loved one come there to rest and to be shut down like that," Larry Hicks, the brother of Agnes Hicks said.
Briese apologized in a letter to the editor in The Enterprise, a twice-weekly newspaper in California, Maryland..
"I lost my temper at a moment when anger was the most inappropriate response to those people entrusted to my care at that moment of ministry," he wrote.
What occurred at the church "does not reflect the Catholic Church's fundamental calling to respect and uplift the God-given dignity of every person," the Most Rev. Michael Fisher, the Archdiocese of Washington's secretary for ministerial leadership and Auxiliary Bishop-elect, said in a letter to Hicks' family.
Briese was not at the parish over the weekend. The archdiocese isn't discussing any repercussions Briese faces, as it is an ongoing employee matter, archdiocese spokeswoman Chieko Noguchi said by telephone.
Theo Johnson, a pallbearer and cousin of Hicks, who was black, told The Enterprise that Briese, who is white, tried to explain he wasn't racist.
"Nobody said anything about race," Johnson said. "We were just saying he was being disrespectful."