Monday, February 6, 2012

Bishop Loverde's Pattern of Persecuting Priests

     Bishop Paul S. Loverde recently made his ad limina visit to Rome to meet with Pope Benedict XVI, the first since 2004 when he met with the seriously ill Pope John Paul II. The bishop presented Pope Benedict a 300 page state-of-the-diocese summary prepared by Mark Herrmann, the diocesan lawyer-chancellor. It included, according to the Arlington Herald, "everything from population statistics and evangelization efforts to child protection programs and the status of diocesan vocations." One of the things definitely excluded was a description of the pattern of persecution in this diocese against faithful priests and laity. Since Bishop Loverde's installation in Arlington in 1999, at least a dozen priests that I know of have experienced persecution in one form or another, often for minor infractions of diocesan rules or deviating from the bishop’s preferences. I have written about some of these cases previously.
     Bishop Loverde arrived in Arlington in 1999, assigned to fill the vacant See formerly held by Bishop John R. Keating. The difference for the priests was extreme. Bishop Keating was a fatherly man who set aside two weeks after Christmas every year to meet privately with any priest in the diocese wanting to make an appointment. He generally presented each of the priests who took advantage of that opportunity with a gift. But the gift of his time, a sign of respect, was the most important part, and the priests who went appreciated it.
     Bishop Loverde, on the other hand,
sees his priests at regular priests’ meetings, confirmations, other necessary functions, and fundraisers. He operates more like the CEO of a corporation whose staff deal with underlings than as the spiritual father of his priest/sons. I recall reading a bulletin notice by one pastoral administrator who was loaned to another diocese. He wrote that his meeting with Bishop Loverde before he left was the very first private meeting he ever had in the four years since the bishop's arrival. That appears typical. A summons to the chancery is unlikely to be a friendly social call.
     The bishops' disrespect for his priests is clear in his failure to consult them on serious matters. The Good Touch/Bad Touch debacle of 2004 (hereafter referred to as "Bad Touch") is a case in point. The bishop planned to impose the Bad Touch program on the diocese before anyone was the wiser. The priests didn't hear a word about it until it was a fait accompli. The facilitators were trained and the diocese had received permission from the Bad touch publisher to put a Catholic spin on the secular materials which were deplorable. (Keep in mind that the financial benefit to the diocese for the “Catholic version” would likely have been considerable.)
     The controversy began when the bishop announced the impending implementation of Bad Touch at a priests' meeting. Horrified, several priests alerted concerned laymen including myself. Unfortunately for the bishop, an informed laity rose up in arms and met with diocesan representatives at a "peasants with pitchforks" meeting in Manassas. Chancery officials who tried to manipulate results were outflanked and the program was later deep-sixed.  During the course of the battle, both the bishop and his representatives lied. Is it any wonder many faithful Catholics in Arlington do not trust the bishop?
     Don't misunderstand. I love the Diocese of Arlington and the bishop has done some good things that I acknowledge with gratitude. He founded new parishes and schools, brought in both a contemplative and teaching order of Dominican nuns, and is a first-class fundraiser. Did I say the bishop is a first-class fundraiser? Sadly, in my opinion, that is his primary concern even though, a few years ago, he allowed his incompetent chancery financial staff to sit on a generous multi-million stock donation until it lost over half its value before selling.  
     One priest found out just how seriously the bishop takes money matters when he deviated from the professional fundraiser's agenda during the Rooted in Faith Campaign of 2004. Fr. Michael Duesterhaus was removed as administrator of St. William of York, demoted to parochial vicar, and reassigned even though he raised more than his parish’s goal. He simply asked his parishioners to support the campaign. One can only suppose that the bishop thought Fr. Duesterhaus made him look bad for paying a fundraiser millions to accomplish what Father did with an impassioned plea. Instead of going to another parish as an assistant, the former army chaplain returned to military service. He's stationed in Africa today. We wish him well.
      I name priests with trepidation because the bishop has a history of retaliation, but many of these stories are public and the past is prologue to the future as the Bard said. Laymen have felt the bishop's mailed fist as well. Chris Manion, who spearheaded the Bad Touch rebellion, was about to be installed as a Knight of Malta when, a day before the ceremony, the bishop apparently nixed the appointment. (The Knights require the bishop’s approval.) A few years later Manion finally entered the order, but no one doubted that the bishop engaged in payback at the time.


      The problems for the priests began shortly after Bishop Loverde's arrival. Within a year Fr. James Gould was removed as Director of Vocations. Fr. Gould had a track record so successful it has yet to be surpassed in the diocese and few other places in the country even came close. The word in the diocese at the time, which was privately confirmed to me by a chancery source, was that Bishop Loverde wanted a seminary candidate with a homosexual background and Fr. Gould refused. In fact, if forced to take him, Fr. Gould wanted a letter in the file affirming his opposition. The candidate was not accepted, but Fr. Gould was history. In 2004 the bishop barred him from appearing on EWTN as a commentator during the bishops' meeting, a role he had performed for several years. Raymond Arroyo, World Over anchor, was miffed enough to announce that Fr. Gould's bishop would not permit him to appear. Fr. Gould later was founding pastor of St. Raymond of Penafort. Today he leads a country parish in Warrenton far from the chancery.
     One scandal received national attention: the case of Fr. James Verrecchia at All Saints in Manassas and his adulterous amour with parishioner Nancy Lambert. Fr. James Haley was a parochial vicar at the parish and his attempt to help Jim Lambert save his family precipitated the most extreme persecution to date against a priest. Verrecchia was the diocesan golden boy, the bishop's Master of Ceremonies, and a man on the way up. When Fr. Haley protested to the bishop, Verrecchia wasn't removed, Haley was. Jim Lambert, who begged the diocese to move Fr. Verrecchia, was ignored while the affair went on unimpeded.
     Jim Verrecchia wasn’t the only problem for Fr. Haley. He was placed with one homosexual pastor after another from the day he was ordained. Some were flirting with gay pornography; a few had active lovers visiting the rectories. After several trips to see the bishop about these situations, visits which were unwelcome and fruitless, Fr. Haley heard the bishop speak these fateful words, "You have no idea what I can do to you." Then Bishop Loverde proceeded to do it. Fr. Haley was suspended, tried in a kangaroo court where he never faced his accuser, and has since been excommunicated and defrocked according to high level sources. His canon lawyer quit, telling Father he'd been warned he would never work again for the Church if he continued to defend him. Secrecy shrouded all the proceedings as it does to this day.
     Fr. Haley received the ultimate persecution, one that seemed to embolden the bishop to go after other troublesome priests for lesser matters. Sadly, it also appears to have cowed many priests into silent acceptance of his unjust actions, even to the point of relinquishing their rights under canon law. One priest who fought back, however, was Fr. Joe Clark. In 2005 the bishop suspended him after a minor altercation with a permanent deacon over the deacon’s mishandling of the Precious Blood during Mass. The deacon and his family complained and the bishop called for a meeting. Fr. Clark thought it was a private one-on-one to let him present his side of the story. Instead he arrived to face the bishop, the diocesan lawyer, and the bishop’s representative for the clergy, Fr. Robert Avella. There was no discussion; Bishop Loverde summarily suspended him, a canonical violation of Fr. Clark's rights.
     When I spoke about Fr. Clark's treatment with a pastor in the diocese, he made an interesting comment. "When I heard that Joe Clark had been sent to Holy Family, my first thought was, 'It's a set-up.'" He explained that the bishop normally assigns liberal priests to liberal parishes and conservative priests to conservative parishes. Holy Family had a reputation for dissent and was a complete misfit for Fr. Clark, a recipe for conflict. It was also common knowledge among the priests that the bishop did not get along with Fr. Clark. The case went to the Vatican and, after several years, a mixed decision was reached that saw Fr. Clark reinstated. But he paid a heavy price for the battle. After a hospital stay for dangerously high blood pressure and several years of unrelenting stress, he developed a medical condition preventing his return to full time priestly service. He remains in residence at a diocesan parish assisting as his health permits.
     In 2007 another orthodox priest, Fr. Christopher Buckner, disappeared after a brief notice in the Arlington Catholic Herald that implied sexual impropriety with a minor. The story at the parish was that Father shook a teenager who ignored him after being told he couldn't read a poem at a funeral, a far cry from the sexual molestation cases that have filled the news. But the impression was given, certainly unjustly, that Father had committed sex abuse against a minor. The same ambiguous-type announcement accompanied Fr. Haley’s suspension. No charges were ever brought against Fr. Buckner who was well-respected pastor and a teacher with Catholic Distance University. He just disappeared and has never resurfaced like some of his brothers who go off on a “leave of absence” and never return.
     A recent case of persecution is particularly appalling because of the sterling service of the priest involved. Last fall, Fr. Francis Peffley resigned as pastor of Holy Trinity in Gainesville and was demoted to parochial vicar and sent to a parish in Leesburg. The party line was that Father had “burned out” and needed a rest. I didn't believe it. I've known Father Peffley since he was a young priest assigned to St. Louis in Alexandria. He has the enthusiasm and energy of a John Vianney. “Burnout” was unbelievable, so I wasn’t surprised to be contacted by concerned laymen with the real story.
     When Fr. Peffley arrived at Holy Trinity, there was no church, no activities, and only 300 registered families. Daily Mass was held in the chapel of the Benedictine Sisters nearby and Sunday Mass  in a rented school gym. Over ten years, Father built a parish community that now numbers 3900 families. Dozens of activities fill the calendar including about ten praesidia of the Legion of Mary, an apostolate close to his heart. Father Peffley built a beautiful church which was well on the way to being paid off five years ahead of schedule. By every indication, the bishop should have been grateful to his faithful son who could easily give lessons on how to build a parish community from scratch.
     So what happened? I’ve seen documents that show the bishop came down hard on Fr. Peffley over some minor financial mistakes.  Pastors apparently are only allowed to sign contracts for up to $20,000 without the permission of the bishop, although the Diocesan Parish Finance Council Guidelines don’t include that information. Fr. Peffley signed a contract for twenty stained glass windows depicting the mysteries of the rosary at $50,000 each for the design, building, and installation. They were approved by the Diocesan Office of Construction, Management, and Facilities as part of the original plan for the Church. The windows were also included among the memorial pledges made by parishioners as part of the 2002 Rooted in Faith Campaign. Yet this became one of the issues used against Fr. Peffley by the bishop. Father signed a second contract for a commemorative book at a total cost of about $53,000 to be paid in installments, all under $20,000. The book also was approved by the parish finance council and similar books had been developed for both St. Mary’s in Alexandria and Our Lady of Hope in Potomac Falls. The cost of the book was also underwritten by parishioners. Essentially, Father skipped a bureaucratic step in the process of which he was unaware.
     The bishop’s third issue was that Father purchased liturgical furnishings and goods from his parents’ Catholic Shop, although the parish building committee got several estimates from other sources and approved the purchases. The Catholic Shop provided a deep discount that made them more than competitive. Neither Fr. Peffley nor anyone at the parish benefitted from any of these financial transactions, but, like Fr. Duesterhaus who failed to do things the bishop’s way, Fr. Peffley apparently broke the letter of the law and was ordered to resign. The official story, which he was told to disseminate, (even the pulpit announcement was sent to him by Vicar of Clergy, Fr. Paul Scalia), was that he requested to step down. Instead of pursuing his rights under canon law, Fr. Peffley, a true son of St. Louis de Montfort, chose silent obedience to the bishop’s unjust act. The story passed around the parish and the diocese was that poor Fr. Peffley was “burned out,” a complete fabrication.
     Did Fr. Peffley’s actions merit such a draconian response? Hardly! He had successfully established one of the largest parishes in the diocese, built a beautiful church that was on the way to being paid off early, and managed a huge congregation that operates very much like a family. He brought numerous converts into the Church and had hundreds of parishioner-volunteers. If there were financial mistakes, which is questionable, a fatherly bishop would likely have admonished him to "be more careful in the future.
    Let me make it absolutely clear that I did not speak to Fr. Peffley or communicate with him in any way. None of my data came from him, but from concerned laymen. The last time I recall seeing Fr. Peffley was four years ago when he baptized our grandson at Holy Trinity. The Church had recently been dedicated and Father showed us around. He gave me a copy of the lovely booklet on the mysteries of the rosary illustrated with drawings of the windows. He was pleased with the progress at Holy Trinity and gave all the glory to God. I fear he will not thank me for writing this. He is an obedient son of the bishop who no doubt sees his personal Calvary at the hands of his spiritual father as the will of God. 
     What motivated the bishop in all these priests’ cases? Who can say? But it’s ironic to see pastors who foster dissent carry on without a peep from the chancery while the bishop comes down hard on good and faithful priests advancing the truths of the Church. Fr. Peffley is just the latest in a long line of persecuted priests.  And, frankly, it appears to me that the bishop was looking for an excuse to punish Fr. Peffley just like he apparently did with Fr. Clark. The finance issue simply became the means.
    It is disturbing to see the injustice and the disparity in the way Bishop Loverde treats his priests. If one examines the cases of sexual immorality: Fr. Verrecchia, Fr. Erbacher, Fr. Hamilton, Fr. Brooks - it took public scandals before the bishop responded. In fact, the chancery engaged in an active cover-up of the Verrecchia affair, sitting on sexually explicit emails between the lovers which could have helped Jim Lambert gain custody of his four children. Instead, a diocesan priest, Steve Leva, testified at the custody hearing describing what a wonderful daddy Fr. Verrecchia would be. Verrecchia got the wife and kids; Jim Lambert got a heart attack.
     The practice under Bishop Loverde has been to cover for bad priests, just like the priest abuser he protected in Ogdensburg, Fr. Clark White. In fact, when Bishop Gerald Barbarito took over the bishop’s former diocese, he removed about ten priest abusers. Faithful and orthodox priests, on the other hand, rarely experience the velvet glove and often receive draconian treatment for minor issues as the treatment of Fr. Duesterhaus, Fr. Clark, and Fr. Peffley illustrates. As an interesting side note, Bishop Loverde, while serving in Connecticut in 1991, supported two homosexual civil rights bills that allowed “gays” to adopt children and serve as foster parents.
     To sum up, many outside the diocese believe that Arlington, under Bishop Loverde, is a model of orthodoxy. No doubt that was the picture painted in Rome when the bishop presented  his ad limina report to Pope Benedict in January. But, as everyone knows, things are not always as they seem. Orthodoxy in Arlington rests on the bedrock of faithful clergy and laity nurtured by Bishops Thomas Welsh and John Keating. The house is unlikely to fall because of that firm foundation, but it is certainly in need of renovation and conversion. One can’t help but wonder what Arlington would be like today if, in 1999, Pope John Paul II had sent a fatherly bishop to teach, govern, and sanctify this unhappy diocese which has become a graveyard of vocations for so many good and faithful priests. Please pray for Bishop Loverde, our clergy, and the suffering Church in Arlington. 

75 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. I often attend the 12:30 mass at Holy Trinity and his resignation seemed very strange.

    What are we to do? Pray more rosaries? How about offering masses for the Bishop?

    The only good thing I can say about him was the consecration of our diocese to the Sacred Heart. I hope he had good intentions behind it and that it wasn't politically motivated. In any case, it does seem duplicitous.

    In Christ,

    Phil
    leoxiii@me.com

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  2. Sounds like the financial mismanagement allegations against Fr. Frank Pavone spread by his own bishop w/no proof ... one wonders how many presidential elections and millions of abortions will occur before Rome responds to Fr. Frank's appeal ... and the faithful are left trusting no-one.

    http://www.silive.com/eastshore/index.ssf/2011/09/letter_from_bishop_announcing.html

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  3. Mary Ann, thank you for having the courage to bring this very serious issue forward. The truth is that the persecutions listed here are just the tip of the iceberg. He is a bully; many priests are afraid to come forward for fear of further persecution by Bishop Loverde or Fr. Mark Mealey, OSFS on Bishop's behalf. After watching Fr. Haley taken apart, limb from limb, without recourse, you can see why.

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  4. Does anyone know what happened to Fr. Lawrence Violette, who used to be at St. Andrew the Apostle parish in Clifton? He was a very holy and orthodox priest, who no longer seems to be in the Diocese.

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    1. He has been "defrocked". Don't know why. He is still in the Nova area, attending Mass at St. John the Beloved.

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  5. Thank you very much for this article. I too found Fr. Peffley's story of "burn out" hard to believe. I wish I could trust our bishop.

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  6. Father Violette left the priesthood and married.

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    1. I have corrected this elsewhere on the thread, but Fr. Violette is NOT married. I asked him and he confirmed it.

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  7. Over the last several weeks we my family and I have considered joining Holy Trinity Parish. We are currently in another parish that has become so lukewarm that it is CINO. I am also involved in a diocese program and in one of our recent sessions the work that Father Peffley has done came up, initiated by another attendee that has only heard of him. The praises came from so many members of the group including people who knew him before he started Holy Trinity. I also have a friend who was brought in to the church by Father Peffley during a stint at Saint Andrew and he chose to continue with him when he moved on because of the profound sincere effect Father had on him.

    Now getting back to the program, the question arose as to where Father Peffley was. Another attendee stated that he was now a Parochial Vicar in Leesburg, VA. I commented about the demotion and was told that he asked for it. I know many people at Holy Trinity and that just did not sound right. Being familiar with the Father Clark situation and with other situations not written about here, this Bishop is a wolf in disguise and will hopefully soon be gone. His primary concerns have been forcing laity to receive communion standing, female altar boys and money. Anything else I do not know about, but nothing surprises me. I am also reluctant to trust many of the priests around him. He is the epitome of power corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I have never cared for him and am sad to see the damage he has done to the Arlington diocese.

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  8. I am certainly annoyed - however, as the bible says - sow as a man sow, sow shall he reap. If I am blaming the Bishop wrongfully, may God forgive me, however, I do not think so. Let's see - what did Fr. Peffley do? If Fr. Peffley did not follow the correct Purchasing Procedures it was Bishop Loverde's responsibility to speak, with Fr. Peffley in a mannerly fashion, if applicable, but most of all help, and show Fr. Peffley how not to make the same error for future purposes.
    I am so tempted to print copies of the above, stand outside Holy Trinity Catholic Church and pass it on to each and every parishoner to let them know the injustice that has transpired against Fr. Peffley. Another part of me says "NO" let God handle it. God can do it better than I can!
    Question - Are we not supposed to "LIE"? Well, what has Bishop Loverde done?

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    1. You know what Our Lord says? Cast a light on the darkness. Evil acts continue because of silence. Let the parishioners know what happened. You say, "let God handle it." Yes, and God works through human instruments. Don't let such unfair treatment of such a good priest go unchallenged.

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    2. How can we let this happen or get this far, we are the church! Bishop Loverde is the Bishop who will confirm my nephew at Holy Trinity.... and the thought of him doing so sickens me. What can we do? A parishioner took her life Saturday, who was very close to Father Pefley, what is going on, we should not be silent anymore. I have sent this article to some of my parishioners hoping it will spread. Please do the same.

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  9. Prayer is always a good thing to do. I hope everyone in the diocese prays for the bishop every day. Those who attend daily Mass do, of course, because praying for the bishop is in the canon. I do hope Bishop Loverde stays here until retirement, though, because I would not want to see him promoted.

    I wish everyone at Holy Trinity and the diocese knew what happened to Fr. Peffley, because when these things take place with no negative backlash to the bishop, he is emboldened to persecute other priests in the same way. I had to nod my head in agreement when one priest said to me, "He could do this to anyone." Pastors typically sign contracts for hundreds of thousands of dollars, particularly in the big parishes with schools. The manual governing the fiscal planning of parishes is huge. It's easy to see how a pastor could make a mistake without even realizing he did it. And how sad it is to see the bishop presume ill will on the part of one of his spiritual sons, especially one as faithful as Fr. Peffley.

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  10. Hi Mary. I love your blog but I was wondering if you could provide documentation to back up your statements if available. For example, I could not find anything about Bishop Loverde supporting those two civil rights bills in CT.

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  11. Both The Christian Order and The Remnant attributed support of two bills (one was the Landmark 1991 bill that allowed homosexuals to adopt)to Bishop Loverde specifically, although when I checked the references they did not provide a footnote. I've emailed The Remnant asking for a specific reference. Catholic World Report in a 2002 article and the New York Times both mentioned the Catholic Church being silent on the 1991 civil rights bill which the Church had previously opposed. Catholic World Report and the Fatima Perspective both described the fact that gay activists boasted they had blackmailed the Connecticut bishops by threatening to out the homosexuals in the diocese. I've also emailed Mass Resistance to see what light they can shine on the matter since they are very aware of the homosexual cabal in New England.

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  12. Here's another reference to what happened in Connecticut. It was a terrible scandal at the time because it was considered a "landmark bill."

    William Doino, Jr. "Connecticut Bishop's Reversal on Homosexual Rights Bill Creates Shock Waves." The Wanderer, April 4, 1991, pages 1 and 10.

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  13. Just how old was Bishop Keating when he died of that Roman Heart Attack, I mean, heart attack in Rome?

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  14. Bishop Keating was born July 20, 1934. He died in Rome on his ad limina visit March 22, 1998. He died the day after asking in a meeting with one of the congregations what he could do about his homosexual priest problem. Here's a summary on his life and ministry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Richard_Keating

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  15. Bishop Keating was 63 years old. Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad and Novgorod died of a heart attack while at the Vatican, sipping on a cup of coffee, waiting to meet JPI in 1978. Keating's death was about as accidental as that one. It's the Roman Way.

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  16. I have just discovered this blog today and have been...enlightened...by reading many of the entries. Does anyone happen to know what happened to Fr. James Poumade? He was at St. Andrew in Clifton for a few years before being transferred to St. John the Beloved in McLean in 2009. He went on leave for "vocational discernment" in June 2011 and I have been unable to locate any information on why. His letter in the SJB bulletin before he left assured everyone that he had not been accused of misconduct, but declined to state any additional reasons for his departure.

    I always found him to be a very holy priest and I was (and continue to be, I suppose) a great admirer of his. Does anyone know anything?

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  17. How is it that the Arlington Herald online comment feature isn't working? Do they not want to see all the postings validating Father Specht as a true and faithful shepherd?

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  18. There is, in fact, even more to this saga of the Arlington Diocese. Fr. James Verrechia today, after some years as a lay administrator of an Episcopal Church in Atlanta, is the Director of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. This rehabilitation is not merely coincidental. Meanwhile, in Arlington, there has been a systematic purging of both clerics and laity aware of the depth of the depravity and immorality, not to mention unethical behavior, of clergy and a supporting band of male collaborators. Ironically, a large number of these individuals are identified as conservative traditionalists, further muddling the left/right orientation of this sordid mess.

    After some years in Arlington immediately before and during the unraveling of this tale (the time of Verrechia's rise, Fr. Keating's death, and the beginning of a very large cover up), I too had to leave my employment in the Diocese. But a recent visit back discloses that these perpetrators have generally been rewarded over the years and live in smug sanctimony. The stories include a former Cathedral rector now living in retirement in Florida, a high-ranking cleric from the "horsy set" in Northern Virginia who lived with a "housekeeper" and her daughter in a house only blocks from the Arlington Cathedral and whose own poolside antics with "housekeeper and her daughter" were clearly visible to neighbors up the hill, and Verrechia's currying influence at the chancery resulting in the firings of laity in order to place his own friends in important posts in the diocese.

    The witness list is long, but still fairly silent.

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  19. I'd appreciate a private contact, Anonymous. Silence about corruption just allows more of it.

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  20. Thank you for writing this. As a parishioner of Holy Trinity, the party line given for Father Peffley's "resignation" didn't pass the sniff test. We knew there was always more to the story.

    His departure was too swift and the reason given was weak. While he may have been tired, he was always there when you needed him. He gave no indication he was slowing down.

    I was suspicious before, now I'm angry.

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  21. Frankly, it was difficult to write the article because I knew Fr. Peffley would suffer in silence and see it as God's will. But I also know that when persecutors get away with things like this, it encourages them to do it again. Fr. Peffley was the second priest to be demoted with the "burnout" story. It will be hard for the bishop to use that one again. Please pray for Bishop Loverde and all his priests. When the sons can't trust the father, it makes a very rocky family life.

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  22. Does anyone know what happened to father James A. Tucker? During his time at Our Lady of Angels he administered sacraments to family and friends and is dearly missed.

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  23. There is another name for you: Fr Salvador Ciullo unjustly persecuted by Loverde.

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  24. God bless Fr. Peffley. He Officiated at my wedding 14 years ago and baptized and cathechized my family as our pastor for 10 years.

    Silence about unjust acts is cowardly and akin to sloth. After reading this, I plan to take action. Hope you will, too. Fr. Peffley deserves to be defended.

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  25. Father James A. Tucker transferred from Our Lady of Angels to a parish in Manassas, then took a leave of Discernment in 2009. He recently graduated from the George Washington University School of Law.

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  26. After reading the posts, I investigated where former Fr. James Verrecchia was. According to this website: http://www.svdpatl.org/who-we-are/staff/ he's the Director of Development for the St. Vincent de Paul Society for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

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  27. Any more information on Father Violette besides his marriage?

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  28. I don't know anything about his getting married. The last photo I saw of him with a "friend," he was swimming with a dolphin.

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  29. I am so surprised and saddened to read this. Fr. Peffley is now at St. John's in Leesburg and I absolutely adore him. Hopefully he is feeling the love this new church feels for him. I do wish he would defend himself though. I have a different perspective of Bishop Loverde.

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  30. You are blessed to have him and he would not be there except for his persecution so praise God Who promises that "All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and serve according to His purpose." I'm confident God will bless Fr. Peffley through this persecution. He is, indeed, a model priest. When our vacation coincided with his Outer Banks family beach week my husband and I have joined in Masses on the beach and adoration. Few priests would spend their vacation time building up families through a week of praying and playing, but that's what he does.

    His good name was seriously damaged by the lies and innuendos surrounding the situation at Holy Trinity. It is one more sad chapter in the on-going story of persecution here in Arlington. I hope that exposure of these matters does two thing: 1) Keeps Bishop Loverde from being promoted. I pray he stays in Arlington until retirement. There are so many orthodox priests and laity here it minimizes the damage he can do. 2) That by exposing his methods, they are stopped. The "Father is burned out and needs a rest" game can hardly be played again after exposure of what happened to Fr. Peffley. I hope the next time a good and orthodox priest is persecuted, he holds his ground and fights. We have financially assisted a priest in the past with defending his canonical rights and would gladly do so again if necessary. Please pray for Bishop Loverde and for all the priests of the diocese.

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  31. Father Peffley comes to the school my sons attend on a regular basis to say mass. He is not burned out at all. The bishop has a problem with real priests. He decided Father Poumade needed to take a leave of absence in order to discern his vocation. Father Violette did get married and Loverde is in his last couple of years.

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    1. Our sons go to the same school. Father Peffley was there for the first mass in September, and the last mass for the lower school. Father Poumade is working for the V A, still in limbo. Today I read the changes and assignments for the diocese. No mention of Father Pouamade. Three more priest are assigned to periods of discernment. http://www.arlingtondiocese.org/newsdetails.aspx?Pageid=422&id=5465

      My understanding is that Father Violette did not get married.

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  32. Anonymous, Larry Violette is NOT married. I asked him and he said he's not even dating anyone. So please don't be passing that disinformation on any more.

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  33. He has been "defrocked". Don't know why. He is still in the Nova area, attending Mass at St. John the Beloved.

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  34. I'm not sure using the term "defrocked" is accurate. Father chose to leave and requested to be laicized. My understanding is that Bishop Loverde wanted him to return, but he chose not to for his own reasons and applied to the Vatican to be returned to the lay state. There was NEVER any hint of wrong-doing about his decision. He was my spiritual director for several years was a wise one. I admire him greatly, and his decision to leave the priesthood has not changed that.

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  35. Fr. Violette left the priesthood? I thought "once a priest, always a priest"? These staunch, traditional, conservative Catholic priests seem be as steady in the wind as a down feather.

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  36. If one notices, the Bishop's persecution of priests takes the heaviest toll at the most conservative parishes. St. Andrew the Apostle priests have suffered greatly beginning with Father Jerome Fasano, one of the most faithful priests this Diocese has seen. The stress of serving faithfully under this Bishop has been enormous. Father Rahn, Father Clark, Father DeCelles all suffered great physical tolls. Father Violette (who is not married, thank you for not repeating that any more), Father Rahn and Father Poumade left the priesthood. It appears Father Cramer, too, may no longer a priest [confirm?].
    So many wonderful priests afflicted - or scattered to the hinterlands like Father Peffley and Father Gould - under this Bishop, we must pray for them all. In 14 years and three parishes the only time we have seen this Bishop is at a family member's confirmation or the prominent photos throughout the Arlington Catholic Herald. He does not shepherd by focusing on his flock or priests first, but elevates himself to a position of prominence in the publication. The Diocesan parishioners have just been subjected once again to the vile practice of being forced (lest our faithful priests be disobedient) to listen to an audio-taped message by Bishop Loverde for his Lenten Appeal. The Bad Touch debacle, vigorously defended for the Bishop by Father Specht, was a clear indicator of how the toll his tenure would take on the faithful. The only solace is that, at 73, there are only 2 years left. Praying that we may once again be blessed with another Bishop Keating.

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    1. Fr. Cramer was on leave to discern his vocation. I don't know if he is still a priest or not, but there was a legitimate issue there: it was not a case of an abusive bishop.

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    2. The bishop did a number on Saint Andrew the Apostle.

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  37. I'm a devoted catholic. When I was in the Legion of Mary, I used to walk door to door looking for fallen away Catholics, I felt so sad that people seemed to disrespect if not using the more accurate term “hate” the Catholics church. No matter what, I will continue to be a good catholic. I just think that we need to “clean the house” of God, to make Catholic a better church. I know that’s what God wants

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  38. Being a member of All Saint's since 1980 and personally knowing Fr. Peffley for many years as he moved from St. Andrew's to the grand establishment of Holy Trinity I can witness to his undying love of his work and his unbelievable achievements at both churches. Nearly a one man army at times, tireless, smiling, helpful and full or faith like few will experience.
    I was at mass at All Saint's when we were informed that (then) Fr. Verrecia had decided to a year off for sabbatical purposes. No, he was leaving and not coming back. I felt treated like a 6 year old when all the truth came out.
    Fr. Haley was sent off with since kind words. Fr. Haley was a true priest who profoundly believed in the miracle of the Consecration at mass. He was dedicated and his "sins" were telling the truth while several priests were living lies, cheating or stealing amidst us. I can understand that he was most certainly conflicted when learning of priest's transgressions as they continued to preach and say daily mass, only to suffer for his correct and righteous honesty.
    I find it very difficult to attend a church whose leader, the Bishop, approves of such unilateral and very harsh actions against good priests when they were clearly the best of the bunch.
    God bless these good priests. The Bishop can pray for himself – he needs it.

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  39. Steve formerly of St William of YorkMarch 24, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    My dear former fellows of the Arlington Diocese. Obedience is required and expected. Living with you from 2001 to 2003, Arlington was among the best Diocese experienced. Today finds me home in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati - a once great home of the Church since weakened to a shadow of its former self. Y'all have it pretty good there. Spend less time bemoaning the inevitable internal squabbles and more time supporting your bishop. Believe me - his departure may have you wishing for the good old days.

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    1. Thank you for your vast experience and your words of wisdom. Perhaps we will be as full as you one day.

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  40. Yes, Steve, this is a good diocese, mainly because of the vigilance of our good priests and the laity. I pray for Bishop Loverde every day and pray especially that he will stay here until his retirement. I hope you will pray for that as well.

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  41. I have known Fr. Scalia for about 4 years. He is very responsible about money. I also was a Contract Officer for the federal government, so I think it is possible that some new managers were trying to enforce the dollar limit warrant ($20,000?) on the priest who is mentioned. It sounded like the priest was spending over his warrant, significantly, and repeatedly. He was not being humble and following the rules, but acting above the rules. I am glad he was tireless for the Church, praise the Lord, but it may have been that there had been abuse in other places by other priests and so Management (Bishop Loverde and Fr. Scalia (Head of Personnel)) were just trying to enforce the financial limits of the priests and not show favoritism of one priest over another. (why are some pigs more equal than others? Some pigs walk on two legs instead of 4 as Animal Farm would have put it?) I am sure Leesburg is benefiting from their new priest's Godly work now, and he's probably following his warrant correctly now, and not causing any priestly discord. IMHO

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  42. I have been a parishoner of Holy Trinity Parish almost from the very begining of its founding. I am also a Roman Catholic from my birth. In well over 65 years of attending Roman Catholic schools and churches I have never met a priest with with the tremendous talents, grace, friendliness, compassion, love, concern, stewardship, work ethic, ability to unify parishoners, ability to create a dynamic community spirit and many other God-given gifts than Reverend Father Francis Peffley. God must have great things in store for this obedient and faithful priest.

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  43. Thank you, Louis, I completely agree. Fr. Peffley has impacted so many people! His devotion to the Blessed Mother is inspirational. Our Lady of Sorrows, bless your faithful son.

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  44. I have to raise a mild protest to the use of the term "vile practice" when it comes to the "audio-taped" homily from Bishop Loverde for the Bishop's Annual Lenten Appeal - mostly because, you see, I'm the fellow that does the recording. My protest is not directed so much at the attribution, but to the means. Would it be less objectionable if it were done as a letter from the pulpit, as such appeals used to be? I recall in my youth that when the Bishop of the diocese had to communicate to his people, the priests were REQUIRED to read his letter in public from the pulpit. Or is the objection that the Bishop is making the appeal at all? Whether or not you see the Bishop as a good or bad shepherd, he IS expected to deal with the worldly problems of providing support to the programs of the diocese that have been established for the good of the people of this diocese. While I benefit (only in a very small way) from this practice by the Bishop, it seems to me that, at the very least, hearing from the man himself gives you a far better opportunity to hear his own emphases on matters. If your objection is that you're being asked to contribute at all, that's an issue you should take up with the Bishop.

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  45. I have been attending mass at St Raymond of Penafort in Springfield but have not yet officially registered. I have been taken aback by the political rantings of Fr DeCelles and wonder ic I am alone in this.

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    1. No, you are not alone! I am surprised that he hasn't been spoken to about his rantings. Disbanding the Boy Scout Troop because of his personal opposition to their recent decision is just the latest of his histrionics. He thinks he is 'holier than thou' and puts his own needs and opinions ahead of the congregation, with little or no remorse. People leave the Church because of priests like him. I think Pope Francis needs to chat with DeCelles, although he clearly prefers Pope Benedict XVI.

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    2. I also attend Saint Raymond Penafort in Springfield but am actually a member of another parish. I do not see here where you site Father DeCelles teaching that goes specifically against the Church's teachings of faith and morals. So I am going to take a leap here and see you as a liberal Catholic who does not want to follow the Church's teaching and decide for yourself what is right and wrong. The Catholic Church is here to lead its flock. Your job is to follow and obey. Then perhaps you should take some classes on your faith and see that Father DeCelles is doing what he can to lead his flock in the direction of our Lord. The Boy Scouts are beginning the turn to embrace the politically correct love of homosexuals. You should not want your dollars going to support this. God Bless Father DeCelles. He is very compassionate. The sacrament of confession with Father DeCelles is the most understanding and compassionate experience I have ever had.

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  46. Ah...would that other priests would "rant" against the murder of the unborn, the murder of the vulnerable elderly, and the assault on marriage as I'm sure Fr. deCelles does.

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  47. I don't even remember how i came across this thread, but the names of several priests i know are mentioned.....2 stand out in particular: Fr. Haley and Fr. Duesterhaus. An update on Fr. D is his transfer from Our Lady of Angels to South Riding. He has not been a pastor since he was at SWOY. Fr. Haley was the priest who married me and my husband. At the time i was a parishioner at St. Lawrence and Fr. Erbacher was the pastor....so...a lot of what is posted here has made a lot of things make sense, that didn't make sense before. Anyway, maybe a follow-up post would be helpful since the original is a couple years old.

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    1. Yes, I am a parishioner of Our Lady of Angels (OLA) and actually went to O'Connell in the years that the Duesterhaus kids were there including Father Michael Duesterhaus. When Father Duesterhaus arrived at OLA I did get a sense that it was definitely not of his choosing. Now I understand what has been going on. I was aware of the Father Gould story as being accurate. Shame on this bishop for using his position for personal glory and power. There is a God and a hell, this bishop has forgotten that.

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  48. I am here because of a dream I had last night about Jim Verrecchia whom I knew for 20 years (2 decades of very "interesting" stories) until the day I received that final call when he told me he was leaving the priesthood because he had "met someone." Because of my dream, I was compelled to look him and see what he is up too. My heart goes out to Fr. Haley and Fr. Peffley and all those faithful who tried to "cast light on the dark," through the "proper channels" in the Church's hierarchy. It's all so disconcerting, especially knowing that Jim is now in a high position of a Catholic agency, when I am sure there are plenty of qualified Roman Catholics in Atlanta who are capable of doing the job. It is my contention that the reason so much injustice towards the just occurs, is because of our patriarchical structure, the exclusion of women in official leadership, and bottom line, greed. Ordained are not exempt from temptation. We continue to pray for the direction of our Church and the Hand of God's Holy Spirit to guide, spank, soother, and heal us.

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  49. I came upon this blog while I was thinking about the priests I used to serve as rectory cook for 10 years at a parish in Annandale. I had the pleasure of cooking for all the fine priests mentioned - Fr. Duesterhaus, Fr. Violette, and Fr. DeCelles. I have visited Fr. DeCelles at St. Mary's in Alexandria and was so happy when I heard that he became Pastor of St. Raymond's. Fr. DeCelles is a good and holy priest. He is his own person and does not cater to nonsense. That is what I appreciate about him. I enjoyed Fr. Violette because he was always so kind and cheerful. He was also conservative and true to his faith. And I do not know the real reason why he decided to leave the priesthood, but I am sure it must have been something that went against his grain. And with reference to Fr. Duesterhaus, I always found him to be such a natural and kind priest. It is sad that these priests had/have to undergo these hardships from a controlling and manipulative higher up.
    I myself was 'laid off' because I "opened my mouth" about what went on and was going on at the parish where I was working. The priests I mentioned were not there anymore.
    Where is Fr. Vincent Bork, Fr. Richard Mullins?

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  50. Thank you for your lovely testimony. According to the diocesan directory Fr. Bork is at St. Rita's in Alexandria and Fr. Mullins is at St. Thomas in D.C. You can check out Arlington priests at http://www.arlingtondiocese.org/uploadedFiles/Library/docs/Communications/2015_diocesanDirectory_web.pdf

    The alphabetical list of priests begins on p. 125.

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  51. Wow! Thank God the gates of hell will never prevail !

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  52. And the floors of hell are paved with the skulls of bishops.

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  53. Fr. Peffley is a fine man, and I hope to see him back soon in a somewhat better capacity. That said, the diocese was entirely correct in the way it handled his case.

    The Church is both a pastoral organization and a financial organization. I'm pretty sensitive to the latter--I used to be a corporate treasurer and managed hundreds of millions. This side of organizations has very strict rules and guidelines. Stepping beyond them is cause to distrust an officer...or priest. It doesn't matter whether a criminal act has occurred. Mishandling financial matters opens the door to temptation, abuse, theft, and what-not.

    The stained glass windows is a MAJOR case in point. Pushing through a transaction exceeding half a million without oversight, review, and sign-off from the next level up in the financial side of the organization would be a red flag in most organizations. In a parish, it's a bombshell. By the way, sign-offs from architectural committees don't count. It has to come from financial officers.

    If there's any hint whatsoever that Fr. Peffley pushed through the bill for each window individually in order to skirt the sign-off limits, that's even worse. Financial officers hate deception, whether or not it was self-serving. If you don't believe me, look at how the federal government treats people who push through a lot of sub-$10,000 cash bank deposits to skirt THAT limit. This is a career busting move.

    Signing an insider deal with his family's business is also a major red flag. Financial departments don't want the slightest sign of financial propriety.

    I have many concerns about how this diocese is run, but financial management is not one of them. There are no evil forces at work here, just sound financial management. If you've never had to manage large-scale finances, you shouldn't be too quick to judge.

    Since Fr. Peffley has not committed anything bordering on the criminal, I'm hoping he will be in soon from the cold. His financial management skills may have been sloppy, but his pastoral skills are superlative--some of the best I've ever seen.

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  54. What happened with Fr Scalia? He offered the beautiful Tridentine Mass at St John the Beloved in McLean for several years then was suddenly summoned to work in the Chancery. He is a devoted and wonderful priest and the people need him. He speaks truth. Perhaps that's why he was whisked away? Is St John the, Beloved a liberal parish where some didn't want him there?

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  55. Does anyone know what happened to Fr. Matthew Deforest at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More?

    I only recently came across this article announcing: " Reverend Matthew J. DeForest - transferred from Parochial Vicar at the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More in Arlington, to a determined period of vocational discernment, effective October 23, 2015"
    https://www.arlingtondiocese.org/newsdetails.aspx?Pageid=422&id=8581

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  56. I don't know Fr. DeForest. If I hear of anything I'll post it. We have lost a number of young priests in this same way.

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    1. I saw Fr. DeForest working at the customer service counter at Target on Rte. 50 near seven corners in Arlington.

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  57. We are in mourning at St. John the Apostle in Leesburg over the shocking and swift transfers this summer of our beloved Pastor Fr. John Mosimann and Parichial Vicar Fr. Francis Peffley. We simply would not have our beautiful new church today if it wasn't for these 2 faithful servants of God. Any word on why the bishop transferred them both so close to his retirement? He has broken the hearts of many in our parish by removing not 1 but both of these wonderful priests.

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  58. Within the last months, the Pope issued the following statement to the priest of the Catholic Church; "STOP your gossiping!" According to some talk (talk which has been conveyed to me) my name has been included in this gossip. I do believe there is truth to what I have been told, because, I have had several priest to indirectly make comments to me, such as, "I will only take responsibility for what I did to you ... I won't be responsible for what others did." Another priest made the comment (which also was relayed to me) I would not have written that had I known ...." and in mass his homily was "I have a lot to be forgiven for, and he stopped his homily...." All of this with GREAT anxiety! I have had many encounters where priest (some I know better than others) found it most difficult to face me, not to mention engaging in a conversation.

    My life has been put through a shredder, including losing virtually every personal possession I owned (largely due to my inability to gain employment in the area.) And this has only been the beginning. People need to understand the influence these priest have. Was it not the Bishop who told Fr. Haley "You better be careful, you don't know what I can do to you."

    I have searched for some time for blogs where priest personally communicate to other priest and lay people, but as of date, I have not located these writings. I feel entitled to know what has been said about me so that I may be given the opportunity to address/or counter the remarks. This has been a viscous act which has been widespread and has impacted my life far more than one can image - it goes on and on!

    If anyone has any knowledge, I would greatly appreciate it being shared.

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  59. This is very cryptic, Anonymous. Nobody can share anything if they don't know who you are. I'm praying for you. You sound like you are suffering.

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  60. This appears to be what has happened in Leesburg, our fine Christ filled dedicated clergy have been replaced by something evil. How can we effectively address this abomination? A member of our family is blessed by Christ with supernatural Charism. We attended mass week 2 with our new priest. The altar was stripped, the gifts uncovered, other odditities in the mass. The servers faced us and not the altar. They looked frightened for good reason. My loved one saw demonic horrors on the diasvand around the priest throughout the mass. After the preist left the sanctuary he said a single angel of light emerged from the gaping black abyss that swirled behind the new priest throughout the mass. Please pray for this devout church family! Thank you for this blog! Amen.

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    1. What has happened at St. John's is only the begjnning I fear.

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  61. My apologies my tablet kept freezing so some text may have been altered.

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