“What occurred at St. Mary’s Parish this morning does not reflect the Catholic Church’s fundamental calling to respect and uplift the God-given dignity of every person nor does that incident represent the pastoral approach the priests of the Archdiocese of Washington commit to undertake every day in their ministry,” read the statement in part, according to Fox 5 DC.
On Tuesday, hundreds of people gathered at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Charlotte Hall, Maryland to say goodbye to 54-year-old Agnes Hicks, who lay in an open casket. However, when someone reached for a hug and accidentally knocked over the church’s chalice (a religious wine cup), Pastor Michael Briese reportedly erupted in anger.
“That’s when all hell broke loose,” Agnes’ daughter Shanice Chisely, told Fox 5 DC. “He literally got on the mic and said, ‘There will be no funeral, there will be no mass… everyone get the hell out of my church.’ He was disrespectful. He disrespected my family… my mother, he called my mother a ‘thing’ — he said, ‘Get this thing out of my church. Everyone get the hell out of my church.’ It was very sad and I have never seen anything like that before.” Agnes’ son Davon Chisely also told the news station he was “traumatized.”
As a little girl, Agnes was baptized at that very church, where she had long planned to hold her funeral.
In a cell phone video shot at the funeral, the pastor can be seen waving his hands mid-argument with the family. Shortly after, the family carried Hicks’ casket from the church where police, who Briese had reportedly called, were waiting.
Officers maintained the family did not break the law and brought them to another funeral home.
Shanice and representatives from the church the St. Mary’s County Sheriff‘s department did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. The family has not pointed to racism as a motivator, but the hashtag #MourningWhileBlack was born.
He Even Kicked Out The Dead#MourningWhileBlack
— Jillian Hurley (@BeautyBind) July 2, 2018
— liza f (@lizajasmine0318) July 2, 2018
•Black family has funeral for their Mother in Church
•Priest kicks them out & calls Cops while screaming, "There will be no funeral, no repast, everyone get the hell out of my church."
•Cops thankfully escort family to new churchhttps://t.co/56y1JFmLYD pic.twitter.com/39pkdNDVJl
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@MuslimIQ) July 2, 2018
This is ridiculously shameful. Sure, let's bring on the apologies now that you are caught on video. As a priest, he should know better! Totally uncalled for. #MourningWhileBlack: Priest Calls Cops on Black Funeral-Goers, Tells Them to 'Get the Hell Out' of Church via @TheRoot
— Author Dee Lawrence (@thewritepen) July 2, 2018
What kinda hell are we living in. This is the most racist thing that I've ever heard of. OMG…. The Pastor kicks out a bereaved family in the middle of the funeral.. Disgraceful in everyday …Signs of the time.. #MourningWhileBlack .. WTH
— R. Elaine Garner (@RElaineGarner1) July 2, 2018
#MourningWhileBlack follows an alarming number of racist attacks, in which police are called on black people for selling water, flying on airplanes, moving, or swimming in pools (either those that are public or in hotels).
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Rodan + Fields fires woman dubbed ‘Pool Patrol Paula’ after alleged assault on black teens at pool
- ‘Swimming while black:’ A woman and her 5-year-old daughter faced harassment at an L.A. hotel pool
- Woman says American Airlines called police on her for ‘flying while fat and black’