The funeral for Agnes Hicks came to an abrupt end when Pastor Michael Briese threw mourners out of the church after someone accidentally broke a chalice. The aftermath (which was captured on cell phones), in what appears to be a one-sided argument, erupted between the pastor and the family of the deceased.
Pastor Briese told the family to get out of his church, then called the police. When officers arrived, they determined the family had done nothing wrong. Hick's casket was removed from the church by family members and the police escorted them to another church to continue with the funeral services.
Larry Hicks, Agnes' brother told reporters:
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.
Agnes's daughter Chanice Chisley added that the chalice being damaged was an accident after someone went in for a hug and toppled it over. She said:
That's when all hell broke loose. He literally got on the mic and said, ‘there will be no funeral, there will be no mass, no repass, everyone get the hell out of my church.He disrespected our family, he disrespected 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. I’ve never seen anything like that before.
Chanice's sister added:
Bad enough we had to bury our own mother yesterday but for you to say she’s a 'thing’ and there will be no funeral. You're not a preacher. You’re not a pastor. You’re not a father of the Lord. You’re not any of that. You’re the devil.
The Archdiocese of Washington issued the following apology:
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.
This hit a strong nerve with people.
Many were saddened that the pastor apparently valued a cup over human kindness.
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