Shame on you, Archbishop Jerome Listecki

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Yes, you read the headline correctly. In my book men of the cloth are just as prone to errors as we laypeople. And the Archbishop is guilty of an egregious lapse in judgment.

On Sunday (tomorrow) for the third week in a row the doors to the English language 10:00 AM Mass at St. Anthony’s in Milwaukee will be closed. There will be no Mass at the venerable church that has stood on the city’s south side since 1852. It’s the only parish I’ve ever been part of.

Posted on Facebook on April 28, 2021:

May be an image of text that says 'ANTHONY ST.ANTHONYPARISH PARISH ST. ANTHONY PARISH 1711 S 9th St. Milwaukee WI 53204 We want to inform you that starting immediately on Sunday May 2nd the 10:00a English Mass is cancelled for in person, until further notice. The 10am mass will only be broadcast online thru Facebook (St. Anthony & St. Hyacinth Parishes) htps:/ebok.o/anith We apologize for the inconvenience. God bless you!'

That’s comforting.

The quick backstory: Our pastor Hugo Londoño-Gallego has been a decent enough guy. Up to now I’ve had no issues with the young priest (10 years). He’s been pastor at St. Anthony’s for five years and during that time he just hasn’t warmed up to a lot of parishioners who are loyal and devoted, traveling from  all parts inside and outside the city to attend Mass.

Apparently a handful of ignorant yahoos at the 10:00 Mass have, in no uncertain terms, expressed their rather evil desire for him to return home to Columbia. As I’ve mentioned before on this matter I’ve been an usher for 51 years at the same Mass. I hear all the gossip and there’s plenty. This accusation, which I don’t doubt is true, has escaped me. No one can finger the guilty parties.

Father Hugo has played the race card. He and Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki have colluded to punish everyone at the 10:00 Mass for the despicable actions of a very few. When not enough folks were wearing masks to Mass several Sundays ago to suit Father Hugo, that also set him off. The day after the first Sunday Mass was denied Father Hugo fled to the airport for a month long vacation. I repeat: must be nice. Needless to say people are upset.

Here’s just one letter that was sent to Listecki:

May 12, 2021

Dear Archbishop Listecki,

Please open the doors for 10:00 AM Sunday Mass at St Anthony’s on 9th and Mitchell.  For the last two Sundays the doors have been locked and we are being deprived of the only Sunday Mass for English speakers at St Anthony’s.  When I began attending Mass at St Anthony’s over 20 years ago, we had four English Masses on the weekend.  First the 5 o’clock Saturday English Mass was dropped.   Next the 5 o’clock Sunday Mass disappeared and lastly the 8 o’clock morning Mass was gone.

The 10 AM Mass is the only Anglo Mass remaining.  

Jesus gave us the Church and the Sacraments to lead us to everlasting life.  We need all the help we can get.  Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Fear of this virus is mania.  The Mass is a gift from God; mask mandates are a contrivance from man.  The Mass is essential; masks are not.  Perhaps some of us fear this virus more than they love the Lord.

I have no fear of death, only of the Final Judgement and the state of my soul and those of my loved ones.  I am confident the Lord will not judge us for not wearing a mask.  He will judge us for not leading souls to Him.  As a parent and grandparent my most important job is raising Godly children and grandchildren to conform to His will out of love for Him.         

Perhaps have the mask-less on one side of the church and the masked on the other.  

I have the equivalent of an entire year of income for a well-paid pathologist invested in renovating St Anthony’s.  And while I may have no legal ownership rights, Justice demands that I and my family be able to attend Mass there on Sunday.

The pleas of St. Anthony’s faithful have fallen on deaf ears. For now, Listecki stands firmly in the corner of Father Hugo and appears to have taken a Pontius Pilate-like attitude toward this controversy. No sense of urgency whatsoever.

There continues be dialogue between church liaisons and the Archbishop’s office. Paraphrasing, here’s the current status:

1) The 10:00 AM Mass remains shut down.

2) Listecki wants everyone to be nicer to Father Hugo.

3) We are keep an eye and ear out for any racism towards Father Hugo and immediately move to stop it. Of course we would but again, I for one have not witnessed any such incidents.

4) Mask and social distancing restrictions remain in effect, when the Mass returns.

Meanwhile attendance which had been suffering during the pandemic will more than likely continue to slide. That means the collection baskets will be lighter. And supposedly educated Catholic leaders wonder why the pews aren’t overflowing.

Archdiocesan priorities seem mixed up.

So, yes, shame on Archbishop Listecki and Father Hugo. My opinion of both isn’t too high right now.

Would love to see a local TV news crew outside the doors Sunday morning with lots of frustrated parishioners denied entry. I’m told it’s the last thing the archbishop wants:  negative publicity. He’s looking pretty bad.

Finally, hypocritical?

8 thoughts on “Shame on you, Archbishop Jerome Listecki

  1. I’ve been attending Mass at St. Anthony’s since high school, and now, with my own children. Missing Mass and Holy Eucharist for so many months last year was horrible. There were Sundays my children would tear up, longing for their beloved St. Anthony’s. When the churches opened back up , we went masked, and noticed a few of the other regulars, maskless, not a big deal. Pews were roped off, families sat with families. The next Sunday we attended maskless, and each Sunday after maskless as well. Again, some parishioners masked, others not. It didn’t seem to be a problem. Fast forward 7 months and here I am, looking at another Sunday Mass at home, no Holy Eucharist, because our priest has decided to cancel mass because of a lack of masks. Now, keep in mind as far as I know there have been NO outbreaks at St. Anthony’s, I would think people would see this as a positive, so I’m wondering why all of a sudden after so long?

    After reading this post I was confused as to why race was being brought up. Father Hugo is not the only priest at St. Anthony’s, and not the only one from another country. Fathers Jamie and Erick are both from Guatemala, and Father Angel (on leave right now as a Chaplin) is also from Columbia, the same country as Father Hugo. In fact, when Father Hugo went home December 2019 to visit his family, my family dropped off a card of well wishes and a container of Instant Snow(lots of fun if you’ve never played with it) to share and experience with his nieces and nephews.

    Another thing that shocked me this week was when I read that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is suing the Wisconsin Department of Corrections for not allowing priests access to prisoners to offer them Sacraments. They state the DOC, “Must act now to restore the rights of the Wisconsin’s inmates to freely exercise their religion.” This does not hold true to St. Anthony’s parishioners. Sandra Peterson, communication director for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, said May 7, “However, our clergy and chaplains have not been able to perform this important work for more than a year, which means prisoners have been denied access to the sacraments that are crucial to our Catholic faith.” I find this hypocritical because it’s not the Department of Corrections denying us our sacraments, it’s our priest and archbishop.

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  2. Fr. Hugo was playing the race card from the first day. I was there and found the approach disgusting. He and fellow Colombian Fr, Anjel did virtually nothing to reach out to Anglos. It’s time to go elsewhere. We did.

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    • I have to respectfully disagree with this. As an Anglo, our family adores Father Angel, and he’s been nothing but kind to us, all of the priests have. This is not about race, this is about closing the 10am mass, denying the Sacraments, and figuring out what can be done to open the doors again.

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  4. This is the email I sent to the archbishop on 5/16/20, I haven’t received a response. I also called and left a message a week ago, today, I haven’t heard back from that either. I would think one would find it important to address this, especially when it comes to children, and their faith.

    Your Excellency, Archbishop Listecki,

    I’ve been attending Sunday Mass at St. Anthony’s on 9th and Mitchell since I was in high school, and now with my own children. They have been baptized there, and made their Holy Communion there.

    Three Sundays ago our Sunday Mass was shut down, we were told because of a lack of mask compliance. Since St. Anthony’s opened last year there has been a mixture of masked and unmasked parishioners, it didn’t seem to be an issue. I hadn’t heard of any outbreaks. I’m wondering why after almost 8 months this is now a problem, and why we are being denied our rights to the Sacraments.

    I asked my friends who attend other churches within the Archdiocese if their priests had made mentions of lack of mask compliance, with the threat of mass being shut down. “No,” was the answer I got, and, “We have a mixture of some people who wear it and others who don’t.” I decided to verify this with my own eyes. And yes, the masses we attended at St. and St. (I’m leaving the names out to prevent their Sunday Mass from being shut down), did have a mixture of the two. In fact, the mass we went to yesterday had 6 people with masks on, that was it.

    My son asked yesterday, “Why can we go to different churches without masks and not ours?” I told him, “I don’t know,” and I don’t. That’s why I’m asking for your guidance on how I can explain this to my son. He loves St. Anthony’s. He was overwhelmed with tears of joys when it reopened, as well as sadness because his church looked different, with roped off pews, no song books, and the Holy Water gone. Once again, our Mass has been taken from us, and I can’t explain why.

    Sincerely,
    K.V. G.

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  5. I read the comments regarding Fr. Hugo and the archbishop with great dismay. I’ve been a priest for 45 years and have become good friends with Fr. Hugo. I know him to be a kind, compassionate and intelligent person. I’m shocked by the bad treatment and rudeness he’s receiving. Someone evidently called the city health department and complained that some were not wearing masks at the 10am Mass on Sunday. Hence the ensuing brouhaha. Fr. Hugo followed the covid guidelines of the archdiocese by mandating the wearing of masks. The fault is not his but the obstinate people who didn’t cooperate. To criticize him for returning home to visit his family is shameful. He hadn’t been home in two years. He and other foreign born priests literally left father and mother to follow the Lord’s call to a far away land. God bless them all. We are a better church because of them. Knowing of Fr. Hugo’s compassion in dealing with suicide situations, an Anglo family called upon him to assist them in their grief. He spent hours with them praying and helping them. I’m a better person because Fr. Hugo is my friend. You may not realize it but St. Anthony and St.Hyacinth are better parishes because he and his associates are your priests.
    God bless him and all of you. May this unfortunate situation be resolved soon.

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    • Thank you for weighing in.

      I don’t think you’re aware of some of the behind-the-scenes goings-on that have upset folks at St. Anthony’s.

      Let’s for the sake of discussion assume that everything you wrote is true. Even so, locking the church doors for a month, and singling out one Mass in particular (I don’t believe there has been 100% mask compliance at all the other Masses) is unconscionable and unforgiveable.

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