A dead woman and her loved ones were kicked out of her funeral by a priest angry over a knocked over chalice, according to the family in a Fox 5 DC report. It happened last week at the Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Charlotte Hall, Maryland. The late Agnes Hicks, 54, had been baptized there and said it was where she wanted to be laid to rest, said her family. It wasn’t to be.
WATCH: cell phone video inside Maryland church shows heated argument between Pastor and family laying their loved one to rest. Pastor kicked family and hundreds of attendees out of funeral because someone knocked over and damaged church’s sacred cup @fox5dc pic.twitter.com/MYQEybFYm3
— Anjali Hemphill (@AnjaliHemphill) June 28, 2018
Hicks’ daughter Renetta Baker told The Maryland Independent that she was greeting visitors before the service when one of the people went for a hug and accidentally knocked over a chalice used for communion.
The priest, Rev. Michael Briese, lost it after being told it was broken, said family members.
“That’s when all hell broke loose,” Shanice Chisely, another daughter of Hicks, told Fox 5 DC. “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 was disrespectful. 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.”
Baker told the Independent she promised Briese that the family would take care of the accident after the funeral, the reverend would hear none of it.
Briese reportedly called police to the scene, but no arrests were made. Cops gave a funeral escort to the county line. Hicks’ viewing ended up happening at the funeral home, handled by another priest.
The Archdiocese of Washington apologized to the family over what happened, and the matter remained under investigation as of last week.
“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,” they said in a statement obtained by Fox 5 DC.
Briese acknowledged wrongdoing in a letter published in The Enterprise, a local news outlet, on Thursday. He said that “as reported elsewhere in this newspaper and on its website, I lost my temper at a moment when anger was the most inappropriate response to the people entrusted to my care at that moment of ministry.”
He apologized to the family, and said his behavior in that incident did not reflect the rest of his career.
“For more than 25 years, I have lived to offer my hand to countless men, women and children, who could not speak for themselves,” he wrote, later adding, “Some might dismiss these words given the tenor of the words I uttered before the funeral that was to take place on Wednesday. That is a just part of the consequence I will bear for my behavior.”
Note: Added more information from Briese’s apology letter.
[Screengrab via Fox 5 DC]