As if the death of a loved one isn’t awful enough, a grieving Black family said they were booted from a Maryland church in the middle of a funeral and found the cops waiting on them outside.
The drama unfolded Tuesday at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Charlotte Hall, Md., local station FOX 5 reported. Hundreds had gathered at the church to mourn the death of 54-year-old Agnes Hicks when Reverend Michael Briese popped his top.
Apparently, someone had knocked over and damaged the church’s sacred golden chalice when they went in for a hug near the altar. That’s when witnesses say all hell broke loose, prompting an abrupt end to the funeral.
Cellphone video captured the chaotic scene as Briese exchanged words with the deceased woman’s family at the front of the church. Meanwhile, Hicks laid peacefully in an open casket nearby.
“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,’” Hick’s daughter Shanice Chisely recalled of the incident. “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.”
When the family exited the church with the casket, they said they were surprised to see police cars waiting for them in the parking lot. The raging reverend had apparently called them.
Officers ultimately determined the family had done nothing wrong, however, and escorted them to a funeral home in a neighboring county where another pastor finished the funeral service, FOX 5 reported.
The Archdiocese of Washington has since apologized to Hicks’ family. In a statement, he wrote that “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.”
The incident is still being investigated, he said. The apology has done little to ease the family’s anger, however.
“[It’s] Bad enough we had to bury our own mother yesterday, but for you to say she is a ‘thing’ and that there will be no funeral?” Renetta Baker, another of Hicks’ daughters, said of Briese. “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.”
Davon Chisley, Hicks’ son, said he’s been “traumatized” by the incident, saying it’s one he’ll never forget.
It’s still unclear if and how Briese will face disciplinary action.