Social media blows up after white priest kicks black family out of funeral
Free Press wire reports | 7/13/2018, 6 p.m.
CHARLOTTE HALL, Md.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has apologized for a white priest kicking an African-American family out of their loved one’s funeral.
The June 26 incident, which visibly upset the family of the late Agnes Hicks, 54, blew up social media with the hashtag #MourningWhileBlack.
“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,” according to the statement.
Hundreds of people had gathered at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Charlotte Hall, Md., for the funeral of Mrs. Hicks. But before the Mass could begin, someone reached over the open casket to hug Mrs. Hicks and accidentally knocked over a chalice, angering the Rev. Michael Briese.
“That’s when all hell broke loose,” Mrs. Hicks’ 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,” Ms. Chisely said. “He disrespected my family and 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.’
“I have never seen anything like that before,” she said.
Davon Chisely, Mrs. Hicks’ son, also told the news station he was “traumatized.”
Mrs. Hicks reportedly had been baptized at the church as a child.
Shortly after the priest’s eruption, the family carried the casket from the church where police, who Rev. Briese reportedly had called, were waiting.
Officers maintained the family did not break the law and took them to a funeral home.
Since then, Rev. Briese apologized in a letter to the editor published in The Enterprise newspaper, saying anger “was the most inappropriate response.”
Theo Johnson, a cousin of Mrs. Hicks, told The Enterprise newspaper that Rev. Briese tried to explain he wasn’t racist.
But Mr. Johnson said, “Nobody said anything about race. We were just saying he was being disrespectful.”
But the incident drew a large number of critics on social media, who blasted the priest and the church for what was viewed as the latest in a series of racist attacks in which white people call police on African-Americans for selling water, barbecuing in the park, waiting in a coffee shop for friends or swimming in their neighborhood pool.