Lakeville parish seeks healing after Mass incident

| April 18, 2011 | 1 Comment

Kathy Shirk, a member of All Saints in Lakeville, holds a vase of red roses before Father Doug Ebert, the parish’s parochial vicar, begins the Palm Sunday procession. Last weekend authorities say a mentally unstable man poured urine on an altar at the Lakeville church. Parishioners were asked to bring a red flower to all the Masses on Palm Sunday weekend to show respect for the altar in a spirit of healing. Photo by Jim Bovin for The Catholic Spirit

All Saints Church in Lakeville invited parishioners to bring a red flower with them to any one of the parish’s five Palm Sunday Masses April 16-17 as a healing response to an incident last week at Mass in which a man poured a jar of what was believed to be urine on the altar.

The church always displays red flowers as part of its Palm Sunday décor, parish administrator Jackie Sauber said during an April 13 interview. But this year the extra flowers from parishioners were to be added to the vases at the back of the church and become part of the Palm Sunday procession into the church, Sauber said.

“It was an idea from one of our parishioners, and our pastor [Father Thomas Wilson] OK’d that,” she said. “We are adding the red flowers just as a symbol. It’s an opportunity, in the spirit of healing, to show respect for the altar and our church and our community.”

Kathy Shirk along with her daughter Sydney, 6, bring a vase of red roses to the altar during the Palm Sunday procession. Photo by Jim Bovin for The Catholic Spirit

Sauber said parish leaders wanted to make sure that “especially for those people who were at Mass last Saturday night [April 9], that they feel like we’ve done all we can to make sure that they’re feeling comfortable in our church again.”

During the 5 p.m. Mass April 9, a reportedly mentally ill man walked up to the altar and poured a jar containing what was believed to be urine on the altar, desecrating the linen cloth and Book of the Gospels. As the man left, a parishioner and a visiting worshipper, who happened to be an off-duty police officer, restrained the man until police arrived.

Although the incident was disturbing and the items will have to be replaced at a cost of about $500, Sauber said the parish’s attention was on Palm Sunday and gearing up for Holy Week.

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