Still just trying to do the mom thing but some things pop up that are worth addressing and this is one of them.
EGR priest denies Communion to gay judge
by: Barton Deiters
EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Judge Sara Smolenski, chief judge of the Kent County District Court, has been denied Communion at the church where she has been a parishioner for more than six decades because she is married to a woman.
It is a move that for many was the final straw in a pattern of behavior that has them calling for the removal of a priest — a priest who came to St. Stephen Catholic Church about three years ago.
Many or buddies of Judge Smoleski? Sounds like here family has ruled the parish for a little too long. I’m sure there’s likely a little “reign of terror” going on at this parish of the “established” families. Not like we haven’t seen this before.
In 1966, under the leadership of Rev. Msgr. Edward N. Alt, St. Stephen Catholic School became the first integrated Catholic school in Metro Grand Rapids and had a student body that was nearly 40 percent non-Catholic.
And I’m sure this had some thinking they could just make it the school they wanted verses a Catholic school. Wrong.
This tradition of inclusion and acceptance would be the essence of the school and the church for 50 years.
Oh for goodness sake. The inclusion and acceptance my foot. Anyone can attend a Catholic school but it doesn’t mean it should become Catholic light to appease them. It’s a CATHOLIC school. You don’t like, move on.
But now, some here say that is changing.
“I’ve been a member of St. Stephen’s Catholic Parish for 62 years, basically,” Smolenski said.
Smolenski who has been on the bench for nearly 30 years, comes from a family of prominent community members, including her father who was also a district court judge, and her brother, a state appeals court judge.
“I was baptized there, my parents were married there, every one of my nine siblings went to school (from) first through eighth grade. We buried my parents out of that school,” Smolenski said. “This is a church that is a part of who I am. This is a church who helped form my faith.”
Uh, clearly not. You’re “married” to a women. That church, apparently, did nada for your faith until Fr. Nolan but maybe, under his leadership, it will. Just because you’ve spent your life there doesn’t mean you own in, honey. God does. It is merciful that you get to attend and receive the sacraments when you, like everyone else, is in the state to do so. How about you try with confession?
News 8 featured Smolenski in March of 2016, when she became the first Kent County elected official to marry someone of the same sex.
But it was just last Saturday that Smolenski got a call from the parish priest, Father Scott Nolan.
“The way he said it was ‘because you’re married to Linda in the state of Michigan, you cannot accept communion,’ that’s how he said it,” Smolenski explained.
Booyah, Fr. Nolan! Well done. You called her and informed her (probably not to her recollection) that her soul was in danger and it was scandalous for her, a PUBLIC, OBSTINATE sinner to receive Our Lord. Sorry, Sara, none of gets to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin. Deal. It’s the same for you and for me and anyone else. As for you, you’re now in the realm of PUBLIC, OBSTINATE SINNER so now you must publicly repent of said sin. The rest of us? Most of us try to keep our sins to ourselves and God. You’ve, apparently, been flaunting yours as if it’s not a sin.
“I try to be a good and faithful servant to our Lord Jesus Christ. My faith is a huge part of who I am, but it is the church that made that faith, the very church where he is taking a stance and saying ho-ho, not you.”
Sorry, again, Sara. If you truly wanted to try and be a good and faithful servant, you might not want to have very publicly entered into an invalid marriage. Like the rest of us, you may not simply marry who you want. Like the rest of us, you may not receive Communion in a state of mortal sin. I’m sorry if you think you deserve exemption but you don’t.
It was a devastating revelation for the lifelong Catholic who months earlier gave $7,000 to the parish building fund.
If this was a “revelation” to you, then someone failed you but it wasn’t Fr. Nolan. You can’t buy your way out of mortal sin. Seriously, the line about giving $7,000 cracked me up. Is she somehow an elitist who can buy her way out of hell? Good luck with that line of thinking.
“Oh my gosh, I’m not going to get Jesus at the church I have devoted my life to,” Smolenski said, fighting back tears. “I thought of my mom and dad who devoted their whole life to raising us Catholic, spending all that money at the Catholic education.”
Again, you can’t buy salvation. Maybe try devoting your life to Christ and not the institution of a parish church you think you can buy.
Smolenski was not the first person to be denied, according to a dozen people News 8 talked to Tuesday, including one same-sex couple who was denied the Eucharist during their child’s communion service.
Oh, yeah. You all so need to send this parish a big fat check to offset the horrified people who thought they could buy their happiness there.
“The public shunning — everything about it was offensive,” Smolenski said of the denial months before her own.
What public shunning? You’re the one who is making this public. So this was a shock to you, Sara? Sounds like now. You’re going for the 15 minutes of martyrdom and you’re perfectly happy to drag a good priest and fellow parishioners with you. Nobody should be clueless. The Catechism and Canon Law of the church they’ve claimed to dedicate their lives to is online. Read people. Everyone knows the same kinds of stories around the country. Feigning shock and awe is getting a little bit ridiculous, don’t you think?
It is part of a pattern, according to Micki Benz, a 40-year member of the parish who is a part of a group of members who have decided to speak out.
A pattern?! You mean the Catholic faith? Lots of dissenters have spoken out over the centuries. Guess what? The Church still stands.
They point to the words of Pope Francis who wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation.
Evangelii Gaudium, translates as “joy of the Gospel,” that the Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak and the church is not a toll house but a place for everyone.
Right. And denying Communion to those who are not free from mortal sin is a remedy for their souls. It’s not a prize they get to claim just because they want it.
“(Nolan) has eliminated teachers who are gay. He has made it clear that gay people are not welcome,” Benz said.
It’s a Catholic school, Micki. The pastor is responsible for making sure the students are not scandalized, led astray or error is taught in word or deed?
For a period of time, Nolan forbade non-Catholics from participating in church services, including choir and reading before the congregation, members say.
Wait, now we’re going to complain about “non-Catholics” being in public Mass positions???? It’s not a social club, people.
Parishioners met with Nolan and were hopeful that he was changing his ways, until last Saturday when the beloved judge was denied Communion.
Nolan talked to News 8 briefly Tuesday, promising he would speak on the issue but then did not call back or return messages.
Sounds like the hysterical pitchfork mob to me.
There are those who believe Nolan is in the right, but they would not go on camera. Others with kids attending school would not go on camera due to fear of reprisal, but all say they love the church and want healing.
This is the same story we see all over the country. Those that simply want adore God according to the Creed they profess every Sunday and who want to get their kids a Catholic education don’t want to be hassled by the pitchfork crowd. I hope more will publicly stand up for Fr. Nolan. We are called to defend our faithful priests. The sacrifice they have made is worth our discomfort. And, sadly, my guess is some of the kids will be bullied to. It’s the cross we are called to bear.
“I love the St. Stephen’s I knew. I don’t love the St. Stephen’s of now,” Smolenski said.
You love the personal playground you’ve had where the parish rubber stamped your sin. I’m actually quite sad you have been let down so badly.
Some members say it would be better overall for the church to change pastors.
“We don’t see Father Scott changing; therefore we’ve come to the conclusion that it’d be better for him and us if there were a change in our pastors,” Benz said.
“Some.” I think some more would be every so grateful to have those who browbeat everyone into falling in line gone but that’s just me.
Some parishioners have drafted a letter to Bishop David Walkowiak, bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, explaining their position and asking for a meeting — a request he has not responded to in the past.
Oooh! The dreaded letter where they whine that they’re not allowed to run roughshod over the parish anymore and, oh, by the way, they are very prestigious people who will pull their money out. Again, people, this is why you must back this pastor to the hilt.
“We really, really want a meeting with him. Everybody is prepared to be very respectful. We just want him to know what this is doing to one of his parishes,” Benz said.
Oh sure, everyone is so respectful they’re going to call in the press to publicly shame their priest (and probably their bishop.)
News 8 reached out to the Diocese of Grand Rapids who would not address the issue of whether Nolan’s actions are supported by the bishop.
A spokesperson did issue this terse statement presumably about what happened with Judge Smolenski: “This is a spiritual matter between her and her pastor.”
Well, at least, someone gets it. It’s definitely not a matter for the press.
Smolenski says it is time to bring this into the light.
“I want to help somebody out there who’s never even been born to make their life a little bit easier — by standing up and speaking the truth,” she said.
How about their everlasting life, Sara? Are you going to make that easier on them too? Pathetic!
So people, I know it’s Thanksgiving week but please support Fr. Nolan and write Bishop David Walkowiak.
Fr. Scott Nolan
723 Rosewood Ave. SE
East Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Bishop David Walkowiak
360 Division Ave. S.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone 616 243 049