John 1:14

November 5, 2007 EWTN- Lousy Public Relations

Filed under: Blog — admin at 3:51 pm on Monday, November 5, 2007

     What is going on with the MFVA? This religious community of men founded by Mother Angelica seems to have problems holding onto priests who become on-air personalities. First it was Fr. John, who left to marry a divorced woman. Then it was Fr. Augustine, who just dropped off the radar screen. Now Fr. Francis is “discerning his vocation” because he fell in love with a widow? First of all, it appears to me his vocation was “discerned” when the Church ordained him to the priesthood. Case closed. He understood the promise of celibacy that comes with this committment. It was idiotic for one of the friars to read his letter on the air. If he has issues, he should keep them to himself and his superiors. It shows a serious lack of maturity on his part. Instead of being an example for teenagers, he seems to be acting like one himself. It also shows a lack of prudence on the part of the staff at EWTN, who would allow this to go on the air. Who is running the show over there anyway?

     I don’t know what kind of community life the friars have, but things like this do not just drop out of the sky. This has probably been a long time coming and the superiors chose to ignore it, instead of acting on it. Pray for the friars that they get their collective act together and for Fr. Francis that he grow up. This is another example of a priest becoming too comfortable in the world, instead of being a witness  to the world to come through the ordained priesthood.

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Comment by Scott

November 5, 2007 @ 7:02 pm

Below is the letter from Fr. Francis that Fr. Jack mentioned in his blog entry. It was transcribed from an audio file recording of “Life on the Rock.” I found it on another blog, and checked it against the audio file for accuracy.

Read on EWTN’s Life on the Rock, Thursday November 1, 2007:

Dear Family

Regretfully, I have a message that does not come without significant pain to both you and me. I have to tell you in all honesty and truth, that I have been personally involved with helping a widow and her struggling family. Over the course of time, the mother and I have grown very close. As a result, I am compelled to take some time off to prayerfully and honestly discern my future.

I am truly sorry of the impact this may have on so many. I am not unaware of the gravity and magnitude of the situation, yet after much wise counsel, it is really something that I must deal with now for the good of all.

With that said, it is best that I deal with it away from EWTN. Therefore, I have asked for and graciously been granted some extended time to prayerfully discern my vocation.

To those who are part of the EWTN family locally, and others throughout the world, especially all those who have supported me so faithfully in my priestly vocation and ministry here on Life on the Rock, I sincerely apologize. I ask for your prayers and understanding during this time that is so very difficult, but yet so very necessary.

Please lift me up in your humble prayers to Jesus through Mary, our Mother, in Grace and Mercy.

Fr Francis Mary, MFVA

Fr Anthony Mary then said “Brothers and Sisters of our EWTN family, this is a time in which Fr. Francis and all involved are in great need of your prayers and your support as our family. Always remember that no one is beyond the power of God’s Mercy or Redemption. And on Father’s behalf, I humbly ask that you pray for him. God bless you.”


Comment by Mark

November 5, 2007 @ 10:00 pm

Why is everyone presuming that this letter and the decision to read it on the air reflect Fr. Francis’ wishes? My experience is this type of thing – a “scandal” associaated with a public figure – is that all the forces involved get together and craft a response, and usually the main person involved has very little to say about it.

So…take your pick. The Superior of the order, the order, EWTN brass, the Bishop of Birmingham. Maybe even a lawyer.

Who knows what they were trying to communicate?

My sense is that the main thing they were trying to communicate is, “IT’S NOT A BOY.”


Comment by Barb

November 5, 2007 @ 11:20 pm

This story has made me feel angry and sad. He will definitely be in my prayers. (as are all of you)
I did read today on another blog that Fr. Augustine left the order and is now a diocesan priest in Birmingham AL, going by his original name Fr. James Hedderman. Hopefully, that’s true.
I like your idea about courses on spirituality. Would it be possible to attend without getting credit? I’d like to learn without the pressure of a grade. God bless.


Comment by Verity

November 8, 2007 @ 5:57 am

LOTR is a programme with a large following. To just carry on without mentioning why the host wasn’t present would have been impossible, I think that EWTN made the best of a bad situation. Not to give a reason for Fr Francis’ non appearance would have given rise to speculation and conspiracy theories.

Having said that I agree with you re your opinion of Fr Francis’ actions. He placed himself in a near occasion of sin and stayed there. He isn’t a kid and he has access to many holy priests who could have counselled him to sever relations with this woman immediately. Surely ‘what to do when you are attracted to someone and they return the feeling’ is discussed in every seminary.

I can imagine the oprobium in which I would be held if I came home from the office one day and said to my husband that I had been helping a colleague and now wanted to take some time off to discern if I wanted to continue with my marriage.

I read on one of the blogs that Opus Dei priests only counsel women in the confessional with a grill between them.


Comment by Patrick

November 10, 2007 @ 10:30 am

It is interesting that Fr. Mary Francis Stone was outed shortly after there was a new Bishop installed in the Diocese of Birmingham and a new Prior elected as head of the community of MFVA. Could there be a conection? I agree that when priests become celebrities they tend to move away from their basic commitment of pray and service to God.


Comment by Elaine

November 11, 2007 @ 12:48 pm

My main concern is the believability of what goes on at EWTN. We’ve been there several times and have been blessed by the television and radio ministry. But I can help but have noticed that a large amount of the brothers and sisters come and go.

While it is laudatory to help widows and orphans, isn’t the main focus of the MFVA’s to work for the EWTN ministry? Surely there would be programs in the Irondale area that could have helped this family.

We all need to continue to pray hard for EWTN and all involved. I do feel the priests and Fr Francis handled this well, BUT are they trying to just erase him and the good work he’s done?

Comment by Niccolo

March 15, 2008 @ 7:19 am

Whatever happened to Br. Bonaventure Mary? Would anyone know of his whereabouts, if he’s studying at some seminary or has left the community altogether? Who’s the new superior of the community?

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