The Washington Archdiocese issued an apology to a Maryland family after they were inhumanely kicked out of a church during a funeral service for their matriarch.
A large crowd gathered on June 26 to honor the memory of Agnes Hicks, 54, at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Charlotte Hall. But according to WTTG, things quickly went left after a chalice was accidentally knocked over during the service.
An argument ensued between Hicks’ family and Pastor Michael Briese, who yelled for everyone to “get the hell out,” while also incredulously instructing the family to take Hicks’ body with them.
“That’s when all hell broke loose. He literally got on the mic and said, ‘there will be no funeral, there will be no mass, no repass, everyone get the hell out of my church,’” said Shanice Chisely, Hicks’ daughter in an interview with the outlet.
“He disrespected our family, he disrespected my mother,” she continued. “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.”
Briese also called the police—escalating tensions as everything continued to go awry. In a video captured by someone in the crowd, Briese can be seen yelling during the aftermath of the argument.
The family was later seen carrying Hicks’ casket outside the church. After police arrived and conducted an investigation, they ruled the family was not in the wrong. They were later escorted to a different funeral home where they were able to lay Hicks to rest.
Hicks’ family and friends say they are shocked and angered by Briese’s actions, especially during such an emotional moment. The family said that Saint Mary’s was important to Hicks–it’s where she was baptized as a young girl.
“This was uncalled for and it really hurt me. It really did. To see your loved one come there to rest and to be shut down like that,” said Larry Hicks, Agnes’ brother.
Briese was placed on leave and issued an apology to the family, the Maryland Independent reports.
“The man who canceled this family’s funeral and dispatched them in anger, is not the man who hours before worked to minister to their needs in a time of grief. Instead of lifting them up, I let them down. For the anger and embarrassment I caused to that family, I am profoundly sorry,” Briese wrote.
In a statement released to WTTG, the Archdiocese said the following:
“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.”
“My mom was supposed to have a great funeral and all this came up and I’m so traumatized by it. I’m going to be thinking about this every day. I’ll never forget this day,” said Davon Chisley, Hicks’ son.