On Easter Sunday my family and I went to the 11:30 mass at St. Camillus Church in Rockaway Park. Mass began by welcoming a new member to the church through baptism. It was wonderful for the parish to share in this beautiful occasion. However, the mass did not end as pleasantly.
There was a second collection taken up for the retired priests. The ushers were coming down the isles accepting donations as Father Richard Ahlemeyer was making distasteful jokes which would certainly have made the very private and well spoken Father Dunne uncomfortable. Unfortunately, it does not end there.
One of the ushers, who is very involved in St. Camillus and a prominent member of the Knights of Columbus (a large supporter of the church and school), had brought his grandson to help him with the second collection. I’m sure the very young boy was extremely excited to get to help grandpa with such an important job. Of course the child was not moving as quickly as the other ushers, but no one seemed to mind, except for Father Ahlemeyer who scolded loudly into the microphone, “Can the adult take up the collection, we would like to get out of here before dinner. Taking up the collection is an adult’s job!” The mortified grandfather took the basket from the child who now looked as though he would cry and finished taking the collection up. From the pews behind me I could hear other disgusted parishioners saying they would never come back to this church.
It was such a disheartening display put on by Father Ahlemeyer. At a time when the Catholic Church is putting commercials on the television in an attempt to rekindle a relationship with its long lost followers, isn’t this the time to embrace a grandfather showing his grandson about serving the church?
Sure the collection might have taken a few extra minutes, but hey, maybe the sweet smile of the young boy would have gotten a few extra donations as well! I sincerely hope that this young boy does not carry the fear that Father Richard instilled in him today into the future; we could use more children like him and more grandfathers like his in the church.
Father Ahlemeyer, I believe it’s time to remember to treat others as you’d like to be treated.