Reinstatement of Father Richard Mickey
SNAP comment: The victim community is outraged that Father Richard Mickey has been returned to ministry before the concluison of the civil lawsuit filed against. The convening of a one-sided hearing where only the priest's viewpoint is presented is a travesty and the height of arrogance. The people deserve better. The victims deserve better as well.
Father Mickey returns to St. Mary's
February 24, 2005
By John Morris
St. Louis parishioner Carl Powers traveled from Memphis to Jackson Saturday to deliver a spiritual bouquet of 455 rosaries from the students at St. Louis Elementary.
Knight of Columbus John King from St. Francis Church in Cordova came to Jackson for what he called a "great occasion."
Deacon Jim Gray and his wife Linda drove from St. Jude Church in Selmer to be present for an "answer to many prayers."
Dozens of parishioners from the Church of the Ascension including Eneida Rodriquez and a number of friends from the Hispanic community came to support their former pastor, their "padre Mickey."
Thus, at the Saturday evening Mass at St. Mary Church in Jackson, Father Richard L. Mickey returned to ministry. More than 600 people crowded the church and Father Mickey was greeted with a long, loud and standing ovation when Bishop J. Terry Steib, S.V.D announced him. Parishioners from St. John Church in Brownsville and St. Mary Church in Jackson were there. So were nine brother priests from the diocese, six deacons and the newly ordained Bishop Martin Holley, auxiliary bishop of Washington, D.C. Bishop Holly was in town for the parish's Afrocentric Sunday the following day. Several members of the diocesan staff were also in attendance.
In his homily, Bishop Steib noted that while we might all want to live on the mountain of Transfiguration, we eventually have to go to the valley where life is lived. The people, Bishop Steib said, must "return to the valley of tensions and anxieties and thorny moral problems. Father Mickey returns to the valley to reclaim his life as pastor in your midst again. ... and we are here in support of that; to support a community of faith and a man of faith." He then told the people that "Abraham went out, not knowing where he was going," and went on to say that like Abraham, "we walk by faith and not by sight. We want to know all there is to know, but we never will, we want a clear path to the kingdom, but it will never be so."
Bishop Steib concluded by urging the people to dare to be "the ministers, disciples, and people of God who dared to brave the storm and welcome back a minister, a disciple, a priest and pastor to a community of faith."
At the conclusion of the Liturgy, following the prayer after Communion, Father Mickey addressed the people.
"We have all suffered in various ways and to various degrees. We can't change the suffering or what has been done to us. But, we can take the present suffering as an opportunity for personal growth and spiritual renewal. God challenges us not to become bitter because of the suffering, because of all the things which we've endured, but to become better. Better people by our sensitivity to others who are suffering and by our making better use of the gifts (graces) He has given each of us. In this way, we honor God and we allow ourselves in the midst of our own suffering to be His instrument by means of our encouragement, consolation and our willingness to bring healing for others around us.
"I am strengthened in my weakness by your presence and I look forward to working with you, and growing closer to you as your priest and your pastor. I pray that together we can be for each other, a means of God's grace for the much needed healing of the wounds that we have endured in various ways.
"As God's holy people, we hold on tightly to our faith in God and to one another. With our hearts lifted in prayer, we live in the hope that better days, brighter days and many good things and days together are ahead.
"It is good for us to be here it's good to be together again." Father Mickey's words were followed by boisterous and lengthy applause.
St. Mary parishioner Patsy Turner, who grew to know Father Mickey through charismatic groups, said that the parish, through trials and tribulations, has become a renewed people.
"We prayed daily, hourly that God would bestow his grace and prayers upon us," said Turner. "We as a parish needed to hold each others hands and walk together, as Bishop Steib said _ one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church."
Vicky Lott has been attending St. Mary's for a dozen years and was delighted that Father Mickey was returning.
"We are all pilgrims on this journey and we cannot predict the future, so we need to put our trust in the Lord," said Lott.
Father Mickey was named in a civil lawsuit last summer, shortly after being named pastor of St. Mary's and St. John's. On Aug. 12, 2004, Father Mickey requested that Bishop Steib place him on administrative leave. Father Robert Ponticello was named administrator of the parish.
On Feb. 2, 2005, Bishop Steib, after prayerful consideration and in consultation with his advisors, determined that the allegations of the sexual abuse of a minor levied against Father Mickey were not credible and announced that he was returning Father Mickey to ministry. The bishop's decision was made after he accepted the report of the Diocesan Review Board whose task is to advise the Bishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors and in the bishop's determination of suitability for ministry.