Special message from Fr. Wolf regarding the incident at 9:30 Mass on March 1, 2020
To the People of St. Eugene:
Yesterday morning at the 9:30 mass there was an incident.
Fr. John Peter was celebrating mass and during the middle of the first reading a man came in and began to shout. It was loud and frightening and disruptive, which he no doubt intended it to be. It was a startling moment for everyone; no one likes to be disturbed like that anywhere, especially at mass.
Several people at mass responded quickly. Several of our parishioners got up immediately and constrained the man who was shouting and moved him out of the church and out the front door. Several other men accompanied them and kept the man restrained. One of our dads went and stood in front of the chapel doors where the children’s liturgy was taking place. The Village Police came, along with the Fire Department. The firemen did a brief physical examination and the police questioned him. The stranger insisted he only wanted to tell the people of the parish the good news of the gospel and he didn’t want to do anything else.
The police said they were not going to arrest him, although they did record the information concerning his name and address, etc. The officer made sure he got into this car and left.
He had only a copy of the Bible on him, nothing else. His only threat was his voice and he only intended to get people’s attention. He was not focused on the Catholic Church; he said he just wanted to be sure everyone had heard of Jesus.
It was a frightening incident, of course. And in the face of it we all feel vulnerable. But the men of the parish responded quickly and the situation was handled well. I am grateful for their prompt response.
In my years of being a priest this is the fifth time I’ve witnessed this kind of thing happening. It always takes some time for us to calm down afterwards. But we do remember it is an interruption in what’s normal, not the norm.
And we carry on. Our focus remains on our worship of God and our ministries in His name. We strive to live out who we are, especially in the face of the disturbing part of the world. Our prayer also includes this young man and his circumstances. These are the challenges we have in our day and time. I know we will face up to it with conviction.
Fr. Don Wolf