Good morning Bishop Pat,
I need to ask for your advice on what to do next as I phaven’t slept all night thinking about this.
I was given your details by another Parishioner from our Parish of St Cuthbert’s, Blackpool, where I have worshiped for over 32 years. My children were baptised and married here, so I have a close connection.
For the last few years, our Church has been joined up with the nearby St John Vianney’s and has has been under the care of a very able Polish Priest who resides here.
The Assistant for the last couple of years has been the unbearable and newly ordained Fr Daniel Etienne who resides at St John Vianney’s.
Fr Etienne has persistently bullied the Polish Priest since day one. This was reported to the Bishop who did nothing.
The Polish Priest (the victim) has had enough of it and leaves this week to move to another Diocese.
Despite many of us raising concerns to Bishop Paul Swarbrick about the behaviour of Fr Daniel Etienne, we are shocked and disgusted that he has been appointed as our new Parochial Administrator when the Polish Priest leaves next week.
I won’t say what he did to bully the Polish Priest as that is a separate issue, but examples of his concerning and strange behaviour towards the rest of us include wearing black vestments for funerals and refusing to acknowledge funerals as a celebration of a life, introducing a regular Latin Mass without even asking anyone and saying this is the new direction for our Parish, making it clear that there isn’t any place in the Church for lay people, making it clear that women’s only job should be to clean the Church.
He has no people skills at all and often ignores anyone who says good morning to him, he dresses up in a long cassock and often wears head gear like a 1960’s Priest, he constantly looks down his nose at us and makes us feel like second class citizens, he is often rude and confrontational, he has said he is disbanding the music group because there is no place in God’s house for guitars and perhaps worst of all, he continually spreads gossip between Parishioners.
All of this has made our once lovely Church, a place that is well, just not nice anymore. He formally takes over next week and already he has replaced all photos on the websit with photos of himself, and in this week’s newsletter, he has issued a statement making it clear that he has been appointed with the full backing of the Bishop (clearly acknowledging the fact that he knows that he is not wanted here).
Never in all my years did I think I would ever complain about how my Parish is being run, but I feel that since Fr Etienne will not listen (infact his behaviours just get worse when he is challenged) and the Bishop just ignores us all, I am left with no choice.
I am even more alarmed that this dangerous and immature Priest is the Assistant Vocations Director.
I’m from and HR background and I know that recruiters often recruit people in their own likeness, so God help us all. I really want the best for this man. He needs a strong mentor and I’d have thought that the Bishop would have handled this situation.
From what I know about Bishop Paul, he is a warm and prayerful man, but he is clearly not a leader and he cannot deal with difficult situations at all.
He basically told us that we must be the problem and should try to get along with Father. I am asking for your advice on what to do next.
Dear Mrs ……
Sorry to hear of your troubles in your parish and the trouble with the newly ordained Etienne, who clearly has strong Tridentine tendencies.
I looked on the Lancaster website and saw the personal qualities desired of a priest:
A genuine love and respect for the Church.
A spirit of self-sacrifice
A natural inclination of service to all in need.
Generosity, kindness and humility.
A real desire to assist the bishop, and to serve the people.
The capacity to put others first.
Uninterested in status or prestige.
Integrity of life.
A capacity for dialogue, implying a sense of readiness to learn from others and an openness to others
The ability to share the Faith.
The ability to listen respectfully to other’s points of view.
The capacity to listen carefully.
The capacity to stand up for the truth and respectfully challenge others.
Good communication skills.
A sense of responsibility, including fulfilling one’s word and completing one’s work.
Self-directed and collaborative accountability.
Balanced and prudent judgement.
The ability to lead, motivate, facilitate and animate others into appropriate action.
I cannot see Etienne as possessing:
1. A natural inclination to service.
2. Generousity, kindness and humility.
3. The capacity to put others first.
4. Uninterested in status or prestige.
5. A capacity for dialogue, implying a sense of readiness to learn from others and an openness to others
6. The ability to listen respectfully to other’s points of view.
7. Good communication skills.
So, you and the other parishioners must FIRMLY STAND UP TO HIM.
The bishop may be “holy” but a bishop also needs to lead and challenge wrong.
Tell the bishop what you intend to do if he does not act
If they won’t listen to dialogue:
1. Stop contributing to all collections.
2. Place a picket on Etienne’s house.
3. Involve your local media.
4. Start up a STOP ETIENNE social media account.
The only way these bishops and priests will listen is when they are getting media attention and losing money.
Sad, but true.
Keep me informed.
If I can do anything else to help I will.
My telephone no