The Archdiocese of Washington has issued an apology after a Black family was kicked out of a Maryland church during a funeral last week.
Friends and family who showed up to Saint Mary's Catholic Church to remember Agnes Hicks last Tuesday were surprised to have been abruptly kicked out of the service when someone accidentally knocked over and damaged a chalice.
“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,” the Archdiocese's apology said last week.
Cellphone video captured Pastor Michael Briese confronting the family, a situation that escalated into a full-blown argument in the middle of the ceremony. Hicks’ family said the chalice was knocked over when someone leaned in for a hug and accidentally knocked it over.
"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,'" Shanice Chisely, the daughter of Agnes Hick told Fox 5. “He disrespected our family, he disrespected my mother. 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.”
The funeral quickly ended as the family carried out Hicks’ body after Briese called the cops on them, according to the Kansas City Star. When officers arrived, they were willing to escort the family to a funeral home in a different county. A different pastor then performed the funeral service.
Briese has since apologized for the incident in a local paper: "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.”
But the Hicks family is still traumatized by the events.
“Bad enough we had to bury our own mother yesterday but for you to say she’s a 'thing’ and there will be no funeral. You're not a preacher. You’re not a pastor. You’re not a father of the Lord. You’re not any of that. You’re the devil,” Renetta Baker, the daughter of Agnes Hicks said last week.
The Archdiocese of Washington said that the incident was under review.