#mourningwhileblack Emerges after Raging Priest Kicks Families and Corpse out of Funeral
This week, Pastor Michael Briese became infuriated during the funeral of Agnes Hicks and harshly removed the black family, body, and hundreds of mourners from the church. In the process, Briese referred to the deceased Agnes Hicks as a “thing” and called the police on the family.
The incident began at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Charlotte Hall, Maryland, after a grieving friend accidentally knocked over and damaged the church’s sacred golden cup, also known as a chalice, while reaching for a hug.
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 recalled. “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 aftermath was captured on cell phone video which shows the Archdiocese aggressively arguing with the family while the body of the 54-year-old rests in a nearby open casket. Later, you see the family carrying the casket out of the church.
According to Fox 5 DC, a statement issued by the Archdiocese of Washington following the event read:
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.
According to The Root, once outside, the family was met by police who determined that the family had done nothing wrong and escorted them to another church in a nearby county where they finished the service.
Shortly after the incident was posted online the hashtag #mourningwhileblack was born as the Twitterverse berated the pastor for his completely inappropriate actions. Read some of the comments below.
There is no place for racism – Not in the police, not in our neighborhoods and certainly not at funerals. It is the responsibility of funeral directors and our religious leaders to lead by example and hold racist outliers in our industry responsible for their actions to ensure this type of prejudice does not become synonymous with death care and to exemplify basic love and respect for humanity. As death care professionals, we have delicate roles which deal with all types of beautiful people in their most sensitive and vulnerable states. Pastor Michael Briese needs to be removed from the church and barred from re-entering.
If you are moved by this story, please consider donating to the Go Fund Me page covering the funeral costs of Agnes Hicks’ family. As of this writing, the fund has already raised $1,200.