Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pastor Was Ill on Christmas?

Reports are circulating among parishioners that the pastor, Msgr. James Lisante,
(right) was visibly ill at the two masses he celebrated on Christmas Day. The diocesan spokesman and anecdotal evidence from observers have confirmed that Msgr. Lisante celebrated the 10:30 and 12:00 masses on Christmas Day.

From what I am hearing, Msgr. Lisante was so sick that he looked "green" and looked "as if he had lost a great deal of weight." Apparently, during Mass, the pastor mentioned that he was not feeling well and refrained from shaking hands after Mass with the many parishioners who customarily wait in a lengthy receiving line to greet the popular priest after his Sunday liturgies.

Of course, this may all be coincidental, but the symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice, a yellowing of the skin. It's not out of the realm of possibility that a yellow skin tone could very well appear "green" in certain individuals.

Taken with other reports of Fr. Seagriff's announcement on Sunday, Dec. 18, that the pastor was so indisposed with "a stomach virus" that he might not be celebrate Mass on Christmas and reports that the pastor did not celebrate Mass on the weekend after Christmas, it would appear that the pastor may have been quite ill for at least three weeks.

Considering the various news reports cited in previous posts and other evidence that continues to filter out, even impartial observers no doubt have a reasonable hypothesis about the identity of the HAV carrier.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Face of Hepatitis in America?

At yesterday's 9 am Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes, one of the priests in residence, Fr. Cletus Nwaogwugwu, a Nigerian priest who serves as hospital chaplain at area hospitals, described in his sermon the chain of events last week that led to him being mistakenly identified as "the face of hepatitis in America."

He explained that last Monday when news of the hepatitis contamination scare broke, he was approached by the media for permission to film his 8 pm Mass in the Our Lady of Lourdes School chapel. He refused permission so CBS News filmed part of the Mass through the glass windows on the chapel doors.

Fr. Cletus said he began receiving phone calls from friends asking him if he was sick. At that point he was confused by the flurry of attention over his health, though he finally realized, to his dismay, that he was suspected to be the HAV carrier because of his chance exposure on the CBS news video">here.

It goes without saying that an immediate and thorough investigation of this matter should be conducted at once so this conscientious and exemplary priest may be instantly absolved of any association with the HAV contamination scare.

In the previous blog posts, I describe how various news sources revealed that the HAV carrier was 1) a man, 2) a member of the clergy, and 3) was present at both of the fateful masses on Christmas Day. It has also been revealed that the HAV carrier combined the consecrated hosts into one ciborium after communion. (It should be noted that at Our Lady of Lourdes, this is the usual function of the celebrating priest in the post-communion rite.)

Upon learning of the mixing of the hosts, health officials expanded the original possibility of contamination to 5 more subsequent Masses the following day and a much larger range of people than was first supposed.

Several eyewitnesses have confirmed that the pastor, Msgr. James Lisante, celebrated both Masses on Christmas Day---a fact that was confirmed by Sean Dolan, the diocesan spokesman, who stated that Msgr. Lisante "was involved in the communion process" at both masses. Most fascinating of all, an associate pastor at the parish, Fr. Ed Seagriff, announced the Sunday before Christmas that Msgr. Lisante was ill at that time with "a stomach virus," which most observers will recognize is consistent with the symptoms of Hepatitis A.

For those able to connect the dots, there are enough questions here to raise some disturbing speculations. Because it was revealed by Mary Ellen Laurain, the spokeswoman for the Nassau County Department of Health that the carrier was a clergy member, the parish deserves in justice to know which one of the clergy serving their parish is the carrier in order to clear the other priests in the parish of any involvement in this unfortunate and disastrous incident.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Crisis At OLL Deepens

Newsday has just reported that the Nassau County Dept. of Health has officially expanded the number of parishioners exposed to Hepatitis A at Our Lady of Lourdes to include people who received Holy Communion at the 1:30 pm Mass on Christmas Day and the five scheduled Masses the next day.

Apparently, the HAV carrier touched a number of consecrated hosts that were mixed in with a larger number of hosts and distributed at subsequent Masses.

In the prior post I discussed the various news quotes which identify the hepatitis-infected person as being male and a priest who was present at both the 10:30 and noon Christmas Day masses. The information from today's Newsday confirms that the carrier was probably a priest because the priest celebrating the mass is typically the one who empties the ciboria and combines all the remaining consecrated hosts after Communion, from my recollection of the post-Communion ritual.

Perhaps someone should be investigating these further possibilities which may expand the risk of contamination even more:
  • If the infected person is a priest and is perhaps the monsignor, it is his usual custom to shake hands, kiss and hug exiting parishioners on his lengthy receiving line after Mass. This kind of contact is obviously even more risky than receiving a possibly contaminated host.

  • Since it has been documented that HAV-infected persons are more contagious in the weeks before exhibiting symptoms, it is highly possible that the HAV carrier at OLL has been potentially contaminating parishioners for several weeks prior to Christmas.
Is anyone else besides me beginning to think that this contamination crisis has the potential to become even bigger and more involved???

Given the information Newsday provided today, consider this hypothetical possibility:

If the pastor is the Christmas Day HAV Carrier and was contagious for several weeks before Christmas, then he could have contaminated and re-contaminated the entire parish several times over.

Hepatitis A Cover-Up on Long Island?

Although practically the whole world knows there was a Hepatitis A infection alert at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa Park, Long Island, this past week, questions still linger.

Some pertinent facts stand out that have been overlooked in the media blitz of attention focused on this modest suburban parish in the last three days. By weaving these news items together with anecdotal evidence from a few parishioners, it's possible to arrive at a tentative theory about the identity of the Christmas Day HAV Carrier.

Why is this important? While it's usually appropriate to protect the privacy of the individual concerned, revealing more details in this case could help narrow considerably the scope of the potential contamination and reduce the number of people who receive vaccinations. Not specifying if the carrier was a priest or a layperson is an injustice to the uninfected category since they will automatically be suspected of being carriers. Finally, there is an obligation in justice to the parishioners to know if one of their priests was the person responsible for the infection scare.

Anecdotal evidence:
From what I've been told by two OLL parishioners, both of whose accounts coincide exactly, Fr. Edward Seagriff, one of the associate pastors, informed the congregation at his Mass the weekend before Christmas that Msgr. James Lisante, the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, was suffering from a stomach virus and was so indisposed he would not be celebrating Mass the next week. Despite this announcement, Msgr. Lisante apparently recovered enough to celebrate two Masses on Christmas Day.

News reports:
That Msgr. Lisante was present at both the fateful 10:30 and noon masses on Christmas Day was verified by Sean Dolan, the diocesan spokesman, in a Jan 5. New York Times article:

Msgr. James Lisante, the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes and a well-known spokesman for the Catholic View on Fox News and other cable news and religious networks, was among a few people who gave communion to parishioners during both services, said Sean P. Dolan, a spokesman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which oversees Catholic churches on Long Island.
That the HAV carrier was a clergy member was confirmed by Mary Ellen Laurain, the spokeswoman for the Nassau County Department of Health in a Jan. 3 CNN article:

At least one member of the clergy involved in the communion process was infected with the disease, Laurain said.
That the infected person in question was a male was inadvertently verified in this Jan. 4 Fox News report:

So after learning from a lab that a person had hepatitis A, health officials moved quickly, tracked him down, and informed the public through the media.
It's important to note that at Our Lady of Lourdes the celebrating priest is typically the only priest who distributes Holy Communion at that Mass. It's also significant that Eucharistic Ministers do not usually serve at more than one Mass on a Sunday morning.

From the above quotes, one might reasonably deduce that the HAV carrier may be the pastor, Msgr. James Lisante, a conclusion not unsubstantiated by the fact that the pastor has apparently gone AWOL the last few days. It is indeed curious that the affable pastor, a masterful communicator, well-known as a TV and radio personality, has made no public statements and has not been available for comments.

It could, of course, be surmised that if Msgr. Lisante were the infected person in question, he may be too ill to appear in public. A wire story from the Norwalk Reflector has made this claim:

A source who was briefed on the probe said the infected person did not realize he or she was ill until after Christmas Day. The patient sought out a
doctor and was hospitalized.

The decision by Rockville Centre diocesan officials to withhold the name, or at the very least, the possible clerical status, of the virus carrier remains highly suspect. Operating from a hunch, I wonder if the social stigma attached to hepatitis A is keeping the local hierarchy from revealing any further details. Most of the affected parishioners, I'm sure, would be very generous about forgiving someone for a possible lapse of personal hygiene and would have a good deal of sympathy towards a victim of foodborne illness.

Problem is, though, this isn't just a case of someone eating bad sushi. The grim facts are that there are two other, far more disreputable ways to contract hepatitis A: through unsanitary intravenous drug use and through the act of sodomy which actually accounts for the predominant number of hepatitis A cases in the United States.

Because of this highly significant connection in an age where clerical scandals have been consistently and systematically concealed with the full knowledge and collaboration of high Church officials, the parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes deserve to be told the truth about this incident so they may form their own judgements about the matter.

If, God forbid, the pastor is indeed the Christmas Day HAV Carrier, as any careful observer might reasonably hypothesize given the circumstantial evidence above, that fact ought to be immediately divulged, no matter what potentially sordid and disastrous implications may result from the revelation.

Msgr. Lisante's Tenure At Our Lady of Lourdes Parish

Taken from an article on Rorate Caeli, a summary of all Msgr. Lisante has accomplished at this Massapequa Park parish:

"Some of the more egregious actions of the new pastor include:
  • the elimination of a popular Children's Mass attended by many families in the parish
  • the removal of a much-loved statue of Our Lady of Fatima from the sanctuary steps where it had been enshrined for twenty-five years
  • the sudden removal of the crucifixes from both altars in the parish
  • the removal of a "modesty sign" from its long accustomed place in the vestibule
  • the hiring of a gay-friendly music director who was known for directing a blasphemous pro-gay off-Broadway musical entitled, "My Big Gay Italian Wedding."
  • the elimination of half the confessions and Masses from the weekly schedule
  • the elimation of a decades-old monthly pro-life all-night prayer vigil
  • the elimination of a decades-old, immensely popular, monthly Fatima Holy Hour in honor of the saints
  • the banning of daily confessions in the chapel
  • the closing of the parish school, even though the former pastor had left a $2.8 million parish surplus and had set up a foundation specifically to aid the school to which the former pastor had donated $150,000.
All things considered, the elimination of this weekly EF Latin Mass at OLL, formerly known as a bastion of traditional orthodoxy and Marian devotion, is no surprise to anyone, though it is profoundly disappointing to the many regular attendees of this Mass. Many remember when the former pastor, Fr. Mason, instituted this Mass three years ago on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, after more than 400 signatures were gathered from parishioners requesting an EF Latin Mass in the parish.

To most traditional-minded observers here the sudden cancellation of the OLL EF Latin Mass appears to be the culmination of two-year campaign by the new pastoral administration to eradicate nearly all vestiges of traditional Catholicism from the last conservative parish in the Diocese of Rockville Centre."

Background on Msgr. Jim

Now that the Rockville Centre Diocese's favorite monsignor is back in the news, a quick look at his first six months at Our Lady of Lourdes is in order.