I am a proud graduate of St. Mary's Star of the Sea School and a former member of the parish pastoral council. I still attend St. Mary's quite regularly with my family, even though I live in Portland.
I believe in supporting charity. It is a tenet of my faith. However, I donate from the personal income I earned, not from my employer's bank accounts. I also do not donate to a charity I run while using my employer's money. That would be wrong.
It appears that is what occurred. If I did that, I would be fired and face charges for misuse of funds. But first, it would be for my employer and the authorities to investigate. This is happening now in this instance with Father Ted Prentice, and I need to respect that process.
I have to say that I am saddened by all I have seen happen on both sides of this issue since it became public. At this point, I don't think any of it has been handled appropriately - not by the Archdiocese of Portland, not by Prentice, not by Antonia Valdes and not by those willing to be the public face of the parish and school community.
This is a time for level heads and accountability. It appears that the real issue at hand is the survival of an already economically-challenged parish and school. I came to St. Mary's in 1975 as a child, and grew up always knowing the parish barely made it. Same for the school.
As a student, I sold raffle tickets door to door, helped at the auction, helped at the rummage sale, etc., to help keep it afloat. Today, whatever recent misappropriation or misuse of funds that has occurred has put both the parish and school at greater risk.
Here is what I would say to all parties involved, and what I have had to say to myself many times the past few days. It is hard because, for those of us affected, it hits near and dear to our hearts. But, we need to ask ourselves if we are truly behaving in a way that we want the children at Star to see, learn and emulate.
Are we voting to sweep misdeeds under the rug with no consequences? Are we screaming for vengeance? Or, are we quietly working to unify the community to pick up the pieces with dignity, so St. Mary's is neither the laughingstock of the state nor fodder for tabloid journalism? To the quiet unifiers, I say, "Thank you."