WASHINGTON - A priest has been placed on administrative leave after he kicked out a family from a Maryland church where a funeral for their loved one was supposed to be held.
Last week, mourners came to St. Mary's Catholic Church in Charles County to remember the life of Agnes Hicks. However, before her funeral began, a person knocked over the church's sacred chalice.
An argument ensued between Pastor Michael Briese and Hicks' family as her body was resting nearby in an open casket. The scene was captured on cellphone video.
"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,'" said Hicks' daughter Shanice Chisely. "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 family ended up carrying her casket out of the church and they said the priest called the police.
When officers arrived, they escorted the family to another funeral home in a different county where another pastor performed the funeral service for Hicks.
The Archdiocese of Washington apologized for the incident last week and announced on Tuesday that Pastor Briese has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.
"In his time as pastor of St. Mary's, Fr. Briese has accomplished a great deal for the local community, welcoming and helping people from all walks of life at his parish with support through his work with the local community food bank and offering employment assistance," the Archdiocese of Washington said in a statement. "While acknowledging the gravity of this incident, it also does not reflect Fr. Briese's ministry as a priest who serves the most vulnerable in the community. Pending the outcome of the archdiocese's investigation of this issue, Fr. Briese has been placed on administrative leave."