Ron and Patty met with Bishop Hoeppner on April 6, 2017 to discuss Ron's meeting with Fr. Ilango and his upcoming ordination decision. The following is the description of the meeting in Ron and Patty's words.
This meeting was the reason that Ron decided to go ahead with the suit. It was clear from this meeting, that the manipulation by the Diocese was not going to stop.
Bishop Meeting April 6, 2017
I was told to meet Bishop Heoppner by Fr. Ilango after our meeting.
Bonnie Sullivan, Chancellor and secretary of the Bishop had called and left a message to meet Bishop Heoppner at 9:00 on April 6th. I called back and left a message that that day would be fine as Patty had that day off and she was going to be attending the meeting.
When we arrived, Bonnie came and met us in the reception office. She was surprised to see Patty although I had left word that she was attending the meeting. She escorted us up to Bishop’s office and left. The Bishop was surprised Patty was attending the meeting and said, “Patty you’re here too.”
When we entered his office, I got a sick feeling in my stomach as this was the same place I first met the Bishop about Grundhaus’s abuse and was silenced the first time.
In a very condescending voice, He asked how my meeting with Ilango went. He stated he had a call into Ilango, but he was in mass. I thought to myself, Bishop, you are the one who called this meeting. You have had 10 days to talk to Ilango and prepare for this meeting, how could you just now put in a call to talk to Ilango? I couldn’t believe it, how cavalier he was acting about this.
He said, “Ron, I’m in a difficult situation here. Your pastor doesn’t want you to be ordained and a Bishop usually doesn’t go against the pastor you know, its part of the procedure, so I’m in a bind here about what to do.” This is exactly what Fr. Bob had said would happen. The Bishop was going to be the hero here and go over my pastors head and maybe ordain me. Obedience and silence!
I told him how our meeting went and thought that he and Ilango would have already talked about it. He told us to sit down.
After I told him about my meeting with Ilango he told me about obedience to him and my priests and how important obedience is. He kept stressing this throughout the entire meeting. I knew exactly what this meant. Patty was in the room and Bishop did not know she knew what was going on. I knew obedience meant silence about the entire Grundhaus issue. His voice told the whole story to both of us.
He told me I must never tell a priest how to say mass. I told him the details of my encounter with Fr. Ilango on this issue and the reasons I had talked to Fr. John about the chalices. He also told me Fr. John had showed him an email I had sent him apologizing to him for not seeing eye to eye with him. I asked Bishop if he had seen the email Fr. John sent to me about how Christmas Eve mass was going to be done. He said had not been given that email. I wondered why just a one sided discussion, but I knew that was not the reason for this meeting. I told him how I had questioned Fr. John and asked for clarification about not incensing the altar when he came into the sanctuary and about why Fr. John was going to incense the people and not the server at the washing of hands. I was trying to teach other servers how to properly serve at mass when using incense and candles for special masses. (I had read the rubrics of the mass and the procedures Fr. John were proposing were very contrary to the Missal and I had questioned him about that, asking for clarification as to why we were going to offer mass outside the scope of the Missal. He had asked me to M. C. the mass as I had done the year before and this was quite different.) At this point Bishop put up his left hand with his pointer finger up and said, “Ron, don’t worry about how a priest says mass. If he gets the Consecration correct it doesn’t matter how he says the rest of the mass. The mass may be illicit, but it is still valid as long as he gets the Consecration right.”
I was shocked to hear the bishop say this. In our instructions in Deaconate formation we were to understand, by the Bishop’s orders to the priests, to do it by the book so there is no questions and the mass is done correctly. In my mind I thought the bishop was correcting the wrong person. Who was being disobedient here? I was reading the rubrics and someone else was not. I did not reply to this statement by the bishop.
After that discussion he asked me about assignments. He said there were people in Tabor who did not want me to be ordained and that was a problem. He said “What would you think about being assigned to Crookston Cathedral? Fr. Vincent would be very happy to have you as a Deacon with him.” I was shocked that he asked me that. I told Bishop, “I will serve where you assign me.” At this point he smiled and raising his left hand again with his finger in the air saying, “That’s what I want to hear, OBEDIENCE.” I knew what that meant, silence.
I told the bishop that it was a 30-mile drive for me to serve in Crookston and if there was a way to serve in my parish and in the Sacred Heart and Fisher parishes. I told him I had made a lot of personal connections with people in those parishes and many people there had been praying for me to become a Deacon. I told him I had been leading bible studies in my parish of Tabor and had a good many people attending and I thought the vast majority of the parish was supportive of me becoming a Deacon. His reply in the same condescending voice was “How do you know the people going to your bible study like you? They might just be going to learn about the bible.” I was stunned by this remark. I had nothing else to say about this conversation, I was so disgusted with his comments.
His next question was directed towards Patty. He asked, “Patty, do you think Ron should be ordained a Deacon?” Her reply was “I believe Ron has been called by God to become a Deacon and I believe Ron will be a very good Deacon and God has not told me that he should not be a Deacon.” Patty had had a dream prior to me entering the Diaconate program that I was going to be a Deacon, so she was well in tuned to what she believed God’s will was for us.
The bishop replied in a raised voice and pointing his left hand and finger towards his chest a number of times, “You are right. There are two parts to this. There is God and there is the Church. I’M THE CHURCH, I’M THE ONE WHO DECIDES WHO GETS ORDAINED AND I’M THE ONE WHO DOES THE ORDAINING!”
I was stunned. The arrogance of the bishop was unbelievable. To me he sounded like he was more important than God in this. His tone of voice and the look on his face startled me. I couldn’t look at Patty at this point as we were seated by each other. Her thought was, no you don’t do the ordaining, God does through you and I have the final say if Ron gets ordained, not you. We were both very offended by this.
After I composed myself I asked the bishop if I should attend the final class where we would sign the Oath of Fidelity. This is a document promising fidelity to the truth of the teaching of the Catholic Church, not him. He said, “Ya, that’s coming up in May sometime isn’t it?” Patty reminded his it was the Saturday after Easter, in a few weeks. In such a cavalier voice he said: “Oh, that’s right.” At this point everything he said was like he didn’t care about anything being said. He told me that I could plan to attend the upcoming deacon class.
At this point I felt the meeting was about over so I asked the bishop. “I find this quite confusing. On March 10th Fr. Ilango told me to order my vestments and on March 15th he is sitting in your office with Msgr. Foltz and Fr. John telling you I should be delayed a year in ordination? I am confused about this.” The bishop replied laughing the entire time in a hideous voice, “Fr. Ilango must have told you to order your vestments before he talked to Fr. John.” He continued to laugh after his statement.
I had never felt so abused in my life. This was the fourth time in our meeting the Bishop had spoked down to us and now is laughing at our situation. My ordination was on the line and he thought it was funny. We were both sick to our stomachs. At this point I asked the bishop if there was anything else we needed to talk about. He said he didn’t think so and told us he was going to talk to Fr. Ilango and get back to me. We said goodbye and left his office in shock.
We left the building and got into the car. Patty looked at me and said, “We have to get off this property, there is something wrong here.” I drove out to the street and stopped. Patty said “No go further away.” I drove a few blocks more and pulled over. She looked at me and asked, “What just happened there?” I said,” We just got raped like every meeting I had with the bishop before. Now you know how I feel.” She started crying and said, “I thought this was going to be a good meeting and we would feel good. I feel terrible. I thought this meeting was going to be about whether or not the Bishop had decided if you were going to be ordained or not, so that we could get on with our lives, if we should be sending out invitations or not.” I nodded my head and said yes. After reflecting on this meeting, we felt that the devil had been present there.
At this point we didn’t know what to do. We were supposed to be happy with this meeting but left feeling totally humiliated by the actions and the words of the bishop. We sat there in silence for a few minutes. I sent a text to my fellow deacon candidates that it looked like I might be ordained as they were all aware of the time of the meeting. This was done with mixed feelings as we still did not know what was going to happen.
Holy Week was coming up and I was to serve with the Bishop at the Chrism Mass. Above all things, Censor and Boat.
I called Jeff Anderson’s office and asked how long it would take to put together a lawsuit. We had been consulting them prior to this meeting. I had been abused by Grundhaus, the Diocese through the Bishop and Foltz and the Bishop for the last time, and now my wife was also abused. It was time to take action, this kind of treatment had to stop and the truth had to be told.
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