Letters to the Editor

Priests: Catholics should speak up now

I have been a Catholic my whole life, so like the rest of the country, I was horrified as allegations were made about our Catholic priests and bishops, including an allegation about our local pastor, Father Barry Ashwell.

I was taught to not always believe everything I read or hear. Don’t believe that I am being naive. Sadly and most tragically, it appears that some allegations may be true. However, having been a parishioner at St. Augustine’s church for more than 16 years, I do not believe the allegations made against Father Barry Ashwell to be true. My husband and I have four sons. As soon as he was old enough, our oldest son became an altar server.

As our other sons were old enough they also became altar servers at St. Augustine’s, all under the direction of Father Barry Ashwell.

Our oldest son worked at the church and also traveled with Father Ashwell to Israel. Our youngest son was an acolyte. They now range in age from 21 to 16 years old. In all the years that they were under Father Ashwell’s supervision at St. Augustine’s there was never and has never been any inappropriate actions taken toward them by Father Ashwell. Father Ashwell was the pastor at St. Augustine’s for 22 years. There is a great advantage to having a priest be in a community for such a length of time. Not only were we able to get to know Father Ashwell, but Father Ashwell was able to see our family grow up and be there for us and our sons with spiritual guidance. I trust Father Ashwell completely and believe in him absolutely.

It is time for the Catholic community and all people of faith to do what is right. We need to get behind our priests and be silent no longer. As it states in the Book of Ecclesiastes 3:7 “And there is a time for every event under heaven … a time to be silent and a time to speak.” It is time. Our time to speak. Be silent no longer.

Jane Ritter

Oak Harbor

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