The following letter was read aloud during the homily/sermon at all Masses this weekend. The letter printed in English and Spanish was an insert in the weekly bulletin.
Pray for St. James Parish.
The copy is not clear. Here is the letter retyped.
September 17, 2011
Dear Parishioners of St. James Church:
I write you of a sad and disturbing matter that has touched St. James Parish and its community and of which you may have already heard.
Last weekend, Father Diego Ospina made statements from the pulpit against the Mata family and in particular against Karina Mata and Father Ospina’s statements have harmed this family, and caused division among parishioners.
What Father Ospina said against Karina and her family was false, and what Father Ospina said was wrong. The pulpit is not a place to solve parish problems. It is a part of the altar, a sacred place, a place to proclaim and teach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Diocese is extremely disheartened by the actions of Father Ospina. This is not how our priests and our people should conduct themselves during Mass, or as a faith community. We apologize on behalf of Father Ospina to the Mata family. And we apologize that the parish became involved in what should have been a private issue resolved outside of the church.
People make errors in judgment. We all know that perfection belongs to Christ alone. Priests make mistakes. What happened last weekend was a mistake. And now it is time to open your hearts and apologize if you have participated in any way in the dissemination of the untrue statements. And it is time to open your hearts and forgive, if you have been harmed by words that are un-Christian. We would like the parish community to pray for harmony and unity among groups, following the will of Jesus that we remain as one.
These are difficult times we live in, and we ask for your prayers for Karina Mata and the Mata family, and we ask that you pray with us for unity and healing of your parish, and for your pastor, Father Geary, in his efforts to make people on in Christ; and for the peace and continued mutual understanding of each other.
Yours in Christ,
Reverend Monsignor Arquimedes Vallejo, JCD
Episcopal Vicar for Hispanic Ministry
Very Reverend Brian D. Grady
Episcopal Vicar for Clergy
The following biography of Father Ospina is taken from the St. James Parish website: http://www.stjamesbelvidere.org/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=52&Itemid=110
St. James Parish Staff
Rev. Diego Ospina, Parochial Vicar
Ordained to the priesthood May 21, 2005
Home Parish: St. Patrick, Rochelle, IL
My first call to the priesthood came when I was a small boy growing up in Ibague, Colombia. When I went to Mass with my Mother, I would think that in the future I would celebrate Mass like a priest. There were many things that influenced my decision to enter the seminary. My parents, my four brothers and sister were all supportive of my calling. I like to read about the missionaries in Africa and I admired Pope Paul II. I decided that God wanted me to bring Jesus' message to help people and heal souls.
I worked in fast-food restaurants for about four years. I liked all kinds of food, American, Chinese, Thai, Italian and, of course, Colombian. My favorite pastime activities are drawing, painting, reading and watching good movies.
While at the seminary, I found out that the United States needed Hispanic priests to serve the Hispanic population coming from Latin America. I decided to come to the Rockford Diocese in 2002.
My favorite devotion is to Our Lady of Fatima. I became devoted to her when I was a young boy and I pray to her always.
I hope to serve Our Lord by celebrating the Eucharist, giving the sacraments and teaching about Jesus. I want to work with the young people in the schools, visit homes and bring Christ to everybody.
Karina Mata is one of the three Youth Ministry leaders, see the recognition list from this week’s published bulletin shown below.