I will second Stephen Montgomery's comment but add that the discipline of Ray Valencia should have happened YEARS ago, not months. Violating the confessional? Right there. Out. This cannot be a negotiable point. All his other offenses (wrongful termination, intimidation, lying, etc) also should have been ample to get a fast and thorough investigation instead of the nightmare Mrs. Koumentakos had to endure to get to this point. A lot of people out there owe her an apology.
Well, let us hope that the "leave of absence" will be permanent and that Velencia and his parish will get the help they need. ..... Let us hope that a mature and healthy priest will be assigned to the parish once this "inquiry" is complete so that correction and healing can finally begin.
Finally, I appreciate your attention to detail, Mark, but for all intents and purposes, according to your report, Velencia was removed from St Matthew House, as well as the parish. What the final disposition will be remains to be seen, but he has been removed from active service in those settings. Thanks be to God.
As I recall, it was about a year ago that Metr. Jonah was considering Fr. Valencia for the metropolitan council despite the protests of several people about his involvement with the Koumentakos case. Hmmm... not the best judgment it would seem.
And how is the Diocese of Washington doing? Any word on the building plan at the cathedral or the monastery that was to be developed with funds from a very rich donor?
I've really struggled with how no action whatsoever was being taken by the national church on this matter and it has been one of those things I've been concerned about. Why should a redneck pickup truck driving guy in MN really have to worry about such a thing?
I think the most important immediate outcome of the Fr. Velencia matter will be taking down the website and some form of reprimand for the priest seems just.
If a priest makes a mistake, I think it is important to remember they are human and sinners like the rest of us and I wish the fellow no ill will, but it does seems like he erred.
...my thoughts, wish I didn't feel compelled to speak, wouldn't if things had been done right long ago...
Why was Fr. Martin (Duane) Johnson, the associate priest at St. Matthew, not placed as the temporary priest-in-charge? Fr. Duane has been at St. Matthew for quite some time, well over a decade if I remember correctly.
Why place the Chancellor of the Diocese, who has a parish to pastor unassisted, when St. Nicholas Cathedral has 4 archpriests and 4 priests that could have been assigned as the temporary priest-in-charge?
Mark C. Phinney
(editor's note: Fr. Daune has asked for a leave of absence as well.)
Lets state the facts, the seats at St. Matthews Church are
filled with parishioners that are dedicated to their church. A
parish meeting was held yesterday, Oct 17th and everyone
was thrilled that they can now worship in peace.... Of course they are concerned especially for
finances, but they know that Jesus has them in his arms, and
that they will prosper, so you watch and see how alive
St. Matthew church is !
Get your facts straight? Fr. Ray asked to be released. So many of St. Matthew's are glad to be leaving the OCA. Wait for all the facts to hit. But the good news is there will be lots of seats, you will not have to stand.
And "Anonymous", you get yours straight--or at least don't try to mislead. Fr. Ray asked to be released AFTER he was involuntarily placed on a two month leave of absence by the OCA. And all this occurred after NEW allegations of misconduct and new complaints to the OCA about this priest.
And Cordelia, that 'website' you are referring to..: The OCA cites it as one of the main reasons Fr. Ray was being disciplined after the Koumentakos case settled. You would do well to stick with reputable Orthodox cites for your information.
Think about the timing. That claim, by Fr. Duane, was made years after this case began. Years after Fr. Ray violated her confessional. Neither Fr.Ray nor Fr. Duane ever made that claim in any legal documents--why? It's simply not true. Mrs. Koumenatkos was a parish member and received confession and counseling from Fr. Ray Velencia. And he violated her (confidentiality) and his holy duty by publishing them because he was angry. That's it. ....
Sorry, meant to have put a ? after "Fr. Ray asked to be released?"
Fr. Gregory Safchuck, refused to answer any questions as far a Fr. Ray being released in any manner. Has any one seen any proof of this?
The dear Father at St. Matthew's refused to say Fr. Ray was released when asked directly. He's sticking with "leave of absence" So call him directly and see why they have changed the spin.
He preferred to talk about the financial situation and the fact they had $26,000 from the festival that won't last long unless the parish digs deep. It appears the OCA is going to re-spin until they come up with what they want put out. As of this minute, a major contributor to the OCA are trying to figure out how to pay the light bill. The OCA has made it clear they don't have any money to help them out. So all of you Fr. Ray haters should write them big checks until they are told the truth about their priests on leave. It was apparent Fr.Safchuck was doing some back tracking on the letter he put out. Since you have the inside info and proof, put it out here and let the rest of us see the documents. What are the new allegations? The 90% of the Parish who support Fr. Ray and sent their petition to the Metropolitan
are still waiting to see them in writing and what they are
Please get your facts straight, Fr. Safchuk is there to pick up the
pieces of St. Matthew Church, and he is doing a great job.
Fact is that Fr. Velencia, stood in front of numerous parish
leaders at a meeting and told them that "he is leaving, and taking the money people with him", yes, he taunted the parishioners....
He also repeated, over and over again, that " this is the end
of St. Matthew Church, I will see to that, oh yea, this is the
Thank God for the OCA and Fr. Safchuk... for giving them
hope. Oh, The Orthodox Church of St. Matthew is here to
That is an out right lie. List the parishioners and leaders and the when and where it took place. Were you there?
What money could he take the parish has always had a cash flow problem. If Fr. Ray had been able to round up donations it wouldn't made it this far.p
Sinking his parish into a mortgage and routine maintenance of a building that size that they could not afford would cause cash flow problems. Anyone remember the issue that ignited the Koumentakos case? It was KristiKoumentakos confronting Velencia about his church financing plans. sad situation but a blessing there has been a shakeup so that healing can come.
Speaking of sad affairs. Therese Thomas is spreading the news that the Metropolitan is making her a nun soon. Does anyone know about this and when it is going to happen?
It just gets crazier over there.
If you call the Church number it asks you to press one to leave Fr. Ray a message. Does he get them? If he doesn't who does and who answers them? Push 2 for Fr. Duane does he get his?
If Father Ray is on a "leave". why would he want to comeback to a financial nightmare.
If Fr. Safchuk is helping to pick up the pieces, he needs to put out some truth, before anyone puts in the basket they want the truth, only then they can make their decisions to stay or go.
Any why doesn't the person who posted this lie about what Fr Ray back it up with the truth......if it exists I will be glad to apologize.
It was just normal that the Romanian Episcopate Status remains,and God willing will remain unchanged.
The Romanian Episcopate(Vatra) is an American institution and its future lay with that of the American Orthodoxy.In fact the Vatra Congresss has no power to change the relations with the OCA.The very nervous and contradictory reactions of "some" is proof that the Romanian Episcopate(Vatra) is fine,on the right track and with a secured future.Thank God in Orthodoxy there is not such think as infailibility.