In Lay Pulpit’s last couple of articles, we have covered two of Anthony Cekada’s major blunders. After having read them, one might say something like, “Well, okay, Cekada was a rascal; but Dolan is more or less innocent.” Not so, folks. First off, Dolan approved of (and collaborated in) both Cekada’s Schiavo fiasco and his wretched attack on Abbot Leonard – not to mention, Tony’s bogus defense of his boss’s one-handed “ordination.” Everything that Cekada did, Dolan approved – and probably orchestrated. Nothing that Cekada did or said was ever done without his boss’s approval or permission. Tony has always been the “mouthpiece,” but Dannie’s the one who has been pulling the strings.
But, that being said, these two things are, as they say, just “the tip of the iceberg.” They actually pale in comparison to some of Dolan’s other “deeds.” As pastor of SGG’s (St. Gertrude the Great) church and School), Dolan was responsible for the running of both. As early as 2007 (and perhaps earlier), various “strange things” were happening at the school – mainly involving the school’s principal and several of his sons. Many of SGG’s parishioners can recall these events.
These “events” included (but are not limited to) the following:
1. Two of the principal’s sons started bullying several of the younger school children, as well as scandalize them (with lewd gestures, and showing them porn on the school computer). One of the principal’s sons even put some of his gestures on a “social” website (Facebook).
2. Another of the principal’s sons was engaging in immoral behavior with one of his female co-students. One of SGG’s teachers complained about this [this teacher was later dismissed, and eventually labeled "mentally ill"], and went to the pastor (Dolan) to warn him. The warnings were ignored, and the girl eventually got pregnant. The girl, of course, was “blamed,” while the boy wasn’t cited at all (in fact, he was later featured in a complimentary article in the church bulletin).
3. The school’s principal also had a hand in bullying students. The mother of one of them (a young grade-schooler named “Andrew”) had bought her son school supplies. Since they were not of the “approved” kind, SGG’s principal berated Andrew in front of the entire class, reducing him to tears. When the mother finally got to see Dolan to complain about it (he ignored her for some time, then finally saw her, seeing that she wouldn’t go away), he listened to her complaint, then replied, “So you won’t be sending them back” [to SGG’s school, that is]. He used the word “them” because she other children in the school. In other words, he was telling her that not just this child, but all her children should leave.
4. Another of the SGG students missed a homework assignment. For that, he was beaten (on his behind) with a wooden paddle by the principal – to the point where the paddle broke. This was done in front of several of the faculty, who were called in to witness it.
5. An SGG office staff worker complained to one of the principal’s sons about him and his siblings scandalizing the other school children; the principal’s son threatened her with physical violence. She went to Dolan to complain, He ignored her, and did nothing.
6. This same son also threatened one of the teachers with physical violence (and used the “F” word), all in the presence of the German class that teacher was conducting. When the teacher complained to Dolan about it, Dolan did nothing. A day or so after that, that same teacher found all the tires on his car flattened. Shortly afterward, that teacher was fired.
7. The self-same son also went a former parishioner’s house and threatened her in her own driveway, in front of a several witnesses. She called the local police, who have the incident on file in an official police report.
The foregoing is just a sampling of what went on at SGG’s school. There are many more that could be cited (especially the mistreatment of SGG students by the principal or one of his sons) – and they have all been corroborated by numerous eye-witnesses (some are documented in police reports).
Dolan’s reply to the principal’s sons’ watching porn and animal torture videos on the school computer was – as we’ve reported before -- this: “boys will be boys.” In each and every case of wrongdoing, Dolan sided with the wrongdoers, but ignored the pleas of their victims (he even punished them, in some cases, for “complaining”). Eventually, many of SGG’s parishioners (and most of the faculty) rose up in rebellion against this injustice, finally demanding the ouster of the school principal. In response, Dolan pretended to “demote” the principal, appointed another in his place, but then did an about-face, reinstating the principal and firing the replacement* -- all within the space of a week.
Meanwhile, news of the abuses reached SGG’s other satellite parishes. The one in Columbus (St. Clare) ended up being sold (without the parishioners’ knowledge or consent) by Dolan and Cekada, who then pocketed the proceeds ($320,000). In addition, they also confiscated St. Clare’s building fund ($123,664), plus their operating fund ($19,330). I don’t know what the reader would call these actions; but where most folks come from, they're called theft. St. Clare’s parishioners, now dispossessed of their church, currently hold services in a rented building, with a priest (who, by the way, was also discarded by Dolan) saying Mass for them.
Besides their “creative fiscal policy,” the dynamic duo also engages in “creative explaining,” i.e., lying, as the following example (and others) will show: on Palm Sunday, 2009, one of SGG’s parishioners who had had “enough” decided to leave SGG; and in a short e-mail note to Dolan later that day, he stated that he was leaving SGG -- but would give his reasons (for doing so) later on. It turns out that this parishioner was also one of SGG’s ushers. As an usher, one of his jobs was to ring the church bell on certain occasions, as, for instance, for church processions. On that Palm Sunday (April 5, 2009), there was a procession; and the bell was to be rung while it was going on.
However, the rope by which the bell was rung got stuck. The usher silently motioned to Dolan that it was stuck, and Dolan nodded in acknowledgement. Two attempts to “un-stick” it (by another parishioner) failed, and the procession had to go on “silently.” In his “Bishop’s Corner” column in the church bulletin two weeks later on Low Sunday, Dolan commented first that the usher had left SGG, but that he had done so for doctrinal reasons. Later on, he touched again on the usher’s “doctrinal” reasons for leaving when he made the following comment about the “stuck” bell: “The bells were silent, though, as the rope got caught during their final ringing by a long time and loyal usher...” Later, Dolan went on to say, “Keith Monnin, our highly sociable assistant caretaker around the church, perceiving the problem (not the doctrinal issues [our emphasis] but the bells), came running with the ladder to put things right.”
The fact is, the usher had NO “doctrinal issues.” In his e-mail message to Dolan that day, he gave no reasons whatsoever for leaving SGG (but said that he would give them later). Dolan simply lied, implying to his readers that this usher was leaving because he was questioning church doctrine. In a subsequent letter to Dolan some weeks later, the usher did state his reasons, which were not “doctrinal”: he left simply because of Dolan’s failure to address the abuses at SGG. In his letter, he asked Dolan to retract his lie about the “doctrinal reasons” – but Dolan never did.
Then, some time after that, Cekada decided to comment about the Palm Sunday bell-ringing problem, when he wrote the following in an article entitled School Dazed: “When on Palm Sunday  our school principal (also the head usher) tried to get the usher to ring the bell at the proper time during the procession, said usher took offense.” Apparently, Cekada did not read Dolan’s “Bishop’s Corner” comments in that Low Sunday church bulletin, because his statement makes either him or his boss out to be a liar. Of course, they were both liars: Dolan about the “doctrinal” thing, and Cekada about the “bell” thing. And, in this case, no eye-witnesses are needed; it came from their own lips.
Cekada compounded his lie by adding these words to his first one: “I had inadvertently gored his [the usher’s] ox in 2005, when I wrote an article criticizing a pompous doctor who presumed to pronounce on matters of moral theology. It turned out to be the usher’s son. Ouch! Though I personally apologized to the man for giving offense, it seems he never got over it.” There are two lies here (mixed with a little bit of truth). The “truth” part was that the “pompous doctor” to whom Cekada referred was indeed the usher’s son – but that’s where it ended. He did not “presume to pronounce on matters of moral theology”; he simply gave a medical opinion on Terri Schiavo’s death (yes, that doctor). In response to that opinion, Cekada wrote a rebuttal, slamming the doctor. Not only was that rebuttal published, but included as an insert in the SGG church bulletin one Sunday.
To this, the usher – an SGG parishioner at the time -- indeed took offense (as anyone would), and left in protest. However, some months later, he relented and returned, putting the episode behind him. Eventually, he even made sizable donations to both SGG and their affiliated seminary in Florida. So, yes, Tony, he did “get over it.” Cekada’s “personal apology,” by the way, is a “half-truth”: he never apologized for what he said about the usher’s son, but only for not being aware that he was the usher’s son. It gives the reader the impression that he apologized for the former, which is totally false: Cekada never apologized for ANY of his remarks. It is, plainly put, a lie.
Now one might say, “So what? These are things of no great importance!” True, they are not what one would call “earth-shaking.” But if these two men can lie about things of such little consequence, they will certainly lie about things of great consequence. And, stating that a parishioner left SGG “for doctrinal reasons” is -- if one thinks about it -- “of great consequence,” because it essentially insinuates that said parishioner is a heretic: if he left for such reasons, it implies that he is not in agreement with Church doctrine. So, Dolan’s insinuation is, in effect, a double lie.
Another example of the dynamic duo’s mendacity (this, time, Dolan’s) that bears repeating is the episode detailed back in March 2011 by Lay Pulpit (see A Pristine Example of Hypocrisy). In SGG’s church bulletin, Dolan stated the following about a recently deceased former SGG parishioner: “In the last year of his life, Bernie more than once expressed his wish to be buried from St. Gertrude the Great.” Then he added, “He was buried instead from Immaculate Conception, although he once so opposed this group’s scandalous inception in 1989, as to forbid discussion of the very subject in his home.” Both of these statements were base lies, prompting one of the deceased man’s sons to send an e-mail (to Dolan), stating that both statements were, in the son’s words, “bullshit.”
Not only did Dolan not retract what he said; but one of his female parishioners attempted to corroborate his falsehood by lying on his behalf, stating that it was she to whom the (now deceased) man had made the statement about wanting to be buried at SGG. She then added that it was not “Catholic” of the man’s son to use the word “bullshit.” The deceased man, as many know, is the same one who was at one time SGG’s biggest benefactor, having donated millions to them over the years, but who left in disgust over the aforementioned abuses that went on there. (After he left, Dolan tried to “guilt trip” him into returning, accusing him (and others who had also left) of “endangering their souls” by leaving – but, fortunately, the scare tactic didn’t work.)
Dolan’s bulletin statements not only expose him as a liar, but they also document his slander against Immaculate Conception Church’s clergy -- by his reference to their “scandalous inception in 1989.” And the woman, of course, is guilty not only of lying, but of berating a man for rightfully getting angry at someone lying about his father (who, being deceased, could not “talk back,” just as Abbot Leonard, being deceased, could not talk back against what Cekada said about him). Her accusation that it was not “Catholic” of him to use the word “bullshit” is a study in pharisaic prudishness and hypocrisy.
Over the years, both Dolan and Cekada have engaged in many forms of willful misrepresentation, either by making false insinuations and/or by giving false impressions, or by out-and-out lying. One of Cekada’s “out-and-out” lies was his accusation about someone being mentally ill – the man who had originally tried to warn both him and Dolan (in an e-mail on Christmas Eve, 2008) about the abuses and immorality going on at SGG as early as 2007. In an e-mail reply, Cekada labeled the man “mentally ill”; and he was banned from church property (under threat of being charged with criminal trespass). A colleague of his was also banned for refusing to condemn him (as was his wife too, though she had nothing to do with it). Actually, about a dozen people were eventually banned from the property for opposing the dynamic duo; it became their favorite way of “punishing” their adversaries.
After labeling the man “mentally ill” and banning him (and his colleague) from the property, the dynamic duo’s vindictiveness did not stop there. Later, both were labeled as “losers” (even though both were gainfully employed (the colleague had an immensely successful tutoring business – and still does); and they started a rumor that the “mentally ill” man had an AK-47 assault weapon and that he was going to terrorize SGG’s parishioners at their church picnic! (Gulp!). The rumor, of course, was pure fiction – but it illustrates the ridiculous lengths to which these two bungling fools will go in their Machiavellian chicanery. No wonder that Tony has earned the moniker “The Blunderer”!
Cekada’s trademark arrogance, vindictiveness, and lack of compassion are already known quantities; and it should be evident by now that Dolan is his equal in this respect. The reader should have by now a pretty clear picture of what kind of men these two are. The track record of these two “shepherds” of SGG’s flock has been one long story of victimizing innocent people, using every weapon imaginable: intimidation, manipulation, “guilt-trip” fear tactics, false insinuations and innuendo, outright lying, character assassination, shady financial dealings – you name it – to achieve what they want. And, for a time, it worked. But their past is catching up with them. In addition to losing half their parish, they have lost something even more precious: respect. Ultimately, they will defeat themselves – at least in a material sense – if they continue on their present path.
In their heyday, they could count on almost-yearly “sabbaticals” to The Bishop’s Lodge, “apostolates” to Latin America and Europe, and frequent dining at upscale restaurants. But times are tough now; their big givers have flown the coup, and new ones are hard to come by. Until they recruit a new crop of suckers, they have to heavily curtail La Dolce Vita. But this, perhaps, will be their ultimate salvation: material failure often brings on spiritual redemption -- for, to save one’s soul, one must “die” to this world and its pleasures. Let us hope that the “new crop of suckers” never comes. Let us hope that Dolan and Cekada learn their lesson, and do learn to reject their former lifestyle. But will they? Yes, we can hope -- but I wouldn’t call that a realistic expectation.
The truth is, Dolan and Cekada are consummate parasites, concentrating all their efforts towards separating people from their money. They are the “P. T. Barnums” of traddieland, epitomizing that impresario’s famous boast, “There’s a sucker born every minute” – except that the dynamic duo would re-phrase it as, “It is morally wrong to let a sucker keep his money.” The “good news” is that they do their Machiavellian chicanery heavy-handedly, amateurishly, and sloppily, so that many people readily recognize it as such. But the “bad news” is that – especially in traddieland – there are many trusting, guileless innocents who don’t recognize it (as well as the willfully blind who don’t want to recognize it, because pride won’t let them), both of whom are “ripe pickings” for these two opportunists. The former must be warned -- and the latter, brought to their senses.
It is a sad fact that people nowadays have been “dumbed down” to the point where things must be repeated for them in order for it to “sink in”; and people, by and large, have “short memories.” This is why political campaign ads are always repeated with nauseating regularity: it is done because it is necessary -- and because it works. “Repetition equals reinforcement.” That is why, although what has been written here has all been said before, we are saying it again: perhaps it will “sink in” this time. And that is why we’ll repeat it again and again -- as often as necessary -- until it does sink in.
* Dolan and Cekada’s apologists would be quick to point out that this “replacement” who was fired also turned out to be a scoundrel – which, later on, he was; but it had nothing to do with what he did (opposing SGG’s abuses) at the time. In a subsequent “apology” sermon, Dolan tried to “explain away” the fact that virtually half the parish had left, by attributing it all NOT to the abuses going on there, but to the “conspiring” of this “replacement” – a young German priest whom he had ordained two years before. Dolan inferred many things in his “apology,” but kept them conveniently vague, knowing full well that parishioners predisposed to believe anything he said would unquestioningly swallow whatever he said, without any proof – and there wasn’t any: It was all assertion. But to unsuspecting, credulous minds, that’s all that’s needed.
Whatever alleged “private agenda” that this German priest might have had against Dolan, it had absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the abusive events that had occurred at SGG’s school; they would have happened (and did), whether this priest was there or not. But it provided a convenient opportunity for Dolan to “explain away” those events by inferring that they were the result of this German priest’s “agenda.” This priest, after being ousted from SGG, was asked (by the parishioners who had also exited SGG) to start a new parish (St. Albert the Great) – which he did. However, he eventually turned on those parishioners, leaving them “high and dry” – just as Dolan had done to the people at St. Clare’s in Columbus. There is much more that could be said – especially about events that transpired afterwards -- but this is all fodder for a whole series of articles (which will some day be told). But for now, this thumbnail sketch must suffice.