Editor’s Note: This is just a reminder to any new reader’s that Lay Pulpit is a bi-weekly publication, i.e., we publish only every other week. What we may do in the“in-between” weeks is to give the readers a “preview” as to what is coming the following week (provided that we know the topic by then!).
Some weeks back, Daniel Dolan mentioned in his Bishop’s Corner that a former SGG parishioner had been guilty of a very serious transgression, and that SGG’s parishioners should keep this individual “in their prayers.” This comment, undoubtedly, was designed to make Dannie appear as “magnanimous” – as a “good shepherd” looking out even for the “lost sheep” of his flock. But, his real reason for mentioning it was, “See what happens to those who leave SGG?” Dannie was intimating that, if one leaves SGG’s protective cocoon, he “falls from grace” – and that, if he had stayed there, he wouldn’t have “fallen.” The truth is, SGG never provided a “protective” haven for anyone, much less, provide a morally healthy one, but instead, one of fear and trembling -- and with a totally false sense of “morality.” Rather, it would’ve exacerbated whatever “issues” the parishioner had to begin with, and only made things worse.*
One thing for sure: Dannie’s mentioning the parishioner’s name certainly “made things worse.” It was a cheap shot: Dannie could have discreetly told his parishioners (from the pulpit) to pray for this individual; but, instead, he published it on SGG’s website -- on the internet -- for all the world to see, thus exposing this individual (and family) to public humiliation and embarrassment. But does he care? NO. If Dannie thinks he can use someone’s name to his advantage, he does so without hesitation. He doesn’t care if he advertises one’s misfortune, ruins one’s good name, or exposes one to ridicule or embarrassment, as long as he profits by it. The fact that it came at someone else’s expense really is of no concern to him. He got his “plug” in for himself. He “scored his points.” He profited by it. That’s all that matters.
But Dannie has a long history of name-dropping, as does Tony, whose practice of derogatory name-dropping dates back at least as far as Schiavo: When a neurologist wrote a medical opinion on Schiavo that contradicted Tony’s pathetically inaccurate account, Tony not only mentioned him by name, but lambasted him as a “pompous doctor who presumed to pronounce on matters of moral theology.” The doctor, of course, made no such “pronouncements” (nor did he direct any at Tony), but confined his remarks to the case’s medical aspects only. Tony, however, did “pronounce” – both on its medical aspects and on “moral theology” – and got them both totally wrong. Then, being his usual vindictive self, he published his condemnation of the doctor on the internet, and distributed it to SGG’s parishioners (as an “insert” in their Sunday bulletin).
Now it turns out that this doctor is the son of a man who was an SGG church usher at the time. One can imagine his dismay at seeing his son’s name in the bulletin – a bulletin that he, as an usher, handed out to parishioners after Mass. Understandably upset, he quit SGG after that – but relenting some months later, returned. However, in the aftermath of the 2009 debacle, he quit SGG again – this time, “for good.” We mention this second departure, because Tony, in his Quidlibet, falsely blamed the usher’s second departure on the events that precipitated his first departure: “I had inadvertently gored his 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.”
Actually, the usher did “get over it,” not only (as mentioned before) returning in the interim, but -- subsequent to that -- even donating sizable sums of money to both SGG and MHT Seminary. It was only after the 2009 SGG school scandals that he left for good. (And Tony’s claim that he apologized “for giving offense” is FALSE too; he apologized, but only for not knowing that the doctor was the usher’s son, NOT for “giving offense.”) When that usher did leave for the second (and final) time, Dannie and Tony both “misrepresented” his reasons for leaving (that is, they LIED). Dannie said that the usher left “due to doctrinal differences,” when in fact he hadn’t; he merely told Dannie (in an e-mail) that he’d give his reasons (which were NOT "doctrinal") later.
Of course, Dannie couldn’t resist the temptation then to do some name-dropping: “The bells were silent, though, as the rope got caught during their final ringing by a long time and loyal usher, Jim Gebel. Jim had decided to leave us that day, due to doctrinal differences [our emphasis]. We will miss him and his lovely enthusiastic wife, Olga. Goodbye, dear friends!” Oh, how sweet! Dannie, of course, made sure to use “sugary” words, to make himself look good for his “audience.” He knew too that they had no way of knowing that the usher’s reasons for leaving were not “doctrinal”; so, by saying what he did, he came off looking “magnanimous” – while at the same time making the usher look like a heretic. But that’s what Dannie does: he thanks people for their “long and faithful service,” wishes them well, and then, “off-camera,” stabs them in the back.
Tony lied for different reasons: he claimed that the usher left because he didn’t want to ring the church bell during a procession. As Tony put it, “When on Palm Sunday 2009 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.” This was a preposterous claim for Tony to make, for two reasons: first, why would someone suddenly “take offense” at ringing a bell – something that he routinely did dozens of times before? Secondly, Dannie himself stated that the reason he didn’t ring it was that “the rope got caught” -- thus contradicting Tony’s version. So, they both lied, but for different reasons.
In yet another bit of name-dropping, Dannie told a story about a visiting priest assisting him at a solemn High Mass – and made it sound as if it had happened just recently. In fact, it happened twenty-five years ago. Dannie did this because he wanted to give the impression that this priest was his “buddy”; thus, he had to make their getting together look “recent.” (For a full account of this, click here.) The priest, in fact, has had no contact with Dannie for years. But Dannie needed a “supportive” anecdote to bolster his waning image, so he conjured up this story. In a subsequent communication to Pistrina, someone confirmed that Dannie’s account was indeed fictitious (click here to see it).
Dannie’s most deplorable use of name-dropping, though – and the one that he has used most often -- is his invoking the name of the late Bernie Brueggemann for his own gain. Bernie, of course, was known not just at SGG, but throughout the traditional world as a good and holy man. He, as many know, was SGG’s main benefactor, single-handedly responsible for the building its present facility.** Naturally, Dannie could not pass up the opportunity to exploit Bernie’s name to bolster his own image, since he knew that, although Bernie left SGG in disgust after the 2009 school scandals, SGG’s parishioners still revered his memory.
What makes his attempts to exploit Bernie’s good name so despicable is the fact that – when Bernie left SGG back in 2009 – Dannie tried to “guilt-trip” him into coming back, even to the point of invoking the memory of his recently deceased wife to “shame” him into returning. And when Bernie himself died, Dannie didn’t bother coming to pay his respects to the man: neither his visitation, nor his funeral, nor to the grave-site – NOTHING – even though Bernie was the biggest benefactor that SGG ever had. Yet, in spite of having maligned him so, he saw fit to use Bernie’s name over and over again in order to profit by it.
Two examples will suffice to illustrate this: first, in his March 15, 2015 Bishop’s Corner, Dannie – after engaging in a bit of “Bergoglio bashing” – added, “What would Bernie Brueggemann have to say about this?” There was absolutely no reason whatsoever to bring up the man’s name here, especially when one considers how he treated Bernie in the past; but Dannie figured that he’d get some “mileage” out of it – so he stuck it in. And on yet another occasion, another “name-dropping” comment that Dannie made about Mr. Brueggemann drew a swift and angry reply from Bernie’s son: in his Feb. 27, 2011 Bishop’s Corner, Dannie stated: “In the last year of his life [our emphasis], Bernie more than once expressed his wish to be buried from St. Gertrude the Great. 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.” Firstly, Bernie spent “the last year of his life” (and then some) NOT at SGG but at another church (St. Albert the Great); so, during that time, he couldn’t possibly have “expressed his wish to be buried from St. Gertrude the Great.”
Secondly, Bernie actually attended Immaculate Conception Church every First Friday for a good number of years before he died; and he did NOT, as Dannie put it, “forbid discussion of the very subject in his home.” This was, to put it plainly, a bald-faced lie.*** When Bernie’s son heard what Dannie said, he was IRATE, and responded (in an e-mail) that it was “bulls**t” (click here for more details). For Dirt-bag Dan to say what he did was not only despicable, but downright STUPID, for Bernie’s entire family could bear witness to it’s being utterly false. However, that did not deter Dannie from making his false claim, because he probably figured that his gullible Gerties would believe it anyway.
So, whether it’s broadcasting a former parishioner’s humiliation, subtly slandering another, or taking advantage of another’s good name -- or falsely claiming a priest to be his “buddy,” Dannie has always seen fit to use name-dropping as a means of unjustly profiting at others’ expense. One might think that Dannie would by now cease his name-dropping ways, since he’s been “caught at it” so many times. But Dannie, being Dannie – will keep trying, no matter what. He can’t help himself. It’s in his DNA. And up to now, it has worked for him. As long as he thinks he can get away with it -- and find people gullible enough to believe it -- he’ll keep at it. But the bad news for Dannie is that more and more of those “gullible people” are becoming “un-gullible”; and the other “bad news” is that we will always be there to “catch him” – to make sure that they do.
* SGG is anything BUT a moral refuge. The scandalous events at SGG’s school – the principal’s sadistic behavior and his boys’ immoral behavior -- are a matter of record, as is Dannie’s disgusting “like it or lump it” and “boys will be boys” attitudes about them. If anything, this kind of “atmosphere” would have undermined one’s spiritual well-being. Add to that Tony’s and Dannie’s stand on Schiavo, and what you have is a recipe for moral shipwreck. SGG is not so much a safe refuge as it is a pirate’s den. The truth is, leaving SGG was the best thing that anyone could have ever done.
** Actually, Bernie was responsible for the very existence of SGG. Besides donating the lion’s share of the money to build SGG’s facility (well over a million dollars), he also donated men and machinery from his own business to help with the construction. And it didn’t stop there: afterwards, he underwrote the running of the school, donating several thousand dollars a month – and this was in addition to what he gave every week in the collection basket. To repeat again, without Mr. Brueggemann, SGG simply would not exist. This can’t be over-emphasized enough: he EPITOMIZED, in every way imaginable, St. Gertrude the Great. He WAS, so to speak, SGG.
*** To compound the lie, one of Dannie’s culties stated that Bernie had told her about Bernie’s wish to be buried at SGG. Perhaps she was unaware of Dannie’s lie – or perhaps she was aware, but just wanted to add some affirmation to what Dannie said. Either way, she exposed herself as a liar also – and an inveterate licker of Dannie’s boots. (For more on this, lick here).