The Scandals at St. Gertrude the Great

West Chester, Ohio

The Full Documented Story


January 25, 2010

School Dazed Revisited 4

The Editors

In this fourth part of School Dazed Revisited, our attention is drawn to more recent history, and in particular to the role played by Rev. Mr. Hall.  Having known Bp. Dolan and Fr. Cekada since the summer of 1978, and having fought many of the same battles, as Fr. Cekada points out, Mr. Hall's loyalty to the school and parish of St. Gertrude the Great was unquestioned.

 During the summer of 2009, a relatively minor matter was blown out of all proportion when the school principal's eldest daughter, then 22 years old, began dating a young gentleman from the neighboring traditional Catholic parish of Immaculate Conception.  Her father, Principal Lotarski let her know from the beginning that he would not tolerate her involvement with a member of that "cult" as he called them.  His prohibition quickly turned to violence, and his daughter was forced to seek help outside the family.

Mr. Hall was one of the persons the young lady turned to for help.  He proceeded to use the proper channels to make sure there was no further violence, that is, by asking Fr. Cekada to intervene.  There was a growing perception amongst the many people that knew him best that Mr. Lotarski was quickly losing whatever qualifications he still had to be school principal.  His recent behavior had been exacerbated by other recent family disputes and scandals, and as the new school year began it became apparent that it was high time to find a replacement before something truly dreadful happened.

There was no revolution, no conspiracy, no plans to destroy St. Gertrude the Great, as Fr. Cekada would have us believe.  Instead, there was a patient ongoing discussion between Fr. Ramolla and the faculty (including Mr. Hall) on one side, and the SGG clergy on the other, in order to seek out a suitable solution to this problem.  We now know what Bp. Dolan's and Fr. Cekada's solution would be: Mr. Lotarski is firmly ensconced in his position as principal, Fr. Ramolla, Mr. Hall and another teacher, Mrs. Johns, have been dismissed, and most of the school parents have pulled their children out of the school.  In fact, other than the Lotarski children themselves, there are only two children currently enrolled at St. Gertrude's between Grades 2 and 12.  Please pray for their safety and for their perseverance in the faith.

School Dazed
(Part 4)

-- Rev. Anthony Cekada --

School Dazed Revisited
(Part 4)

--The Editors of SGG Info --

How a few complaints about our little parish school suddenly became a world-wide campaign of lies and calumny. How Bishop Dolan's bungling mis-management of his little empire suddenly backfired, exposing a sinister underworld of abusive behavior, misuse of authority and lost souls.
I heard that you fired a qualified high school teacher who criticized your school
Here, unfortunately, the back story descends to the level of soap operas and telenovelas. If the clergy of SGG are so quick to ignore all pleas for charity and justice, then it is not surprising they have allowed a little Peyton Place to creep on to Rialto Road.
Beginning in May, the teacher in question had inserted himself into an internal dispute in the principal’s family, and had taken up the cause of an adult daughter against the rest of the family.  This was not a wise move, since (naturally) emotions run high, and it is almost inevitable that a conflict like this will spill over into the workplace.

The teacher in question, Rev. Mr. Bernard Hall, did not insert himself in any way.  In an act of criminal domestic violence, the adult daughter of the principal had been beaten black and blue by her father for the sole reason of dating a traditional Catholic from a "rival" parish.  She turned for help and advice to both Fr. Cekada and Rev. Mr. Hall.  Mr. Hall discussed the matter twice with Fr. Cekada, pointing out that the school principal's actions were against the law, and that he needed to intervene to prevent both further violence and a potential scandal for the parish.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Lotarski called Mrs. Janet Gaye to discuss the problem.  Mrs. Gaye warned her that her husband's violent attitude towards their daughter and her boyfriend would only alienate her further and possibly send the situation spiraling out of control.  Mrs. Gaye continued to invite the young couple to her home, as they needed a secure base where they could meet rather than the potentially dangerous locations to which they were otherwise restricted.  She also felt it was necessary to try and undo some of the scandal caused by Mr. Lotarski in the name of St. Gertrude the Great Church.

Mr. Hall meanwhile continued to try and move things towards a reconciliation by speaking with the boyfriend about the differences between his parish and SGG, hoping to convince him that he could attend Mass in good conscience at St. Gertrude's.  Mr. Hall even provided him with all the literature written on the controversies between the two parishes, most of it written by Fr. Cekada himself. 

In spite of all these good efforts meant to resolve the situation peacefully, the hostility from the Lotarski family towards the young couple continued to intensify.  Eventually, as Fr. Cekada points out, it spilled over into the workplace,  when Mr. Lotarski, never known for his spirit of diplomacy, informed Mr. Hall that he was on his "sh** list", and began to undermine his authority as a teacher and treat him with public contempt.
Nevertheless, I tried to reconcile the parties when school began in September. I treated the teacher to a lunch; he treated me to a denunciation of the principal and various school rules. The lunch in question was called by Fr. Cekada in order to seek a resolution of the problem at the school.  Mr. Hall pointed out that the underlying and most potentially dangerous problem lay in the uncontrolled anger and inconsistent behavior of the school principal.  This latest episode involving a physical attack on his adult daughter was proof of his violent nature, and Mr. Hall made as strong a case as he could that a man with this tendency to resort to violence and beatings for no significant reason was hardly a suitable candidate for school principal.  There was never any denunciation as Fr. Cekada claims, neither of Mr. Lotarski nor of any school rules, which came up in conversation simply because of the principal's total inconsistency in applying them, and his apparent ignorance of what they even were.  However, the conversation remained at all times pleasant and constructive.  Mr. Hall suggested various solutions to the problem for Fr. Cekada's consideration, and at the end of the lunch, Fr. Cekada thanked him for what he called his very valuable input.
I tried to maintain a truce, but by mid-October this became impossible for another reason. Bishop Dolan and I learned that the teacher had been feeding the Prophet of the Last Days derogatory material about the principal and his family. The Prophet would then post the material on the section of a web forum he had dedicated to attacking our church and school. Imagine if your family were being mercilessly pilloried this way. The so-called attempt to maintain a truce was really nothing more than Fr. Cekada's usual appeasement technique in maintaining business as usual.  When it became clear that the situation was irreconcilable and Mark Lotarski was not going to back down, it was just a matter of finding some pretext for getting rid of the principal's latest adversary.  As the usual claims of mental illness would not be believed by the many people who knew Mr. Hall, it was decided to use as pretext a rather flimsy connection between him and Eamon Shea and the Cathinfo website.  This way, they could claim a conspiracy against the school principal, and Mr. Hall could be fired with impunity. 
The teacher admitted these contacts to Bishop Dolan, and made no apologies — the school was paying this guy’s salary, remember. That night, another derogatory nugget that could only have come from this teacher popped up on the Prophet’s web-site. The few times Mr. Hall had had any contact with Eamon Shea were perfectly innocent, and did not concern the school as such.  There was no reason to deny this contact, and Mr. Hall made sure that Bp. Dolan, at their meeting on October 20, was given a clear and accurate assessment of its scope and limits.  Later that day, Mr. Shea overheard part of a private conversation regarding the now infamous incident between Mr. Hall and John Lotarski, and posted the following on Cathinfo: "So, I hear JL was--SHOCKER--misbehavin' today, throwing mock punches at a teacher, making use of the F-bomb, on school property and during school hours, in a statement that sounded an awful lot like a threat to me, ah, the last great bastion of Catholicity,!"  Mr. Shea's summary of the confrontation was quite accurate, and his ironic final comment perfectly appropriate.  However, these few overheard words were used to judge and condemn Mr. Hall, giving him no opportunity to refute the charges, no chance to challenge the verdict, and certainly no recall to appeal the sentence.   
We immediately fired him by e-mail. This sentence exemplifies the nature of the arbitrary and impulsive justice-without-a-face meted out by the pastors of SGG to their trusting flock.
This wasn’t easy for us. Bishop Dolan and I had known this man since 1978, when he entered SSPX. He was on the same side with us in many theological and liturgical wars, and we considered him a good friend. After this example of flagrant injustice against one of their most loyal friends, Fr. Cekada now appeals for sympathy for himself and Bp. Dolan.  Won't you please show a little compassion for them as they fire a friend of more than thirty years, ban him from the property, attack his good name on the Internet, and attempt to have him deported from the country he has called home since 1982?  It "wasn't easy" for them.
But imagine what he did being tolerated where you work: interfering in a dispute involving your supervisor’s family, and then feeding someone information to attack your employer on the Internet. We had no choice. Imagine if your supervisor was involved in violent criminal behavior against a personal friend of yours, and you challenged that behavior, only to be fired under some pretext.  How would you feel when your boss told you he "had no choice"?