The Scandals at St. Gertrude the Great

West Chester, Ohio

The Full Documented Story


January 28, 2010

Response from a Parishioner
of St. Clare's to Fr. Cekada
regarding certain allegations
made in School Dazed

by Bob Bastaja

The style of our line-by-line refutation of School Dazed does not always provide us with sufficient space to refute Fr. Cekada's accusations with the detailed response they deserve.  In this particular case, taken from Part 6 of School Dazed, Fr. Cekada gives his version of the events surrounding the "freezing and seizing" of the bank accounts of St. Clare's Church.

The parishioner in charge of handling the finances at St. Clare's has a totally different recollection of what happened.  We are reprinting his account here, answering Fr. Cekada's points one by one, so that our readers can compare the two stories and decide for themselves.

How about some of the other stories spread since the departure of Father Ramolla? That you’ve seized bank accounts, closed a church, expelled parishioners, refused sacraments, etc.  More lies and distortions.

Yes there are lies and distortions here. However, they are Fr. Cekada’s lies and distortions. 

After this problem became public, I phoned the man who handled the money and church maintenance for us at St. Clare’s in Columbus.

Notice how Fr. Cekada mentions a “problem” becoming public. What was the specific “problem”? Did it have anything to do with the church bank accounts? No. He leads you to believe there was a problem yet the initial story was that Fr. Ramolla was simply “leaving us”. You may also want to note that Fr. Ramolla was not even a signer on any of the accounts.

In a personal email from Fr. Cekada on Nov. 13, 2009, after he had already removed me as a signer on the accounts, he stated the following: 

“Since I heard there was some sort of dispute and had no communication, I froze the accounts.”

Again, there is this mention of a “dispute” that is never explained. When I responded to him, pointing out that I was unaware of any “dispute” that involved the church bank accounts or property, he chose not to respond.

He had his child hang up on me, didn’t pick up when I called again and then didn’t return my call.

Actually, when my seven year old son answered the phone and indicated to me that the caller was Fr. Cekada, I simply did not wish to talk to him. Once again, a priest at St. Clare’s was “leaving” and I knew that he had been fired and a lie was waiting for me on the other end of the phone. I told my son to tell the Father I was not available. Fr. Cekada persisted in asking for me, refusing to accept what my son was telling him. My son did not hang up the phone, I did. Fr. Cekada did call back and leave a message. The message was simply asking me return his call. This was about 4PM on Sunday Nov. 8, 2009. About 7:40 PM I received an email from Fr. Cekada, mentioning nothing about any bank account issues. It did say this however:

 The attached letter from Bishop Dolan, which we sent to school parents and parishioners here on Friday, will explain the reasons [for Fr. Ramolla’s “departure”].

So there was Bp. Dolan’s “explanation”, the official “party line”, at least for the moment. There was no reason for me to think Fr. Cekada would be concerned about the Church bank accounts because he never mentioned any “problem” or “dispute” nor did we normally discuss the accounts. There was simply no reason to think there was a problem with the bank account. Actually, the collection had been taken at Mass that day and it was deposited into the bank account as normal on Monday, the same day Father Cekada moved to freeze the accounts.

Another man in Columbus tried to walk off with some books that were church property.

This is another lie and distortion of Fr. Cekada’s. The man in question here can answer this for himself and has, [see letter of explanation by Jan. R. Satola -- Ed.] but I will say something that will make the answer unnecessary. The (distorted) incident in question happened on November 15, 2009. This was AFTER the decision to freeze the bank accounts and change the locks which took place the previous week.

So, I froze the bank accounts and had the church locks changed. Otherwise, what? Risk someone declaring open season on church assets?

Before Fr. Cekada moved to freeze the bank accounts on Monday Nov. 11, 2009, he did something rather peculiar.  Fr. Cekada moved $16, 092.50 from the church operating account to the building fund account. Then he froze the accounts and scheduled a meeting with the business banking board to take control of the accounts. I discovered this when I visited the local bank branch that week. I was told the accounts had been frozen by a Fr. Anthony Cekada from a bank branch in Cincinnati. I was also told the reason he had stated for his actions was that “the signers on the accounts were no longer members of the church”. I was one of the signers, along with another parishioner and Fr. Saavedra, the former pastor.

On the following Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009, I was told by Fr. Charles McGuire after Mass, that the reason the bank accounts were frozen was that I had been “passing out flyers”.  I was an usher on the previous Sunday and had passed out the usual Bulletin, which contained Fr. Ramolla’s Farewell Letter printed in the text of the bulletin. The bulletin was printed on the previous Friday. There were no “flyers” passed out that Sunday. When I sent Fr. McGuire a copy of the bulletin showing him exactly what was distributed after Mass that Sunday, Nov. 8th, he also chose not to respond to me.

Bob Bastaja
Columbus, Ohio