The Scandals at St. Gertrude the Great

West Chester, Ohio

The Full Documented Story


November 12, 2009

An Open Letter from Fr. Ramolla to the Parishioners of St. Gertrude the Great Church

Fr. Ramolla was appointed on September 23 to take over as Principal of St. Gertrude the Great School on November 9, 2009.  Several parents had asked what Father had intended to do regarding their chief concern -- the continued presence of Mark and Joan Lotarski as teachers in the school.  In response to these questions, Father describes in the attached letter what his plan had been.

Dear and beloved Faithful,

Over the last week, many parishioners have been asking me how I had intended to supervise Mark Lotarski when I became principal.  The question is more than a fair one.  It was rumored that he would be singled out and treated harshly.  In spite of the parish's unhappiness with Mark, many of you wanted him to get a fair shake when I took over.  Below is an account of my plans and thoughts for you to judge whether he would have been treated fairly under my administration.

Before he suddenly fired me, Bishop Dolan had directed me to invite Mark to a one-on-one dinner so that I could share with him my expectations.  Bishop Dolan asked me to assure him that I would admit Mark to our family.  Since Bishop Dolan was my pastor too, I earnestly desired to do what he wanted in order to "turn a new page" as Bishop Dolan asked.  I had originally decided to present five reasonable conditions under which Mark, provided that he himself wanted to abide by them, would enjoy every benefit our teaching community can offer.  It was my hope that these conditions would become the foundation of an enduring  and faithful familial relationship, for they characterize and define how I would expect Mark to comport himself in order (1) for the school to be successful in imparting knowledge and Catholic principles to the students, and (2) for Mark to work in harmony with the school administration, staff, and parents.  If he agreed to these conditions, he would show himself to be a dutiful son who would thrive under the just authority of a loving father, who is not only the principal, but also a priest.

Here is a brief summary of the rules, which by now you may have heard about:

1.  Mark must obey the principal in all matters relating to the school.

2.  There must not be any more outbursts, no physical punishments, no belittling or threatening pupils or fellow teachers or other staff.  He must act as a subordinate to the principal and as an equal to the teaching staff, not their superior.

3.  In matters concerning school governance and staff relations, Mark must follow the chain of command and bring any suggestions and complaints first to the attention of the principal, and not the pastor.

4.  In his capacity as a teacher, Mark may administer correction to a student solely for an infraction of a published school rule.  Moreover, Mark must report in writing to the principal any and all incidents of disciplinary action taken, and must cite the specific rule violated.  Mark must also acknowledge that only the principal can publish new rules.

5.  Mark has an affirmative obligation to support the school by ensuring that his own children abide by the same rules that guide their fellow students.

I wanted to assure Mark that his cheerful compliance with these conditions would realize the sincerely heartfelt wishes of Bishop Dolan.  I was thinking that as Catholics, even though the authority of the hierarchy is gone now, it is good practice for everyone to conform his will to the express wishes of his pastor.  So, in order to help Mark cooperate with me in obeying our pastor's wishes, I had intended to ask him to acknowledge that a true family can have just one head in this case, the principal.  I was looking forward to counseling him that unless he made such an acknowledgment, Bishop Dolan's pastoral hopes would surely be defeated.  As principal and as a priest working at Saint Gertrude the Great, I had already my firm intention to make Bishop Dolan's prayerful hopes a reality.  All that would have been needed was for Mark to make the same sincere commitment and agree to live by the five easy, common-sense conditions summarized above.

I know today that I was naïve.  Last week, however, I really had every hope that Mark would change the behavior at the heart of our problems and become a productive member of the school family.  I would have told him up front that only his willfull disregard of the conditions would result in any adverse action against him as a teacher.  I had hoped to be able to persuade Mark to come to see the five conditions not as restrictions but rather as guideposts for building a successful career at St. Gertrude the Great School.  In fact, in my own view, Mark would have been able to consider these conditions as a protection against any arbitrary attempt to dismiss him.  He would have had full control over his future at the school, and only he, by a willful act of insubordination, could have caused us to part ways.

These, anyway, were my hopes.  Just one day before my firing, Mark texted me out of the blue to cancel the dinner meeting, without giving any reason.

With my priestly blessing,

The Reverend Markus Ramolla