Dr. Ricardo Eusebio, president of the "Catholic Families for Apuron" organization and a member of the Neocatechumenal Way, held a press conference yesterday in which he claimed that the use of the Yona property by the Redemptoris Mater Seminary had been securely established prior to the monetary donation made to the Archdiocese of Agana for the purchase of the former Hotel Accion.
Dr. Eusebio used the press conference to respond to claims made by the Mother Superior Dawn Marie last week and criticized her involvement in the issue.
“Yes, Mother Dawn Marie claims we live in a toxic environment,” Eusebio said. “It has been fueled, however, by her own desire to seek public attention and provide her rendition of the truth in regards to the seminary.”
Last week, Marie stated that she was responsible for making the phone call that resulted in the donation of the $2 million used to pay off the loan to the Bank of Guam that allowed the archdiocese to purchase the former Hotel Accion for the use by an educational institute for the formation of priests. In a surprising twist, Marie relayed an anecdote in which she claimed that Archbishop Anthony Apuron had asked the Carmelite prioress responsible for the donation to lie about the intended purpose of the $2 million in an effort to secure proof that the money had been intended for the purchase of the Yona property specifically for the building of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary - a seminary largely run by faculty who are members of the NCW.
'Mountain of lies'
Eusebio provided copies of email correspondence between Apuron and the "other" Carmelite prioress revealed to be the Mother Superior Stella Maris.
The emails date from Jan. 2 to Jan. 6, 2003, and detail the exchange that ultimately resulted in Maris' promise of $2 million as a gift to use to pay off the loan and that any difference be used "for repair work on the hotel building or whatever is needed there" and her request that the identity of the donor remain anonymous.
Contrary to the statement made last week by Marie, Eusebio stated that the donor did in fact know about RMS and, by extension, the involvement of the NCW because the RMS is something of a brand of the larger NCW community.
"The email interchange between (Apuron) and Mother Stella Maris leaves no doubt that the intention of the Carmelite nuns was to pay off the debt that was incurred in the acquisition of the property for the (RMS)," Eusebio said.
Stating that there was a "mountain of lies out there," Eusebio explained that the $2 million donation made in 2003 was gifted after Apuron had already secured the $2 million loan to pay for Yona property and after RMS seminarians had already relocated there following their forced displacement from their previous Temporary Formation Center that was damaged in 2002 by Typhoon Pongsona.
It is this distinction, that Maris made the $2 million donation with the full knowledge that the Yona property was going to be used for RMS, that Eusebio stated he thought it odd that Marie said what she did regarding the Yona property.
Eusebio further elaborated on the distinction between diocesan and missionary seminaries and stated why the question of whether or not RMS is a diocesan seminary is a moot point.
During the press conference, he said that there was no question as to the status of RMS as a diocesan seminary and listed the names of at least three villages that currently host RMS priests in their parishes.
"The seminary is like a Ford F-150," he said. "Who drives the truck doesn't change the fact that it's still a truck."
According to Eusebio, while the faculty at RMS are members of NCW and while many of the seminarians are also of NCW, priests formed there do not necessarily need to be of NCW nor do they need to embrace NCW precepts. Further, he explained that while NCW-formed priests often undertook mission work in largely non-Catholic locales around the world, they could not leave their dioceses without the permission of their ordinary – in this case, the Archbishop of Agana. Eusebio added that even if a seminarian enrolls into RMS from another country, he is bound by the authority of the local ordinary when it comes to placement.
NCW on Guam
Though the RMS could potentially relocate to another facility if they are asked to vacate their current residence, Eusebio said he hoped it would not come to that because the seminary would likely leave Guam in that eventuality.
He explained that he felt the issues surrounding the RMS property dispute and the NCW came largely from a problem of perception that many Catholics have of NCW communities.
Speaking as a practitioner of the NCW, Eusebio said that outsiders felt scared when they saw the passion of those who celebrate the NCW Mass and that many Catholics had misjudged the growth of the NCW community to mean that the traditional way of practice was being threatened.
When asked about the nature of the deed restriction placed on the Yona property and the recent action taken by Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes to rescind said restriction, Eusebio said that there were no plans that he knew of to dispute the dissolution of the board of directors (of which Eusebio was one member) and board of guarantors because Byrnes acted completely within his authority.
As to the original filing of the deed restriction, Eusebio stated that Apuron had placed the restriction on the property to protect it from lawsuits.
According to Eusebio, the previous Archdiocesan Finance Council member Ed Terlaje had raised concerns about the possibility that the Yona property could be used to remedy financial burdens of the archdiocese and that he had been the first to suggest the deed restriction as a contingency in the event that the church suffer a suit. Eusebio explained that Terlaje had become concerned over incidents in the U.S. mainland in which church assets had been liquidated to cover litigation fees.
The deed restriction, as Eusebio explained, would have protected the property from being targeted for such purposes. He further stated that it was his belief that the property is much more threatened now than it was prior to the annulment of the deed restriction.
What Eusebio was not able to address was why, as Marie revealed last week, Apuron would have asked Maris to lie about the intended purpose of the $2 million donation. Stating that he was unable to provide comment on that point because he had not been privy to the email that Marie referenced, Eusebio explained that it could have been a mistake on the part of Marie because she had been misinformed.