With all due respect, the San Isidro parishioners disagree with the comments made by Fr. Ryan Jimenez in the Saipan Tribune and North Star newspapers. The church is about love, caring, and honesty with ourselves and our neighbors but some comments made were not true and accurate.
Saipan Tribune printed on Nov. 10, 2015, that Fr. Ryan “has been in ‘close consultation’ with the clergy and the faithful from different parishes in discerning what is good for the people of the diocese.” Fr. Ryan did not consult with the parishioners of San Isidro Church in Sinapalo. According to dictionary.com, the word “consultation” means “a meeting for deliberation, discussion, or decision.” Fr. Ryan came to Rota and did no such thing but rather stated the decision made by the Diocese and when parishioners asked questions or tried to make comments, he did not take what was said seriously or entertain the questions posed. How could he consult with the parishioners when about 1,000 parishioners have signed the petition opposing the plan to remove Rev. Monsignor Luis Antonelli’s pastoral and administrative duties? It can be suggested that Fr. Ryan only consulted with people who were not parishioners of San Isidro Church. Many residents have called the Diocese while some have sent emails but until this day, Fr. Ryan has never responded. What does that say about his character as a holy man? Fr. Ryan continues to ignore the parishioners of San Isidro who want to express the wishes and desire of the clergy for Monsignor Antonelli to retain all pastoral and administrative duties.
Fr. Ryan stated in an interview published by the North Star on Nov. 8, 2015, “that the first important factor is the need for every parish to have an assigned priest.” San Isidro already has an assigned priest since 1991; removing Monsignor Antonelli will only burden the Diocese who already has confirmed the inadequate number of priests available in the CNMI. To retain Monsignor Antonelli would be in the best interest of the Diocese as it will alleviate Fr. Ayuyu’s duties to the residents of Rota. It would be a challenge for Fr. Ayuyu to entertain and accommodate both parishes and all the needs of the people of Rota. The effective date for Monsignor’s duties will be on the 29th of November, the time of Advent, a time of preparation for the coming of Christ. It is also a time for the faithful to be happy but the decision made by the Diocese is causing anger and a division amongst the parishioners.
Finally, Fr. Ryan referred to the Diocese’s decision using the Code of Canon Law 538 and 539. Canon Law 538 states that “when a pastor has completed seventy-five years of age, he is requested to submit his resignation from office to the diocesan bishop who has to decide whether to accept or defer.” Monsignor Antonelli is 97 years old; the Canon Law should have applied to him 23 years ago when he was 75 years old. The Diocese has never requested for Monsignor’s resignation. Why now? What is the motive for his removal? The parishioners see no sense to their decision using this argument.
Canon Law 539 “mandates the local ordinary to designate as soon as possible a new pastor when a priest is prevented from exercising his pastoral function in the parish by reason of ill health.” Monsignor Antonelli is old but his health is in good condition. How can an ill priest be able to give daily Mass? Monsignor Antonelli has never missed celebrating Mass for the people of Rota. Some can argue that there are some people who are old but with good health and some who are young but with ill health. Parishioners outside of Rota do not know Monsignor Antonelli’s state of health, only the people of Rota and the parishioners can attest to his ability to continue to serve as our pastor.
Monsignor Antonelli was ordained a priest in 1949 and has served the Lord for about 62 years (42 years on Rota alone). The Diocese believes that reducing Monsignor’s duties will not help him. We believe this will do “more harm than good” as this decision will cause his health to deteriorate. The parishioners care too much about the condition of Monsignor’s health and ability to serve but it is Monsignor Antonelli’s request for “the Diocese to allow him to serve until he is unable to or when God calls him.”
The San Isidro Parishioners welcome Fr. Isaac Ayuyu to serve the people of Rota as the pastor of San Francisco De Borja. The parishioners still strongly appeal to the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa to retain Reverend Monsignor Luis Antonelli as the pastor of San Isidro Church. Monsignor Antonelli is known by many for his hurtful Pennsylvania punch, we wonder if this is the reason why Fr. Ryan refuses to come and consult with us in the presence of Monsignor Antonelli. We kindly ask for a status quo for San Isidro Parish on Rota.
San Isidro Parish Council