Churchgoers rally around priests

Special to the PRESS

Petitions asking that Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church be allowed to maintain its designation as a parish of Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and that its priests be allowed to remain in Port Isabel, were being collected with fervor this weekend in the Laguna Madre area.

The action follows notification that the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, United States Province, would withdraw from Our Lady Star of the Sea effective July 1. The action would sever ties between the Oblate order that has been in Port Isabel for 167 years, and would cause the relocation of highly regarded priests Fathers Jim Erving and Harry Schuckenbrock, OMI.

Widespread campaigns to block the action were underway, with petitions circulated at each of the four weekend Masses at Our Lady Star of the Sea, a letter-writing campaign to high-level clergy within the Oblate order and to elected political officials in hopes of having the decision reversed.

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