A Texas woman seeking the removal of a Catholic priest from her former parish in Erath delivered petitions with 12,000 names of people agreeing with her to the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette on Thursday, though there was no one on hand to receive them.
A diocesan spokeswoman said the chancery was closed to the public because of COVID-19.
Ashlie Langlinais, 33, who now lives near Austin, Texas, walked in silence past some 60 opponents of her position who had lined the sidewalk outside the chancery and dropped her 250-page petition — many of the signatures had been collected nationally by Faithful America, a Christian activist group — into a dropbox outside the building. Most of those outside the chancery prayed as she walked past.
Langlinais, who graduated from Erath High and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette before moving to Texas, said in her petition that the Rev. Andre Metrejean, pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes, had made “egregious statements” against gay people in the parish bulletin in June. Metrejean had taken issue with the New Orleans Saints, who had celebrated Gay Pride by lighting up the Superdome with rainbow colors.
She also suggested that the priest had made racist remarks to another parishioner, although she said she herself was not present when the statement was made.
“We are not asking for him to be excommunicated from parish ministry,” said Langlinais, who spoke for a few minutes under some shade trees about 50 yards from the entry to the chancery. “We’re just asking he be removed from his parish ministry.”
Langlinais, who has been in a gay relationship for a decade and has been married to a woman, said she no longer practices the Catholic faith or belongs to any church.
“I’m not sure what will come from this,” she said of the petition effort.
Among the handful of her supporters was her mother, who declined to speak; Matthew Humphrey of PFLAG, an organization that supports people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer; and a few others.
They included Lisa Hebert, a Catholic from Vermilion Parish who said she was there to support her two children, who are gay.
A crowd of people that largely identified themselves as Metrejean supporters included some from his parish and others who said they were there to support all priests. Many declined to identify themselves by name. They began to gather around 3 p.m., about a half-hour before Langlinais was to drop off the petitions.
Margaret Rucks led some of the group in praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy “in support of all priests.” A man who declined to give his name later led a larger crowd in praying the Rosary. Several people arrived with signs supporting Metrejean. A rival petition to Langlinais’ had drawn more than 5,000 signers.
Quinn Hebert, who had attended seminary in Covington with Metrejean, said the two remain friends. He said he did research on the accusations and found them to be “patently false.” But he spoke quietly with Langlinais for a while before she dropped off her petitions and said he would pray for her.
Noah Delatte of Our Lady of Lourdes, also a former seminarian, said he had approached Langlinais before she dropped the petition in the box and also talked with her briefly. “She is definitely in my prayer process,” he said.