Catholic Priest, Congregation At Odds With Bishop

They say the leaders of their church don't want to listen.
   Dozens of parishioners from an East Texas Catholic Church are protesting the transfer of their priest.

   They say it's retaliation for a disagreement. It started in February when Bishop of the Tyler Diocese, Alvaro Corrada, said a mass would be conducted in Paris, Texas for the Spanish speaking faithful.

Father Alphonse Anthony and many parishioners feel it divides their congregation, and they have fought the diocese on the issue. Now, Father Anthony is being transferred.

Father Alphonse's meeting with the bishop was to settle the issue of the transfer. His flock hoped with all their hearts to change the bishop's mind.

They prayed together. And they say the divide isn't over faith or language, but about unity of their people -- that those who pray together, stay together.

Abbi Halbert's 11 years old: "He really hasn't done anything to the bishop to make him move. I just don't understand why he has to move. He's been my favorite priest ever since [I was young]. I've been in the parish for

When the meeting was over, no one was satisfied.

"This is not a good time to move me," Father Alphonse said after Wednesday afternoon's meeting. "I also told [the] Bishop it is not good for me to move at this time

But, he is to move September 4th. The date is now firm.

Bishop Alvaro Corrada wasn't available to speak on camera, but in a statement said: "The transfer of priests from one parish or mission to another is an ordinary part of pastoral life.

He also said, "Father Alphonse has served Our Lady of Victory well, but it is time for him to be reassigned."

Members of the congregation say they heard about the transfer first from their children. They found out at a Tyler youth event. Parish Council President Gary Nash says Corrada should have come up to Paris to tell the church in person, and that it came up Wednesday.

"He said: 'I don't have to come there, I don't have to go anywhere. I have people who represent me. And issue my policy statements. And that's when I walked out," said Gary Nash, recalling the Bishop'

Father Alphonse: "I have seen bishops around the world, how nice they are with the priests. But, here this bishop is entirely different. Nothing but threat and arrogance. Not l

Parishioners say they might hold out money to the Diocese, sticking with their man of the cloth.

"We're not giving up, and we know you're not either."

So far, the congregation of Our Lady of Victory have collected tens of thousands of dollars for the church in separate funds outside diocese control.

Meanwhile, Bishop Corrada says he has more than twenty priests in the East Texas area in the process of being reassigned.