Monday, August 4, 2014
FRANKLIN GUTIERREZ JR.: LETTER TO APOSTOLIC NUNCIO
From: Franklin Gutierrez Jr. [mailto:rumblefish671@gmail.
Sent: Thursday, 31 July 2014 0:32
va; Frank Jr. Gutierrez
Subject: The removal of Monsignor James LG BENAVENTE (Cathedral-Basilica)
Your Grace, Archbishop Martin Krebs,
Hafa Adai from Guam USA.
My name is Franklin J. Gutierrez Jr., I was born and raised Protestant (Baptist), but attended Catholic Schools on Guam and came to know and understand both teachings.
In 2002, I married my wife Lisa in civil court (Las Vegas) and began to start a family. Right after our first born in 2005, we were stuck at our cross road, as to where we were going to attend mass and where we were going to baptize our daughter. After many prayers and discussions with Monsignor James L.G. Benavente we decided, I would convert to Catholicism and we would belong to the Catholic Church. Shortly after, I began to attend Adult RCIA class and marriage classes at the Agana Cathedral in Guam.
On the 50th Jubilee Celebration of the Agana Cathedral, I received the sacraments and became a confirmed Catholic in 2005.
In 2007, Monsignor James married Lisa and I at the Cathedral and also baptized our youngest daughter in 2008.
I began to feel closer to God and with the Church as we grew to understand the faith and attended mass on a regular basis as a family.
In 2010, I was asked to join the music ministries by Dr. John Rivera who was part the Choir and has been a choir member for over 20 years. I have always been a musician for most of my life (25 years) and have played regular concerts and shows on Guam and abroad. This was something I thought of doing to give back the gift of music the Lord had given me. This later became one of my "bucket lists" so to say.
In late mid 2010, I began to perform at the Cathedral in Guam regularly and even assisted with the mass as they had no choir and the attendance was dwindling. We were able to bring those numbers up and bring more people into the Church with our music.
Since this time, my relationship with God has gotten closer as well as my family too as we are serving God and assisting our time and effort with our Church in ways I really never thought possible. It was truly a blessing.
We owe most of these possibilities through the help and effort of Monsignor James. He was our inspiration in what we do for the Church.
I can say this man (Monsignor James), is truly the peoples priest on Guam and has done many great things in his 20 years. He really was my motivation to give back to the church with his examples of how he runs the Cathedral (like a true leader). He did this in such a humble way that I have always felt God is always working in him. I even hoped he would be the next Archbishop of Guam.
During these last few years, I would hear stories and rumors from other parishioners on this Neo movement and howArchbishop Apuron has changed and how our Church is now divided. I really never thought much of it as most Neo functions were I guess behind closed doors. However, I was never drawn into to the "Drama".
During one Mass, (after the homily) the Archbishop came up and addressed the congregation about his problems and how the Neo movement had helped him to be closer to God. He even had one of his male Neo members give a testimony on his sins and how the Neo movement helped him. They ended with inviting the congregation to attend a Neo sponsored meeting at a later date.
I was surprised they (Neo's) would and could actually stop the mass and do this. But, I never thought anything else, other then the fact they were trying to recruit people into this Neo movement. After all he is the leader of our Church so I never questioned his decisions. They (Neo's and Archbishop) also came by the choir and handed us invitations to attend a Neo movement shortly after mass that day.
After this I would come to hear positive and negative comments about this movement (most being negative). I never really tried to look into this and thought to just stay a "Regular Catholic" as I was happy with where I was with my faith. I did respect others for becoming a Neo and their movement.
When the news of the removal Monsignor James came out on Saturday night, I was shocked and had so many mixed emotions. I could not believe what was happening to our Church.
I even had reservations about playing piano for the the following day (Sunday). Because right after the gathering song during the Mass, the priest (Father Mike Jucutan) stopped the mass again for an Announcement by Archbishop Apuron about the removal of Monsignor James and his replacement with Monsignor David Quitugua (Neo Priest) who was also with him. After hearing this and how this Neo movement has really changed the way our Church (not for the best in my opinion), I have felt so much hatred! My body and hands were shaking and I was barely able to play the rest of the mass. I really wanted to just walk out and quit. But I know Monsignor James would want us to stay and keep the Church together. This is how these decisions Archbishop Apuron is making has affected me and hundreds of others.
I pray our Church stays intact and Monsignor James returns to his rightful place as Rector of the Cathedral. This type of behavior needs to stop and these Neo's removed from our Church. I don't even want to be a part of this and my relationships with the Church is so stressed I even think of not donating any money, even though I know that is not right. This is something no one should ever have to deal with "Our Faith" in God by our leaders in the Church. Rather than look up to our leader (The Archbishop), I find myself now questioning his leadership and my faith in our Church.
I have included some links of our musical work that help spread the faith on Guam through the internet and social media. I have also attached a picture of Monsignor James weeping during yesterdays Prayer Service held outside the Cathedral. A place he has called home for over 20 years and now is not allowed inside anymore. I should note, no Neo Priest nor Archbishop Apuron attended this event as a show of good faith of "Building Bridges" as you asked them to do. The Governor of Guam (Eddie Calvo), former Governor Carl Gutierrez, former first ladies Geri Gutierrez and Joanne Camacho, Democrat and Republican Senators, Judges, and many others from all sections of the government, clergy and private sector attended to show support to Monsignor James and to pray for peace. While most Catholics on Guam pray for peace and love, I feel Archbishop Apuron has brought chaos, hatred and division in our Church. I cannot sit back anymore and watch our Church get torn apart. Look how it is affecting me even as I write this letter to you.
In closing, I ask for you to try to help us fix/repair these problems and help Monsignor James Benavente. It is obvious that we need an outside source to assist before it's too late and more Catholics lose sight of our Church and their faith.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Franklin J. Gutierrez Jr.
A Concerned Devoted Catholic, member of the Agana Cathedral Parish and member of the Agana Cathedral Choir ().