Jeffry Korgen’s recent letter to Montclair Local, run online under the headline “There’s more to the story of St. Theresa church mergers” as well as in the Jan. 16 print edition of the paper, reminds me of the often-cited quotation from former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.”  

While most try to be accepting of newcomers and the benefits that their diversity of opinion may bring to established communities, one can lose patience when those with an obvious motive in promoting their own interests allow hypocrisy to color their narrative. 

As the self-proclaimed “former executive director of diocesan planning for the Diocese of Metuchen” and the current principal of Korgen Associates, described on its website as “a Catholic social ministry consulting firm,” would one be cynical in asking if Mr. Korgen’s motives for writing his letter are more than a bit transparent?

The former chair of the department of economics at Harvard University, Benjamin M. Friedman, once said when addressing the need to market to potential clients, “prospecting is finding the man with the problem.” Well, Father Benny (the Rev. Benny Prado) and his handlers certainly have a problem. What they initially thought to be a relatively easy real estate grab from a bunch of aging Italian rubes has turned into an unpleasant and messy mishegoss where they are obviously losing in the court of public opinion.

Here are some inconsistencies Mr. Korgen may have overlooked in his obvious quest for new clients. First, while there may be a shortage of priests, it is hard to defend a pastor who can’t schedule a Mass on Sunday in one of his own churches, while moonlighting on Sunday’s for pay in churches in other parishes far removed from Montclair. The claim of Immaculate Conception Church having a greater and more active group of parishioners and church attendees can be easily debunked by attending the current schedule of Masses at each church. The assets Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, which was a financially self-supporting independent parish before the “shotgun wedding” Mr. Korgen refers to, have been pilfered by Father Benny, the gold-digging groom, for unnecessary and extravagant cosmetic improvements at Immaculate, while Mount Carmel has been allowed to deteriorate. 

George Orwell, in his seminal work, “1984,” tells us, “The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink” (i.e., the promotion of two contradictory ideas at the same time).  

We can pick any one of these contradictions as being applicable to St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, but we might want to add one more, “The Ministry of Cultivating a New Catholic Community concerns itself with division.” 

From the beginning, Father Benny has been arrogant, non-responsive and divisive in his administration of his parish. A simple objective review of the facts would have been obvious to Mr. Korgen.  

William F. Buckley Jr. once said: “I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what your just said.” Indeed. 

Fred Fastiggi
Brielle (formerly of Montclair) 

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