Posts Tagged With: shrine of our lady of martyrs

A Provincial Reply


This post continues the ongoing unharmonious discourse between the Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization and the Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, NY.

As we learned in my earlier posts Help, Belgarde Bug Out, Buddhists Move Forward Despite Jesuit Road Blocks, and  Jesuit Blocks Entrance to Buddhist Temple, Priest George H. Belgarde, S.J. has harassed the Buddhist group by erecting crude roadblocks on every conceivable entrance to the Buddhist compound and even interfering with road construction of the Buddhist owned Freedom Road.

There were problems caused by the blockade on Shrine Road including the stoppage of mail and package delivery. GPS systems brought visitors down Shrine Road only to find the road blocked. Crude signage and crime scene tape with no trespassing signs were not a very welcoming sight to visitors. The threat of arrest by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office for Buddhists who set foot on Shrine property (that is otherwise open to the public), sort of upsets the peaceful nature of the setting and the people.

Attempts to resolve the issue through local elected officials failed with not one willing to touch the politically sensitive issue. Jenny Wong, the WPHO spokesperson sent a letter to the previous Jesuit Director, Father Peter Murray, S.J. with whom the Buddhists has a very harmonious relationship  that resulted in the following response,

Jennie: I did receive your letter. Thanks for that and for this reminder here, this Email, but here’s the problem:
I am no longer in charge at Auriesville, and have to  be careful not to speak out since I don’t know all the angles and needs, new problems, etc. So I must pause at the present time.
Maybe we can talk someday by phone. . .BUt at present, I must   not write any notes of “support” etc. But, I shall pray for you! I hope the rough situation can be made better, soon.
Father Murray SJ  (Very busy in Buffalo).
Jenny then sent an impassioned letter to Father Belgarde’s immediate supervisor, Provincial David S. Ciancimino, S.J. requesting his intercession. On July 17, 2013 Jennie received the following reply:
Jesuit reply received on July 17,2013

Apparently the Provincial has been lied to misled by Father Belgarde. Shrine Road is still blocked and access to the Buddhist Temple from Shrine Road is not possible because of both the barricade and threat of arrest initiated by Belgarde. This is not the kind of neighborly stance expected.

Barricade on Shrine Road photo courtesy of WPHO

Barricade on Shrine Road
photo courtesy of WPHO

A hearing in Montgomery County Supreme Court today established that an agreement between the parties was not possible and dates were set for motions and discovery contemplating a trial date for the civil lawsuit of September 20, 2013, at 9:30am.

Categories: Human Rights, Law, Politics, WPHO | Tags: , , , , ,

Help!


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Buddhist Master Ziguang Shang Shi
Leader of the World Peace and Health Organization

Fr George Belgarde, SJ Director of the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs

Fr George Belgarde, SJ
Director of the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs

These men are religious leaders, both having reached a certain level of authority among their devoted followers. Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi and Father George Belgarde, S.J. share the same age bracket. They are neighbors living within a few hundred feet of each other but that is where the similarities end. In reality, they are just about as different as one can get. They are from different parts of the world, have greatly differing belief systems, cultures and general demeanor. The Holy Master is jovial, kind and understanding while the Jesuit is angry, hostile and rude.

The Chinese Buddhist and the American Jesuit do not communicate and it is not for lack of trying on the part of the Buddhist. My attempts to communicate with Fr. Belgarde were also rejected. We cannot know his true motive because he refuses to communicate but it seems retaliatory and childish. His intent seems evil in nature.

The frustrated Buddhists are looking for help from whoever may be able to break through this impermeable barrier and foster the hope of a peaceful solution to this ever-increasing tension and hostility they now suffer. It has affected their overall mission and outlook on the local community. They feel the sting of discrimination and prejudice. This writer is a witness to this unholy war deployed by the Jesuit against his neighbor and fellow spiritual leader. Belgarde and his maintenance worker have erected a total of three barricades, blocking all access roads to the Western Supreme Buddha Temple and residence without any explanation or warning.

The third barricade blocked an old unused access road yesterday, July 9, 2013. Yellow crime scene tape was stretched across the road with a no trespassing sign taped on a post with duct tape. This barricade came with a Montgomery County Sheriff Deputy who threatened to arrest the Buddhists for entering the Shrine’s property. The Buddhists in turn called NYS State Trooper Ramieriez who explained that once informed by a police officer, they can in fact be arrested for entering the Shrine property. Trooper Ramierez also discussed the situation with Friendship Road, an access road built by the Buddhists that was also blocked in June by Belgarde who insisted the four-year old road was partly on Shrine property according to a survey he just had done. He placed a pole in the middle of the road forcing the Buddhists to enlarge the access road.

Feeling imprisoned on their own property, the Buddhists sought help from local government officials but nobody was willing to intervene. A civil lawsuit was filed in Montgomery County Supreme Court with Judge Felix Catena proposing a meeting between the groups to settle differences. This was described in my previous post Belgarde Bug Out

The next court date is July 18, 2013 at 10:00am.

Barricade

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Friendship Road
(after widening the road)

Friendship Road

Friendship Road

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NYS Trooper Ramirez explains the situation to the Buddhists

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Old unused access road recently blocked by the Shrine.

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Statue of Christ maintained by the Buddhists for Shrine visitors who used to enjoy praying by it. Access to this memorial has been severed by Belgarde.

Dedication on the back of the Christ statue's base.

Dedication on the back of the Christ statue’s base.

The Buddhists hope NYS Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk and NYS Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara will intercede in this matter.

Categories: Equality, Human Rights, Law, Politics, WPHO | Tags: , , , , ,

Belgarde Bug Out


Today’s blog entry is for those readers following the plight of the Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization and their ongoing problem with Jesuit George Belgarde, Director of the Shrine of our Lady of Martyrs.

For background information, click on the following links:
April 8, 2013 – Angry Jesuit Blocks entry to Buddhist Temple
June 20, 2013 – Buddhists Move Forward Despite Jesuit Roadblocks

Last evening, June 24, 2013, this writer was informed by WPHO spokesperson Jennie Wong, that a meeting was scheduled to negotiate a settlement concerning the blocking of Shrine Road leading to the Western Supreme Buddha Temple and the residence of the World Peace and Health Organization. As a witness to these incidents and a spokesperson for the WPHO, I too was to take part in the negotiation. This meeting was strongly suggested by Montgomery Supreme Court Judge Felix Catena after preliminary statements were given in a civil lawsuit filed against the Shrine’s Director and maintenance man for blocking Shrine Road.

The agreed on meeting place was the Shrine office, 136 Shrine Road, Fultonville, NY 12072 on June 25, 2013, @ 10:30AM. The six of us approached the building and were met by attorney Carmel Greco and George Belgarde.  “Only one!” shouted Belgarde as he raised his arm in what appeared to be a Nazi salute and yelled “Stop! The rest of you get off MY property!” When Yik Cheng explained to him that these members of our organization will attend the meeting, he stated “Then the meeting is cancelled” and went back in the Shrine office and slammed the door. His attorney and the Buddhists tried to reason with him to no avail.  A July 18, 2013, court date is scheduled in Montgomery County, NY Supreme Court continuing the civil lawsuit.

The Buddhists paid $595,000 to the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs for this property in 2006, helping to keep the financially plagued Shrine afloat. It is despicable that they are being treated so shabbily by the Shrine’s new Director George Belgarde.

Shrine Director George Belgarde

Shrine Director George Belgarde

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Peace, Nackie, Jennie, Yik, Shanxing

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Yik, Jennie, Nackie, Shanxing

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Roadblock placed on Shrine Road cutting off access to Western Supreme Buddha Temple (174 Shrine Road, Fultonville, NY 12072)

 

 

Categories: Equality, Human Rights, Law, Politics, WPHO | Tags: , , , ,

Angry Jesuit Blocks Entrance to Buddhist Temple


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The angry Leprechaun pictured is Fr. George H. Belgarde, S.J. Director of Our Lady of Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville, NY, who recently ordered a barricade built on Shrine Road, blocking access to the Western Supreme Buddha Temple and headquarters of the World Peace and Heath Organization adjacent to the Shrine. The barricade, built with tree trunks and a sawhorse, was adorned with a large black sign with the word CLOSED painted in red.

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This blogger received a call today from WPHO spokesperson, fellow Buddhist and friend Jennie Wong who had just returned to this area from another mission in China. She asked if I would meet her at the WPHO headquarters to help figure out why this barricade was blocking access to their property at 174 Shrine Road. This barricade not only blocks Buddhists it also prevents mail from being delivered and emergency vehicles from reaching the Temple.

I arrived before Ms Wong and decided to go to the Shrine Office and ask about the barricade. A pleasant receptionist greeted me and I introduced myself stating my business. She entered the next room informing the occupants and told me I could go right in. I saw a small man dressed in black talking with someone else and heard him state “…and he has a camera”. As I approached the next room he stated, “You can wait” and went on with his conversation for another five minutes. I was met by a visibly angry and generally disagreeable little man who I found out later was Fr.Belgarde, the Shrine’s Director. I introduced myself and asked about the barricade. He declined to answer any of my questions stating he would need to see my identification. I gave him my driver’s license which he stared at for about a minute. He then asked me for documentation stating I was a Buddhist. Apparently my physical appearance differed from what he assumed a Buddhist should look like. Another man wearing a red plaid shirt entered the room and stated, “I think I’m the person you want to talk to, I put up the barricade”. He was then silenced by Belgarde, still clinging on to my license, who told the worker he (Belgarde), was taking care of this. After refusing to answer any of my questions, it appeared that Belgarde was enjoying trying to antagonize me. I then asked for my license back and left the building.

Jennie Wong and three other members of the WPHO arrived and we all took another trip down to the Shrine Office only to be met outside by the Jesuit and maintenance worker. Once again they refused to answer any of our questions, referring us to their lawyers. Ms Wong tried reasoning with the Jesuit, asking him to remove the CLOSED sign as it looked as if the WPHO headquarters was closed and not just the road. The antagonistic Jesuit then ordered us to leave HIS property. We then took a trip to the NYS Troopers headquarters in Fonda. Trooper Matt Wheeler, a true professional, listened to the story, made suggestions and agreed to take a look at the barricade and talk to Belgarde. When we returned to Shrine Road we were greeted by a Montgomery County Sheriff who quickly entered his vehicle and moved it to further block the road when he saw us coming. He then exited his vehicle and was in the process of telling us to leave when Trooper Wheeler arrived explaining the other side of the story.

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The result of the debate between the law enforcement officers hinged on whether Shrine Road was a County road or a private road. It appears on maps as a County Road, in which case the barricade is illegal. Part of the original deed agreement was that an alternate access road would be built. While this road was built connecting the Temple with Ridley Road, it has not been graded or paved and does not appear on official maps, GPS or EMS response systems. The steep base of the road makes it difficult to travel without sliding.

What was once a harmonious relationship under the Shrine’s former Director Fr. Murray is now antagonistic and non-communicative under the direction of Fr.George H.Belgarde who appears to have an ax to grind.

Can’t we all just get along?

UPDATE:

Journalist Ed Munger Jr. wrote a great, objective article about this incident titled “Surprise barricade cuts Buddhist Temple access”. It is published in the April 8, 2013, edition of the Daily Gazette. The article can be found at http://www.dailygazette.com.

Categories: Amsterdam, Human Rights, Law, Politics, WPHO | Tags: , , , ,

Letter to the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors


March 7, 2012

Montgomery County Board of Supervisors

County Annex Building P.O. Box 1500 Fonda, New York 12068

I was very dismayed today when I read an article in the March 7th edition of The Leader Herald entitled County to Distribute Tourism Funds. In the article it was stated that the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors voted to award taxpayer money to the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs for a Catholic canonization ceremony. Although the amount was minor ($750), it violates the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution.

The US Supreme Court in the 1947 ruling Everson v. Board of Education interpreted this as meaning financial support. In the ruling, Justice Hugo Black stated (in part):

No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect “a wall of separation between church and State”.

While I understand the intention as was to promote tourism, it crosses a line established by the Federal government.

From their website http://www.martyrshrine.org/ we learn that The Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs is clearly a Catholic organization owned and run by the North American Martyrs Society who’s stated purpose is:

To promote knowledge and veneration of the North American Martyrs…and to emulate to the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church and their witness to a non-believing culture.

The Director of the North American Martyr Society is Fr. George Belgarde, S.J. (a Jesuit Priest) and the Staff consists of Fr. Robert McGuire, S.J. and four lay people. This is clearly not a secular purpose for government funding.

I respectfully request that the resolution approved to allocate this money to the Catholic organization be rescinded.

Sincerely,

Gerald J. Skrocki

Update #1:

Yesterday I received the following response from the Chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.

Update #2:

Dan Weaver wants some of the attention but refuses to post my name, the name of my blog or any of my comments on his online publication:

Of course there was no problem with verifying my identity. I would have respected his right not to post my comment at all, but to compound the situation with an outright lie discredits Weaver’s publication.

Update #3:

The legal team from Americans United for Separation of Church and State send a letter to the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.

Update #4:

The Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs declines the grant from the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors. From an article published in the Recorder, written by reporter Heather Nellis, the Shrine event coordinator Beth Lynch states:

“We are what we are — a highly visible and deeply Catholic entity. We’re glad that we can contribute to the economy as far as tourism is concerned, but that’s not our main focus — we are a Catholic shrine, and we’re not going to agree that we have to do something on secular terms.”

This is exactly the point I have been trying to convey all along. No secular purpose = no public funding.

Categories: Amsterdam, Human Rights, Law, Media, Politics | Tags: , , , ,

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