Posts Tagged With: auriesville shrine

A Somber Occasion


The devastating Nepal quake last weekend has left over five thousand dead, thousands more unaccounted for, and hundreds of people stranded 20,000 feet on Mount Everest.  Reports state the death toll could rise to over 10,000 people. The earthquake, registering 7.8 on the Richter scale, has obliterated homes, ancient temples, and historical landmarks.  Nepal is seeing devastation on levels never before imagined, according to reports.

The Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization held a memorial service this morning, for those killed in the Nepal earthquake, at the Western Supreme Buddha Temple in the Town of Glen, New York. This was not the usual celebration held by the Chinese Buddhists as the thought of the death and destruction in Nepal weighed heavily on the hearts and minds of the Buddhist monks and students. You could see it in their faces as they entered the temple in a funeral procession.  As Elise translated the message of Buddhist leader, Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi, I felt the same wave of sadness and concern. A gong sounded the start, middle and end of the service. In memory of those who died in Nepal and to help those who were injured, the monks and students chanted a 100 word mantra to the beat of a wooden percussion instrument carved in the image of a fish. Through prayer and meditation the participants sent to the departed what they believe to be a part of themselves attained through merit or good deeds to help their spirits pass on to be reborn in a better life.

Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi emphasized the cultural importance of Nepal, its rich history and influence on the practice of Buddhism in our world today. He announced that the WPHO will be donating $200,000 HK dollars through its Hong Kong affiliate to help with Nepal recovery efforts. In addition the WPHO will be purchasing $300,000 HK dollars worth of Dharma instruments and Buddhist statues from Nepal to help it recover economically.

The service ended with the same orderly procession that it began with, the WPHO members reserving this day for prayer and meditation.

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Categories: History, WPHO | Tags: , , , , ,

Jesuit Priest blocks access to Buddhist Temple (again)


We have been down this road before…literally. Shrine Road in Auriesville, NY to be precise. The scenario plays out like this, a financially troubled Catholic Shrine sells off a chunk of its land including a former Jesuit dormitory to the Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization, who refurbish the building making it their headquarters, home and temple. Originating in China, the group renames it the Western Supreme Buddha Temple. At first they share the land harmoniously with the Jesuit Priest Murray who is very cordial and accommodating to the WPHO. In 2012 Father Murray moves on to another assignment in Buffalo and Jesuit Belgarde takes his place. Belgarde is not at all like his predecessor and begins a campaign of terror against the Buddhists, first by blocking all the access roads to their property and then refusing to meet with them to discuss the situation. This ends up in court with a dismissal after Belgarde’s supervisor, Jesuit Provincial David S. Ciancimino grants the WPHO access to their building from both Shrine Road and the gravel road off of Ripley Road built by the Buddhists and aptly named Friendship Road. This blogger documented the history of Belgarde’s campaign of terror. It can be found in the following series of links.

Angry Jesuit Blocks Entrance to Buddhist Temple

Buddhists move forward despite Jesuit roadblocks

Belgarde Bug Out

A Provincial Reply

Apparently Belgarde does not follow orders very well. This year his harassment resurfaced like a failed exorcism. He had his maintenance worker block Shrine Road again and also block off part of Friendship Road built by the WPHO! Once again he refuses to communicate with the group and when they begin to protest the action, he has his maintenance worker tear up the road in front of the Buddhist Temple with a backhoe. When the Chinese Buddhist students begin to protest on their own property, Belgarde calls the Montgomery County Sheriffs Department. The WHPO calls the NYS State Police and we have a confrontation resulting in an injury to a 100lb. female WPHO student who was shoved to the ground by a 300lb. male Lieutenant in the Montgomery County Sheriff Department. The student was treated for her injuries in a local hospital. This incident and other unnecessary use of force during this peaceful protest was documented in still images and video. Over a dozen police officers responded when an inexperienced police officer called for backup.

The WPHO hired attorney Sarah Green to represent them and protect their rights. As much as people would like to believe otherwise, there is religious intolerance and racism inherent in this incident. There is no reason why the two groups can not exit harmoniously on this beautiful piece of land overlooking the Mohawk Valley. The Auriesville setting exudes peace and tranquility, it is too bad Jesuit Belgarde can’t see that.

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

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: , , , ,

Buddhists Move Forward Despite Jesuit Roadblocks


On April 8, 2013, I wrote the story Angry Jesuit Blocks Entry to Buddhist Temple . This story evoked a lot of passionate responses because people have very strong emotional attachments to their religious faiths and often respond without rational thought. This incident could have been prevented if the Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization and the Jesuit Director of the Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs, George Belgarde were able to communicate. There were attempts made on the part of the WPHO to meet and discuss these issues but they went unanswered.

The issue arose when Shrine Road leading to the Buddhists residence and Temple was blocked without warning by maintenance worker Larry Steiger at the direction of Belgarde. This gave the impression that the Buddhist Temple was closed and also prevented the US Post office from delivering mail. The Buddhists purchased this property from the Shrine in 2005, signing an addendum to the deed stipulating they build their own access road and water source. They complied with the agreement creating their own well and building Friendship Road extending from Ripley Road to the Western Supreme Temple (see map). This road was used for all construction traffic, however the paving material of loose stone made passenger vehicle traffic difficult, with vehicles getting buried up to the axles in stone. To prevent people from driving around the logs, two metal signs were placed in the lawn indicating that was the end of Shrine Road, despite the fact that the Temple address is 174 Shrine Road.

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A few weeks ago, a contractor was hired to grade Friendship Road and pave it. He was met by a once again angry George Belarde and a County Sheriff threatening arrest if they proceeded. The Jesuit claimed Friendship Road that had been in place for five years was a few feet on the Shrine property.

The World Peace and Health Organization attempted to resolve this situation through local governmental channels, meeting with Town of Glen Supervisor, Larry Coddington, Town of Glen Fire Chief, JD Downing, Mayor of Fultonville, Robert Headwell and Amsterdam Police Chief, Gregg Culick who lives nearby. They all had suggestions, which mostly included I would just move it out of the way, but don’t quote me on that, but none had any answers, until WPHO board member Yik Cheng filed a civil lawsuit against the Shine of our Lady of Martyrs, Fr George Belgarde and Larry Steiger.

The preliminary hearing for that complaint was held in the Montgomery County Supreme Court on June 19, 2013, with Judge Felix J Catena presiding. The judge heard opening statements with attorney Carmel Greco representing Belgarde and Steiger who were present in the courtroom. Yik Cheng presented the opening statement for the World Peace and Health Organization who were not represented by an attorney.  Judge Catena postponed the hearing and strongly suggested a meeting be held within the next 30 days to come up with an agreement that would satisfy both parties. If no agreement is met, the next date for the proceeding is July 18, 2013.

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Meeting with Larry Coddington, Town of Glen Supervisor

Montgomery County Supreme Court Hearing Jennie, Elise, Regina Nacki

Montgomery County Supreme Court Hearing
Jennie, Yik, Regina Nacki

Group speaks with Attorney Carmel Greco to arrange a meeting.

Group speaks with Attorney Carmel Greco to arrange a meeting.

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

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