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Milwaukee Priest Excommunicates Parish Council Treasurer

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Source: The National Herald

by Theodoros Kalmoukos

MILWAUKEE, WI – Rev. John Ketchum, priest of the Annunciation Church in Milwaukee, WI, excommunicated Parish Council Treasurer Patricia Galanis at the beginning of Holy Week, on April 8, the Saturday of Lazarus, for reasons, he said, of “disobedience to the Ecclesiastical Authority, the priest of the parish.”

Galanis is the wife of former AHEPA Supreme President John Galanis. The parish is upset and nine of the fifteen members of the parish council including the president, Dr. Clemens Stoeckl, have resigned collectively. The situation was more painful for the entire parish because the excommunication was done during Holy Week.

Initially,Ketchum announced the excommunication verbally but her husband, who is an attorney, requested it in writing. Ketchum prohibited Galanis “to approach the Holy Chalice to receive Holy Communion for one month, to show repentance and to ask forgiveness from the Lord.” Galanis has been a member of the Annunciation parish for 47 years and has offered valuable volunteer services, including having served as Parish Council president.

The nine Parish Council members who resigned collectively sent a letter to the parishioners dated April 10, stating among other things that “after much prayerful thought and consideration, we the undersigned of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox parish resign effective April 17, 2017.

Dr. Clemens Stoeckl, President of the Parish Council, who resigned along with eight other members.

“For some time, it has become evident to us, and we believe to most of you, that there have been serious issues in the life and administration of the Annunciation Church. We joined the council in hopes that we could contribute in some way towards resolving the problems that exist.

“Unfortunately, we feel that we are no longer a democratic body and are being bullied by the priest and hierarchs to demands that are not consistent with our pledge to the congregation or the Church. We have been disrespected in ways never before in our lives.

“In order to heal and restore our beloved church we recommend new leadership in the form of a new pastor as well as bishop.”

Galanis and her husband, along with Ketchum, did not comment to The National Herald.

Stoeckl told TNH that “Rev. Ketchum told us that there is a donor who is willing to donate $92,000 provided that a member of the parish council resigns.” Stoeckl refused to name the person of the council that the donor had requested to resign in order to make the donation, and when we told Stoeckl that we already know the story and the name, he said that “the priest has never revealed who is the donor.”

Stoeckl said that “six weeks ago during a closed meeting of the Parish Council, Fr. Ketchum verbally attacked Mrs. Galanis and asked her to resign. On March 23 we had an open meeting of the Council in which Mrs. Galanis was not in attendance, she was on vacation. The priest started again saying that Mrs. Galanis should resign so the donor will give the money to pay the 2017 financial contribution to the Archdiocese. Then Fr. Ketchum turned against me saying that I am unacceptable, and the shame of the church.”

Stoeckl also said that “on the Saturday of Lazarus the ladies of the Philoptochos were in the kitchen preparing the meal for the next day, Palm Sunday. Fr. Ketchum entered the kitchen and verbally attacked Mrs. Galanis in the presence of the other women, threatening that he would excommunicate her. He asked her to go into his office alone, but she refused to go because she is afraid of him and she wanted to take some women with her, but the priest refused and he immediately excommunicated her right there.”

This is the same parish where former priest James Dokos pleaded guilty to theft of funds from the trust of a former parishioner, and was placed on a one-year liturgical suspension. According to Stoeckl, the parish is withering. He said that “ten years ago the parish consisted of 800 families. Today there are 275 families out of which just 180 have fulfilled their contribution. People refuse to come to church. This parish has been burned and it cannot afford to be burned any longer.”


16 Comments

  1. This is a shameful incident. Its better to close up a church, than tolerate a priest that acts so bizzare. He has done great damage to the faithful. His maker will surely punish him for that alone  Reply

  2. There is absolutely nothing new about this conduct in the Metropolis of Chicago. There was a Parish in this same Metropolis that had 326 families when a follower of Elder Ephraim became the new Priest there. By the time he left there were 88 families. There is an atmosphere of vindictiveness, despotic behavior and a circus of courtiers running the Metropolis of Chicago. Is it any wonder that this happened to the Parish in Milwaukee. The Metropolis of Chicago is replete with Ephraimites and their Clergy leaders. This less than democratic behavior reeks of the signs of that issue. In this Metropolis and others with an Ephraimite issue his clergy followers all believe they can do whatever they want! They own the Church.

    They expect their followers to perform a cleansing of the non-Ephraimite followers from the Parish. Nothing will change the deterioration of the Church until, and only until, we face the issue of Elder Ephraim’s movement and its disintegration of our Church. It is crystal clear that the Hierarchy has lost control. Perhaps the GOA should consider moving its headquarters to Florence Arizona?  Reply

  3. As if this suffering parish has not been through enough abuse by church leaders. I am sure the Metropolis of Chicago is chomping at the bit to have this parish fold, so they can swoop in, liquidate, and send proceeds up the chain, just like they did with the Appleton parish in Wisconsin. In fact, I wonder if they had something to do with the mysterious “donor” trying to force out the treasurer. The Greek Church leaders worship money more than their Lord. Nothing matters more to them then currying favor with politicians and wealthy Greek business men, with awards and recognition. Keep that cash flowing. How incredibly sad. May God have mercy on their souls!  Reply

    1. Nikolaou, you don’t know what you are talking about. The Appleton parish closed, or actually merged with the parish in Fond du Lac, WI because it had about 6 people left. It is a very small town. It was handled professionally and with sadnesses, but has worked out well for all. You really should do some research before you lash out in ignorance.  Reply

      1. Really Jim? Are you aware that a sizeable amount of money from Appleton closing was was taken by the Metropolis of Chicago and sent to fund St. Nicholas in New York? I know because I know someone from that parish. Please do YOUR homework before you accuse others of ignorance and look foolish.  Reply

      2. Jim your post is deceptively inaccurate. A merger would mean that ALL the assets of the Parish that closed were transferred to the successor Parish. The Bishop who “championed” the transfer of the $100,000.00 “donation” would have taken into account the financial well-being of that successor Parish and NOT a shire whose sole purpose is to bring in tourists and have them buy candles at the site of the most horrendous act of terrorism in history. A real leader would have wire transferred the funds for $15.00 instead of spending money flying there and creating a false narrative of who he really is.
        You are right about one thing,….it was and continues to be a source of “sadness”. You see in a properly run institution the Parish would not have had to have been closed. A leader would have found his best and brightest clergyman to go to Appleton and revitalize that Parish. Instead many believe we are watching the slow death of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. Why Jim? Have you ever asked yourself that question, why? The Milwaukee Parish experience is why. Because what has occurred in that Parish is normal for the Metropolis of Chicago. Yet there are still people like you who refuse to hold them accountable. It is almost like the “Stockholm Syndrome” has permeated our Church. The victims are experiencing feelings of trust for the “captors”. Pat Galanis is a wonderful person. What happen to her is the reason there are so many who seek anonymity when posting here. The Metropolis of Chicago is the most vindictive domain in the Christian world!

  4. Disturbing News! Unfortunately, this distressing scenario has happened before in this metropolis (St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago) with the same shameful tactics. The Lord knows all our hearts and justice will ultimately prevail.   Reply

  5. Can a priest really “excommunicate” the Treasurer of a Parish for refusing his demand to resign? Or for refusing to go into his office alone, when she is afraid of his threats and shouting? Perhaps, since he holds the chalice in his hands he could have refused her had she approached to receive. But I believe that she would first have to be brought before a Spiritual Court where the charges against her would have to be presented and she could defend herself. In a Metropolis governed by a Metropolitan and Chancellor who respected their oaths of office to “serve” rather than bully and abuse those under their care, instead of sitting by and allowing this to happen, this priest would himself have been suspended, summoned to a Spiritual Court and defrocked by the Eparchial Synod. I am reminded of the quote from Leonardo Da Vinci: “He who does not punish evil, commands it to be done.”  Reply

  6. Only hierarchs can issue excommunication or suspension following spiritual court hearings that identify the very serious heretical crime, moral or other violation of church rules and canons.
    Until Mr Kalmoukos and the National Herald reveal all the details of this situation and the violation of church teachings, it is best to hold our tongue and writings and wait and see. Eventually we will find the “truth and the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.   Reply

  7. As a past member and a board member, I left Milwakee 1981, I’m shacked to read all these. We saw signs of misbehave from Metropolis even then.
    Mr John Galanis and his wife have done so much for Annunciation, spend their lives for their church.
    Annunciation used to be the pride of Milwakee. God bless You and Your family mr. Galanis. SO SAD.  Reply

  8. The bishop and priest are Hell bent on destroying any church that fails to kick back large amounts of money to them. Let’s not forget this all began when disgraced priest James Dokos stole a large amount of money and shared it with the bishop. Rather than condemn Dokos they attacked two churches. They Will surely rot in Hell for thier heracy.   Reply

  9. Patti G. Is the person who harassed all the Annunciation clergy since Blessed Fr Vergil. Petitions, media slandet, private meetings. We’re her agenda. Shame and disgrace is hers.   Reply

    1. ^^^ Here come all the King’s men! His Disgrace and his minions predictably resort to slandering their victims to try and defend the indefensible. #damagecontrol   Reply

    2. Mr./Mrs. Dropping Scandal what in the name of God are you talking about? Fr. Vergis who served the community from 1952 until 1970 was not harassed by anyone. He went from a very good Parish to a much larger Parish. The transfer in 1970 was a promotion. He went to St. Demetrios in Chicago which was 2 and 1/2 times the size of Annunciation in Milwaukee. Instead of shaming the victim here you should be focusing the spotlight on the real problem. You should be appalled that the Parish of the Annunciation is dying. Just like Annunciation, they did nothing to save the Parish in Appleton Wisconsin. You should be focus on St. Demetrios, where Fr. Vergis was transferred; it went from several thousand families in 1970 to having less than 500 today.

      The scandal of our Church is ordaining Priest who have all kinds of issues. Be they followers of Elder Ephraim who demand absolute obedience, so if you dare to question them they excommunicate you. Or steal from the Parish or in the case of Former Fr. George Passias in New York film themselves in a hotel room with a married women they have brought into the Faith by baptizing her. Why don’t you focus on those whose responsibility it is to supervise these defective clergymen? The scandal is defending those who should be protecting us.   Reply

  10. Father Steven Vlahos, thank you very much for having the courage to publicly address issues that are important to the health of our Church. Many of your brethren seem to cower in fear in the corner and avoid even the slightest dialogue about the state of our Church. Our beloved Church cannot survive when there is silence in the face of wrongdoing or evil.
    In this particular situation the Priest committed his excommunication of the parishioner to a written letter. It was written on Parish stationary and entitled “Letter of Canonical Standing”. The letter is dated on April 8, 2017. The parishioner is cautioned not to approach the holy chalice for the holy sacrament of holy communion. The letter is of course, signed “With Love in Christ” by the Parish Priest. While I appreciate your recommendation that we ” hold our tongues and writings and wait and see”, I’m not sure we’ll see anything. I’m not sure we will see anything because lightness seems to be devoid in the Metropolis of Chicago.

    Just recently there was another scandal at that Parish. In the course of waiting and seeing we came to learn that our Hierarchs retained legal counsel to advise us that nothing happened! This scandal is detailed in a three part article that is posted on the website gotruthreform.org. Here is the link: http://gotruthreform.org/the-measure-of-a-man-is-what-he-does-with-power
    I would ask that you read this three part article. And then tell us, whether there’s ever going to be a modicum of respect given to our Laity in the Metropolis of Chicago. Many of us look at the faith and feel blessed. Then we look at the institution and appreciate how cursed we are. It seems that nothing is fixable in our Church. Father Vlahos is there any hope that we will see the truth here? How is it possible that Parish after Parish in the Metropolis of Chicago can be so mismanaged and that the Archbishop and the Patriarch remain so silent. It is as if they don’t really care.

    So long as the Archons, members of Faith Endowment, members of Leadership 100, and those that serve on various Archdiocesan and Metropolis Committees would rather have a seat at the table then tell the truth, we will continue to fail. As long as the academics and scholars at Holy Cross/Hellenic College and the Orthodox Institute at Fordham University, for example and others remain silent we will continue to fail. Many of us believe we are watching a constricting diminished institution that is being preyed upon and is incapable of protecting itself. It’s unfortunate that much of this damage is being perpetrated by those within, including our leaders and of course the greatest accelerant to the demise of the church, the followers of Elder Ephraim.   Reply

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3 Comments

  1. TED PERANTINIDES on

    ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THE MISUSE OF POWER.SAD…SAD…SAD.THE 20–50 AGE GROUP IS DYING IN THE GOA. WE CAN THANK THE METROPOLITIANS FOR THIS.

  2. Sadden by Human Frailty on

    I cannot speak to the specific issues in Milwaukee. What I can tell you is that this Archdiocese is ordaining too many men who should never be priests. They can use psychological tests if their own judgement is not up to the task. I don’t know who said it, but the church can withstand a bad bishop or two but not bad priests.

    I had a good friend with a degree in psychology quit Holy Cross Seminary after his first year because out of the 30 or so classmates, he easily identified 10 as morally bankrupt sexual deviants and at least another 10 as bored dilettantes who had nothing better to do or worse were “in it for the money”. Sadly of the remaining dozen or so he thought would make good priests, only 4-6 ever got ordained. Also, several of the deviants were ordained and while some have since been purged, a few remain.

    And speaking about being “in it for the money”, the Archdiocesan pay schedule for priests (with all the benefits etc) is way out of control. I wonder how many small parishes, 150 families and less (which account for over half of the parishes in my current Metropolis) are able to cough up the $6, $7 and $8000/month expenditure for a seasoned priest. Then again, I have watched a priest in California be under payed by well over $10 if not $20 thousand a year for the past 20+ years even though his Parish has 350+ families.

    Meanwhile, I await the action of my Metropolis to deal with a certain priest, and at the very least that he be “returned to lay status”….before his former parish gets the law involved for his documented multiple financial felonies perpetrated by both he and the former treasurer. I hope someone in that Met’s office is reading this and gets the hint that they cannot sweep this under the rug forever as they have for the past year or so.

  3. Constantine Paleologos on

    The Metropolis of Chicago was an embarrassment as far back as when it was the Diocese of Chicago. From Iakovos to Spyridon to Demetrios (and throughout the nearly 30 year reign of Bartholomew), the swamp was never drained. That speaks volumes for how deep the corruption runs. So, reform being impossible, people are voting with their, feet and departing in droves, never to return. The Metropolitan deftly weaponized the fake monastics and their Gestapo-like operation to squelch the dissent. So far, it’s worked. The bad guys and the Devil are winning. Annunciation will soon be sold to the Mormons, I predict. Maybe it’s best to just join them.

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