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If it walks like a cult, and quacks like a cult ...

By Roland Lara in News on Sep 27, 2005 11:56AM

2005_09_hands in prayer.gifCardinal Francis George joined a chorus of others in a virtual hymn of condemnation against the Chicago-based Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission, a religious organization with hopes to be recognized as a Catholic order but which has been described by Archbishop Jerome Hanus of Dubuque, Iowa as having the characteristics of a cult.

Characteristics of a cult? Come on, now. Like Katrina had the characteristics of a hurricane? Read on:

With no formal ties to the Catholic Church, the Mission was founded twelve years ago and claims to have prayer meetings in over 100 churches in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

The cardinal’s strong statement, including a ban of the group’s meetings in churches or other archdiocesan facilities, came at the end of a six-month review by church scholars and priests, whose questions were rarely answered by the Mission. But it is the story of nineteen-year-old Ashley Fahey that seems to have snapped this story into focus.

She was all set to start college at Loras, a Catholic college in Iowa. The night before her parents were going to take her to college she suddenly changed plans, claiming that it was her calling to be a “sister” for the Mission. Her stepfather described her as looking emotionless, like someone had taken her soul.

Chicagoist felt something similar when forced to read about the Kutchers’ wedding.2005_09_graphic_jail.jpg

But jokes aside, she took off for the Mission in Chicago, and her mother and stepfather claim they’ve been cut off from her for the last month. She sent them a letter saying she would not be calling or writing them again, so Thursday they came to Chicago to try to talk some sense into her. On Friday a man in the Mission office turned them away, saying “all your daughter are belong to us.”


What he really reportedly said was the no less creepy, “Your daughter has made her choice. Respect her wishes.”

Is it a cult? Is Ashely being held against her wishes? Her letter and the Mission say no. Her parents suspect otherwise. Taking no side, ahem, we’d like to leave you with this quote from Dubuque vicar general Monsignor James O. Barta: "I asked them one time, who is your superior, who is your guide, your mentor in all of this? They said, [current Mission co-leader] Kyo McDonald. And I said well, who is her superior, who is her guide, her mentor? They said, the Holy Spirit. So, that's a big jump there."