Crazy weekend in Worcester

posted by Mike on May 6th, 2013

Two items from the weekend.

The body of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been at the Graham Putnam & Mahoney funeral home for the past few days. There have been small protests outside from time to time, and a visible police presence. I was shocked when I first heard about this, much less so when I heard that the saintly/cranky Peter Stefan was behind it. The Catholic Worker community is organizing a vigil Tuesday in support of burial of the dead (one of the Christian works of mercy.) More at the end of this post.


For some 25 years, Mr. Stefan said, the Main South funeral home has dealt with burying the poor, the unwanted and even murderers. Because of that, Mr. Stefan said he’s even been involved in burials that took place well into the night.

Charles Pierce, Esquire: “Stop making jackasses of yourself in front of the entire nation.”

Dianne Williamson: Innocence, terror lay side-by-side at Worcester funeral home

Also, it’s being reported today that Worcester Bishop McManuswas arrested Saturday night in Narragansett, R.I., charged with drunken driving and refusing a chemical test”.

Bishop McManus released a statement this morning: “On Saturday evening, May 4, I made a terrible error in judgment by driving after having consumed alcohol with dinner. There is no excuse for the mistake I made, only a commitment to make amends and accept the consequences of my action. More importantly, I ask forgiveness from the good people whom I serve, as well as my family and friends, in the Diocese of Worcester and the Diocese of Providence.”

Initial reaction in the diocese appeared supportive.

“Like any brother in our family that this could happen to, I would support him,” said the Rev. John Madden, pastor of St. John’s Church in downtown Worcester. “All of us have made mistakes in judgment. Like he’s said, we can only apologize and make amends.”

Update: In RI court, Bishop McManus pleads not guilty to DUI

Catholic Worker press release:

Vigil to Support the Burial of Tamerlan Tsarnaev

On Tuesday, May 7, from 5-6 p.m. the Saints Francis & Thérèse Catholic Worker will sponsor a vigil opposite the Graham Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Home at the corner of Main and May Streets in Worcester to support the burying of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body here in the United States as his relatives have requested. Although we strongly condemn the Boston Marathon bombings, we believe the religious and civic duty to bury the dead holds for everyone, including Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Burying the dead is a civilized act, which in this context is a powerful rejection of revenge as well as a form of closure. We recall how upsetting it was to see American soldiers dragged through the streets of Mogadishu by Somalis angry over the hundreds of civilians those soldiers had killed. Burying Tamerlan Tsarnaev is a small statement that Americans are better than that.

We also recall that, no matter what kind of life someone lived, morticians take a solemn oath to provide them a decent burial. Those who work at Graham Putnam and Mahoney have done this for some of Worcester’s poorest and least popular citizens for years. Theirs was the only funeral home which would bury the victims of AIDS in the early days of that epidemic. These decent people at Graham Putnam and Mahoney have been maligned by angry protesters who have accused them of supporting terrorism for trying to carry out their sworn duty. Many of these protesters now are calling for Mr. Tsarnaev’s body to be sent out of the United States. His relatives have said that since Mr. Tsarnaev lived here for so many years, he should be buried here. In matters of death, the relatives have the right to make that decision. It’s a matter of common decency. It in no way honors any act of the person being buried.

Scott Schaeffer-Duffy
Saints Francis & Thérèse Catholic Worker

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