NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A long standing tradition in Norfolk is the annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Ocean View. This Saturday, for the 48th year in a row, people will march through the streets celebrating the religious holiday. But this year, at least six catholic schools will not participate because of who is leading the parade.
Last year, Father Dan Beeman of Holy Trinity Catholic Church complained the parade’s grand marshal was too political and opposed to catholic stands on various issues. Parade organizers then agreed to get a new grand marshal, Norfolk’s police chief. But this year, organizers aren’t backing down after inviting another political leader opposed to catholic stands to lead the parade.
Governor Terry McAuliffe was named grand marshal of the Norfolk Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. He is a catholic, but takes a pro-choice stance on abortion and has performed two marriages for same-sex couples.
Father Beeman is so outraged about McAuliffe leading the parade that he wrote a letter to his parishioners and other churches, saying Holy Trinity would not participate in the parade. In the letter, Beeman wrote the following:
[McAuliffe] himself promised to be a ‘brick wall’ against restrictions on abortion, has taken away common sense protections for women in abortion facilities and lowered safety standards, and consistently takes money from pro-abortion lobbying groups.
Other Catholic organizations are following suit, including at least six catholic schools. Christ the King School is one that will not participate in this weekend’s parade.
“As Catholics, we have to stand up for the tenants of our beliefs. Catholics don’t believe in abortion,” Christ the King parent Kay Killian said.
Another section of Beeman’s letter reads as follows:
Further, [McAuliffe] not only favors the re-definition of marriage, he himself performed a gay “marriage” as soon as a court overturned the law of the Commonwealth … it is dumbfounding how the Knights [of Columbus] could then decide to honor the Governor.
WAVY.com contacted Knights of Columbus Council #3548, a catholic organization that organizes the parade. We got Deputy Grand Knight Dave Nelson — the # 2 — on the phone.
“You need to call the people in charge of the parade … I wouldn’t have made that decision, but I have to get back to work,” Nelson said before abruptly hanging up the phone. Other Knights refused to return our calls.
The president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #1, which organizes the catholic schools’ participation in the parade, said he agrees with the student march being pulled from the parade. WAVY.com asked Kevin Cassidy why the children seem to be ones paying the price for the controversy.
“Penalizing the kids was not our intention,” Cassidy said. “It was the only way we felt we could make a statement because there was an affront to our principals. It really bothered many of us.”
“I think it is a good decision. For me, personally, you have to stand for something these days,” Christ the King parent Lequita Ogbomoh said. WAVY.com asked her if she wanted Gov. McAuliffe leading the parade.
“No, not really,” she said. Her reasons she said she wanted to keep to herself.
Late Tuesday afternoon, 10 On Your Side got a statement from Governor McAuliffe’s spokesman, Brian Coy:
Governor McAuliffe is a lifelong Catholic, who takes his faith very seriously. He also believes in keeping government out of decisions that should be left to women and their doctors, or to consenting adults who love each other. He is committed to building a new Virginia economy that is open and welcoming to people of all races, genders, creeds and sexual orientation.