I received the call at 10:00 last night. The Roman Catholic Priest, Father Alberto Cutie, would be arriving at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral today to formally join the Episcopalian church. I was given a short list of additional work items for the morning. Nobody had much of any idea what is done on such occasions, least of all myself.
The media began to show up in force at about 11:30 this morning. All instructions I’d been given as to how to handle them were countermanded almost immediately. New instructions were given and abandoned about once every half hour.
Alberto Cutie and Ruhama Canellis were accepted into the church in a ceremony that began at 1:30 p.m. It was a small private service attended by approximately 50 Episcopalian clergy, staff and guests. The service was presided over by the Right Reverend Leo Frade, Bishop of the Diocese of Southeast Florida. Cutie is awaiting ordination as a Deacon, as well, but will be allowed, in the meantime, to preach in Episcopal churches but not to officiate over any of the rites of the church.
A luncheon followed in the cathedral hall. As I was lunching apart, myself, I do not know for sure if Cutie attended but it is unlikely. The media was waiting impatiently outside in the breezeway between the north parking lot and the garden, the Diocesan public relations staff not quite sure, at that point, what to do with them. The former Catholic priest was kept in seclusion until the press conference that had been scheduled for 2:30.
All instructions for preparing for the press conference were, of course, repeatedly countermanded, and, as the result, the news crews had to break down and set up several times. I was to keep them strictly back behind the second row of pews, then the first, then in front of the first. No one was supposed to stand on the pews but then that too was abandoned as the cameras and reporters slowly inched their way forward in spite of all attempts to prevent them.
The conference finally began at about 3:00 in the cathedral transept. Bishop Frade first read a statement in English then Spanish. He introduced Alberto Cutie, “his fiancée,” Ruhama Buni Canellis, and family members. About 20 clergy were also squeezed into the little space we’d managed to keep clear for them.
Cutie wore a simple but well cut dark suit with an open-collar white shirt and was impeccably groomed. He also read a statement in English then Spanish. At the end of his statement the reporters began calling out questions in Spanish. He was immediately ushered out via the south transept, per plan, and into the church office questions being yelled out behind him.
Bishop Frade answered questions for nearly an hour until the crews slowly started drifting away, during which time we spirited Cutie and Canellis out a side door in a pouring rain (I’m just now drying out) and into a vehicle with tinted windows. As the vehicle with couple slowly exited the property, and I closed the gate in order to prevent it being followed, one reporter who had managed to discover our plans, and had parked just outside the gate, pursued them up the street and past the television equipment trucks and four police cruisers.
As I write this, the various television crews are still shooting their “fake live shots” inside the cathedral, with the Cathdral's Italian mosaics for backdrop. The CBS truck is outside my window, camera mounted on its tripod and 30 foot transmitter deployed waiting for its reporter. I will hope to find an embeddable video of the press conference to back fit into this later. I’d better go check how matters are coming along.