COLLIERVILLE, TN. – An African American cleaning woman said that a racist German Shepherd dog was the reason given to her as to why a Catholic Church refused her services.
The reverend of the church vehemently denies the accusations against the church and Fr, Kowal. In a letter he states that he believes that all humans are created in the image of God, making racial discrimination “sinful and wrong”. Still, LaShundra Allen, the housekeeper who works for Master Building Service Contractors, hired an attorney due to her belief that she was not allowed into the church because she is African American.
On Friday, May 3, 2019, the two cleaning women arrived at the church office. Fr. Jacek Kowal was finishing his celebration of morning Mass and preparing for the annual May crowning celebration.The parish staff told him that the cleaning woman arrived at the parish office unannounced to inform them that she would be quitting. She brought her replacement to introduce to the parish staff and to train her. She asked to enter the rectory in order to train her replacement but they informed her the Fr. Kowal was at the May crowning and was not available to go to the rectory to crate Ceaser, his German Shepherd.
The housekeeper offered to crate the dog, but after asking Fr. Kowal his thoughts, he said that he would not feel comfortable with them placing Ceaser in the crate without him there since Ceaser is very protective of his home and may bite. “Fr. Kowal’s response would have been the same with respect to any new employee or visitor unknown by the dog, regardless of race or ethnicity,” said Reverend David P. Talley, in a written statement. “The staff were aware that years ago the dog had been threatened by a person who happened to be African American, causing the dog to be somewhat more agitated initially around strangers with darker skin, until the dog gets to know them.”
The new employee, an African American woman, would have possibly been in danger since Ceaser was not properly introduced by his owner. A staff member explained the issue with them entering by saying “Fr. Jacek’s dog is kinda racist.” “Although the parish staff member’s choice of words was highly unfortunate and imprecise—they were not motivated by racial animus, Reverend Talley added. “Rather, the concern by all involved was the safety of these women, one of whom was a stranger to the dog, and they knew that attempting to crate the dog would be dangerous when its owner was not present.”
The cleaning women believed that the incident was motivated by Fr. Kowal not wanting an African American cleaning woman. The church said that the accusation is false and that Fr. Kowal had an African American housekeeper for five years during his previous assignment as pastor. The church said that they normally do not provide information about investigations to the public, but since this incident led to media attention they felt it was appropriate to issue a public statement.
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