The Archdiocese of Omaha announced on Oct. 4 that the leader of contemplative group the Association of the Hermit Intercessors of the Lamb was asked to resign from her position following a canonical visitation. According to the archdiocesan spokesman, the questioning of the association's members produced “alarming” findings.
On Sept. 30, Archbishop George Lucas asked for and accepted the resignation of Sr. Nadine Brown – who founded the association of lay and clerical hermits in Omaha – and appointed Fr. Gregory Baxter as trustee. The group was started by Sr. Nadine, who is a former member of the Sisters of the Cross (now the Contemplatives of the Good Shepherd) in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The archdiocese stated that the Intercessors were originally recognized by Archbishop Daniel Sheehan as a private association of the Christian faithful in 1992. Several years later in 1998, the group's juridical status changed when Archbishop Elden Curtiss recognized them as a public association of the Christian faithful.
Deacon Timothy McNeil, chancellor of the archdiocese and director of communications, explained to CNA on Monday in a phone interview that Sr. Nadine had approached the newly installed Archbishop Lucas last year in order to move the group's status to the next canonical tier.
In an effort to familiarize himself with the group before advancing Sr. Nadine's initiative, Archbishop Lucas had canon lawyer Fr. James Conn act as his delegate in conducting a canonical visitation of the Intercessors.
“We learned some things that were kind of alarming,” said Deacon McNeil, adding that the findings showed that “they were not ready to make the next step.”
“The findings were such” that if the group was going to advance to the next canonical status, he noted, “it would have to be under the leadership of another individual.”
For that reason, the deacon said, Archbishop Lucas asked Sr. Nadine to resign “and she agreed to it.”
When asked what the specifics findings of the visitation were, Deacon McNeil explained that they included “discord within the group, widespread dissatisfaction with current leadership, reservation of the Eucharist in a way that is not provided by ecclesiastical law,” poor “management of temporal goods” and an inability of group members to articulate the Intercessors' charism.
“The combination of all of these things,” he added, “resulted in the group needing a new leadership change.”
Deacon McNeil said that Archbishop Lucas has appointed Fr. Gregory Baxter – a pastor of the local St. Margaret Mary parish who has held numerous archdiocesan positions – as trustee of the group.
In a statement released by the Omaha archdiocese on Oct. 4, the archbishop said that “Father Conn’s preliminary findings, as well as Father Baxter’s appointment as trustee, will help chart a course forward for the community. I’m grateful for Father Conn’s good work, and I have full confidence in Father Baxter’s ability to guide the visitation to a successful conclusion.”