‘Ministers of Annoyance’ spark fight at Ohio pilgrimage site

Harassment from a fundamentalist group calling themselves the “Ministry of Annoyance” caused some faithful visiting an Ohio Marian shrine for the Feast of the Assumption to take up fists in defense of their Church.

According to WNWO News in Ohio, three teens and one adult were arrested in the melee which took place at the Our Lady of Consolation Shrine on Sunday.

For the past 130 years, the shrine has hosted a celebration on the feast of the Assumption of Mary, which falls annually on August 15th.

According to reports, the group’s presence at the shrine is nothing new. They have shown up at the pilgrimage site for the last two years calling on Catholics to abandon their belief in God and the Church, but this year was different.

On Sunday, instead of staying together in one location, the so-called “street preachers” dispersed themselves into the crowd of thousands where arguments began among some 300-400 people.

Fr. John Raphael, rector of the shrine, told WNWO that, "They show up with video cameras, send threatening faxes, and are there to cause problems…I instruct my staff and those faithful who show up to ignore them.”

"They go to other places”, he added, “and do the same thing. I tell my staff to pray for them."

David Hartline, a frequent shrine visitor, noted on his blog, the Catholic Report, that “the ‘Ministry or Minister of Annoyance’ marched with the pilgrims shouting that Catholic dogma about Mary and just about anything else that Catholics believe is wrong.”

He added however, that no major Evangelical leader or church backs “such an angry group.”

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