A Roman Catholic congregation asked a judge Thursday to forbid three of its own parishioners, known as the “rosary women,” from shouting prayers and splashing holy water during daily services.
The women have terrorized children, frightening them to tears, and their yells have drowned out Communion instructions and even the choir, the church says.
Common Pleas Court Judge Bernard Scherer said he would rule today on the request by Holy Cross Church in Youngwood, a former industrial town of 3,400 about 30 miles from Pittsburgh.
Church members said Cecelia Miscovich, Joan Sudwoj and Cynthia Balconi have been praying loudly and at times yelling at the Rev. Angelo Ciuffoletti nearly every day for the last two years, including Thursday.
“We had microphones, but they were louder than the choir,” said Carol Soctarich, the choir director.
Members of the congregation of 800 families say the women are so loud they can be heard on the street.
Ciuffoletti said the women have ignored repeated requests, both verbally and in the weekly church bulletin, to quiet down. The women even ignored letters from Bishop Anthony Bosco urging them to stop yelling in church, the priest said.
Ciuffoletti read a passage he wrote in one church bulletin: “It is characteristic of vulgar people to shout and make a noise. God hears hearts, not voices. He hears our thoughts.”
James Falcon, a church lawyer and member, said Holy Cross only wants the women to pray more quietly and restrict their audible prayers to brief periods on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings.
Ciuffoletti said Sudwoj once yelled the rosary during instruction for 35 children, mostly 7 years old, who were preparing to receive the sacraments of Holy Communion and confession.
When he confronted her, she began yelling about “fornication, adultery and homosexuality” at nearby Westmoreland County Community College in Greensburg, he said.
Sudwoj was fired a couple of years ago from her job as a reading tutor at the college for missing work and other undisclosed reasons, according to school spokeswoman Anna Marie Palatella.Balconi is a computer operator at the school’s data center, Palatella said.
Lawyers for the church say the three women also believe in a reported appearance of the Virgin Mary at a church in the New York City borough of Queens in 1970.
A 1993 church bulletin introduced as evidence urged the women to stop distributing literature regarding that sighting, which Catholic officials have not verified.