Today we post with the naïve trust of a child who seals a message in a bottle and casts the vessel adrift upon the ocean's currents in the hope of its reaching the eyes of a distant yet receptive spirit. Along with all TradWorld, we stand at the breaking dawn of a new year, a moment when the wise take stock, pledging to put their lives to better use in the service of their Creator and their fellow man. Like that sanguine child at the water's edge watching the shimmering bottle bob out of sight, Pistrina harbors every expectation that a like-minded soul, beach combing along a foreign strand on the luminiferous æther of cyberspace, will retrieve our missive and act.
The message is not directed to cultlings. It's aimed at the adult children of aging cult victims. Chances are our intended recipients do not, or at least no longer, belong to the SW Ohio-Brooksville cult. The odds are even better that they're sorely distressed at their parents' continued allegiance to the disreputable cult and its lucre-loving "clergy," who circle hungrily over seniors like jackal buzzards eyeing prospective carrion. Adding to their anxiety is the fear that the grandchildren will be left with nothing, while ruthless clerical buccaneers sail off to chic spa vacations or play ducks and drakes with a cash-strapped family's rightful inheritance (say, for instance, buying frivolous toys like used electronic organs that don't work).
So, what do you do? Are your hands tied? Do you and your children have to suffer because of your poor parents' unwise decision?
And if you start preparing, you'll be able to keep your family's treasure from ending up as priestly booty on the Island of Lost Boys, aka Tradistan. To help you educate yourself, here's a 6-step checklist:
⎕ Search online to learn the facts about breaking a will or probate.
There are many sites with loads of useful free information on contesting a will. You'll get great advice like the following from Teo Spengler on legalzoom to help you file an objection: "Evidence that someone unduly influenced the testator also invalidates the testament, but the influence must rise to a level negating the testator's free will. Usually when a will contestant charges undue influence, the testator was feeble and the person influencing them was in a position of strength or confidence..." (emphasis ours). Common sense suggests that claim will get the attention of a reasonable judge.⎕ Get free legal advice
Very often local TV stations sponsor free call-in segments on their newscasts, and bar associations usually have a schedule of other community venues where you can obtain legal guidance without charge. (The Cincinnati Bar Association [513-381-8213] serves counties surrounding the cult center.) You'll learn what other options are available to stop the cult masters from further victimizing your family. Professionals working pro bono can also be helpful in advising you about securing power of attorney. The Information and Resources Center of the Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio may also be able to assist you (513-721-1025), and you can get limited legal advice or referral to an elder-law attorney by contacting PRO Seniors, Inc. at 1-800-488-6070.⎕ Review your parents' will
Admittedly this is a delicate matter and may not be possible in all cases. But if you can, you'll be ahead of the game. Tact and love can go a long way here. If you learn that the cult is not a beneficiary in the will, then you'll be able to relax and save a lot of time and bother. On the other hand, if you do find out your parents have named as a beneficiary the cult or individual cult masters, you'll be able to engage legal counsel before it's too late. It's also important that you keep an open flow of communication with your parents to learn whether they're contemplating a bequest. Then you'll be able to persuade them not to do it. The web is full of eye-opening material about the cult to help you make your case.⎕ Cancel any insurance policy naming the cult as beneficiary
Here's where free legal advice could really pay off. If your parents have bought a policy to benefit the cult, it's likely they still may be paying premiums. Canceling now will not only keep the proceeds out of the money-mad "clergy's" greedy hands, but it'll give your parents a few extra dollars for necessities. There might even be a cash value that can be restored to their savings. If the policy is already paid for, you might be able to change the beneficiary: there are plenty of reputable charities.⎕ Find another chapel for your parents
The only way to put an end to your worries is to get your parents out of the cult masters' reach. That's probably no easy task, because they may really enjoy "the show." But it's the only way for you to have peace of mind. Identify another priest from a non-cult chapel, introduce your parents to him, and encourage them to attend his Mass, even if it isn't as showy as the cult's. It's probable that this man may have a genuine love of people and will quickly win your parents over. (But be careful you don't find yourself in the same predicament you just escaped: you must be very careful with all traddie priests until you're 100% sure they're OK. Talk to your parents after every contact with clergy.)⎕ Keep cult "priests" out of the nursing home
If your parents are in a nursing home, and you have control of their affairs, give the home's administration a list of names of cult "priests" and instruct them to deny these particular "clergy" access to your parents. If they persist in attempting to visit, ask the police or another municipal authority what you can do to assure your parents remain unmolested.Once you read and act on this message, reseal it, as it were, and float it once again through cyberspace so another family can preserve its rightful legacy.