Yesterday I was supposed to be thinking about my next writing project. Instead, I was clicking links on Facebook, posted by friends I’d never even met. That was how I discovered that two ex-employees of Blackwater had just accused its founder, Erik Prince, of murder. Then, as I perused the Times online. I stumbled on an op-ed he’d written, hawking his new mercenary army as the cure for our never-ending war in the Middle East. How strange, I thought. He seemed nice enough in his email.
2014 August/ I post on Facebook:/Does anyone have a lead on what happened to the Chapel?/ The Sisters of Charity thought it was disassembled and moved to the west or midwest/ but that's all they know. I would appreciate any rumors, leads, etc.
Spike was present when the Chapel was dismantled/but he didn't remember what company handled it/or where it was bound./“Talk to Carlos. He knows everything.”/And what Carlos didn't know, he could find out./He should have been a gumshoe, not a Patient Liaison specialist.
I couldn’t track down information about St. Clare’s in the normal way, by checking the records. There were no records. In fact, as far as I could tell, no one would admit to even being in charge of the place after 1982 when the Cabrini Nuns had de-merged from us us. Even though St. Vincent’s supposedly took over in 2003, they assured me after we closed that it was, “a merger in name only.”
The Chapel was sold to someone in Virginia/who installed it at a training company/that provided security in Iraq.//A-ha! Direct Hit!
I had to research everything the old-fashioned way. Or, the semi-old-fashioned way, at least.
I googled military contractors based in Virginia./There sure were a lot of them./The first one sounded mighty small./Their phone didn't even have a hold button./I heard the man shuffling around talking to someone/before he reported that no one knew anything about a chapel./The next three didn't answer their phones.//I fired off a few emails. Two had never heard of St. Clare’s./But the one I was sure had the Chapel was dodging me.
Academi, formerly Blackwater./A 600 acre special-ops school/in the Great Dismal Swamp/on the Virginia-North Carolina border. /Run by a former Navy Seal named Erik Prince/who resigned and fled the country in 2009./Reported to be working in Hong Kong/as the Executive Director of Frontier Security Group.
I sent the following to the only contact link on their website:
I'm hoping you can get this email to Mr. Prince for me. I am a writer and long-time 911 paramedic who is working on a book about the hospital I worked at for twenty years, St. Clare's/St. Vincent's Midtown. The hospital was shut down in 2007, and in either 2007 or early 2008 the Chapel was sold to a private security firm in Virginia, and was moved to their grounds. From what has been described, I am wondering if the firm was Blackwater, and if Mr. Prince would know anything about where the Chapel is now, and if it's being used. I'd also be interested in knowing why he chose that particular chapel.
I would so appreciate any help you could give me with this! If Blackwater was not the company, it would be helpful for me to know that also.
Best, Maggie Dubris
The next day, this was in my inbox.
Yes, I did purchase the contents of the chapel before the planned building demolition. My [loved one] had received extensive treatment for her cancer there, and the chapel was a special place to the both of us.
My intent was to install the contents of the [St.Clare's] chapel into a new chapel I had planned to build on the Blackwater Compound. The chapel would provide a Christian military outreach to the thousands of US service members that trained there prior to deployment.
Due to the political onslaught we endured, I sold the entire business and donated the chapel items to Priest friends in Michigan and West Virginia where the artifacts now proudly adorn active growing Catholic parishes today.
Sincerely, Erik Prince
How perfect for my book!/Of course the Chapel would never have been bought/by an ordinary patient. It had to wind up/in the hands of the most notorious contractor in the country./then somehow narrowly escape a place called "The Great Dismal Swamp”/only to be "translated" like a martyred saint/into bits and pieces/some of which would come to a final resting place/in my ex-home state of Michigan.