Institute For Living

Altar boys Paul Dodd, Andy Finn and Rick Switzer, alter boys eating their lunch after serving mass at Holy Trinity in Webster
Altar boys Paul Dodd, Andy Finn and Rick Switzer, alter boys eating their lunch after serving mass at Holy Trinity in Webster

My large, extended family was solidly Irish Catholic. But my parents canceled church as an obligation when they bailed on the culture of Catholicism. I was in high school and was thrilled with their decision. I had been begging them to let me attend public school where my friends were. Bishop Kearney (named after an early Rochester bishop) was run like a prison. A lot like “Orange is the New Black” but the uniforms were blue and there were a lot less Black people.

The church was changing but not fast enough for my parents. They thought priests should be allowed to marry and women should be allowed to serve, something that is still out of the question. The church is desperately hanging onto an anachronistic, dark ages script. Bishop Clark, in his recent testimony followed that script, a script that attempts to keep the clergy above the law.

“There is also to be a secret archive in the diocesan curia or at least a safe or file in the ordinary archive, completely closed and locked which cannot be removed from the place, and which documents to be kept secret are to be protected most securely.”

Clark claimed he never looked at the secret files when he took over as Bishop. Two of my first cousins, both near my age, were abused by priests. Bishop Clark was asked about a long list of area clergy, most of whom he acknowledged knowing about, who were accused during his time as Rochester’s bishop. A pdf of his testimony is available online but it will make you sick to read. Here are some excerpts.

Father O’Neill 
Q. Were there other complaints during your 32 years at the Diocese of Rochester that priests had sexually abused minors other than the first two Bishop Hickey told you about?
A. Oh, yes. 

Q. What position did you hold at Albany when you had that kind of responsibility?
A. I was the chairman of the Priest Personnel Board.
Q. Were you aware of any allegations prior to arriving as bishop of the Diocese of Rochester that there had been complaints that priests had had inappropriate – –
A. Oh, yes, yes.
Q. And after Father O’Neill admitted
A. Well, I sent him to — what’s the word I’m looking for?
Q. Rehabilitation center?
A. Yeah. That’s — I’m not sure that was the exact title, but, yes.
Q. Was it the Institute for Living in Connecticut?
A.  No.  It was in St. Louis.

Father Larrabee

Father Eugene Emo
Q. Did Father Emo ever admit to you that he had acted inappropriately with minors?
A. Yes.
Q. And did you meet with Father Emo on this or did he meet with somebody at your direction?
A. I met with Gene, I would say, three times.
Q. Okay. After Father Emo went for treatment, was he reassigned to a position with
the diocese?
A. He was.

Father Paul Cloonan
Brother John Walsh
Father Albert Cason

Father Ronald Frederick
Q. Was he allowed to still work at parish assignments?
A. Yes.

Father Vincent Panepinto
Father John Gormley
Father Dennis Sewar
Brother John Walderman
Father Joseph Beatini
Father James Burk
Father Thomas Burr
Father Robert Guadio
Father G. Stuart Hogan
Father Robert Meng
Father Thomas Kent
William O’Malley
Francis Pilecki, a teacher at Aquinas
Father Foster Rogers
Father John J. Seger
Father David Simon
Father Anscar Sullivan
Monsignor Joseph Vogt
Father Francis Vogt
Father Otto Vogt
Steve Ward

Father Paul Schnacky
A. I know he offended, and I know he eventually returned to ministry.

Father William Lum
Brother John Farrand
Deacon George Finch
Father Gerard Guli
Father Robert Hammond
Father Robert Klem
Father Bernard Kuchman
Father Gereon Lindsay
Father Joseph Lynch
Father Charles McCarthy
Father Neil Mille
Father Bernard Newcomb
FatherLawrence Pais?
Leonard Riforgiato
Brother Dennis Sewar
Father Dennis Shaw
Father Gary Shaw
Father Francis Taylor?
Father Zenkel
Father Gary Shaw

Many of the clergy have been profiled on the Democrat & Chronicle’s site where Steve Orr has been doing some bang-up reporting. Add to this list John Tobin, Father James Curry and Father Harry Utereiner, three McQuaid teachers who were named yesterday in sexual abuse cases involving students there.

When I was going to Kearney it was common knowledge that Brother Heathwood was chasing the girls. The Irish Christian Brothers, who ran the place, agreed to pay $16.5 million to satisfy about 420 abuse allegations. The Kearney building on Kings Highway South was put up for sale to help fund the order’s abuse settlement. Billionaire philanthropist B. Thomas Golisano purchased the building in 2014 for $3.4 million and gave it to the nonprofit that was then running the school.

I still have a deep soft spot for the iconography and rituals. And Christianity without the miracles is fine by me. But Bishop Clark’s testimony illustrates how corrupt and morally bankrupt the organization is. He comes off like a good soldier if there is such a thing.

Q. What is Exhibit 2?
A. It’s a draft of a book I was working on at the time and I have yet to complete it. Maybe I never will.  

From the book: “It is the abiding pain in these young people and their loved ones who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of priests in whom the young — by instinct and training — so readily place deep trust.”

“It makes it incumbent on us to learn what systemic deficiencies, what actions or omissions helped to create an environment in which such horror could even be possible.”

Q.    When you had priests go to psychologists or psychiatrists for evaluation did you usually get back a written report from the psychologist or the psychiatrist?
A. Yeah.  They would send reports. And they would be —

And with that, the three hours of allotted time for testimony was up.

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