February 1, 2019

Allegation Credible

By Glenn

I lost a friend today. Not to death, but to a credible allegation. As his friend, I hold out hope it remains an allegation. Allegation means there is no proof. As a Catholic, I know the “credible” part requires the Church to take preventive action. “Credible” means that it is possible to be true.

I’ve known our priest for 23 years. As he always does, he walked up one day and introduced himself to a stranger. We had just arrived from Louisiana, and he welcomed us. He told us about his time in Covington, Louisiana, and then introduced us to our music director who was from New Iberia, Louisiana. We had a connection to home right away.

The allegation from nearly 30 years ago came out of the blue. I’ve volunteered for the parish for nearly the whole time. Our sons were altar boys. The Bishop told us last night that he had no allegations from our parish, but the Church has investigated an allegation before he came to Sherman. Because it is “credible”, Father resigned from his office as pastor. It hurts to lose him as a friend and a pastor.

As a Pastor, he kept me in the pews. He preached the Beatitudes. He preached service to the least of among us. He refused to preach hate. Never did I hear a disparaging word about women, gays or immigrants. As a Pastor, he created a sense of community, encouraging lay ministry and fellowship. As a pastor, he welcomed and integrated a Hispanic community into our parish.

When the abuse scandal first flared up everywhere else, he set up a Safe Environment protection program for both adults and children. Training was mandatory for anyone volunteering. Father made sure we were all safe.

I am a cradle to grave Catholic. Both personally and professionally, I have known about the good, the bad and the ugly in the Church. It is after all full of sinners. I’ve known countless priests throughout my life. None were perfect, but nearly all took their vocation seriously. I have no doubt that Father did too.

Some of you may know that I too had attended a seminary for a year. It was one of the most formative years of my life. I would never give it up. While there, however, one person tried to initiate an inappropriate relationship. Several of us reported it, and the leadership of the school investigated. The person left.

Twenty years later, I got a call from a nun investigating an abuse claim in a southern state involving this same person. She wanted to know what happened all those years before. I told her what I had observed and gave her the names of others involved. She was thorough and professional. I say this to let you know that I am not naïve. I’ve been a part of an investigation before and take abuse seriously.

I don’t know what happened 30 years ago with my friend. No evidence has been released to the public. It is now in the hands of law enforcement. Because of the ongoing investigation, he cannot have contact with members of the parish. Since it was so long ago, we probably will never know for sure.

I do know that I lost a friend to a credible allegation, and it hurts. As a Christian, Father Jeremy please know that “I have been and always shall be your friend.”

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