Real B. (Ray, Raymond) Bourque, O.M.I.

Summary of Case: In 1979 and again in 1994, Bourque was accused of sexually abusing minor males in the late 1970s at the Oblates' center in South Natick MA, where Bourque was the director. Four victims are specified in the Boston documents, and one victim alleges that Bourque "went after all the boys" at the South Natick center. The Oblates also have on file accusations of abuse by Bourque at St. Paul's Retreat House in Augusta ME, where Bourque was the superior and retreat director. There may be overlap between the Augusta and Natick victims. The Boston abuse delegate told the Oblates' abuse delegate in 1997 that Bourque had "admitted to an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor," presumably in 1979. After the 1979 allegation, Bourque was sent to Washington DC for treatment, and then was made director of the Oblate's Shrine of Our Lady of Grace in Colebrook NH. After the 1994 allegation, Bourque received an unfavorable assessment from St. Luke Institute and was admitted as a patient. For two years before his St. Luke hospitalization and for ten years after, Bourque was employed by EWTN as a speaker on the radio, at retreats, and at other events. Documents from 2002 and 2006 show Bourque active in youth ministry at EWTN. He also appeared on TV, to the distress of the victim who came forward in 1994.

Ordained
: 1954
Incardinated: Listed in Boston, Manchester, Portland ME, Washington, and Belleville; also worked in Birmingham.

   
Rev. Real Bourque, June 12, 2002, at the DTS National Conclave at EWTN.    

Start Stop Parish Town State Position Notes
1955 1958 Oblate College and Seminary
(South) Natick MA 8/9, then 8/10. Superior was Rev. Alfred Pelletier, O.M.I. In Boston archdiocese. In the 1954 Directory, 34 students.
1958 1962 Novitiate and Shrine of Our Lady of Grace
Colebrook NH 7/8, then 6/7, then 6/6. Superior was Very Rev. Albert Beausoleil, then Very Rev. Joseph A. Vaillancourt in 1960. In Manchester diocese. In the 1959 Directory, priests 8, scholastics 10, brothers 6, postulants 7. In the 1962 Directory, Bourque is incorrectly indexed as "Real Bourne" at the Colebrook novitiate, and he is not included in the diocesan entry for the novitiate.
1962 1964 St. John the Baptist (French)
Lowell MA Pastor was Rev. Donat Morissette. In 1963 Directory, 14 priests are listed (Bourque not included) and 3 lay brothers. In 1964 Directory, Bourque is 14/17. In Boston archdiocese. Indexed to this Oblate parish in 1963 Directory but not listed there. Indexed and listed in 1964. School (St. Joseph's) had 245 boys and 156 girls in 1962-63.
1964 1967 Oblates of Mary Immaculate Retreat House
Hudson NH 10/11, then 9/10. Superior was Very Rev. Eugene J. Labrie, then Very Rev Leo C. Monette. In Manchester diocese.
1967 1975 St. Paul's Retreat House and Cursillo Center

Augusta

• Oblates received allegations of "incidents" of abuse during this assignment.

• Victim who wrote to Cardinal Law in 1994 alleging abuse in Natick (see next entry) knew Bourque in Maine.

ME 1/5 plus 2 brothers, then 1/6, 1/7, 1/8 plus 1 brother, 1/6 plus 1 brother, 1/7 plus 1 brother. Bourque began as superior and retreat director, and starts being called Very Rev. in the 1969 Directory. In 1973, Bourque is replaced as superior by Rev. Louis S. Desruisseaux, OMI. Bourque became 4/7 plus 1 brother, and the last-named of the 4 priests not "in residence." Then 4/8 plus 1 brother. In Portland ME diocese.
1975 1979 Oblate Conference Center and Retreat Center

(South) Natick

• When a new abuse policy was put in place, Boston regional Bishop Hart contacted archdiocesan and Oblate officials in 1993 about a 1979 allegation he had received regarding Bourque's abuse of "at least a few" choir boys (in Natick). In 1979, Hart had notified Cardinal Medeiros and the Oblate provincial Norman J. Parent, and Bourque had been sent to DC for treatment (see next entry).

• In 1994, a man who had been victimized in Natick by Bourque wrote to Cardinal Law, stating that he and 3 others had been abused by Bourque, who "went after all the boys."

• A Boston official wrote on 1/5/96 that Bourque had admitted abusing one boy.

MA 1/3. Bourque was director. Then 1/2. In Boston archdiocese.
1979 1980 Oblate College Washington DC

In residence. The superior was Very Rev. George F. Kirwin, and 19 priests are listed.

While in DC, Bourque was in treatment.

In Washington archdiocese.
            Not indexed or listed in the 1981 Directory.
1981 1984 Shrine of Our Lady of Grace
Colebrook NH 1/5. Bourque was named director with the title Very Rev. Then 1/7. In Manchester diocese.
            Not indexed or listed in the 1985 Directory.
1985 1995 The Truth Will Set You Free, Inc. (Radio-TV Ministry) Lowell
46 Mt. Washington St., now known as the Oblate Contemplative Center
MA A Web posting by the former music director of The Truth Will Set You Free describes the ministry as Bourque's. EWTN carried Bourque's Truth Will Set You Free (2/95) and La Verite Vous Liberera (7/95), apparently as Bourque's ministry was shifted from the Oblates to EWTN. As to the timing of that transition, a Bourque victim complained about Bourque's televangelism in a letter to Law on 2/8/94. Law aide McCormack wrote to Capen, the Oblate provincial, on 4/13/94, "strongly" recommending that Bourque's TV ministry be curtailed. This correspondence implies that Bourque's TV ministry in the Boston area was then under Oblate auspices. But in 1994 he was working for EWTN (see below and Steltemeier letter). Not indexed in the 1986-93 Directory. But in the 1986-95 Directory, in the Religious Orders of Priests section, the Oblates of the Province of St. John the Baptist list The Truth Will Set You Free, Inc. (Radio-TV Ministry) without any staff listed.
1993 1996 Provincial House, Missionary Oblates
Hudson NH 9/14 listed priests, of a total 84 counted in the 1994 Directory. Provincial was Very Rev. George G. Capen. In Manchester diocese. The Oblates also had a Retreat House in Hudson.
1/2/93 12/21/94 Eternal Word Television Network
Birmingham AL

Bourque was "very visible" at EWTN and did "formation work for [Mother M. Angelica's] communities".

After Cardinal Law received a 2/8/94 complaint, McCormack advised the Oblates on 4/13/94 to stop Bourque's ministry; on 12/21/94 Capen withdrew Bourque temporarily from his EWTN assignment.

While Bourque was withdrawn from EWTN, the network broadcast his radio talks. See program schedules for 2/95 and 7/95.

This appointment is not listed in the 1993-94 Directory, but is described in a memo from Bourque's Boston personnel file and in a letter by Rev. Steltemeier of EWTN.
4/27/94   St. Luke Institute

Silver Spring MD In-patient treatment mentioned in a Boston memo.  
1995 1996 Oblate's Foreign Missions, Northern U.S. Province, 46 Mt. Washington St., now known as the Oblate Contemplative Center Lowell
46 Mt. Washington St., now known as the Oblate Contemplative Center
MA 3/4. Br. Augustin Cote was director. In Boston archdiocese. In the 1996 Directory, Bourque appears in the index twice, once as priest in the Manchester diocese (see previous entry) and once as a priest in the Oblate's Foreign Mission.
11/30/95 2002? Eternal Word Television Network
Birmingham AL

Bourque's activities included radio shows and retreats, although in 1996 and 1997 a Boston official described Bourque's involvement as "non-ministerial" and "behind the scenes."

See EWTN accounts of retreats in 1999 and 2000, talks and Masses by Bourque during the 2002 DTS Conclave, and Bourque's Bible study sessions for children, offered by EWTN until 2005 or early 2006. On 1/27/06 EWTN revised that handout, removing Bourque's sessions (the last link is to a downloadable Word document). The original version of the document with Bourque included was available on the EWTN site in 2005. That document was cached by the Internet Archive on 3/12/05. It is not clear whether this document reflects Bourque activities for EWTN in 2005, or activities that ended in 2002.

This appointment is not listed in the Directory, but is described in a letter by Rev. Steltemeier of EWTN. Steltemeier states that on 10/4/95 the Oblates "disclosed the general reasons for Fr. Bourque's withdrawal" but that "EWTN had no knowledge of the specific allegations." A Boston official wrote on 1/5/96 that "the people at EWTN" were "aware of his situation," as was the "bishop of the place" (i.e., Bishop David E. Foley of Birmingham, who had been installed on 5/13/94 to replace Bishop Raymond J. Boland, now bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph).
1996 1999 Provincial House, Missionary Oblates
Hudson NH 5/10 listed priests, of a total 81 counted in the 1997 Directory. Provincial was Very Rev. George G. Capen OMI. He was replaced by Very Rev. Arthur T. Obin OMI in 1997. In Manchester diocese. The Oblates also had a Retreat House in Hudson.
1996 2002 Oblate World, Oblate's Foreign Missions, Northern U.S. Province, 46 Mt. Washington St., now known as the Oblate Contemplative Center Lowell MA

3/4. Br. Augustin Cote OMI was director.

During this time, Bourque sent a flyer to recipients in the Boston area, prompting Boston inquiries to Bourque and the the Oblates about whether he was "back" and engaging in ministry in the archdiocese.

In Boston Archdiocese. In the 1996 Directory, Bourque appears in the index twice, once as priest in the Manchester diocese (see previous entry) and once as a priest in the Oblate's Foreign Mission. In the 2001 and 2002 Directory, format changes make it unclear whether Bourque continued to work for Oblate World at the Lowell location.
2002 2005 St. Henry's Oblate Residence Belleville IL One of 17 priests and 3 brothers in the 2003 Directory. In Belleville diocese, near the Oblates' National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. See article on sign-out sheet system for supervising Bourque.


Sources
: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1956-2005). Selection of the Boston archdiocesan priest file for Bourque, as filed in Ford v. Law (see PDFs of the filed Bourque documents). Pages from the EWTN Web site, or formerly on that site and cached by Google (see links above). Rev. Mr. R. Wm. Steltemeier, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, EWTN, Letter to Dr. Leon J. Podles, March 31, 2006 (see PDF of full Steltemeier letter), responding to Dr. Leon J. Podles, Letter to EWTN, March 15, 2006 (see PDF of Podles letter). The Podles and Steltemeier letters were provided to BishopAccountability.org by Dr. Podles. See also:
- Did Mother Angelica Enable Abusers? The Case of Real Bourque, by Leon J. Podles, Touchstone Magazine (4/3/06)
- Molester Now Resides in Belleville: Diocese Has No Record of Priest's Move, by George Pawlaczyk
News-Democrat (4/13/06)
- Defrocked Priest Could Be Charged, by George Pawlaczyk, Belleville News-Democrat (4/17/06)
- Alabama-Based Catholic Network Kept Abusive Priest on Staff, by Jay Reeves, Associated Press (4/21/06)
- Letter Calls for Removal of Priest: Admitted Child Molester Lives in Belleville, by George Pawlaczyk, Belleville News-Demcorat (5/12/06)
- Diocese Says It Has No Say about Priest: Admitted Molester Stays in Order's Facility, by George Pawlaczyk, Belleville News-Democrat (5/20/06)
- Admitted Child Molester's Supervision Is a Sign-Out Sheet: Must Tell Retirement Home When Leaving, by George Pawlaczyk, Belleville News-Democrat (5/23/06)
- Group Asks Madigan's Help to Move Priest: SNAP Treads Where Bishop Braxton Won't, by George Pawlaczyk, Belleville News-Democrat (5/26/06)
- Clergy Scandal Is Still with Us, editorial in the Belleville News-Democrat (5/26/06)
- SNAP Blitzes Mass with Bourque Fliers, by Maria Baran, Belleville News-Democrat (5/29/06)
- Police Seek Way to Track Ex-Priest: Will Meet with Order's Leaders, by George Pawlaczyk, Belleville News-Democrat (5/31/06)

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means "first of two" – i.e., that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means "third of four" – i.e., that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy & Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Bourque's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations reported in the Boston priest files. In those files, Bourque is said to have admitted that he abused one boy. We remind our readers that in the U.S. judicial system, a person is considered innocent until proven guilty.

A Note on Nomenclature: We use the term "assignment record," instead of the more common "service record," because "service" is not an appropriate word for the activities of an abusive priest. Dioceses are often less than forthcoming about the activities of retired priests, but when we can determine those activities, we list them in these assignment records, particularly if they involve ministry. Retired priests remain under obedience to their bishop, and even the activities of laicized priests should be a concern to the diocese.

This assignment record was last updated on June 1, 2006.