|Suggestive Photographs Sold on Priest's Web Site;
By David O'Reilly
May 25, 2002
Suggestive photographs sold on priest's Web site;
The site, created by the pastor of a Byzantine Catholic parish in Montco, purports to raise funds for a paralyzed young man.
David O'Reilly Inquirer Staff Writer
A Montgomery County priest has created a highly unusual Web site for a man of the cloth.
The site, developed by the Rev. Glenn Michael Davidowich, pastor of St. Michael's Byzantine Catholic Church in Mont Clare, depicts young men in scanty, brief swimsuits, clutching one another in suggestive poses.
Davidowich yesterday promised to respond to questions about the site but had not by last night.
Photographs and videotapes of the young men, some of whom are posing in red Santa hats and white briefs, sell on the site for about $30. The wrestlers don't wear the standard headgear or torso suits worn by high school or college athletes.
The site, run by the "Junior Professional Wrestling Association" that Father Davidowich organized in 1998, asserts that it was founded "to help a young California man, Tomas Mejia, who was paralyzed in an automobile accident."
"A portion of the proceeds from our sales are donated to the Tomas Mejia Fund," according to the site.
It features photos and an essay about Mejia, whose accident at age 14 left him in a "permanent vegetative state," and directs the viewer to "The Tomas Mejia fund, c/o the Rev. James E. Curran, La Purisima Catholic Church... Orange, Calif."
Jeanne Stella, administrator of La Purisima, said yesterday that the church was never in charge of such a fund and that she had known nothing of Mejia or the Web site until she received press inquiries earlier this month.
"I went to the Web site and I was - ecch," said Stella, indicating she found the images offensive.
She said that La Purisima, a Roman Catholic parish of about 2,500 households, is staffed by priests of the Claretian order, and that Father Curran - a Claretian priest - had occasionally said Mass there several years ago.
"But we really don't know why we're mentioned," she said.
Reached yesterday at Corpus Christi parish in Stone Mountain, Ga., Father Curran said the Tomas Mejia Fund is "no longer in existence... . It closed last year," adding that "all the papers are in possession of my lawyer" in California.
He said he believed that the fund had received donations from the Junior Professional Wrestling Association but was "not certain how much."
Even though the Tomas Mejia Fund closed down last year, the Web site - updated as recently as May 6 - still claims to makes donations to the fund.
A photograph on the Web site yesterday showed Father Davidowich standing by Mejia, who is in a wheelchair, along with three adults, two of whom appear to be Mejia's parents.
Father Davidowich, who is not wearing priestly garb, is identified without his last name, as "Glenn Michael, founder and former president."
Reached at St. Michael's yesterday, Father Davidowich at first said he would have no comment, but called back five minutes later and agreed to talk, provided the questions were submitted in writing.
He was sent 10 questions by e-mail about 2 p.m., but by 7 p.m. had not replied. He did not return telephone messages.
A call made yesterday to Bishop Andrew Pataki, head of the Byzantine Eparchy - which is based in North Jersey and includes St. Michael's - was not returned. Earlier this month, when asked by the Phoenixville Phoenix newspaper about the site, Bishop Pataki said: "I have nothing to say about this. I have no comment. You'll have to talk to [Father Davidowich] if you have any questions."
Repeated calls to the Mejia household yesterday were met with busy signals.
Jack Clement, principal of El Toro High School in Lake Forest, Calif., which Mejia attended at the time of his accident in 1994, said the fund was started at the school by the boy's teachers and coaches.
"I've not heard much about it in recent years," he said.
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