Victims Hold Hope for Bishop

By Bill Zajac
Republican [Springfield MA]
March 30, 2004

SPRINGFIELD - Two organizations that have been offering support to victims of clergy sexual abuse will hold a silent vigil outside St. Michael's Cathedral as the new bishop is installed Thursday.

Members of the local affiliates of Voice Of The Faithful and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests will hold signs during the 2 p.m. installation of the Most Rev. Timothy A. McDonnell as the eighth bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

"Our presence will serve as a gentle reminder that we hope we are high on Bishop McDonnell's agenda," said Peter C. Pollard, head of the Western Massachusetts affiliate of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Vigil organizers emphasized no one would be protesting, although posters of abuse victims would be held.

"We aren't going to be getting into anyone's face and trying to make a splash," Pollard said.

The diocese has given the groups permission to be on cathedral property, said Laura F. Reilly, diocese victim outreach director.

Joan M. Smola, moderator of the Springfield/Northampton affiliate of Voice Of The Faithful, is one of two of its members who will attend the installation at the invitation of the diocese.

"One of the things I would like to hear from the bishop at the installation is that he will be open to meaningful dialogue with laity and that he will be looking to give the laity more of a role for the governance of the diocese and parishes," Smola said.

She added she would also like to hear the bishop express a sense of compassion for victims of clergy abuse.

"That is something that has been lacking in this diocese," said Smola, a member of Holy Redeemer Parish in Hadley.

Alternate moderator Maryann O. Lord of East Longmeadow might also attend the installation, while her husband, James A. Lord, a former priest, participates in the vigil outside.

Lord said the invitations to her group are a hopeful sign that the new bishop and Voice of the Faithful can work together in support of victims and a church that is more accountable to lay people.

"We would like to hear the bishop say that we will invite lay people to have greater participation in the church - and not just allow it," Lord said.

Shirley F. Nomakeo, a 47-year-old Holyoke resident and mother of two young children, said McDonnell has been invited to the Voice of the Faithful's April 13 meeting in Northampton.