Former Priest, the Rev. David Le Blanc, Letter to Members of Holy Family Catholic Church

Grand Rapids Press [Caledonia MI]
January 10, 2007

Dear Parishioner(s),

By now, either through this letter, the bishop's letter, the weekend Masses or through the media, you know that I can no longer be your pastor because of an abuse of a youngster.

I am ashamed that in 1971, I was involved in sexual abuse with a young boy who was in my care for one night. I was immodest with him and embarrassed him. Although there was no physical contact or physical coercion, my act would still constitute sexual abuse because it violated the sixth commandment.

In 1993, the victim reported to the Diocese what had happened to him. I was called in and admitted that what he said was true. I felt terrible that the abuse might have long-term effects. I asked and was granted a meeting with the victim. We met in the chancery in the presence of a professional therapist. I was able to express my sorrow and he forgave me. Although it was awkward at first, we resumed a normal conversation talking about the old days. The therapist asked if he felt he needed any therapy and he said no. We embraced and, except for a couple of phone calls, we parted never to see each other.

On December 15, 2006, I went to see the Bishop about retiring in June or July. Much to my surprise, he brought up the abuse that I thought was resolved. He said that he was reviewing old files. The victim did not re-contact the diocese nor has anyone else. The Bishop said that according to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, he must remove me from ministering in the priesthood. At first, he thought I could move my retirement up to the end of February and leave quietly. In our next meeting on December 20, he decided that he must make what happened public in accordance with the Charter.

As for the parish, a new messenger will eventually be sent to preach the good news. Like all of us, he will (be) flawed. The first messengers were flawed also. Weddings will still happen, funerals will occur, etc. Until a new pastor is sent please address all calls to the parish office.

As you know, I am on vacation right now (planned since returning from vacation last year). I will let you know through the bulletin where I will be living. Because I have received God's forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the victim's forgiveness, I was able to move on and enjoy my ministry. My priestly ministry has been like my spouse. I know what many of you, whom I have counseled after the loss of your husband or wife, are going through. I have just lost my wife (my priestly ministry).

Besides the loss of my ministry, I am devastated by the shame and scandal that I have brought on you and this wonderful community and the other communities I have served. Words cannot express my sorrow for the hurt that I have brought upon you. I know my prayers are heard. You will be in them always. I hope I am in yours. As of right now, I am no longer allowed to act as a priest, dress as a priest, and be addressed as a priest. I will continue to pray the Mass privately and help informally as a Catholic with a rather rich background. I will always be a priest at heart. No one can take that away from me.

In Christ's love,

Dave F. Le Blanc


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