Victims of a Dead Priest Prepare to Heal

By Shannon Samson
November 15, 2007

The deeds of a long dead priest haunt a Tri-State community.

The healing process is going public in Jasper, Indiana as the Catholic Diocese comforts the victims of Monsignor Othmar Schroeder.

The church is holding a special service Sunday at St. Joseph Catholic Church to deal with the growing number of sexual abuse allegations against Schroeder who died in 1988.

In August, Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger told parishioners that former Monsignor Othmar Schroeder who spent 28-years at Holy Family Church in Jasper. Gettelfinger say Schroeder abused boys during his time there.

He's said little more than the abuse turned out to be greater than he initially was told.

There is a long journey of healing ahead for the victims and the church community. It starts this weekend with a healing service.

Sunday's service at Saint Joseph's Church in Jasper will not be a mass.

Instead, it will contain scripture and intercession. Afterwards, counselors will be made available.

Father Raymond Brenner from St. Joseph's says the service has a purpose, "To try to maybe bring some people at peace to let them know the church does care about what has gone on."

What has gone on has divided the church. Some parishioners refuse to believe Father Othmar Schroeder was anything short of a hero.

Despite his contributions, the Diocese has removed his portrait from church walls and his name from memorials.

Diocese spokesperson, Paul Leingang, says, "The removal of public images is intended and we hope successful at removing a bad memory for people who have had a bad experience."

Members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, handed out pamphlets to Evansville parishioners when the scandal broke.

SNAP's national director, David clohessy says prayer is good, but not enough, "We think that rather than strictly ask for God's help, Bishop Gettelfinger should use the power and influence and resources that he has to disclose predator priests that he knows of in his Diocese."

It's something he's pledged to do in the past. In the case of Father Schroeder, however, Bishop Gettelfinger has said he kept silent out of a commitment to protect the anonymity of the victims.

What else he has to say will have to wait until after Sunday's service, when the bishop is expected to address the media.


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