|Guam Pedophile Priests Identified
By Therese Hart
March 24, 2010
GUAM -- THE reign of secrecy and apparent conspiracy of silence that have stigmatized the Roman Catholic Church, which has been facing accusations of abuses by pedophile priests, will no longer be tolerated around the world, not even on Guam, according to national advocates who are currently on Guam to help abuse victims.
Guam is predominantly Catholic and because of the high regard and respect for its priests and the Archdiocese of Agana, alleged sexual abuses by priests are a well-kept secret, only whispered around, but never actually reported, said one victim who has yet to come out and name his abuser.
Records and copies of email exchanges obtained by Variety revealed details of abuses, confessions made by priests based on Guam, as well as settlements made off-island.
At least two priests based on Guam have been identified.
In letters and an email dating back to 2008, a victim who does not wish to be identified named his alleged abuser while he was a seminarian at St. Mary's Seminary, in Glenclyffe, New York, from the fall of 1961 until June of 1966.
The priest implicated was Fr. Randy Nowak, a Capuchin, who is residing in Agat. Fr. Nowak is listed on the Capuchin Friars website at www.thepacificcaps.org.
The Archdiocese of Agana could not be reached for comment.
According to a letter dated Feb. 11, 2008, the young student wrote to Fr. Michael Banks, provincial minister from the St. Conrad Friary, New York, alleging that he was molested by Nowak in the 1960's. "I need to take care of my own well-being. I cannot keep silent anymore. I have borne this guilt and shame for 45 years," the victim wrote.
Banks spoke to Nowak, who was prompted to email the victim on Feb. 25, 2008.
The email read: "I was glad to finally contact you after my talk with Fr. Mike Banks. Again I apologize for what happened between us. I was fully at fault. Many times I have prayed to die because of my guilt. I am also sorry to hear that it has severely upset your life. I have kept you in my daily prayers and will continue to do so. My life too has hit the bottom. It has been messed up because I went through the same problems. Sincerely, Randolph."
In a March 5, 2008 letter, the victim wrote back to Banks, saying that Nowak had also called him to apologize.
The victim also disclosed that as early as mid-1970s, he told Fr. Regis Armstrong about the abuses. "I turned to him for help. And he did nothing with this information. I feel Regis is guilty of the sin of omission. What he did was almost as grievous as what Randy did. He knew everything," wrote the victim.
On March 26, 2008, Banks wrote back to the victim, saying that he spoke to Regis Armstrong, who claimed that he had no recollection of "such a conversation at that time. He was quite positive about that."
The Province of St. Mary of the Capuchin Order, White Plains, New York, paid out to the victim $1,350 for his counseling fees from October 2006 through March 5, 2008 and further wrote that the Capuchin Franciscans of St. Conrad Friary will continue to pay for his counseling fees in concert with his psychologist's recommendations.
Joelle Casteix, the southwest regional director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said although Nowak has never been convicted, the public still needs to be warned.
She believes Nowak must be removed from the ministry.
Casteix is on Guam and will be holding two confidential support meetings for victims of sexual abuse, their supporters and concerned members of the community.
Casteix said she hopes to start a support network on Guam where survivors are empowered to help themselves.
"Survivors need to know that there's no shame to being a victim of sexual abuse because it wasn't their fault," she said.
"And if they can stand up and own their stories and be proud of the fact that they're alive and thriving, then we can clean up the church. We can make sure that what happened to us never happens to another child.
Another former Guam priest who faced sex abuse accusations was Fr. Andrew "Andy" Mannetta, a former pastor of Piti parish.
Mannetta came to Guam in 1980 as a seminarian. Guam was his first assignment after he was ordained into the priesthood in May 1983.
He later served as pastor in the villages of Chalan Pago, Piti and Mangilao. Mannetta served as a priest on Guam for six years. In 1993, he moved to Oahu.
In January 2007, the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu reached an out-of-court settlement with Elton Killion, to avoid a criminal sex abuse trial.
Killion accused Mannetta, who was then a former pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in Aiea, of sexually abusing him from 1997 to 2001.
At the time, Killion was a minor. The church paid out $375,000.
Alcohol and unwanted kisses
The lawsuit stated that Mannetta gave Killion alcohol and engaged in unwanted kissing which led to sexual assault.
Some Piti parishioners remembered Mannetta as a quiet man. Some remembered a time when his car tires were repeatedly being slashed and he was getting threatening phone calls.
"He was even afraid to walk outside after dark. I remember that about him. Maybe this is because he did something to one of our boys in Piti. I always wondered why Fr. Andy was getting these threats and his tires were always getting slashed," Piti resident Peter Blas told Variety.
Vice speaker BJ Cruz, who revealed last year that he himself was a victim of clerical abuse, said yesterday a local priest has either been defrocked or still in the process. He did not identify the priest.
The process of defrocking a priest is known as laicization - whereby a priest, while always a priest, is returned to the status of a lay person in practice, although not in theory. If it is imposed on a priest for major wrongdoing, he can still appeal it, which takes a long time.
Fr. Randy Nowak
Born on July 21, 1925 in Yonkers, New York, the son of Edward and Kathryn Ferguson Nowak. He joined the Capuchins in 1944 and was ordained on September 6, 1952. For many years he was involved in the formation of young Capuchins in Garrison, New York. Then he worked as chaplain in various hospitals in the New York area. He was also a vocation director in New York. In 1979 he came to Guam and ministered as assistant in Agat and then as pastor in Ordot for many years. He also assisted in Hawaii at Ewa Beach and was pastor in Pahala and Waikane. He has assisted on a temporary basis at almost every Guam parish staffed by the Capuchins. He resides now in the Agat fraternity.
"I thank God for my Capuchin vocation, for I have been able to serve God and His people in multiple ministries with the very important spiritual and physical support of my brothers." – Fr. Randy
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