|Silence on Accused Priest Is Denounced
By Abe Levy
January 26, 2011
Victim advocates ripped Catholic leaders Wednesday over a religious order priest now working at Oblate School of Theology who was accused in a lawsuit of molesting an altar boy in the 1970s, a fact that wasn't made public until last week.
Father Donald J. Joyce was included on a list of accused Catholic clergy released by Boston-area lawyer Mitchell Garabedian.
The attorney is noted for representing the original accusers in the sex abuse scandal that exploded about a decade ago in the U.S.
Among 19 new names on the list was Joyce, the theology school's director of libraries. He's believed to have lived on the San Antonio campus since 1998.
Joyce was ordained in 1958 and is believed to be in his 70s.
Garabedian represented Michael Hallberg, 44, of Massachusetts, who was an altar boy at Sacred Heart Parish in that state when he met Joyce. In a 2006 lawsuit settled in April for an undisclosed amount, Hallberg claimed Joyce molested him from 1977 to 1979.
Barbara Garcia Boehland, local director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, led a protest Wednesday of three people at the theology school's entrance. After she sought to speak with Joyce in the school library, Oblate officials asked her to leave the premises.
The campus is home to Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, where periodic Masses include children, she said, and across the street is a Catholic school for preschool through eighth grade.
She said Catholic leaders have failed to live up to their own transparency standards, forcing Hallberg, Garabedian and SNAP to expose the wrongdoing of priests.
"There were no warnings by any Catholic leader in San Antonio," Garcia said. "This man has been in San Antonio since 1998 and nothing's been done?"
Officials with Joyce's religious order, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, issued a statement Wednesday saying they barred him from working as a priest. The statement did not give a reason or timeframe, and officials declined to respond to questions.
The theology school "is a graduate school and does not involve minors," the statement read. "He is not a professor and does not provide instruction. Don Joyce has not been involved in active ministry for many years. He is not functioning as a Catholic priest and does not have permission to do so."
Garabedian called this statement "vague" and unconcerned with accountability.
"One would hope the Oblates would be more sensitive to the horrors of clergy sex abuse and act accordingly, but instead we now hear talk but no action," he said.
The Archdiocese of San Antonio distanced itself from Joyce, noting he never was under its jurisdiction and recalling the independent governance of religious orders.
Joyce "never had an assignment or had faculties in the archdiocese," said Deacon Pat Rodgers, a spokesman for the archdiocese. "His presence at Oblate is under the purview of his religious order. We found out about the allegation in a story from Boston. That information wasn't shared with us or available until last week."
The theology school and the Archdiocese of San Antonio have maintained a longstanding partnership.
Archdiocesan seminarians attend the school for theology instruction. The archdiocese's seminary rector and a retired auxiliary bishop serve on the school's board.
Hallberg claims Joyce molested him from age 11 to 13 starting in 1977. Hallberg said by phone Wednesday that the priest gave him alcohol, paid for meals and took him on secluded outings where he repeatedly fondled him and once tried to rape him.
The priest called Hallberg out of class often to assist in funerals, weddings and special Masses and was paid up to $75 for his help.
Both his parents worked to sustain their middle-class life, trusting the priest would not harm their son, Hallberg said.
The priest would take Hallberg out to eat several times a week, which included drinking wine. Joyce would work connections at a private Catholic high school where Hallberg dreamed of playing hockey.
And he took him and two other altar boys on a monthlong trip along the northeastern coast, paying for lodging and expensive meals, Hallberg said. During that trip, Joyce tried to rape him, and he jumped out of bed startled, Hallberg said.
The priest shunned Hallberg from that point on, he said.
"My parents asked why he didn't contact me again," Hallberg said. "It all stopped. I was raised to look up to this priest. I had a long battle dealing with it. It took so long to realize it wasn't me. It was him."
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.