|St. Luke Parishioners Updated on Suspended Pastor
By Shabria Davis
April 20, 2011
Parishioners of St. Luke the Evangelist Church in Glenside filled the pews April 18 for an informational meeting regarding the March 9 suspension of their pastor, Monsignor Michael Flood.
Flood, 71, was one of 21 priests suspended by the archdiocese after a grand jury report revealed a cause for an investigation, due to accusations of sexual misconduct with children.
During the 90-minute meeting, Kate Reiley, a lawyer representing Flood, said the accusations against Flood stem from a civil suit filed by an anonymous plaintiff in Delaware in 2009.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges that Flood molested him more than 15 times, when Flood was his religion teacher at what was then Bishop John Neumann Catholic High School in South Philadelphia in 1976.
Reiley said after looking at all of the documents of the case, she is sure Flood will be justified.
“I have reviewed the case, and there is nothing there,” she said.
Reiley assured the worried parishioners that Flood is not in jeopardy of facing criminal charges, adding that prior to this particular case there had been no complaints about Flood.
“There has never in 40 years been a complaint made against him,” Reiley said. “His personnel file is exemplary. The man you know is the same man on paper.”
Throughout a question-and-answer portion of the meeting, several parishioners asked why the diocese had waited so long to remove Flood from the parish if accusations dated back to 2009.
“The archdiocese has made some monumentally stupid choices during this process,” said Williams Matthews III, a parishioner who has been working with several others on a makeshift committee in support of Flood. “The right answer might have been to take Monsignor Flood out 18 months ago, investigate it, and put him back. But the archdiocese didn’t do their job.”
Reiley was unable to tell attendees exactly how long Flood’s investigation will have him away from St. Luke’s.
Although several parishioners mentioned withholding their contributions to the archdiocese and parish until Flood is reinstated, Reiley told them the best thing to do is to let Flood know he is loved and his parish is behind him.
“Send him letters, send him cards, let him know you are thinking of him,” she said. “I know he misses you all greatly.”
Joseph T. Simone urged his fellow parishioners to continue to support the parish, because it is what Flood would want.
“We want St. Luke’s to continue to be a strong, vibrant, religious parish. Let’s give him [Flood] that.”
Matthews said the meeting was a way for parishioners to learn more about Flood’s case, and aid the transition of a parish without Flood, who had presided at St. Luke’s for 15 years prior to his suspension.
“We want to use this meeting as a forum for people to learn about the case,” he said. “We don’t want people to be angry with the archdiocese. The transition has been very difficult, but Father Brandt has been stationed here before, so that made it a little easier.”
Matthews said the entire parish is working toward a singular goal, getting Flood back to the parish.
Ken Wasekanes, who came out to show his support for Flood, agreed with Matthews.
“As a parish, we stick together,” he said. “We all support our monsignor.”
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