MOST Rev. J. Peter Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle
O'Dea High School
November 12, 2012
Along with the entire school community, I am pleased that you are considering O'Dea High School. As a parent, you have many options, and I want to assure you that if you choose O’Dea for your son, he will receive a quality Catholic education in a wonderful environment. His education will be based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a community that lives its faith in prayer and service to others.
O’Dea is committed to the academic, spiritual, social and physical growth of young men and since 1923 has provided an environment rich in ethnic and economic diversity, strong in traditional values and sound in academic foundation. As a school of the Archdiocese of Seattle, it also maintains a commitment to providing a safe environment for students.
Unfortunately, recent media reports have questioned our commitment to the safety and security of the young men in our care. Former principal Brother Karl Walczak was recently accused of sexual abuse in another diocese in the early 1970s. Brother Walczak denies the allegation. Some media reports carried false charges that the church and the school attempted to conceal this information and that students at O’Dea may be in harm’s way.
Both of these charges are unfounded and incorrect. When the allegation against Brother Walczak became known by the Christian Brothers, he was removed from his position. The Archdiocese immediately began working with the Christian Brothers and the federal bankruptcy court in New York with jurisdiction in the case to obtain permission to release the information to the O’Dea community. The Archdiocese made the information about the allegation public immediately upon receiving clearance from the federal court.
Nothing is more important to me and to our Catholic school community than the safety of our students and transparency in matters that affect their safety. All of our employees and volunteers with unsupervised contact with youth are screened and trained to maintain a safe environment for all the young people we serve. You have my personal assurance that these efforts will continue and be strengthened to provide the highest standard of safety for our youth, young people and students. It also is important to note that O’Dea is owned by the Archdiocese of Seattle and is not affected financially by the Christian Brothers bankruptcy.
While making these ongoing commitments to safety our highest priority, we also maintain a commitment to our Catholic faith, academic excellence, community service and athletic excellence. O’Dea represents the very best of our longstanding tradition of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Seattle. I encourage you to strongly consider O’Dea for your son. If you do, I know he will receive an excellent education in a safe environment.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain
Archbishop of Seattle
P.S. If you would like more information about the Archdiocese of Seattle’s commitment to maintaining a safe environment for your son, please visit the archdiocesan website at www.seattlearch.org and click on Safe Environment. And please don’t hesitate to contact the archdiocesan Office of Communications (206-382-4826) or the O’Dea administration if you want more details regarding recent media reports.