Former Gallup priest named in abuse allegations
By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola
March 17, 2014
GALLUP — The number of Catholic clergy who have served in the Diocese of Gallup and have been credibly accused of the sexual abuse of minors increased once again.
With the advent of Lent, the Crosier Province in Phoenix released a comprehensive list of 19 current, former and deceased members of the Crosier Fathers and Brothers who have credible allegations against them.
The Rev. Justin Weger, O.S.C., who worked part-time for the Gallup Diocese in the mid-1970s, was included on the list.
Weger had been one of eight Crosiers to be publicly identified as sexually abusive clergy by the province in 2002. However, information about Weger’s ministry assignments, including his work in the Gallup Diocese and Native American communities, had not been released previously.
According to the Crosiers, Weger was born in 1925, ordained in 1952 and moved to the Southwest in 1974. He worked for the Diocese of Gallup in 1974-1975, providing weekend assistance in the diocese’s parishes in Arizona and New Mexico. Weger then moved to the Diocese of Tucson, where he served as parochial vicar at St. Mary Church in Sells, Ariz., located on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation.
He was removed from ministry in 1976, and his priestly faculties were withdrawn. Weger then became director of Tribal Lodge, Inc., believed to be a mental health treatment facility in Phoenix, from 1977 to 2002. He died in 2005.
In January, the Crosier Province and Gallup Bishop James S. Wall removed a current Gallup priest, the Rev. Timothy Conlon, O.S.C, from ministry because of an old abuse allegation. With these recent public announcements, Conlon and 10 other Crosiers have been newly identified as having credible allegations against them. The other 10 include former members Gerald Funcheon, Ron Melancon, Wendell Mohs, Michael Paquet and Roger Vaughn, and deceased members Cornelius DeVenster, Eugene Hambrock, Joseph Lendacky, Anton Schik and Urban Schmitt.
Province officials said they are currently investigating allegations against two more deceased Crosiers.
“It is our hope that this will bring healing, peace and comfort to the victims and their families,” Crosier Prior Provincial Thomas Enneking said.
According to the news release, the Crosier Province reports all abuse allegations to the appropriate authorities. However, supporters of abuse victims advocate that all reports of suspected abuse, current or past, be reported directly to law enforcement.