Former Ascension Pastor Accused in Sexual Abuse Incident
By Ken Trainor
August 12, 2014
Ascension Catholic Church parishioners found the following message from Rev. Larry McNally in the church bulletin on Sunday:
"In the spirit of transparency and the parish family's right to know … I received a phone call from the Archdiocesan Office of Youth and Protection. At a SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) press conference, an adult female spoke and said she was sexually abused by Monsignor John Fitzgerald in 1964. Msgr. Fitzgerald (now deceased was pastor at Ascension from 1951 until 1973). The Archdiocese has paid for her therapy."
The accuser is Gail Peloquin Howard, who now lives in Norwalk, Connecticut. According to the SNAP website (SNAPnetwork.org), "In 2005, [Ms. Howard] reported to Chicago archdiocesan officials that in 1964, as a teenager, she sought guidance from her pastor at Ascension parish in Oak Park, Msgr. John D. Fitzgerald, who sexually attacked her during that meeting and later he offered to pay her for one year of therapy. … The archdiocese has paid for Howard's therapy.
Howard reportedly did not come forward until her mother, who worked for the pastor, died.
The press conference took place outside the Chicago Archdiocese Chancery Office, 835 N. Rush St., on Thursday, July 31.