'The sadness we feel for the victims...is crippling,' Lumen Christi responds to former priest's actions
By Leanne Smith
May 4, 2016
|Lumen Christi Catholic School is taking the name of one of its long-serving priests off a society that recognizes school donors.|
JACKSON, MI – Lumen Christi Catholic School is taking the name of one of its long-serving priests off a society that recognizes school donors.
The decision to remove the Rev. Joseph Coyle's name from the Father Coyle Society is being done out of respect for victims who gave testimonials in the recent sentencing of James Rapp, a former priest convicted of criminal sexual conduct, Lumen Christi President Elaine Crosby said.
"We do not feel that it is appropriate to keep his name associated with something when he was in some way complicit in this situation," Crosby said.
Rapp was assigned to Lumen Christi from 1980-86, while Coyle was president of the school. In testimonials at Rapp's sentencing on Friday, April 29, two former Lumen Christi students said they went to Coyle after being abused by Rapp but nothing was done about their allegations.
"We want to make sure that people understand that the actions that happened 30 years ago have been taken to heart, and that we have taken many steps to assure that won't happen again," Crosby said.
In a letter sent to all Jackson Catholic Schools parents on Wednesday, May 4, Crosby wrote, "The sadness we feel for the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of James Rapp that occurred at Lumen Christi is crippling. It is our commitment to prevent this crime from ever happening again."
Besides complying with state law requirements to complete criminal background and fingerprint checks on all employees, Jackson's Catholic schools also do criminal background checks on all volunteers.
Employees and volunteers alike are required to participate in training through the Catholic Diocese of Lansing that addresses issues surrounding child sexual abuse.
Students are educated about "personal boundaries" and how to respond if those boundaries are violated, the letter said.
"Our dedication is to build trust – we are called each day by our commitment, our respect for human dignity to protect children from sexual predators," Crosby wrote in the letter.
The Catholic Diocese of Lansing also is providing Cheryl Williams-Hecksel, a victim assistance coordinator, for families. She can be reached at 888-308-6252 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new name for the Father Coyle Society, a group that honors those who give to the school's annual appeal, is pending, Crosby said.