Gallup Diocese’s Healing Service in Thoreau Postponed
By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola
June 6, 2017
Officials with the Diocese of Gallup have postponed a healing service for clergy sex abuse survivors that had been scheduled this week in Thoreau.
The healing service was originally scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at St. Bonaventure Indian Mission and School. It has been pushed back three weeks to June 29.
“In order to properly accommodate the 30-day requirement we found it necessary to reschedule the healing service,” Suzanne Hammons, the diocese’s spokeswoman, said in an email Friday.
According to the non-monetary provisions of the diocese’s Chapter 11 plan of reorganization, Gallup Bishop James S. Wall is required to visit each operating Catholic parish or school in the diocese where sex abuse occurred or where a credibly accused abuser was assigned. The diocese is also required to publicize each healing service 30 days in advance through notices posted in parishes, church bulletins, on the diocesan website, and in the diocese’s Voice of the Southwest publication.
Hammons was asked how the diocese is publicizing the St. Bonaventure healing service since the school will be closed for the summer and Thoreau has no Catholic parish and therefore no church bulletins.
Hammons said the new date has actually been posted on the diocesan website for several weeks, and notices have been sent to several parishes near Thoreau for inclusion in their bulletins.
“The new date was not made to fit in the schedule of the school year,” she said. “Students at St. Bonaventure are not the intended audience for the healing service — our first priority is the survivors.”
However, the one publicly known clergy sex abuse survivor from Thoreau is a former St. Bonaventure student who was abused at the school by the Rev. Douglas McNeill, the school’s former director for 20 years. That abuse survivor filed a clergy abuse lawsuit in 1994 and signed a settlement agreement with the Diocese of Gallup and St. Bonaventure in 1995. His settlement of approximately $135,000 has been the only individual settlement amount publicly disclosed in the Gallup Diocese.
The abuse survivor, who lives in northern New Mexico, attended one of the Diocese of Gallup’s bankruptcy hearings in Albuquerque in 2016. In comments to the Independent after the hearing, the man alleged he was not the only male student at St. Bonaventure to be sexually abused by McNeill, but he said he was the only one who came forward.
Thoreau area abusers
According to the Diocese of Gallup’s list of credibly accused clergy sex abusers, the following abusers have worked in Thoreau or nearby parishes or missions:
- Clement Hageman: Mission Center for Navajo Indians at Smith Lake and Thoreau, 1939.
- Douglas McNeill: St. Bonaventure Indian Mission and School in Thoreau, 1974-1994.
- Santino Casimano: St. Paul Parish in Crownpoint, 1975-1976.
- Michael Aten: St. Bonaventure Indian Mission and School in Thoreau, June 1976.
- John Boland: St. Paul Parish in Crownpoint and Risen Savior Mission in Bluewater, 1999.
Any abuse survivor who attends the healing service at St. Bonaventure is invited to meet privately with Wall after the service. The service is expected to be about 35 minutes.
According to the non-monetary provisions, any abuse survivor who wants a private meeting with the bishop at a different time has the right to make that request. In addition, communications to abuse survivors are required to be returned within two business days. Currently, there are two safe environment contacts in the diocese. Elizabeth Terrill, the victims’ assistance coordinator, can be contacted at 505-906-7357 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Rev. Matthew Keller, the vicar general in the diocese, can be contacted at 505-722-6644 or email@example.com.