York County parish home to multiple accused priests reacts to 'disgusting' events
By Brandie Kessler, Ed Mahon And Dylan Segelbaum
York Daily Record August 6, 2018
August 7, 2018
|St. Rose of Lima Church in York.|
Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski
At least 31 of the 72 priests who have been accused of sexually abusing or inappropriately touching children have made York County parishes their homes.
Some of the county's dozen or so parishes since the 1940s appear to not have had any of the accused assigned there.
Other parishes were home to several accused priests over the years.
St. Rose of Lima is one such parish, with a total of six.
At least three priests were named by the Harrisburg diocese on Aug. 1, who have been accused of sexually abusing or inappropriately touching children and were assigned there since the 1930s:
Robert Maher: He was assigned to St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in York from 1937 to 1939, and worked at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Hanover in the 1960s and 70s. He died in 1990. The diocese previously said it received “credible allegations” against him in 1994 for an incident that took place in the 1960s. On Aug. 1, the diocese said after Maher's death, he "was the subject of multiple allegations of sexual abuse of children."
Guy Marsico: He was assigned to St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in York from 1983 to 1985, according to “The Official Catholic Directory.” The Patriot-News reported that a man said Marsico sexually abused him at the church in the 1980s when he was a boy. Marsico is alive. The diocese, in its release of information Aug. 1, said it received "multiple allegations of sexual abuse of children" against Marsico.
Herbert Shank: He was assigned to St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in York from 1985 to 1995, according to copies of “The Official Catholic Directory.” There were multiple allegations of sexual abuse of children, according to the diocese's release of information Aug. 1. He is alive.
On Monday, Aug. 6, the Diocese of Harrisburg released more detailed information on assignment histories and allegations against the priests it named Aug. 1, and the name of a 72nd priest or clergy member who has been accused.
The updated list indicated that St. Joseph of York, which is now in Springettsbury Township, has had 11 clergy members who served there who had an allegation against them at some point.
In that updated list, the Harrisburg diocese indicated six priests served at St. Rose of Lima since the 1930s who were accused of sexual abuse or inappropriate contact with a child. In addition to Maher, Marsico and Shank, the diocese noted a connection between St. Rose of Lima and:
Francis Bach: He was at St. Rose of Lima from 1975 to 1976. He’s listed at St. Patrick Catholic Church in York in the 1965 copy of “The Official Catholic Directory.” The diocese reported that it received multiple allegations of sexual abuse of children when he was alive. Bach died in 2010.
Neil Murphy: He was at St. Rose of Lima from 1958 to 1961. The diocese said Murphy was accused of sexual abuse of a child by the survivor after his death.
Stephen Rolko: He was at St. Rose of Lima from 1961 to 1964. The diocese said Rolko was accused of sexual abuse of a child by the survivor after his death.
Walter Zimmerman is a member of the parish pastoral council at St. Rose of Lima.
"I'm just saddened," Zimmerman said. "I'm just sad for the whole thing. And I believe people are human beings, and they tend to make mistakes."
Father Daniel Richards, who has been at St. Rose of Lima for about two years, wasn't a priest when the accused were at his church. When Maher and Marsico were there, Richards wasn't yet born.
"I can't really answer a lot" about the church's history or the possible abuse by prior priests, said Richards, 32, who grew up in Lebanon.
But that doesn't mean he has nothing to say.
Although Richards has only been at St. Rose of Lima for a short time, and he's only been a priest for five years, allegations of abuse against priests have been a fact for most of his life. "We as Catholics have been facing this for the past 20 years or so as it's been breaking in different parts of the country," Richards said.
As he has hoped about past disclosures of clergy abuse, Richards said he hopes the recent release from the Harrisburg diocese will encourage more survivors to come forward.
"When one or two people do have the courage to come forward and say what has happened to them," he said, pausing, "that would be my hope, if there are other people in the community who have been affected, this might be the impetus that would help them come forward."
Richards said he planned to discuss the news of the 71 names with his church, both by reading a statement Gainer had asked all churches to read during Mass and through other formal and informal discussions.
"It's hard to put even into words because of how disgusting these events are," Richards said, "but (I want to ) reiterate the sorrow - this affects everybody, even those of us who weren't alive when this was happening - to say what can we do?"
Terry McKiernan, the president and founder of Bishop-Accountability.org, which tracks abuse reports, said that there can be many reasons multiple alleged abusers will have worked at the same parish.
"It's not by any means always nefarious," McKiernan said. But sometimes it is.
That pattern or appearance of a pattern can scar a parish years later when the allegations of abuse are made public. And it also means victims can end up abused by more than one priest or cleric.
It's common for dioceses to establish a schedule of when to move priests on to new parishes.
"In general, you don't want a priest somewhere forever," McKiernan said.
In Boston, every six years or so, priests are reassigned, McKiernan said. When it's time, priests can influence where they go next. A priest might want to be closer to family, or might have always wanted to work in a particular church, which might be considered by church leadership.
And at times, priests have been transferred because of abuse.
McKiernan referenced the 2005 grand jury report that resulted from the investigation into the Philadelphia Archdiocese. The report quotes a memo by Chancellor Francis J. Statkus about Father Joseph Gausch, who served in the archdiocese from December 1945 until 1999, after Gausch had admitted to molesting children.
"Because of the scandal which already has taken place and because of the possible future scandal, we will transfer him in the near future," Statkus wrote in the 1974 memo.
"There are parishes in (some) dioceses that are definitely dumping grounds," McKiernan said.
Details about what happened in Harrisburg diocese parishes aren't yet public. It might become known when the grand jury report following an investigation into six Pennsylvania dioceses, including Harrisburg, is released in the coming week.