Accused Priest Was Stern Educator
Shock Descends on Seton Hall Prep
By John Chadwick
The Record [Bergen County NJ]
July 30, 2002
In a black-and-white photo hanging in the main corridor of Seton Hall Preparatory School, the Rev. William Giblin stares sternly at passers-by.
An imposing presence at 6 feet 4 inches tall, the former headmaster is said to be a complicated man. An eloquent preacher. A tough disciplinarian. A lover of the arts. "I named the auditorium after him because he did so much to boost our drama program," said the Rev. Michael Kelly, Giblin's successor at the Roman Catholic high school in West Orange.
But Giblin also could be strict when needed. Before becoming headmaster, Giblin was dean of school discipline. "He could put up a pretty stern exterior," Kelly said.
The veteran Catholic educator, now 70, was arrested in Montreal with another North Jersey priest as police broke up a gay prostitution ring that allegedly employed boys.
Giblin and the Rev. Eugene Heyndricks, 60, have been placed on administrative leave following official disclosure last week of their July 18 arrests. They have moved out of their parishes and are living in undisclosed locations. Heyndricks was the pastor at St. John Nepomucene in Guttenberg.
Montreal police said Monday that Heyndricks was charged with trying to procure sexual services from a prostitute and from a minor. Giblin was charged with arranging the encounter between Heyndricks and the minor, a boy described as between 14 and 18.
The alleged incident took place in a well-known gay neighborhood where the tolerant atmosphere attracts scores of foreign visitors.
"The Gay Village neighborhood in Montreal used to be quite derelict, but it's become quite upscale in the last five, eight years," said Robert Wilson, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association. "It's a predominantly gay area, like Christopher Street in New York City."
The arrests, coming amid the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, have astonished the priests' colleagues.
"This is very hard for us - we loved the guy," said Joseph Kane, a retired faculty member at Seton Hall Prep, who was close with Giblin.
Montreal police have released few details, saying they expect to make more arrests this week.
While many questions remain - especially about how the priests came to be arrested - it seemed clear Monday that both priests have had long, successful careers and apparently spotless records until now. "I don't know of any problems, and I don't believe there is any reason to suspect there [were] any problems," said Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark.
Giblin, a Newark native, devoted much of his career to teaching. He spent 20 years at Seton Hall Prep, stepping down as headmaster in 1980 to return to teaching theology. He also taught at Seton Hall University from 1961 to 1968, Goodness said. An eloquent speaker, Giblin could compose memorable homilies and recite them without notes. "That, to me, is a gift," said Kelly, the current headmaster.
While running the prep school, Giblin worked for greater recognition of students who participated in school drama and other activities. "He felt they should get equal recognition as the athletes," said Richard C. Morris, director of public information at Seton Hall Prep.
Just as officials held an annual dinner for the athletics program, Giblin started a similar event for students involved in other extracurricular activities.
A sometimes stern man, Giblin has an aggressive streak. When he bowled, he would whip the ball at high velocity down the lane. "It was the kind of shot that we used to say went in the parking lot," Kane said.
After leaving the school in 1988, Giblin worked briefly at St. Peter the Apostle in River Edge before becoming pastor for more than 10 years at St. Joseph in East Orange. He retired in 2000.
He had become ill and undergone a liver transplant in recent years. He was spending retirement in the rectory of Holy Rosary Church in Edgewater.
No one returned two phone messages left at Holy Rosary on Monday. In East Orange, a woman answering the door at St. Joseph declined comment.
Heyndricks, who was raised in Fair Lawn by his parents, Eugene and Anna Farley Heyndricks, was 35 when he decided to take his vows. He had decided to become a priest while teaching at St. Joseph's elementary school in Oradell in the 1970s.
He cited the influence of a Catholic brother, Leonard Wojtanowski, who worked at the school.
"[Brother Leonard] blackmailed me into taking the first step, threatening to keep the stereo I lent him for a school dance if I didn't contact the seminary," he quipped in a 1986 interview.
Heyndricks has served at several North Jersey parishes, including Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Ridgewood, Our Lady of Mercy in Park Ridge, and St. John the Baptist in Fairview. He was appointed pastor of St. John Nepomucene last November.
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