Monk Regrets Sexual Abuse

By Michelle Tan
St. Cloud Times
September 30, 2002

COLLEGEVILLE - One of the monks living under restrictions at St. John's Abbey has issued a written apology for his actions.

The Rev. Francis Hoefgen, 52, wrote the apology Friday and it appeared in the Sunday edition of the Star Tribune.

"One of the challenges some of these men face is the desire to express their apology publicly, but not really having a forum to do that," said the Rev. Columba Stewart, abbey spokesman. "This was a chance for one of the men to speak in the first person and that was very important."

Hoefgen, who was put under restriction in 1992, is accused of sexually abusing a troubled teen-ager in the early 1980s in Cold Spring.

When the allegations against Hoefgen were brought forward in the 1980s, Hoefgen completed a treatment and rehabilitation program, Stewart said. After completing the program, Hoefgen was reassigned to lead a parish in Hastings.

Hoefgen returned to the abbey when the allegation became public.

Eleven monks at the abbey are on restriction and two are on leave of absence, Stewart said. These men are limited to where they can go, what they can do and whom they might encounter.

Each of the men has worked hard on his own repentance and his own therapy, he said.

"Almost all these guys have acknowledged what they did and have had counseling and work on this," Stewart said. "What was new with this (Hoefgen's apology) was the more public character of it."

Hoefgen's apology

St. John's Abbey released a written apology from one of the monks on restriction. This is the entire apology:

I express my personal apology for the incredible pain I have caused so many by my actions in the past. I apologize both to my victim and all in the Church whose faith I have shaken. Absolutely every day I feel profound anguish and sorrow and it weighs heavily on me. I can only turn to my God for healing and forgiveness for me and for those I have harmed in any way as a minister in the Church and as a friend. Every day I bring this to prayer as I grow in my awareness of the damage this has caused. I humbly ask for forgiveness and prayers from my victim, from all connected with St. John's, from those I served in parish ministry, my fellow monks, and personal friends.


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