Rev. Bagley Resigns Pastorate at St. Mary in Grafton

By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette
May 31, 2003

Worcester - The Rev. John J. Bagley has resigned his pastorate so that a new permanent pastor can be named.

Rev. Bagley, a former Vatican and diocesan official who was last pastor of St. Mary Church, North Grafton, was removed last year by Bishop Daniel P. Reilly after an allegation was made that he raped an underage boy in 1967 in the rectory of Christ the King Church.

Deacon Nicholas M. CaraDonna, who has administered St. Mary's parish, said in the May 25 parish bulletin that Bishop Reilly requested Rev. Bagley's resignation and he complied "for the good of the parish, its parishioners and the church. He did this unselfishly so the bishop could appoint another pastor to shepherd us."

Raymond L. Delisle, spokesman for the diocese, did not answer requests for information on who among the seven accused priests removed by Bishop Reilly were asked to resign, how many have resigned, and exactly who has resigned.

Bishop Reilly recently sent out letters to accused priests asking them to resign or face removal. Joseph D. Early, lawyer for the Rev. Joseph A. Coonan, pastor of St. John's parish, said his client was not asked to resign. Bishop Reilly also removed and placed on administrative leave the Rev. Raymond P. Messier of St. Francis of Assisi in Athol and St. Peter Church in Petersham; the Rev. Chester J. Devlin of St. Bernardette, Northboro; the Rev. Peter J. Inzerillo, associate pastor of St. Leo Church, Leominster; the Rev. Gerard P. Walsh of St. Roch Church, Oxford; and the Rev. Lee F. Bartlett of Sacred Heart, Worcester.

The Rev. Jean-Paul Gagnon of St. Augustine, Millville, is on personal leave after a civil suit was filed alleging that he sexually abused Timothy P. Staney of Worcester, and he has not been removed from his parish.

District Attorney John J. Conte said last week he had more than one alleged victim who came forward with regard to Rev. Bagley. He said he was turning over his files to the Toronto Police Service because of an allegation that Rev. Bagley took an underage Central Massachusetts youth into Canada, where the youth was sexually abused. The statute of limitations in Massachusetts had expired, but Mr. Conte said there was no statute of limitations on this particular crime in Canada.

Rev. Bagley received support from Deacon CaraDonna, who said in the bulletin he was "greatly saddened" by the second allegation. He added that Rev. Bagley was "devastated" by an allegation more than 30 years old. "He had no prior knowledge of the allegation throughout these 15 months either from the district attorney's office nor from the diocese!" he said.

The deacon said he had known Rev. Bagley for several years, "and I will testify as to his character, honesty, veracity and holiness as a priest. Never, never have I ever detected anything that could be construed as a person other than one who is priestly, who leads by example, love and faithfulness to the mission of Jesus Christ."

He said Rev. Bagley, 69, "is unable to defend himself against these allegations for a number of reasons. He doesn't have the kind of financial resources nor the years that it could take to fight to clear his good name. He is on his own! Instead, he will go down silently because of his love for you, his family and his Church."


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