Lawrence Journal-World [Lawrence KS]
May 2, 2022
By Rochelle Valverde
A Catholic priest and youth pastor who served for 20 years in the Lawrence area has been suspended due to an accusation of child sex abuse.
According to a statement from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, the archdiocese was informed on Feb. 28 that the Capuchin Franciscans Province of Mid-America had recently received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against Father Michael Scully. Scully has served at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Lawrence, Holy Family Parish in Eudora and most recently at Haskell Indian Nations University Catholic Campus Center in Lawrence.
The allegation stems from Scully’s ministry outside the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, according to the statement, which was published in the March 25 issue of the archdiocese’s publication The Leaven. The statement does not further specify when or where the alleged child sexual abuse occurred.
Joseph Elder, spokesperson for the Capuchin Franciscans Province of Mid-America, said information about where the alleged abuse occurred would not be shared until the investigation was finished. Elder said that as soon as the province became aware of the accusation, it followed its standard procedure and contacted law enforcement and immediately removed Scully from ministry. Elder said the accusations were painful for the province and all involved.
“Our hearts always go out to anybody that is the victim of sexual abuse,” Elder said.
Scully has denied the allegations and is “cooperating fully,” according to the archdiocese statement. In addition to the law enforcement investigation, Elder said an independent review board will meet to determine whether the allegation is credible. He said that process was still ongoing.
Scully has served in Colorado and several communities in Kansas. Scully focused heavily in ministering to children and youth, and he hosted a radio show in western Kansas called “Message at the Top” that incorporated rock and other popular music.
According to his website, Scully has spent most of his 40-plus years of ministry working with youth as a religion teacher, high school administrator, youth pastor and parish pastor. The website states that Scully has also given many parish retreats and recollection days, and that his presentation “Rock Music and Leadership” has been presented to over 30,000 young people in talks and retreats for high school and college youth.
The Capuchin Franciscans Province of Mid-America is based in Denver, and Scully headed the province from 2001 to 2007, according to a news release from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). SNAP called on Catholic officials in Kansas and Colorado to immediately reach out — via public announcements, mailings and other means — to anyone who might have information or suspicions about Scully.
“It’s crucial that other possible victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers be prodded to come forward so that the truth can be determined, kids can be protected and victims can heal,” SNAP states.
Scully served approximately 20 years in the Lawrence area, according to assignment information the province provided the Journal-World. Specifically, Scully served as pastor of St. John’s from 1986-1995 and again from 2013 to 2014. He began his most recent assignments at the Haskell Catholic Campus Center in 2014 and at Holy Family in Eudora in 2017. Over the years, he also served in Hays, Victoria, Pfeifer and Salina, including several years as pastor of St. Joseph’s Church and head of Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, both in Hays.
The Journal-World asked representatives from St. John’s, the Haskell center, and Holy Family if they had a comment about the accusations against Scully or any message for their communities. St. John’s and the Haskell center referred all questions to the province, and Holy Family did not immediately respond.
The province has notified law enforcement, initiated an independent investigation and evaluation by its Independent Review Board, and is “providing support to the person alleging harm,” according to archdiocese statement. Scully was “relieved from public exercise or priestly ministry” pending the outcome of the investigation and review process.
The province encourages anyone with knowledge about the case or about any misconduct by any of its members to contact civil authorities first, and then make a report to the province at firstname.lastname@example.org. The archdiocese also encouraged anyone with knowledge about any misconduct by any religious or clergy members, church employee, or church volunteer to contact civil authorities first, and then make a report to its confidential tip report line at 913-6473051 or at archkck.org/reportabuse.