Diocese of Youngstown OH
July 17, 2022
By Justin Huyck
The Diocese of Youngstown today announces the findings of an independent investigation concerning a November 2021 allegation against Father Marian Babjak.
In November 2021, the Diocese of Youngstown received an allegation against Father Marian Babjak of inappropriate physical contact with a minor who is now an adult. Father Babjak has served as pastor of Christ Our Savior Parish in Struthers since August 2020 and previously served as Associate Pastor at St. Paul in North Canton and St. Charles Borromeo in Boardman, as well as pastoral assignments before 2016 in Slovakia. He was ordained in 1995.
In accordance with the Diocese’s Safe Environment Policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults and the policies of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Father Babjak was immediately placed on Administrative Leave by the Most Rev. David J. Bonnar, Bishop of Youngstown to allow for a thorough and independent investigation, without presuming guilt or innocence.
The diocese initiated an independent third-party investigation which included interviews with all of the applicable persons. The diocese also notified public authorities about the allegation and, through the diocese’s victim assistance coordinator, informed the person making the allegation of civil reporting procedures and their legal options. Information about legal and canonical options were also provided to Father Babjak. Throughout the investigation, pastoral accompaniment services were offered to the person making the allegation, facilitated by the diocese’s victim assistance coordinator.
Following the third-party investigation, the matter was turned over for review to the Diocesan Review Board, an independent, confidential, and consultative body composed of professionals from a wide range of fields. These include the treatment of sexual abuse of minors, the medical and legal fields, and pastoral care. Additionally, the majority of its members are lay persons who are not in the employ of the diocese, with members from various faith traditions. All are appointed by the Bishop for a five year term.
The Diocesan Review Board determined that the allegation of inappropriate physical contact was credible and that there was a violation of the diocese’s Standards of Ministerial Excellence, but it did not rise to the level of sexual abuse. The Review Board recommended that Father Babjak be considered for future active ministry, after a period of evaluation.
Bishop David Bonnar has accepted the findings of the Diocesan Review Board and communicated them to both Father Babjak and the person making the allegation. Father Babjak has agreed to resign as pastor of Christ Our Savior Parish in Struthers, effective July 6, 2022, indicating that his decision came after much prayer, and was made for the spiritual welfare of the parish. Father Babjak has also agreed to undergo an evaluation concerning his suitability for future ministry. Bishop Bonnar comments, “I commend the person making the allegation for coming forward. This has been a very challenging time for so many people, including the person who brought forth the allegation, Father Babjak, and the faith community in Struthers. I thank Father Martin Celuch for caring for Christ Our Savior Parish during this time, in addition to his responsibilities at Holy Family Parish, Poland, St. Luke Parish, Boardman, and to the diocese. I am grateful to the independent Review Board for their important work and to diocesan staff for carefully following our policies and civil law. I pray for healing on the part of all involved.”
Bishop Bonnar also announces the Very Rev. Philip Rogers, currently pastor of St. Charles Borromeo in Boardman, as the new pastor of Christ Our Savior Parish in Struthers, effective August 1, 2022. Bishop Bonnar comments, “Having previously served the faithful in Struthers, Father Rogers brings not only a familiar face but a shepherd’s heart. I know that he is very excited to serve the people of Christ Our Savior Parish.” In the coming weeks, a new pastor will be named for St. Charles. Father Rogers will continue his responsibilities as Dean of Mahoning South Deanery.
The Diocese of Youngstown’s response to allegations of abuse by clergy or Church personnel is governed by civil law and its Safe Environment Policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults, available at https://doy.org/safe-environment/. The Diocese of Youngstown encourages anyone who has experienced misconduct by a clergy member or church employee to contact public authorities or the diocese directly through Dominic Colucy, Victims Assistance Coordinator at 330-744-8451, ext. 293, or via the confidential diocesan response line: 330-718-1388. Mr. Colucy’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.