Catholic Courier [Diocese of Rochester NY]
September 6, 2022
By Karen M Franz
On July 22, the Diocese of Rochester filed objections asking the court to disallow and expunge 74 claims (including several duplicates) asserted in its chapter 11 bankruptcy case.
In an affidavit filed with the bankruptcy court, Father Daniel J. Condon, diocesan chancellor, noted that “A number of claims allege that the survivor was abused by a member of a religious order, a lay employee, volunteer, resident or student of a school or facility owned and operated by a religious order or other non-Diocesan entity.”
The reason behind filing these objections, Father Condon explained, is to prevent claims that should be directed against non-diocesan entities from diluting payments to survivors who were abused by perpetrators for whom the diocese or its affiliates may have had legal responsibility.
A diocesan statement addressing the claim objections emphasized that “the Diocese is not questioning the veracity of these claims, but instead is asserting that these specific claims focus on persons or entities that were not and are not under the control or direction of the Diocese of Rochester.”
According to the affidavit, the objections relate to the following claims:
Aquinas Institute — 13 claims alleging abuse by 6 Basilian priests and 3 lay employees; 1 additional claim alleging abuse by an unnamed “Basilian Fathers cleric”: Aquinas operated as a diocesan school from its founding in 1922 until 1936 when control was assumed by the Basilian Fathers of Toronto, Canada. In 2000 the Congregation of St. Basil ended its affiliation with the school, which now is run by the Aquinas Board of Trustees.
Bishop Kearney High School — 12 claims alleging abuse by 9 members of the Christian Brothers of Ireland and 1 lay school employee: A February 1960 agreement between the diocese and Irish Christian Brothers for establishment of the school called for the diocese to deed to the Christian Brothers approximately 35 acres of land for a school and monastery; build and equip a school on the premises in consultation with the brothers; and deed the entire structure and grounds to the brothers upon completion. The Irish Christian Brothers sold Bishop Kearney High School to a lay board of trustees in 1999.
Cardinal Mooney High School (defunct) — 13 claims alleging sexual abuse by 3 Holy Cross Brothers: Also in 1960, the diocese forged an agreement with the Eastern Province of the Brothers of the Holy Cross for the order to own and operate a high school. The diocese agreed to purchase land; construct and equip a school and brothers’ monastery, in consultation with the brothers; and, on completion, sell it to the brothers for a portion of construction costs. The Holy Cross Brothers operated the school until it was closed in 1989.
McQuaid Jesuit — 11 claims alleging sexual abuse by 6 Jesuit priests, 1 lay teacher and 1 unnamed priest/guidance counselor: A 1952 letter of agreement between the diocese and the New York Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) called for the diocese to contribute $1.5 million toward the Jesuits’ cost of purchasing land and constructing buildings for the school, which continues to be owned and operated by the religious order.
Notre Dame High School, Elmira — 2 claims alleging sexual abuse by a Sister of Mercy and a lay teacher:: Notre Dame has been owned and operated by the Sisters of Mercy since it opened in 1955.
Nazareth Hall — 1 claim alleging sexual abuse by 3 Sisters of St. Joseph (2 unnamed): The Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester established the private school in 1884; in 1992, the SSJs combined Nazareth Hall with the order’s high school, Nazareth Academy, forming The Nazareth Schools. That entity merged with Aquinas Institute in 2010.
Mount Carmel High School, Auburn (defunct) — 1 claim against a Carmelite priest: Operated by the Order of Discalced Carmelites since the school opened in 1955, it was closed by the Carmelites at the end of the 1970 academic year.
Sacred Heart Academy (defunct) — 1 claim alleging sexual abuse by unidentified “nuns”: Established in 1855 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, this primarily girls’ school was closed by the order in 1969.
Notre Dame Retreat House, Canandaigua — 1 claim alleging sexual abuse by a Redemptorist brother: The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists) founded the facility in 1967. In March 2022, the Redemptorists announced plans to close the retreat house in 2023.
“Cloistered Sisters of Mercy Convent” — 1 claim alleging sexual abuse by 3 unidentified priests and 1 unidentified lay employee: As with other facilities owned and operated by religious orders, Sisters of Mercy convents are independent of diocesan control. However, there is no record of a cloistered Mercy convent having existed within the geographic boundaries of the Diocese of Rochester.
St. Joseph’s Villa — 3 claims alleging sexual abuse by 2 employees (1 unnamed), and 2 residents: St. Joseph’s Villa operated under the umbrella of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester from 1942 to 1976. In August 1976, before the claims allege abuse took place, it separated from Catholic Charities with control vested in a board of directors. It is now known as Villa of Hope.
St. Michael’s Mission, Conesus — 1 claim alleging sexual abuse by a seminarian: Owned by the Society of the Divine Word since 1924 and operated as an order seminary and conference center, the mission was leased as a secular health center in 1978 then sold to the non-denominational Trinity Institute in 1985.
A handful of additional claims relate to churches that are not Catholic and other individuals/entities that are not associated with the Diocese of Rochester or the Catholic Church.