Bishop Accountability
  Manchester NH Resources – June 2003

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Victory Sometimes Precedes the Trial

By David Hechler
National Law Journal
June 2, 2003

Attorney: Roderick MacLeish Jr.
Firm: Greenberg Traurig
Case: Ford v. Cardinal Bernard Law, No. 02-0626B [Middlesex Co., Mass., Super. Ct.]

Sometimes a lawyer wins even before a case goes to trial.

Roderick [Eric] MacLeish scored some of the most important victories of his career last year, even though his case hasn't even had a pretrial conference.

The 50-year-old lawyer has successfully represented clients in a variety of high-stakes litigation. He defended the city of Miami when it was sued by its former police chief for racial discrimination and he defended an entrepreneur sued by Siemens A.G. and Nortel Networks Corp. in a multibillion-dollar claim of misappropriation of trade secrets. He likes to alternate commercial litigation with cases that focus on employment law or public policy issues.

But MacLeish is best known for his representation of plaintiffs who claim that, as children, they were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests. His first foray into this area was in 1992, when he represented 101 plaintiffs who sued the Rev. James Porter. Porter eventually pleaded guilty to rape charges and was sentenced to 18 to 20 years in prison. The church settled the lawsuits for an undisclosed sum. "At the time it was the largest amount the church had ever paid to settle a case with a single perpetrator," MacLeish said.

Following Porter, MacLeish continued to handle sexual abuse cases, but in 2001 they occupied only 10% of his time. Last year that exploded to about 85%.

It turned out to be the Year of the Documents. MacLeish and other lawyers managed to pry loose 45,000 pages from the archives of the Boston Archdiocese. It was the first time, he said, that church officials released records covering the entire diocese and made them public. But they didn't do so voluntarily, he said. They fought every inch of the way, throwing up a First Amendment defense. Even when he won, he had to file motions to secure compliance with court orders.

Many of the most damaging documents involve the Rev. Paul Shanley, who allegedly abused dozens of children in Boston and elsewhere. Shanley was arrested in San Diego last May and extradited to Boston to face child rape charges.

Though Shanley's name appears on virtually every page of MacLeish's complaint, he isn't a defendant. The defendants are the archdiocese's corporate entity and church officials who were allegedly informed of Shanley's conduct beginning in the 1960s and were negligent in failing to protect plaintiff Greg Ford, who claims he was repeatedly molested by Shanley over a half-dozen years, beginning when he was 6 years old.

The named defendants are Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned his position as head of the Boston Archdiocese last December, and two priests who were his aides-Thomas Daily, now bishop of the Brooklyn, N.Y., Diocese and John McCormack, bishop of the Manchester, N.H., Diocese.

Though MacLeish is the first to say he had plenty of help in the paper chase, he is the lawyer who has battled longest in Boston, the center of the storm, and he led the way. A trial is still a long way off, and documents continue to trickle in, but already, MacLeish said, they've had a major impact.

The documents paved the way for MacLeish's deposition of Law, which took eight days that began last June and ended in January. The documents and the depositions, in turn, were largely, if not entirely, responsible for Law's resignation. MacLeish also believes they made possible the settlement the Manchester Diocese reached in December with that state's attorney general to avoid criminal prosecution. It required McCormack, who worked with Law until 1998, to acknowledge publicly that the church had "contributed to the endangerment of children."

The documents also provided ammunition for an unprecedented lawsuit in which the church is essentially suing itself. In April, the Diocese of San Bernardino, Calif., sued the Boston Archdiocese for transferring Shanley west without mentioning the allegations that trailed him.

Though the Ford case has received the most attention, it is by no means MacLeish's only case against Shanley or the church. He represents 22 people who allege that Shanley molested them; eight are in litigation. Overall, he represents about 240 plaintiffs suing the church.

Two of his clients settled cases against Shanley for confidential sums in 1994. At the time, MacLeish said, Shanley "didn't stand out." He had no sense of the magnitude of the priest's activities. Church officials told him that Shanley wasn't in active ministry. "I believed what I was told," said MacLeish, who added that it was a mistake to take their word. "We all wanted to believe. We all hoped that this wasn't widespread."

The mistake he has never made that other lawyers have, he said, is "taking the money and running." He won't agree to a settlement in which a priest is permitted continued access to children, or a plaintiff is constrained from cooperating with the police. Nor will he threaten to go to the police or the press to extract a settlement. "It's close to extortion," he said. "I think it's unethical."

His clients were faced with a difficult choice shortly before the first cache of Shanley documents surfaced. They were asked by a superior court judge to accept a gag order, at least temporarily, in exchange for the papers. They refused. When the documents were finally released, in April 2002, MacLeish, 24-year-old Greg Ford and his parents [who are also plaintiffs] held a press conference that lasted more than two hours and drew dozens of television crews. It was, MacLeish said, a turning point. Within days, Law was summoned to Rome, and within two months he became the first sitting cardinal ever to be deposed.

It's terribly important in these cases, MacLeish said, to be sensitive to your clients' needs. "You're talking about people who have already been betrayed once. You have to be very careful not to do that again." To clients who see their lawyers as authority figures, he explained, failing to return phone calls can feel like betrayal.

Dealing with the media can also present special challenges. "Find out what your client wants, and don't put your ego ahead of the client's interest," he advised. "Fully inform your client that when you talk to the media, you lose control. There are real risks."

His first rule: "Always tell the truth. If you don't tell the truth, they will stop listening and they will expose you." But there's another, more subtle, message he also tries to convey: "There's going to come a time when the media move on and they're not calling anymore. It can be hard for the client if they feel like they're being forgotten."

There are lessons to be gleaned from his bruising battle for documents. "Don't rely on the other side to tell you what documents they have." Depose their keeper of records and become an expert yourself, he said. Ultimately, he obtained documents on 139 priests who allegedly molested children-far more than the church had originally acknowledged.

Once a lawyer obtains the goods, MacLeish said, there's a temptation to scan them into a database and forget the originals. While database software is an essential tool, he and David Thomas, an associate at his firm, pored over the originals. About half of the key pages were handwritten or included handwritten notes, some cryptic and some in code.

It was almost like learning a new language, he said, but the payoff can be enormous. Sometimes notes tell not only what priests were doing, but which officials knew-and when they knew it.

Merrimack Parish to Get a Replacement Priest

By Dan McLean
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
June 3, 2003

Merrimack -- In three weeks, a new pastor will officially replace the priest who became the focus of St. John Neumann’s Christmas-plate-collection theft.

The Rev. Agapit H. Jean Jr. will leave St. James Parish in Portsmouth to lead the Merrimack parish.

“The bishop asked me to go there, to help bring healing and rebuild trust,” the pastor said over the phone yesterday. “It’s always hard to leave the parish you’re in because when you serve the people, you come to love the people.”

The Rev. Steven Kucharski resigned from the Merrimack church on Jan. 8 after he was named a suspect in parish’s Christmas-plate theft. With an investigation pending, no charges have been filed against Kucharski to date.

Rev. Jean said he is looking forward to joining St. John Neumann and aims “to let (parishioners) know that God hasn’t abandoned them.”

“They’re loved. And God wants them to be together as a community of believers to continue to do the mission that Christ has called us to,” he said.

The 49-year-old priest recognizes that coming into St. John Neumann will be a challenging task that will require overcoming harm caused Rev. Kucharski’s brief tenure.

“I think every assignment is a challenge, but we have to bring our gifts and talents and be there to help bring the mission of Christ to life,” the incoming pastor said.

Rev. Jean, who prefers to be called “Father Aggie,” was ordained in June 1996 and spent three years at St. Michael in Exeter and the last five years at St. James in Portsmouth.

On June 25, he will officially replace the Rev. Richard Tetu, who has served St. John Neumann on a temporary basis as the weekend sacramental minister since January.

Pelham Priest under Investigation Retires

From wire reports
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
June 3, 2003

A Catholic priest who was put on leave last year after police started investigating an allegation of sexual misconduct at a prior assignment has retired.

The Rev. Edward Richard had served St. Patrick Church in Pelham since 1988. Among the Diocese of Manchester’s new clergy assignments made public yesterday was the announcement of Richard’s retirement; he officially resigned as pastor. Bishop John McCormack accepted the request.

Richard remains under investigation on allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor in the 1980s. He has not been charged with any crime.

The investigation remains open, Hillsborough County Attorney John Coughlin said, declining to comment on any case specifics.

A man has alleged the priest molested him while at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Merrimack.

Two months after the diocese removed Richard from ministry, two men sued the diocese, alleging church officials allowed the priest to have unsupervised contact with the minors when it “knew or should have known” he had a “propensity for engaging in sexual contact with minors.”

Their attorney, Mark Abramson, settled a $6.5 million lawsuit with the diocese on behalf of 61 clients last month, but it was not known whether the two men were among those cases.

Richard was transferred to the Pelham church in 1988 after serving for 15 years in Merrimack, where he first was an assistant pastor at Our Lady of Mercy and then founding pastor of St. John Neumann Church in 1982.

He also served as chaplain to the Merrimack Police and Fire departments and Merrimack Ambulance Rescue Service, taught an eighth-grade religion class at Nashua Catholic Regional Junior High School and ran a youth group at St. John Neumann.

Groups Continue Pushing for McCormack to Resign

By the Associated Press
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
June 4, 2003

Two New Hampshire Catholic groups aren't giving up their demands that Manchester Bishop John McCormack resign.

Two months ago, New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful joined New Hampshire Catholics for Moral Leadership in calling for McCormack and Auxiliary Bishop Francis Christian to step down because of their roles in the priest sex abuse scandal.

The two say they have no intention of resigning.

Group members say they have no intention of backing down.

"We're in it for the long haul," said Robert Morton, one of 15 members of the moral leadership group. "It's a marathon, not a sprint. We will continue to seek their resignations for as long as it takes and whatever it takes."

The group was formed two months ago for the sole purpose of urging McCormack and Christian to step down.

The group claims McCormack betrayed Catholics by failing to report and helping to cover up cases of clergy abuse for years, including transferring abusive priests from parish to parish, particularly when he was a top adviser to Cardinal Bernard Law, former archbishop of Boston. Law resigned because of the scandal.

McCormack has denied those allegations.

In investigative documents released by the state Attorney General's Office this year, prosecutors said Christian misled authorities and victims about abusive priests. Christian has said he never knowingly misrepresented the facts.

New Hampshire Catholics for Moral Leadership meets tomorrow in the Concord area to decide what its next step will be.

An Internet petition the group posted on its Web site two months ago demanding the resignations will be one of the main topics at the meeting, Morton said. As of this Monday, there were approximately 890 names on the petition.

"We're not going away," said Carolyn Disco, a member of both groups. "Our cause is firm and we will continue. We've got almost 900 signatures now, which is really amazing considering how reticent many Catholics are to go public by signing it."

Disco said there's no way to know for sure how seriously the groups are viewed by church higher-ups, including officials at the Vatican in Rome.

"But the important thing is that we will not abandon our efforts based on their reaction or lack of it," she said.

Letters from the Voice of the Faithful to Pope John Paul II and Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, have gone unanswered, Disco said.

"I wouldn't necessarily expect a direct response, but I would hope they are paying attention," she said. "Even if they were taking us very seriously, they wouldn't necessarily let us know."

Catholic Teen Retreat Closes in Manchester

By Katharine McQuaid
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
June 9, 2003

A mecca for young New Hampshire Catholics who had cultivated their spirituality for the last 25 years closed Saturday, leaving a wake of memories and friendships the people of Emmaus House will carry with them forever.

“Emmaus House is more than the building, it’s the people,” said Michelle Adams, 28, who spent much of her youth at the Manchester retreat house, attending retreats and working on the house staff. “And Sister Bernadette was one of those people. She was the rock of Emmaus House and she cares about everyone that comes through those doors.”

Sister Bernadette Turgeon, known fondly by her staff as “Sister B,” could fill the 64-room Concord Street building with all the memories she’s made there. They include the time she committed to sewing curtains for every window of the retreat house before realizing it wasn’t going to be so easy.

“Let me tell you, no two windows in any room were the same size,” said Turgeon, laughing as she recalled her 25 years of involvement with Emmaus House, opened by the Catholic Diocese of Manchester in 1978.

Turgeon can barely count the number of weddings for staff she’s attended or the baptisms of their children, many who returned every year for the Christmas party she held for all the former staff.

“To see how well young people have done is just so rewarding,” she said.

The thousands of memories — documented by photo collages along the retreat house walls — will help the Emmaus House family keep laughing through the tears, which have been flowing since they learned the diocese could no longer afford to run the house.

“Saturday’s going to be so hard,” Turgeon said last week. “I’ll be the weeping willow in the corner.”

She and co-director Matthew Goody expected more than 200 former retreat participants, staff and volunteers for Saturday’s event — to mark the closing of Emmaus House and celebrate its quarter-century anniversary.

Goody, 35, began his life at Emmaus House almost 21 years ago, starting as a retreat participant and volunteer. He became a staff member during his senior year of high school in 1985 and co-director of the house in 1994.

“It’s funny. . .I spent probably more time in this building than in my parents house growing up,” he said.

John and Karen Avard were in high school when they met during an Emmaus House retreat in 1983. Today, they’ve been married for 15 years and have five children. The pair volunteered and worked there off-and-on until 1991.

“I’m devastated that my children will never have a chance to experience what I experienced there,” said John Avard, who explained how Emmaus House helped form his faith.

“Throughout my teen years I considered Emmaus House to be my parish,” he said.

Initially, Goody was angry and upset when he learned the retreat house would be closing, but he’s starting to come to terms with the church leaders’ decision.

“My faith is in God and not the people, so I have to have faith that God is leading these people to a new vision of youth ministry,” he said. “I’m more just disappointed that something that was so successful and so well-received by the Diocese of Manchester is coming to an end.”

Formerly St. Patrick’s Home for Girls, the building was envisioned as a retreat center by former Catholic Youth Organization director Richard Rouse, who died shortly after it opened.

Turgeon had never endeavored to be a youth minister, but after several years of filling in as director of the diocese’s Office of Youth Ministry, she decided to keep at it.

Since 1978, Emmaus House has served thousands of young people on confirmation retreats and other programs. And the staff has organized all of the Office of Youth Ministry’s big annual events, including trips to World Youth Day events as far away as Rome and Paris.

But interest in Emmaus House and other youth ministry programs has waned in recent years.
In March, the diocese announced the house would be closed as part of a plan to cut $500,000 from its budget. Youth ministry will become more parish based, church leaders have said.

“(Sister Bernadette) has a heart of gold and would do anything for you,” Adams said. “Youth ministry in the diocese won’t be the same without her.”

Turgeon does not know who the building will be sold to, but hopes it will be to another organization that helps people.

“I’m happy that they didn’t just tear it down, after all the work we put into it,” she said.

In recent years, the windows were replaced and all 11 bathrooms were renovated. A new chapel was built last Christmas.

One current staff member recently told Turgeon she knew she would have to leave Emmaus House some day, but she never thought Emmaus House would leave her.

“People thought it would always be there,” Turgeon said. And she knows Emmaus House will always live on in the people who were a part of it.

“I just know the friendships that have been formed, the relationships, it’s all going to stay with people,” she said.

Petition Seeks Church Leaders' Resignation

Manchester (NH) Union Leader
June 11, 2003

Concord (AP) -- A group of Roman Catholics pushing for the bishop and his top assistant to resign is shooting for 1,000 petition signatures.

New Hampshire Catholics for Moral Leadership wants Bishop John McCormack and Auxiliary Bishop Francis Christian to step down because of the church abuse scandal.

The group has been collecting signatures on its Web site and says it already has more than 900. McCormack and Christian have said they have no intention of stepping down.

Bishop Robinson A Better Spiritual Leader Than Bishop McCormack

By Bernadette Malone
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
June 15, 2003

Which "Father" would you prefer? Would you rather be led by a bishop who is openly gay and lives with his lover, or a bishop who preaches chastity for all -- and celibacy for the clergy -- but then covers up for gay priests who molest boys? That's the choice in high-church New Hampshire, where the Episcopals have just elected Gene Robinson as their bishop, and the Catholics are stuck with Bishop John McCormack, who refuses to heed the growing call for his resignation.

Imagine yourself sitting in Robinson's pews, listening to him preach. Maybe your mind wanders more than once over his personal history: Here's a man who got married, had two kids, decided/discovered he was gay, left his wife and two daughters, and moved in with his gay lover. Wow; not by any stretch of the imagination is that an example of what I'd wish for my family life!

But now envision yourself sitting in McCormack's pews, listening to him preach. Here's a man who was never married, has lived celibately (one assumes) since becoming a priest, teaches that sex outside marriage is wrong, and homosexual activity -- which can never be blessed with the Sacrament of Marriage because there is no procreative element involved in it -- is therefore also wrong. But while he worked as Cardinal Bernard Law's personnel administrator in Boston during the 1980s and 1990s, he covered up for countless sex-offender priests -- alleged pedophiles and statutory rapists, in many cases -- around the Boston Diocese, reassigning many to new parishes where they could strike again. The church has had to pay out more than $15 million to settle some 176 cases of alleged sex abuse that went unaddressed by him.

Leaving aside the question of whether the essence of Episcopalianism or the essence of Catholicism comes closer to Godliness, which spiritual leader -- Robinson or McCormack -- makes a more convincing moral instructor? Which figure would Jesus be more sympathetic to -- the one struggling with homosexuality or the one struggling with where to hide child-molesting priests?

Gene Robinson's critics -- many of whom are Episcopalian -- say he is actively running afoul of biblical scripture, which condemns homosexual activity. That's true. But if science ever proves some people are born with a gay gene, (sorry, Bishop Gene), perhaps we'll have to reconsider certain parts of Scripture, the way we already ignore the parts of Scripture that condone men who keep concubines, put St. Paul's negative attitude toward marriage in a historical context, and pass on the question of why in Matthew's Gospel Jesus says divorce is sometimes permissible, but not in Mark's or Luke's.

Scripture, we Catholics like to rib our Protestant friends, is far too unwieldy for the lay person to interpret on his own.

That's why the orthodox Catholic doesn't read the Bible as often as Protestants, doesn't talk much about having a "personal relationship with Jesus," and isn't allowed to assert his own conscience over moral matters the church has already addressed. To a greater extent than the Protestant, the orthodox Catholic seeking the path to salvation relies on his church leaders -- such as Bishop John McCormack.

If it weren't for the Bishop John McCormacks of the church, this would be a golden moment for Catholics to appeal to Episcopalians dissatisfied with Gene Robinson's ascension to bishop. Catholics could urge Episcopalians searching for a church that takes a hard-line, traditional stand on sex and marriage to come home to the church they left in 1533 so King Henry the VIII of England could get married six times. But with Bishop McCormack holding New Hampshire hostage to his legacy of deceit and child-endangerment, conservative Episcopalians might prefer a church in which they know who the gay priests are and who their partners are. Catholics -- under current church leadership -- seem incapable of fully disclosing such things.

With the Catholic Church in shambles under Bishop John McCormack's leadership, who could blame a conservative Episcopalian for staying put? Even to a conservative Catholic, Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson might seem like more of a good, struggling man of the cloth than Roman Catholic Bishop John McCormack. (Malone is the former editorial page director of these newspapers.)

Correction to
Bishop Robinson a better spiritual leader than Bishop McCormack
June 15, 2003

The Manchester Diocese has paid more than $15 million to settle sex abuse cases that were alleged to have occurred before John McCormack became bishop of that diocese. Also, while McCormack may have made recommendations regarding the transfer of priests while serving as secretary for ministerial personnel in the Boston diocese, the final decisions were made by superiors. References on Page B2 in last week's Bernadette Malone column may have been unclear.

Diocese to study cost cutting options

By Union Leader News
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
June 19, 2003
A task force will look for new, less expensive ways to provide religious education and youth ministry and train laity in carrying out the mission of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester.

Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack yesterday announced the formation of the 16-member panel, which will present its recommendations to him.

The task force’s work is part of the reconfiguration of the diocesan administration announced in March that included trimming the diocese’s annual $2.5 million operating budget by at least $500,000 and eliminating 20 full- and part-time positions.

“I am confident the women and men of the task force will assist the diocese to create new models to meet future needs of the church in the areas of education and formation,” McCormack said in a statement.

The task force will seek comments from pastors, parish leaders and staff, and Catholic school administrators and staff.

It will address parish youth programs, adult spiritual development, religious education, campus ministry and lay ministry formation, and leadership training.

The Rev. John R. Fortin, a Benedictine monk and associate professor of philosophy at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, will chair the panel.
Other members are:
* Deacon Ramon Andrade of St. Anne and St. Augustine Parishes, Manchester;
* Patsy Beffa-Negrini, St. Dennis Parish, Harrisville;
* Doris Boutin-Cyr, St. Joseph Parish, Dover and member of Diocesan Catechumenate Steering Committee;
* Marc Cousineau, parish outreach coordinator for the Lebanon Deanery and member of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, New London;
* Donna Delahanty, presider of N.H. Conference of Religious Educators;
* Steve Duffley, St. Joseph Cathedral Parish, Manchester; Mary-Anne Edwards, youth minister, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Concord;
* Joseph Goodman, youth minister, Immaculate Conception Parish, Nashua and Life Teen ministries director;
* Sister Madonna Kling, C.D.P., pastoral minister, St. Peter Parish, Farmington;
* Rev. Maurice Larochelle, pastor, Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Parish, Hampton;
* Paulette Loughlin, teacher, Holy Trinity School, Laconia;
* Christine Patterson, pastoral associate, Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Merrimack;
* Anthony F. Poekert, Franconia deanery parish outreach coordinator;
* Anne Riggs, Rivier College theology professor;
* Rev. Tom Washburn, O.F.M., associate pastor, St. Thomas Parish, Derry.

Diocese Trying to Cut Costs

Associated Press
June 19, 2003

Faced with falling income and settlements in priest sexual abuse cases, the Diocese of Manchester has formed a task force to find more ways to cut expenses.

The panel will look for new, less expensive ways to provide religious education and youth ministry and train laity.

The diocese already has decided to sell the bishop's residence and laid off some employees to cut costs.

In announcing the formation of the task force Wednesday, Manchester Bishop John McCormack said the 16-member panel will seek comments from pastors, parish leaders and staff, and Catholic school administrators and staff.

It will address parish youth programs, adult spiritual development, religious education, campus ministry and lay ministry formation, and leadership training.

The panel is part of the reconfiguration of the diocesan administration announced in March that included trimming the diocese's annual $2.5 million operating budget by at least $500,000 and eliminating 20 full- and part-time positions.

The Rev. John R. Fortin, a Benedictine monk and associate professor of philosophy at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, will chair the panel.

Patrick McGee, spokesman for the diocese, has said the church wiped out its savings of roughly $2.2 million in payments to victims of priest abuse. Church invetments also have been hurt by the faltering economy, and the church faces a drop in donations by parishioners, in part because of reaction to the sexual abuse scandal.

The church plans to make public its financial audits for this year and last, and will reflect the impact of this year's $15 million in payments to settle sexual abuse claims.

McGee said the church's finances have not been disclosed before, but McCormack wants to provide the clearest picture of its financial condition.

He said the fiscal year closes June 30 and the report may be available by September.

Use Proceeds from Sale of Mansion to Reopen Emmaus House

By Carolyn Disco
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
June 24, 2003

Bishop John McCormack has an opportunity to rescue a nationally acclaimed youth ministry (Emmaus House) by asking the probate court and the George Trudel family to approve the full use of up to $1 million from the sale of the bishop's residence, the former Trudel Mansion, to establish an endowment for Emmaus House, the teen retreat center which church officials closed on June 8.

Emmaus House, the 64-room retreat center operated for 25 years as part of the diocese's youth ministry, was closed mainly because of budget shortfalls as a result of the priest sex abuse scandal. Thousands of young people passed through its doors for confirmation retreats and other programs hailed as a model for effective youth outreach. Sister Bernadette Turgeon and Matthew Goody were co-directors who labored for decades with limited finances to repair and furnish the building and minister to young people.

The bishop's residence, a 5,348 square foot mansion at 657 North River Road, is also due to close because of the same budget woes. It cost $50,000 a year to operate for its lone occupant, Bishop McCormack. Former Manchester Mayor George Trudel donated the mansion to the diocese in 1947 to be used for a bishop's residence.

McCormack has asked that the proceeds from the anticipated sale of the property, ranging from $750,000 to $1 million, be placed in a restricted account for his personal living expenses. McCormack says he plans to move into the rectory at St. Joseph Cathedral, where prior bishops lived for many years. There is obviously no need for almost $1 million to house him there, and his other living expenses can continue to be met as they have in the past. Significant legal fees for his defense in various lawsuits would not be covered anyway by the mansion's sale.

The late Mayor Trudel's family may be open to using money from the mansion's sale to revive Emmaus House, given the enormous good Emmaus House has achieved during its operation. The generosity of their forebear would be honored in a remarkable way by assigning the proceeds from the sale of his home to the home where thousands of teenagers learn to live their faith. What a meaningful legacy that is.

A certain ironic justice pertains. The youth whose bodies and souls were molested by predatory priests deserve to see the church not abandon genuine youth ministry that heals and nurtures. Survivors and lay Catholics would welcome the diversion of this wealth from the personal benefit of one person to the wider good wrought from service to thousands of youth today and tomorrow. It seems the least the diocese can do to make clear its commitment to servant leadership.

The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office is party to the disposition of the mansion's proceeds since it is charitable property. As the public's representative in the transaction, there is need to assure the broadest public welfare is addressed.

Whatever needs to be done to bring about this benefit to Emmaus House, it is in the realm of possibility if the participants are willing to commit to it. With the cooperation of McCormack, the Trudel family, the attorney general and the probate court, why not? Diocesan attorney Ovide Lamontagne must have creative ways to meet the donor's legacy requirements, even if McCormack must sleep occasionally at Emmaus House.

Carolyn Disco lives in Merrimack and is a member of Voice of the Faithful, an organization of Catholic lay people founded in the wake of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal.

Church Takes a Stand on Diocese Documents

By Dan McLean
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
June 25, 2003

Merrimack -- The St. John Neumann parish is withholding $39,734 from the diocese until promised financial documents are disclosed or the interest payments on a new loan program are dropped.

With the approval of the parish finance committee, Deacon Richard Cloutier, St. John Neumann's administrator, sent a letter on June 10 to Monsignor John Quinn criticizing the Manchester Diocese for failing to release financial statements that detailed fiscal year 2002.

In February, Bishop John McCormack said the information would be released by the end of March.

Monsignor Quinn, the diocese's secretary for finance and real estate, said in a May 20 letter to the state's roughly 125 parishes that the financial information for 2002 would not be released now because "all of the recent financial activity associated with the settlement of sexual misconduct . . . created complications for a clear and unambiguous financial report."

Diocese Spokesman Patrick McGee said the diocese's finances for fiscal years 2002 and 2003 will be released in December, providing a clear picture of how the sex-abuse settlements were paid.

To date, the diocese has agreed to pay $15.45 million to 176 victims of sex abuse. All of the payments occurred during fiscal year 2003, McGee said.

Although St. John Neumann has raised the funds to pay their entire assessment, the parish is refusing to pay $4,075 to the cathedraticum and $35,659 to the Development Fund to pressure the diocese to release the financial information and to reconsider their interest-bearing loan program.

The two payments being withheld provide administrative resources to the diocese, St. John Neumann Finance Chairman Dan Mutarelli said, and were selected because they will not affect church programs and pension funds.

"The only way to get Manchester's attention is with the wallet because they certainly don't listen," Mutarelli said.

Cloutier also chastised the diocese for taxing parishes that are short on their annual assessment through the loan program.

McGee said Cloutier had "misconstrued" the loan's interest rate as a tax.

"It's definitely not a tax," McGee said. "It's offering the parish the availability of a loan at 1.5 percent from our central fund that we have here."

For fiscal year 2003, which ends on June 30, St. John Neumann has been assessed $94,410 by the Manchester Diocese. The parish will pay $54,676.

In his letter, Cloutier blames the diocese for declines in donations, particularly at the Merrimack parish, where three recent pastors have been "removed for cause" after serving less than a year.

Two of the pastors, the deacon wrote, have been accused of sexually abusing children in the past. And last week, the Hillsborough Country Attorney indicted Rev. Steven Kucharski for stealing the 2002 Christmas collection. Kucharski resigned in January.

"It is our opinion that, to a great degree, financial woes of the St. John Neumann parish are a direct result of personnel policies of the Diocese of Manchester," Cloutier wrote to Quinn.

Police: Merrimack Priest Stole from Church 7 Times

By Dan McLean
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
June 25, 2003

Merrimack -- After a five-month joint investigation, local police and the county attorney announced the indictment of a priest accused of stealing the Christmas Eve collection from the St. John Neumann parish.

More than $500 was stolen in seven separate incidents, Hillsborough County Attorney John Coughlin said. The thefts occurred from October 2002 to January 2003. An undetermined amount of money was stolen in three thefts.

Last week, a Hillsborough County Superior Court grand jury indicted Rev. Steven Kucharski with one count of theft — a class B felony that could result in 3½ to 7 years in prison and a $4,000 fine.

Thefts over $1,000 result in a class A felony, punishable by 7½ to 15 years in prison.

The indictment, Coughlin said, is the “culmination of a cooperative and lengthy investigation between the Merrimack Police and the County Attorney’s Office.”

Neither Merrimack Police Chief William Mulligan nor Coughlin would described the details of the investigation or speculate on a motive for the series of thefts.

On July 11, Kucharski will be arraigned at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua. The priest does not have to appear in court, however. He could file a form instead, Coughlin said.

Since Kucharski has been cooperative throughout the investigation, Coughlin expects him to appear personally at the courthouse. The purpose of the arraignment is to set bail and enter a response to the indictment.

During yesterday’s press conference, the county attorney detailed seven thefts over a four-month period, all which accuse Kucharski of a “scheme or course of conduct” to steal from the parish’s office.

According to Coughlin, Kucharski robbed undetermined amounts of cash from the parish office on two occasions in October 2002.

Kucharski is accused of stealing $42 on Dec. 2, 2002; $212 on Dec. 15; an undetermined amount from the Christmas collection plate on Dec. 24; $142 on Dec. 29; and $140 on Jan. 6.

The stolen money came directly from the parishioners’ offerings, Coughlin said. All of the thefts occurred in the church’s office, he said.

“He has certainly betrayed the parish, and I’m very upset with what he did,” said Ed Kirby, a 20-year parishioner of St. John Neumann.

“What I would like Father Steve (Kucharski) to do is to explain to the people in the parish why he took the money. I think he owes that to them,” Kirby said. “I don’t want to see him go to jail . . . because his crime does not come close to what the bishops have done and what abusive priests have done.”

Kucharski was assigned as pastor of the Merrimack church in June 2002. He resigned from the parish on Jan. 8 after he was named as a suspect in the thefts.

Kucharski is currently living on Perley Street in Lynn, Mass. Manchester Diocese spokesman Patrick McGee said Kucharski remains on a leave of absence, by his own request.

The diocese had no further comment.

Rebel Merrimack Parish Welcomes New Priest

By Dan McLean
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
June 26, 2003

Merrimack -- In the midst of a standoff between St. John Neumann and the Manchester Diocese, a new pastor began his tenure at the Merrimack parish yesterday.

Acting with the approval of the finance committee, Deacon Richard Cloutier, St. John Neumann’s administrator, sent a strongly-worded letter on June 10 to the Manchester Diocese, stating the Merrimack parish will withhold $39,734 until promised financial documents for fiscal year 2002 are disclosed or the 1.5 percent interest on a new loan program is dropped.

Although St. John Neumann has firmly stated its position, the new pastor — the Rev. Agapit H. Jean, Jr. — could overrule the parish finance committee and release the nearly $40,000 being withheld.

Although eight laymen sit on the parish finance committee, the pastor makes the final decision, said Dan Mutarelli, parish finance chairman.

“If he decides that we should pay (the diocese), we’ll pay them. He’s the boss,” Mutarelli said.

Father Aggie, as Jean is known, is not eager to immerse himself in controversy and wants time to become acquainted with his new duties and those he’ll serve.

“I have no comment until I have an understanding of what they did and why. And I don’t have that at this time,” he said Tuesday.

Instead, he hopes to re-establish trust eroded by the Rev. Steve Kucharski, who has been indicted by a Hillsborough County grand jury for stealing from the parish.

“I’m coming in to rebuild hope and trust,” Jean said. “We’re going to rebuild a sense a community, help them to come back together, and show them they have a pastor who wants to lead them, watch over, and guide them in the best way that I can.

“I don’t intend to be creating any kind of havoc that will disturb or upset people,” he said. “I intend to work with them, and help them, and do what we can to rebuild the trust and the hope that they need.”

Cloutier has spoken with Jean, informing him about the parish’s decision to withhold funds from the diocese.

Jean plans to introduce himself to parishioners this weekend. In the weeks ahead, he said, he would begin to meet with various committees.

Earlier in the week, diocese spokesman Patrick McGee downplayed St. John Neumann’s decision to withhold funds since the church is in transition.


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