Priest's Removal Tied to Sex Charge
News Rocks Parish on Southwest Side 21 Months Later

By Steve Metsch
Daily South Town Economist
November 22, 1994

Parishioners of St. Christina Roman Catholic Church have been stunned by allegations that a former pastor engaged in sexual misconduct with two boys from the Southwest Side parish between 1986 and 1990.

The boys, who are now adults, told the Chicago Archdiocese in August about the alleged incidents with the Rev. John W. Curran. Curran was St. Cristina's pastor from 1980 to 1993 and now is retired.

The new pastor, the Rev. Martin O'Donovan, told parishioners about the allegations at masses on Nov. 13 at the Mount Greenwood neighborhood church, 11005 S. Homan Ave.

Longtime parishioner Marion Vasil said the revelation left churchgoers speechless.

"Nobody knew what to think. Nobody had anything against him. Everybody seemed to like him," Vasil said. "We're all very saddened and upset. You don't want to believe it. You hear about this at other churches, but you don't think it will happen at your church. This puts a black mark on St. Christina."

The charges were the second allegations of a sexual nature made against Curran.

Anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct dating back 18 to 30 years were levied in 1990 and 1991 against Curran, according to Maria Salemi, archdiocese director of communications.

An archdiocese investigation of the earlier allegations led to Curran's removal as St. Christina's pastor in February 1993, Salami said. Curran now lives in an archdiocese retirement home in a southwest suburb.

After the investigation archdiocesan officials felt "it be best that he have increased restrictions and be withdrawn from a parish ministry," Salemi said. "He's retired in an archdiocese-supervised nonparish setting without access to minors."

Salemi would not specify what information the archdiocese had about Curran.

Three telephone messages were left for Curran in recent days. He did not respond. His attorney, Pat Reardon, declined to comment Friday on the allegations or Curran's leaving St. Christina.

After archdiocese officials learned of the latest allegations, which the men brought to O'Donoven's attention, they alerted the Cook County state's attorney's office, Salemi said.

No charges had been levied against Curran, state's attorney's spokeswoman Marcy O'Boyle said. O'Boyle refused to confirm whether an investigation was ongoing.

The allegations against Curran, 62, are the talk of Mount Greenwood, parishioners said.

"This was someone who was loved and respected by many. I sat shocked hearing the news," Karen Whirity, whose two daughters attend St. Christina School, wrote in a letter to the Daily Southtown. "After all, these are priests and we are taught that priests are next to God."

Whirity called it distressing. "It leaves me with a not-very-trusting feeling inside," she said.

Curran "commanded respect," said a former parishioner. I never suspected anything like this about him," said the woman, who did not want to be identified.

Several questioned why the archdiocese why Curran left St. Christina in 1993 and why older allegations were not made public.

Salemi said older allegations were not made public because the alleged abuse did not take place at St Christina. The latest allegations were made public to parishioners because the events allegedly took place while Curran was at the parish.

Curran began his career as a priest in 1957 at St. Bede the Venerable in the Ashburn neighborhood. From 1961 to 1966 he taught at Quigley South. He served at St. Catherine Siena in Oak Park from 1966 to 1970 and at St. Albert the Great in Oak Lawn from 1970 to 1980.

[This article was scanned by from a clipping provided by a survivor.]


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