Ex-Priest's New Address in Waterford Contradicts Church Order

By Justin McIntosh
The Marietta Times [Ohio]
July 26, 2005

The return last week of a former Marietta and St. John's priest convicted of sexually abusing a minor is drawing reactions from local church officials and an advocate for those sexually abused by priests.

Anthony T. Jablonowski, 68, of 800 Strahler Road, Waterford, registered as a sexually oriented offender Thursday at the Washington County Sheriff's Office after being released from prison in Wyoming where he was convicted of sexual abuse against a minor. The address he listed as his new residence is the same one listed for the religious order called Carmelite Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, which he founded 14 years ago.

A statement released Monday by the bishop of the Diocese of Steubenville, which oversees the Catholic church in Washington County, said Jablonowski was to have no association with CMMI or reside on its property. The statement also said CMMI has no official status in the church because it is a lay association.

Judy Jones, the Steubenville Diocese/eastern Ohio region leader of the Survivors' Network of those Abused, said Monday she was surprised Jablonowski was released from prison already and shocked even further that he was back at CMMI.

In a letter to the Steubenville Diocese and the Cheyenne, Wyo., Diocese, Jones addressed several questions to the diocese about how it is going to handle Jablonowski's return.

"This situation disturbs me greatly," Jones said in the letter. "Since this Carmelite Missionaries organization has been made a 'Lay Association of the Faithful,' we are concerned for children, minors and vulnerable adults who live, work or visit CMMI in Waterford."

Jablonowski was convicted in early 2004 in Wyoming of immoral acts with a minor in the 1980s. Jablonowski agreed to a deal in April 2004, according to which charges of felonious restraint and third-degree sexual assault would not be filed in exchange for a no contest plea to taking indecent liberties with a teen-ager. Jablonowski was sentenced to a sentence of 15 months to seven years in prison in Wyoming.

There is also a lawsuit moving forward against Jablonowski and the Cheyenne Diocese that is scheduled for a conference hearing on Aug. 11 in the district court of Laramie County, Wyo. The status hearing is needed to determine what steps the lawsuit takes next. The plaintiff in the case, Theodore Carr, said he was abused by Jablonowski in the 1980s and is requesting a jury trial for the lawsuit.

Jablonowski was a priest with the Diocese of Cheyenne prior to being transferred to Steubenville in 1991 to start the CMMI in Waterford.

Upon learning of the charges in 2003, the Steubenville Diocese ordered Jablonowski to not publicly identify himself as a priest, engage in public ministry, or associate himself with the religious order. The statement released by the Steubenville Diocese confirmed those directives.

"Bishop Conlon has made it clear all along that Anthony Jablonowski was to have no association with the Carmelite Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, nor to reside on their property," Bishop R. Daniel Conlon said in the statement. "Furthermore, in accord with the national and diocesan regulations, Anthony Jablonowski has been convicted of sexually abusing a minor and may not present himself as a priest, wear clerical attire or carry out any kind of church ministry, including the celebration of the sacraments for other people."

The statement also said Conlon had no definitive knowledge of Jablonowski's release from prison and move to the CMMI farm until Friday. He became aware of the situation after Jablonowski called him at the chancery.

Jablonowski answered the phone at CMMI Monday, but declined to comment on his move there and his future plans.

Jablonowski's long-term status in the church is currently being reviewed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, where his case was referred July 18, 2003. So far, no response has come from the congregation about this case.