|Group Demands Action on Priest
By Tom Wyatt
February 7, 2006
MERRILLVILLE — An advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse by priests has called for the Diocese of Gary to investigate the actions of an alleged pedophile priest who concelebrated Mass at St. Mary Church in Crown Point.
Three members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests gathered outside the Diocese of Gary office building Monday in Merrillville.
The group hand-delivered a letter to Bishop Dale Melczek, urging the diocese to "check into" whether the Rev. Daniel McCormack, charged with sexual abuse of three boys in Chicago, may have committed crimes against children in Northwest Indiana.
The Post-Tribune first reported Jan. 27 that McCormack, the 37-year-old priest mired in scandal for his alleged actions at Chicago's St. Agatha Church, concelebrated Mass on occasion at St. Mary, where members of his family were parishioners.
The Rev. Brian Chadwick, spokesman for the Diocese of Gary, said McCormack concelebrated Mass four times within the last "10 years or so." Chadwick said McCormack concelebrated three first Holy Communion masses within the last five years and participated in one baptism prior.
SNAP founder Barbara Blaine, along with fellow survivors Mike Fenske of Chicago and Jim Field, president of the Lafayette chapter of SNAP, spoke with media members outside the diocesan office building Monday morning before heading inside for a brief meeting with Melczek.
"Our concern is there might be others out there still hurting," Blaine said. "It wouldn't hurt the diocese to perform some sort of outreach. Why wouldn't they reach out?"
In the letter, Blaine asked to include announcements regarding McCormack in parish bulletins and the diocesan newspaper. The letter said area Catholics may be able to assist prosecutors in convicting McCormack.
Blaine said she left the meeting with Melczek feeling the bishop is taking the matter seriously.
"If there is a possibility (McCormack) did harm, we feel (Melczek) will reach out," Blaine said.
Melczek said he assured SNAP members that McCormack has never worked within the diocese. Melczek said the only instances he is aware McCormack had any involvement with the diocese was during the concelebrations, adding that the diocese has no knowledge McCormack was ever alone with children at St. Mary.
A message left with the Rev. Patrick Kalich, the pastor at St. Mary, on Monday was not returned.
"We will be checking again with (Kalich) to make sure our facts are correct and make sure (McCormack) was never alone with any parishioners," Melczek said.
In 2003, Monsignor Don Grass was the pastor at St. Mary when he admitted to an alleged molestation that took place sometime in the late 1960s when he was assigned to the Cathedral of Holy Angels in Gary. The charges were dropped last year when the accuser failed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Grass served at St. Mary from 1983 until he was removed in 2003. Chadwick said he did not know if McCormack concelebrated Mass with the monsignor.
Contact Tom Wyatt at 648-3107 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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