Catholic Priest at Back Mountain Church Resigns under Sex Misconduct Claims

By Elizabeth Skrapits
The Citizens Voice [Shavertown PA]
May 31, 2006

The pastor of a Back Mountain Catholic church has resigned in the midst of an investigation by the Diocese of Scranton into allegations of sexual misconduct.

Two women are accusing Monsignor J. Peter Crynes, pastor of St. Therese's Church on Davis Street in Shavertown, of unnamed sexual offenses during one of his other assignments years ago, the Scranton Diocese said.

The women who made the complaints have been interviewed, offered counseling, and given an opportunity to discuss their situation with Bishop Joseph Martino, according to a statement from the Diocese of Scranton.

Crynes will also be given an opportunity to be heard. In the meantime, he has moved out of the rectory and the diocese is not giving him any assignments.

The diocese did not give specific details due to the ongoing investigation.

Communications director William Genello could not comment further.

Monsignor Joseph C. Bambera, Episcopal vicar of the diocese, announced Crynes' resignation after each Mass over the Memorial Day weekend.

Parishioners were surprised and upset to hear of the allegations against the man they knew as "Father Peter."

"The whole parish was shocked. Nobody had any idea this was going to happen," Louise Govin said.

She attended the 4:30 p.m. Mass on Saturday. Many people were crying when they heard the news, Govin said.

Rosanne McAndrew said Crynes was very supportive when she lost her husband, Jim, in an accident a few years ago.

"He's always been wonderful to me and my family," she said. "He really was a good leader. He was there for people when they needed him."

St. Therese's, built in 1928, is undergoing renovations to house a congregation of more than 3,000 people.

"He was right there with it all," Govin said of Crynes. "Now it's practically all done, and he's gone."

Despite his large — and growing — congregation, Crynes gave parishioners individual attention, and made visits like an old-fashioned parish priest, McAndrew said. She added that he was particularly caring with children, arranging special activities for them around holidays.

"We thought he was here to stay. We thought he was going to retire here," McAndrew said.

The Rev. Edward C. Scott, a retired priest, is serving as interim administrator at the church, the diocese said.

Crynes, 64, has been at St. Therese's since 1994. The Scranton native was ordained in 1967 and named monsignor in 1998.

Prior to being assigned to St. Therese's, Crynes was administrator and pastor of Corpus Christi Church, Montdale, and assistant pastor at Holy Rosary Church in Scranton and St. Patrick Church in White Haven.

Crynes has also been assistant director of Camp St. Andrew; director of Our Lady of Fatima Retreat Center; professor at St. Pius X Seminary; a director of Bishop Hannan High School; and chaplain at St. Joseph's Children and Maternity Center.



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