Diocese Seeking Info on Former Greenville Priest

By Elisabeth Waldon
Daily News
December 13, 2006

Grand Rapids — No incidents of sexual abuse have been reported by a priest who served Greenville's St. Charles Catholic Church from 1979 to 1988.

Father Michael McKenna, 60, a priest for more than 30 years in West Michigan, has been removed from public ministry after accusations that he sexually abused boys prior to coming to Greenville. Bishop Walter Hurley of the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids said McKenna no longer may wear clerical garments or present himself as a priest as of Dec. 5.

McKenna no longer has duties within the church, according to diocese spokeswoman Mary Haarman. He "will be expected to live a life of prayer and penance," the diocese said in a written statement.

"We do know that there were more than one," Haarman said of McKenna's victims.

McKenna could not be reached for comment. Haarman said she did not know his whereabouts.

After being ordained a priest in 1973, McKenna started serving at St. John Vianney in Wyoming, Mich., before moving to Sacred Heart Church in Muskegon Heights from 1976 and 1977. He spent one month at St. Dominic in Grand Rapids, eight months at St. Francis Xavier in Conklin and went to Our Lady of Consolation in Rockford in 1978.

In 1979, McKenna began serving at St. Charles in Greenville before moving on to St. Mary Magdalene in Kentwood in 1988. His career took him to St. Mary's in Big Rapids in 1994.

McKenna remained there until going on sabbatical leave in 2002 and on medical leave in 2003. During the course of that medical leave the diocese received allegations of sexual abuse with a minor involving McKenna dating back to the early years of his ministry.

A diocesan review board determined the allegations were substantive.

"Father McKenna has cooperated fully in this process," said a press release from the diocese. "The diocese is deeply saddened by the misconduct and for the pain it has caused those affected by it."

Hurley said McKenna was referred to in a 2005 diocesan report where an unidentified priest denied sexual abuse allegations.

Hurley, who was not Grand Rapids' bishop at the time, said McKenna's case already had been sent to the Vatican then for final approval to remove him. The diocese received that authorization recently.

At the time of the 2005 diocesan report, Kent County officials said they were frustrated that the clock had run out on the statute of limitations.

Haarman said anyone who was sexually abused as a minor by a priest, a deacon or anyone else associated with the church should call the diocese's victim assistance coordinator at (616) 243-0491.

Staff writer Elisabeth Waldon can be reached at or (616) 754-9303 ext. 3065.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.