Rolling out More of the Red Tape

By Barb Ickes
Quad-City Times [Davenport IA]
April 8, 2007

Mark Powell is patiently limbering up to jump through the latest set of hoops laid out by his alma mater, St. Ambrose University.

As a teenager in Davenport, Powell was the victim of sexual abuse by priests, including Father Bill Wiebler, who served at Our Lady of Lourdes in Bettendorf and was defrocked by the church before his death last year. A former seminary student at St. Ambrose, Powell now is a Protestant minister who has faced his demons.

One especially painful part of his past is an understanding that has come with adulthood: It wasn't just the priests who failed him. Powell, 47, mustered the courage all those years ago to report what was happening to him.

He went to Bishop Gerald O'Keefe of the Davenport Diocese and told. The bishop's message was clear: Keep it to yourself.

Though Powell said that O'Keefe also promised to "take care of it," the priests who were molesting him were not stopped. They were relocated.

When the sex scandal broke in the church several years ago, Powell found the courage to come forward. He asked for counseling, and he got it. Then he asked for one more thing: Remove the late Bishop O'Keefe's name from the library at his alma mater.

University President Ed Rogalski responded almost immediately, vowing last September to take the matter to the school's board of directors. On March 30, six months after Powell made his request, a subcommittee with a 25-word title took its results to the board, and a Comprehensive Naming Policy was adopted.

So, now the board can get down to business and consider Powell's request, right? Not so fast.

"A board subcommittee could begin considering his request immediately," St. Ambrose spokeswoman Jane Kettering said last week. "He will have to file something formally, however, according to the policy."

Oh, brother.

As of Friday, Powell had not yet received the paperwork he needs to submit a "formal request" to the board to consider renaming the library, but Kettering said she thinks it was mailed late in the week.

Powell, bless his heart, remains hopeful.

"They told me the action of the subcommittee could come prior to the October meeting of the board of directors, so maybe we're getting somewhere now," he said Friday. "I'll follow along with their policy."

Kettering said the new policy should be fairly simple to navigate.

"It's my understanding it isn't unduly complicated," she said.

"Actually, it's been an unduly complicated process already," Powell said. "It's a bureaucratic thing, and some part of me understands that.

"Another part of me, knowing what this is all about, would want to expedite things — get it over with. In the end, regardless how long it takes, I pray they'll rename it and stop honoring someone who did dishonorable things.

"It's a form of justice, and justice takes time."

After all, the crime took decades.

Barb Ickes can be contacted at (563) 383-2316 or


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