Durham Priest Receives Counseling

By Yonat Shimron
News & Observer [Durham NC]
June 8, 2007

A Jesuit priest who was removed as pastor of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Durham will continue to receive counseling at an East Coast residential treatment facility for priests.

The priest, the Rev. Stephen M. Garrity, was "recalled" by officials of the Jesuit order, a religious community within the Catholic church.

According to the order, Garrity confessed to sexual relations with five adults 25 years ago while serving in Baltimore and Philadelphia. One of those sexual partners recently contacted the Maryland province of the Society of Jesuits about the relationship, which constituted a violation of Garrity's vow of celibacy.

The order acted quickly and removed Garrity from the Durham church in April. He is not suspected of pedophilia or other criminal activity.

Kate Pipkin, spokeswoman for the order, said Garrity completed an evaluation upon his arrival at the treatment center. That evaluation called for further treatment, and Garrity agreed to stay on at the center for another four to six months.

At the end of that period, Garrity's future will be determined. But Pipkin said it was unlikely the 67-year-old priest would return to Durham, where he had led a mostly African-American congregation on the campus of N.C. Central University.

"His chances of returning to Holy Cross are very slim," said Pipkin.

A retired priest, the Rev. Frank O'Connor, has been leading the 250-member church in Garrity's absence. The church is in the midst of building a $2.8 million sanctuary two miles from its current location. A dedication of the new building is planned Dec. 2. By then, the order hopes to name a full-time priest.

Pipkin said Garrity has been receiving mail from parishioners who have been overwhelmingly supportive of him.

Garrity became pastor of Holy Cross in 2001. Prior to that, he was the director of Loyola Retreat House, a meditation sanctuary in Faulkner, Md. Garrity was trained as a retreat leader and was schooled in the meditation exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order.

Staff writer Yonat Shimron can be reached at 829-4891 or


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