|Jasper Parish Takes Steps to Get Past Pain
By Susan Orr
Courier & Press
August 22, 2007
After the Catholic Diocese of Evansville's recent acknowledgment of sexual abuse committed years ago by the parish's founding priest, Holy Family Church in Jasper is taking steps to move beyond the pain.
The priest in question, Monsignor Othmar Schroeder, founded Holy Family in 1947. In 1975, he moved to Sacred Heart Church in Schnellville, Ind., and he served there until his death in 1988.
This past weekend, Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger visited Holy Family and delivered an address in which he named Schroeder as having "sexually violated some innocent young boys of the parish."
Gettelfinger's statement said he first became aware of the situation "a number of years ago," and as a result, Gettelfinger "made a commitment to provide counseling for those men while protecting the anonymity they requested."
Later on, Gettelfinger said, he learned more about the situation.
"Most recently, we have learned that the scope of the abuse by the founding pastor, Monsignor Othmar Schroeder, is greater than we knew," the statement said.
The statement did not reveal names, dates or other details of the abuse.
Gettelfinger was out of town and unavailable for comment Tuesday. Diocese spokesman Paul Leingang said he had no additional information beyond Gettelfinger's statement, but he said the diocese is not facing any lawsuits relating to Schroeder.
At Gettelfinger's request, the parish is taking several actions intended to help in healing.
The parish has already removed Schroeder's photograph from its worship space, Leingang said, and at a later date a public worship service will be held at St. Joseph Church in Jasper, Ind.
"It's open to all. It's not intended to be limited only to Holy Family," Leingang said.
Gettelfinger also requested the Knights of Columbus Council 1584, which is named in honor of Schroeder, change its name.
Knights of Columbus Grand Knight Bernie Fallon said his group will take up the matter at its next meeting, scheduled for Monday.
Fallon said he was "shocked and devastated" by the news, as were other parish members.
"There's a lot of people in our council that are still proud of him but didn't know he had been involved with anything like that," Fallon said.
Fallon said he's not interested in knowing details of the abuse, preferring instead to look toward healing and forgiveness.
"The Lord forgave him (Schroeder), I'm sure," he said.
Holy Family's current pastor, the Rev. John Boeglin, is also urging forgiveness.
In a written statement, Boeglin wrote, "I feel truly sorry for those who have carried a heavy burden from their past relationship with Msgr. Schroeder."
Boeglin's statement also mentioned the "many personal sacrifices" that Schroeder made as founding pastor of Holy Family.
The statement also asks for forgiveness.
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