Augusta: Curran Name Dropped from Scholarship

By Matthew Stone
Kennebec Journal

July 16, 2008

AUGUSTA -- The Calumet Educational and Literary Foundation is the latest Augusta institution to change the name of a scholarship it has offered in the name of the Rev. John J. Curran.

The change, however, is not related to allegations that the late priest sexually abused children, foundation president Jan Michaud said. Trustees decided at a recent meeting to combine the Curran scholarship with another award offered by the foundation, she said.

The scholarships' merger corresponds with the ongoing merger of Augusta-based St. Michael Parish and Winthrop-based St. Francis Xavier Parish.

"Now we're up to nine churches," Michaud said. "It just makes so much more sense."

The scholarship resulting from the merger will be called the St. Michael Parish Scholarship. The foundation updated its Web site with the new award name this week, Michaud said, and is updating information on the scholarship application forms.

"I, for one, felt that the consolidation of the two was logical," she said. "That just opens up opportunities for more students."

The Calumet Foundation's name change came weeks after officials at the University of Maine at Augusta changed the name of a scholarship the college offered in Curran's name. That award is now called the Leadership and Service Scholarship.

The UMA award's name change followed a push by advocates for victims of clergy sexual abuse to remove Curran's name from scholarship awards.

Those same advocates are beginning an effort to rename Augusta's Father Curran Bridge. A man reported to be a survivor of abuse by Curran is scheduled to discuss the bridge name with Augusta city councilors on Monday. An act of the Legislature would be required to change the bridge name.

Michaud said Calumet Foundation trustees did not discuss sexual abuse allegations against Curran during their deliberations on changing the scholarship name.

"It was not part of our agenda," Michaud said.

Paul Kendrick, who previously contacted a foundation trustee to urge the group to alter the scholarship name, said the group's move was "a good thing."

Curran, who died in 1976, served as priest of Augusta's St. Augustine Church from 1962 to 1972. Since his death, at least two people have claimed that Curran sexually abused them when they were children. One of those cases has been corroborated.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland officials have said they would bar Curran from ministering if he were alive today and would request that the Vatican remove him from the priesthood.


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