Friar Scandal Touches Sbu

By Henry Balling IV
Bona Venture
December 7, 2009

NEW YORK -- Nathan Halbach, the son of a priest, died Nov. 27 of a brain tumor, leaving the Franciscan and St. Bonaventure University communities with questions.

Halbach was born in 1986 to Patricia Bond and a practicing priest, Father Henry Willenborg, according to, reporter Anderson Cooper's Web site.

Father Henry is in no way affiliated with St. Bonaventure University. However, the man who negotiated a deal between the Franciscan Order and Bond is currently a member of the Franciscan Institute's research faculty.

Father Robert J. Karris, O.F.M., is currently working on an annotated translation of St. Bonaventure's Commentary on Ecclesiastes and the Commentary on St. John's Gospel, according to St. Bonaventure's Web site.

Father Robert declined to comment on his involvement in the negotiations.

In 1986, in the midst of a five-year affair, Bond and Father Henry had sexual relations during a five year affair, according to

The Franciscans, with the help of Father Robert, then negotiated a deal for child support in exchange for a confidentiality agreement Bond signed, according to the Web site.

Liz D'Onofrio, a senior theology major, said she thought the Order shouldn't have given any child support to Bond.

"I think it was a mistake to pay her off," D'Onofrio said.

"I feel like they should have realized their mistakes, let (Father Henry) go and make him pay on his own."

In total, until Halbach turned 18, the Franciscans paid about $85,000 for child support, according to

Halbach didn't see much of his father growing up, the Web site reported.

While Halbach was a sophomore at the University of Missouri, he was diagnosed with brain tumors, and his mother sought reimbursement for medical costs. At that point, the Order agreed to pay 50 percent of Halbach's medical bills that Bond couldn't cover, according to the Web site.

The relationship turned bitter after Halbach needed to stay in New York City for cancer treatment, and the Order refused to keep paying. The Web site reported this is when Bond broke her confidentiality agreement.

The Order will not pursue legal action against bond and will cover 100 percent of his funeral costs, it wrote in a letter written to Bond, according to a story on

University officials declined to comment other than to say Karris is an integral part of the university.

D'Onofrio said members of the Order had a difficult task in front of them upon learning about Bond and Father Henry.

"It's hard to say how if they followed the Franciscan Ideals," she said. "Part of their teachings would be to forgive and reconcile, while part of their teachings would say for someone to be part (of the Order) they should act responsibly."


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