|Quincy Parishioners Shocked by Decades-old Priest Sexual Abuse Allegations
By Dennis Tatz
June 14, 2010
QUINCY — An elderly priest at St. Mary’s Church in West Quincy has been accused of sexually abusing children 50 years ago.
As a result of the allegations, the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston said Sunday it had placed 82-year-old Rev. F. Dominic Menna on administrative leave.
After learning about the allegations, the Archdiocese said it immediately notified law enforcement authorities and began a preliminary investigation of its own.
Earlier this year, the Archdiocese tapped former Plymouth County prosecutor Mark Dunderdale as director of its new office of Professional Standards and Oversight. Part of his job is to ensure that past problems, such as ignoring allegations of sexual abuse by priests, aren’t repeated.
The Rev. Menna, who was ordained in 1958, is a senior priest in residence at St. Mary’s. The alleged abuse happened not long after he was ordained.
The Rev. Menna will remain on administrative leave pending the outcome of the preliminary investigation.
St. Mary’s parishioner Janice Ronayne, who has known the Rev. Menna for about 50 years, said she was stunned by the news.
“He is a wonderful priest and was one of my father’s best friends,” Ronayne said. “They spent a lot of time together. He would come to our home for dinner. This is just terrible. I absolutely, positively don’t believe any of this.”
Ronayne recalled the Rev. Menna’s first stint at St. Mary’s in the late 1950s.
He officiated at the wedding of Ronayne’s aunt, Marie Pearce of Quincy, in 1968.
“Everyone was completely delighted when we heard he was coming back,” said Pearce, who was a part-time cook at the church several years ago. “This is crazy, He is a wonderful priest and a wonderful man.”
Kathleen DiBona of Quincy said Sunday she was very much surprised to hear about the allegations against the Rev. Menna, who celebrated the funeral Masses for her brother two years ago and mother four years ago.
“It’s shocking,” said DiBona, who has lived on Crescent Street a few doors down from St. Mary’s most of her life. “Here we are thinking he was the nicest man. This (priest abuse scandal) has devastated so many lives.”
Cardinal Sean O'Malley said in a statement released Sunday: “I recognize that news of these allegations may be a source of distress for many people. My prayers and concern are with all people who are impacted by this matter. I remain committed to doing everything possible to protect our children, to further the healing process and to rebuild trust.”
The Archdiocese said the decision to place the Rev. Menna on administrative leave was part of its commitment to the safety of all parties and does not represent a determination of guilt or innocence.
Through its Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach, the Archdiocese said it has continued to make counseling and other services available to abuse survivors, their families and parishes affected by clergy sexual abuse.
The Rev. David Callahan, St. Mary’s pastor, and the Archdiocese, are making arrangements for the ongoing pastoral care of the parish community, according to the Archdiocese. The Rev. Menna is receiving services through the Office of Pastoral Care for Priests.
The Archdiocese said it now has policies and practices in place that include working with law enforcement agencies and community professionals to report and investigate instances of sexual abuse, annually screening of about 60,000 clergy, employees and volunteers, and implementing effective prevention training programs.
Dennis Tatz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.