Molestation Claim Named Dead Pastor

By Sherry Van Arsdall
South Bend Tribune
August 27 2010

A once well-known pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Niles, the Right Rev. Monsignor John Slowey, who died in January 1983, was named in an accusation of sexually molesting a boy decades ago in the Lansing area.

Kalamazoo diocese spokeswoman Vicki Cessna confirmed that Slowey was the pastor in Niles from August 1966 until his death in January 1983.

Cessna said there have been no other allegations of molestation by Slowey in the Diocese of Kalamazoo.

The Catholic Diocese of Lansing has paid $225,000 to a man who said he was molested by Slowey in the 1950s. The diocese said the accusation can't be substantiated.

Lansing Diocese spokesman Michael Diebold confirmed the payment and said the diocese puts it in the category of an unsubstantiated allegation.

"It is the only allegation in his entire career," Diebold said. "We're just simply not sure. It's unfortunate Father Slowey is dead and he cannot come forward to answer the allegation."

Diebold said the settlement was a compromise reached with the attorney of the victim and that the diocese refers to the payment as healing expenses to the victim.

"We want people to know that if anyone has been harmed by somebody connected with the church to come forward and let us know," Diebold said.The Lansing State Journal reported Wednesday that the man's attorney, David Mittleman, said the man was molested at St. Vincent Home for Children in Lansing in 1955.

The man, now in his late 50s, and his siblings were sent by their parents to the St. Vincent home from June 1954 to March 1955 and reunited with their family in the spring of 1956, said Mittleman.

While at the home, the man said he believes Slowey molested him.According to Slowey's obituary in the South Bend Tribune archives, he became the director of the Catholic Service Bureau in 1952 in Lansing, where he also served as chaplain at the home.

Slowey was elevated to the position of domestic prelate, with the title of right reverend monsignor, Dec. 22, 1959, by Pope John XXIII.

During his time as pastor at St. Mary's, Slowey was instrumental in the restoration of the then 113-year-old church.

In Niles, he became a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Westside Notre Dame Fan Club, the Niles Elks Lodge and the Orchard Hills Country Club.

An honorary green fez member of the Niles Shrine Club, Slowey was also known for helping establish the Big Brothers program in Michigan.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Staff writer Sherry Van Arsdall: or (269) 687-3552


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