Diocese Sets Listening Session on Allegation

St. Cloud Times
November 13, 2011

The St. Cloud diocese has scheduled a Dec. 4 listening session to address a sexual abuse allegation against a man who was a deacon in the diocese in 1969 and 1970.

That man is Michael Willard Weber, 67, a Foley native who is a board member of the Greater Twin Cities United Way and once was associate director and acting executive director of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse.

No criminal charges have been filed against Weber. Messages left Saturday for Weber weren't immediately returned.

Weber earlier this year stepped down as president and chief executive officer of Volunteers of America-Minnesota, a statewide affiliate of a national organization that provides a variety of family and children's programs, among other things.

Weber is past director of the Hennepin County Community Services Department and was an assistant commissioner in the Minnesota Department of Human Services. He is the chairman of the board of Rainbow Research, which is touted on its website as having experience "in designing and conducting evaluations of programs and services dedicated to the prevention of and protection from events that could endanger the safety of children, youth, and families."

Weber was a mentor in St. John's University's Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship until at least late last week. On Saturday evening, St. John's University spokesman Michael Hemmesch said Weber was no longer a mentor in that program. Hemmesch said that decision was "mutual."

Weber grew up in Foley and graduated from St. John's University before he spent 4-5 months as a deacon at the Church of the Holy Spirit, according to a statement made Saturday evening after Mass at the Church of the Holy Spirit in south St. Cloud by the Rev. Thomas Knoblach.

"We do have one additional, difficult announcement," Knoblach said. "There has been an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a former deacon, Deacon Michael Willard Weber. Because of the allegation, Bishop (John) Kinney has asked the Diocesan Response Team to hold a listening session for the people of the Holy Spirit parish."

The listening session is scheduled for 4 p.m. Dec. 4 at Holy Spirit, Knoblach said. Holy Spirit parishioners are invited as are other potential victims, Knoblach said.

Among the other honors Weber has received in his career was the 1990 Vincent DeFrancis Award from the American Humane Association and the 1993 Award for Excellence in Public Child Welfare Administration from the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators.

The diocese last had a listening session in 2002, when it held four in response to a national clergy sex abuse crisis.

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