Immaculata Pastor on Patrick Lott Scandal: "We Own This and We Will Deal with It"

January 3, 2012

Msgr. Seamus F. Brennan, pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Somerville. / 2002 NJ Press Media file photo

The following is a transcript of the full remarks delivered Sunday by Msgr. Seamus F. Brennan, pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, following his homily during the 9 a.m. Mass.

Brennan discusses the Patrick Lott scandal at Immaculata High School, where the volunteer coach is accused of video-recording boys showering together in the locker room.

“I do want to address a few words to you regarding the recent incident that took place at Immaculata High School and all of the reports in the paper this week. I want to address the allegations that have been made against one of our volunteers, a longtime volunteer and a part-time assistant coach at Immaculata. And I want to do this in no way to be defensive. We own this and we will deal with it. I just want that understood.

“But I do also want to try to clarify what [are] known facts, just to give you a little information to correct some of the rather misleading and inaccurate information that is often report in the press, [which has] been rather sensational sometimes.

“The first thing I want you to understand is the nature of the allegations that have been made. They are still allegations; nothing has been proven, and so we need to be aware of that. But the wrongful act that is alleged is that of taking pictures of boys showering in the locker room area. That, of course, is serious. That is a breach of the law, that is a serious invasion of privacy, and we do not deny that.

“I do want you to know however, that late this week the prosecutor himself, the Prosecutor’s Office, informed us that at this point there is no evidence that any pictures were ever shared with others.

Likewise, I think it's very important to keep in mind that at this point there is no evidence that the accused ever touched anyone inappropriately. That has not been alleged. I think those are important to keep in mind, while not denying the seriousness of the allegations that are standing.

“The second thing I want to assure you is that we have cooperated fully with the Prosecutor’s Office from the moment we received the initial complaint. There has been some misunderstanding, as people have again misunderstood what some of the papers have said. The fact of the matter is it is about three weeks ago when we first got any inclination that there might be something wrong, and things move slowly as the prosecutor tried to find out what was happening. But we did not delay. We immediately turned this over to the prosecutor. We will continue to work closely with the Prosecutor’s Office to try to determine the truth and, above all, see that the issue is addressed and that justice, of course, is done.

“Our first concern in all of this, obviously, is going to be the families affected, the children affected and their families. That is always our first concern. I do want you today, however, to continue to pray. I want you to pray for everybody involved. Pray for the families who are most directly affected. I want you to pray for all the students of Immaculata, pray for the faculty, the staff, the coaches, and indeed the alumni, all of whom feel the impact of this incident very deeply, and certainly they feel the weight of the rather incessant, and I think sometimes incendiary, kind of negative press coverage that this kind of an event gets. So I ask you to pray for everybody, including the Lott family. Please continue to include all of the above in your prayers as we try to address this issue going forward.

“I want also to assure you that we are not alone in all of this. I've been working closely with the Prosecutor's Office. We do have the support of the Diocese [of Metuchen]. Bishop [Paul Gregory] Bootkoski made sure he took the time to call me to express his sadness at hearing of these allegations. He expressed also, I might add, that he was very proud of the wonderful accomplishments of Immaculata High School. He offered his prayers and his support and of offered the support of all the diocesan offices as we work together to seek to address the lessons learned and how we might address this and prevent any problems in the future.

“Fourth, I want to assure you that the Immaculata High School administrators and the Advisory Council will take the time — we will make time to review what has happened, to review our policies, our procedures, and take every measure possible to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all children.

“[…] We are not running, not hiding from this event. We do acknowledge it. We acknowledge that we own it. We will deal with it.

“I think [what] we are reminded in all of this is the need for vigilance, I suppose most of all, and for reminding us of our human frailty, our human nature, of our need for God and need for God’s grace and need for his forgiveness and need for the strength of the Holy Spirit. I ask you to pray for all of us going forward at the beginning of this new year. I ask that as we begin this new year that you pray especially to Mary, the mother of God, and ask for her special intercession and guidance in all of these events. This is indeed a special feast for our parish. It’s under her title of the Immaculate Conception that she is patron of our parish and indeed both of our schools.

“Finally, I want to assure you this parish is an extraordinary parish that has given an extraordinary gift to this community. From 1957 to ’73 the people of this parish made huge sacrifices to build two schools and this church, in which we are seated today. That demanded great dedication and great commitment and sacrifice from the people of this community. That sacrifice will continue. The people still love our schools and our mission has not changed. Our mission to provide Catholic education is needed, I think, more today than ever. We will continue to do everything to provide that quality education to young men and woman here in our area.

“And so in conclusion please continue to offer your prayers and your support in every way you can. All of us are feeling hurt at this time, but with our prayers and with effort of our administrators, our Advisory Council, the diocese, we pray that we will find a speedy and a just resolution to this incident, and that we will go forward as strong as ever to fulfill our great mission of providing Catholic education.

“I will of course try to keep you informed going forward. I remind you that this is not concluded, not even the investigation that continues. So I do need your patience and need your understanding. I need you not to jump to any conclusions, based particularly on things you might read in the press. We will try to keep you informed of what we are doing and what steps we'll be taking.”








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