Priest at St. Joseph-Hessen Cassel Removed after Past Sexual Abuse Alleged

June 19, 2013

The Rev. Cornelius Ryan has been removed as administrator of St. Joseph Catholic Church-Hessen Cassel after the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend was notified that a credible allegation of sexual abuse had been received involving him.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, the diocese said local Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades was notified June 10 by the superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province, which is in South Bend, that a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor had been received against Ryan, a member of the Holy Cross order.

The alleged abuse is reported to have taken place about 20 years ago while Ryan served in Africa, the statement said.

Based on the laws of the Catholic Church, Ryan was removed from ministry June 10, the statement said. St. Joseph-Hessen Cassel parish is at 11337 Old U.S. 27 S. on the city's far south side.

Rhoades informed St. Joseph parishioners about the situation through a letter read after Masses last Saturday and Sunday, the statement said. The diocese has continued to minister to and offer counseling to parishioners.

“The Congregation of Holy Cross order is handling the matter according to its policies and the church's norms,” the statement said.

Ryan was helping fill a vacancy created when the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend removed the previous pastor at St. Joseph, the Rev. Thom Lombardi, in December 2011 because of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor during his service at a previous parish.

Lombardi's case currently is being reviewed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, but no decision has been made, said Sean McBride, diocesan communications director.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.