Neighbor 'Totally Shocked' to Hear Clergy Allegations

By Jana Shortal
November 12, 2013

[with video]

NEW PRAGUE, Minn. -- In New Prague this week, news traveled fast after an MPR News team filed a report saying a retired priest living in that city admitted to sexually abusing young boys while he was serving in the Minneapolis St. Paul Archdiocese in or around 1975.

On Monday, Nienstedt released a letter acknowledging mistakes made in the case of former catholic priest Clarence Vavra.

Vavra, who now lives in New Prague, is a neighbor to Margaret Lexa. She describes him as a good man, but she admits she has a few reservations after hearing what he's accused of.

"Oh, I'm totally shocked, totally shocked. You know, you get second thoughts but I'm still in shock," Lexa said.

Lexa says she and her husband have lived next door to Vavra for 40 years. She says while her husband has been in ill health, Vavra made a point to tell Lexa he was praying for their family.

Like Lexa, New Prague Area Schools Superintendent Tim Dittberner was also not aware of the accusations.

He said he learned of the allegations against Vavra from two MPR reporters who came to his office more than a week ago.

A school in the district is less than a block away from Vavra's home. That fact has caused a few to speak up to Dittberner.

"Some are concerned. I think some people are angry just because of the nature of it and not knowing anything about it," Dittberner said.

KARE 11 tried to reach Vavra at his home twice on Tuesday, but he didn't respond either time.


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