Archdiocese's List Includes Minnesota River Valley Area Priests

By Jessica Bies
The Le Center Leader
December 6, 2013

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Thursday published a list of 34 priests who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.

Several of those included on the list once served in the Minnesota River Valley and in the Diocese of New Ulm, which contains the Church of St. Peter.

One of the men on the list, John Brown, served as an associate priest/administrator at St. Mary from 1958-1960.

Fr. Chris Shorner, who currently serves as pastor at St. Mary in Le Center, saw the list Thursday and shared his initial reaction.

“I’m saddened of course," Shorner said. "It’s a time to pray for the victims and a time to pray for those who might be inclined towards perpetrating such acts, because we want a society, a church, where everyone is healthy and safe and secure.”

Shroner said he expected his congregation to have questions following the release of the list, though Brown only served at the church for a short time.

“There’s sadness and there’s anger and I’d expect that," Shorner said. "But I hope it doesn’t destroy anyone’s faith or keep them from coming to church.”

Archbishop John Nienstedt, who has come under fire for the way sexual misconduct cases have been managed, said the disclosures are not intended to be final and that the list could be updated after a review of clergy files.

"All clergy feel the shame of the acts of some of their brother priests. We deeply regret the pain caused by sexual abuse by members of the clergy, and we remain committed to protecting children and promoting healing for victims," Nienstedt said in a column in the archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Spirit. "I sincerely pray that these efforts will contribute to the healing process for victims and others who have been harmed, and serve to protect God's children and foster trust in the Church."

Three-fourths of the priests on the list are already known to the public through lawsuits and media reports. The 34 priests served in nearly half of the archdiocese’s parishes.

The disclosure came three days after an unexpected ruling by a Ramsey County Judge in a case filed by a victim of clergy sexual abuse. The judge ordered the archdiocese to release the names of 33 priests included on a 2009 list, as well as the names of other priests accused since then.

Of the status of the 30 men who have had substantiated claims against them: 16 are listed as permanently removed from ministry, one is listed as leaving the ministry, 11 are dead and two have been defrocked.

Sixteen of the men, including some who are now dead, were permanently removed from the ministry in 2002 or 2003, when the church sex abuse scandal was at its height.

Several of the priests have served locally, either in the Minnesota River Valley or as part of the Diocese of New Ulm.

These priests are/were:

• John Brown, age 93. Served as an associate priest/administrator at St. Mary in Le Center from 1958-1960.

• Louis Heitzer, deceased. Served as an associate priest/pastor at several New Ulm diocese parishes from 1942-1956 and at St. Scholastica in Heidelberg from 1958-1966.

• Rudolph Henrich, deceased. Served as pastor at St. Boniface in Stewart (New Ulm) from 1954-1957.

• Robert Kapoun, age 75. Served as administrator at St. Joseph in Lexington from 1984-1996, as pastor at St. Scholastica in Heidelberg from 1984-1996 and as pastor at St. Thomas in St. Thomas from 1991-1996.

• Timothy McCarthy, age 67. Served as administrator at St. Andrew in Elysian from 1977 to 1982.

• Joseph Pinkosh, age 70. Served as associate St. Wencelaus in New Prague from 1972-1974.

• Patrick Ryan, deceased. Served as pastor at St. John in Ortonville (New Ulm) from 1933-1943.

• Clarence Vavra, age 74. Served as associate priest at St. Wenceslaus in New Prague in 1979, Nativity of Mary in Cleveland in 1997 and Most Holy Redeemer in Montgomery from 1997-2003. Currently lives in New Prague.

The Archdicose says claims against Patrick Ryan, who was accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year old in 1961, have not been substantiated.

George Kallumkallkudy, pastor for Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Montgomery and St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Shieldsville said the archdiocese has directed parishes to read a letter at Sunday masses this week to explain the news and to reassure congregations.

"This is not pleasing to our Church," Kallumkallkudy said, speaking of the larger Catholic community. "We (the clergy) have made mistakes and we're trying to correct them. We have great faith and hope that in the face of crisis, we can find the strength to undue all this pain and suffering."

Fr. Todd Petersen, pastor at the Church of St. Peter, which is part of the Diocese of New Ulm, said he thinks the list should not be overblown and used to perpetuate rumor, but should be a seen as an assurance of how seriously the Archdiocese takes the protection of minors.

“It’s my sincere hope that healing can come and that those who were victims see healing and that those that were victimizers get the punishment they deserve, Petersen said.

Community members have voiced concern and shock over the names.

Kathy Atherton was a member of the Elysian church at the time McCarthy acted as its administrator. He served at St. Andrew from 1977 to 1982.

"I would have been around 9 or 10 at the time," Atherton said on Facebook. "I can tell you that we trusted him and loved him. Me and my fellow classmates who were members of the church, went to his home on several occasions. He was fun and younger than other priests we had known. He swore and we thought that was cool. He worked hard to develop relationships with us."

McCarthy was permanently removed from ministry in 1991 and is currently believed to be residing in Oakdale or St. Paul. He has previously been unnamed as one of the priests "who have had credible accusations and substantiated claims against them of sexually abusing a minor in our archdiocese," according to Nienstadt.

Atherton said when she first heard McCarthy had been removed from the ministry due to allegations of sexual abuse, she was devastated.

"I really lost my faith at that point," Atherton said on Facebook. "I still tear up when I think about it. To me, at that age, your priest is like God. He could do no wrong and he looked after us. Finding out what he had done was a betrayal like no other in my eyes. I'll never understand it and I cannot even imagine how the children he abused must have felt. It just makes me so sad."

Sandy Weber Schroer of Janesville also expressed dismay

"I remember Father Tim and we thought he was so cool," Schoer said. "Makes me sick!"



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