"I Can't Say I Knew Him Incredibly Well': Parishioners Reflect on Priest's Sex Abuse Allegations

By Corey W. McDonald
Jersey Journal
September 2, 2018

He lived in the church and celebrated Mass. Members at the Our Lady of Czestochowa Church knew of him, but many had never spoken to the Rev. Gerard Sudol, who last week stepped away from the parish after new allegations of decades-old sexual abuse surfaced.

Church members were informed of the allegations and that he would no longer be a part of the parish during last week's Mass.

"But for the most part he didn't really have all that much to do here," said a parishioner who requested anonymity. "I can't say I knew him incredibly well."

Parishioners after today's mass reflected on the priest who resided in the Downtown Jersey City church, but had little to do in the church's day-to-day affairs.

Sudol, 64, had been at the church since July 2015. He was "in residence," meaning he was living there and was allowed to celebrate Mass, according to Jim Goodness, an Archdiocese spokesman.

"He was not assigned to be... part of the parish priest staff," Goodness said. "He was someone who lived in the rectory (and) may have had permission to help out at the parishes as needed, but he didn't have a regular assignment. He had very little (involvement), if any" in day-to-day operations.

Sudol was accused of sexual misconduct last week by Ed Hanratty, who was a student at St. Francis of Assisi School in Ridgefield Park in the late 1980s while Sudol was a priest there.

Hanratty, in an article on the Daily Voice website and a first-person blog post, said the abuse entailed kissing with an open mouth, and, on one occasion, rubbing up against him in the Hanratty family's pool.

He came forward after news that the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up years of abuse by priests there.

Sudol faced similar accusations 15 years ago. He was one of nine priests whose accusers settled with the Newark archdiocese for $1.07 million in 2004. The settlement was made "by the church to a family for medical assistance for several members of the family," Goodness said.

After the archdiocese settlement, Sudol was acquitted in a canonical trial in 2005 and was assigned to work at a hospice. Between 2005 and 2015 Sudol assisted in different parishes and was never assigned as a parochial vicar.

Goodness told The Jersey Journal "this was not something that had been kept from anybody," adding that there had been news coverage about Sudol's previous allegations.

He said he was "not aware" whether church members were directly notified of the previous allegations against him.

The OLC parish includes a grammar school, but clergy members were adamant that Sudol was "never left unsupervised around children."

But "he hasn't stepped foot onto that alter since (the allegations arose)," one church member said who declined to give his name. "I have a community to worry about, my own faith to worry about. There's a lot going on right now (and) I'm disgusted."








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