Humboldt Priest One of Pair Removed from Service by Diocese
By Susan McNeill
March 26, 2020
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon announced that two priests have been removed from service by the diocese after internal investigations into “serious misconduct.”
According to a notice from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, Mensah had recently retired from his position as pastor of the parish at Holy Family Cathedral and Yaremko was most recently an associate pastor in Humboldt.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen, the head of the Saskatoon diocese, assured the community that the allegations were not related, did not involve children or minors, and no criminal charges were expected. He said he could not go into further detail for the protection of the people who came forward with the allegations.
“What was announced is that both had been removed from ministry,” he said. “Father Mensah’s (removal) … was in early March, where Father Yaremko’s situation goes back two years.”
Hagemoen announced the status of both priests at Holy Family Cathedral on March 15 to the community, before COVID-19 issues pushed the diocese to cancel gathering for Catholic mass.
“Misconduct wouldn’t, in a general sense, undermine or destroy the relationship of trust and confidence between the pastor and the parishioner,” Hagemoen said. “Serious misconduct does, or would, and it would be judged and acted upon accordingly.”
The diocese in Saskatoon had been in the process of working on an updated “safeguarding action plan” for members of the church, so Hagemoen and the safeguarding committee at the diocese also distributed information on the new plan on March 15.
Brenda FitzGerald, the chair of the safeguarding committee, said the Saskatoon diocese recognized that it needed to expand on a culture in the church to support the well-being of its members. The most recent safeguarding report — entitled Safe Church, Stronger Communities — details a 20-point commitment plan designed to help victims of abuse or misconduct come forward and also includes a proposal for a group independent of the bishop’s office to review historical cases still being investigated.
“(We have) some really good, concrete actions that I believe are the best possible way of making words on a paper or a policy document, reality,” FitzGerald said. “We have a huge concern about having a healthy diocese, about having a healthy and safe place for us to practice our faith.”
Hagemoen said announcing the removal of two priests in the diocese was probably his “toughest day” as bishop, but stressed that the community needed to feel safe reporting any instances of misconduct — which is why the new safeguarding action plan is so important.
“If a complaint comes up, we’re always worried about scandal — but scandal must be secondary to hearing and honouring a complainant about an allegation,” he said. “If we don’t deal with those well, people with real, legitimate complaints won’t come forward.”