Parishioners Defend Elmhurst Pastor

By Robert Sanchez
Chicago Daily Herald
May 7, 2002

The Rev. John F. Barrett had been having back problems, so no one at Mary Queen of Heaven Church in Elmhurst was surprised when he didn't lead Mass the last few weeks.

The shock came Sunday when parishioners were told of a more than 30-year-old accusation of sexual misconduct against their pastor. The Joliet Diocese has not said what parish Barrett was serving in at the time or given any information about the victim.

Now as Barrett serves a temporary administrative leave, parishioners are defending him as a kind man who, they say, is incapable of sexual misconduct.

"To me it's absolutely inconceivable that he would - even on one occasion - do anything that was abnormal," said John Maloney, one of the deacons at Mary Queen of Heaven. "It's contrary to reason."

Maloney said he has known Barrett since the pastor was at St. Alexander's Church in Villa Park more than six years ago.

"I know how he cares about his religion," Maloney said Monday. "I know how he cares about God. And he sees Jesus Christ in other people. It's inconceivable that he did what he's accused of.

"I would almost stake my salvation that it never happened."

The accusations against Barrett are linked to events that allegedly occurred more than 30 years ago and first surfaced in 1991.

Diocese officials said nothing was proven at the time, but the case resurfaced last week. Barrett is being kept away from public ministry until authorities can look into the matter, diocese officials said Sunday.

Barrett has spent nearly 43 years as a Catholic priest. He started his career at Ss. Peter and Paul in Naperville.

He became the sixth pastor to lead Mary Queen of Heaven Church in June 1996 after the death of the Rev. Victor Rudden, according to the church's Web site.

Before coming to Mary Queen of Heaven, Barrett was the pastor at St. Alexander's Church in Villa Park. A church official said Barrett was at St. Alexander's for about 12 years.

"A lot of people loved him here," said the Rev. Tuan Van Nguyen, St. Alexander's pastor. "He's a good priest."

GRAPHIC: Rev. John F. Barrett

The following are key dates and churches the priest served:

- June 25, 1996: Starts at Mary Queen of Heaven in Elmhurst

- Nov. 27, 1984: Starts at St. Alexander's Church in Villa Park

- July 7, 1972: Starts at Notre Dame in Clarendon Hills

- June 21, 1969: Starts at St. Alexander's in Villa Park

- Aug. 20, 1964: Starts at Notre Dame in Clarendon Hills

- June 12, 1959: Ss. Peter and Paul in Naperville

Source: Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet


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