Defrocked Priest Ex-Maryhill Worker

By Steve Bannister
Daily Town Talk [Alexandria, LA]
May 13, 2002

Steve Bannister The Town Talk

A priest recently dismissed by the Archdiocese of New Orleans once worked at Maryhill Renewal Center in Pineville.

The Rev. C. Richard Nowery was dismissed after the New Orleans diocese learned of two allegations against him involving youths.

The alleged incidents occurred in the 1980s while Nowery was with a diocese in Texas.

How long Nowery was with the Diocese of Alexandria is unclear. The Town Talk was referred to Bishop Sam Jacobs, who was out of town, and the Maryhill director, who was off for the week.

But Sam Dannon of Pineville remembers Nowery being the prefect at Maryhill in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Dannon, then 18, said he met Nowery in 1968. Dannon said he helped Nowery with the youth ministry until 1971, at which time Dannon left the area.

Dannon said he's not sure how long Nowery stayed at Maryhill after that.

But one thing Dannon is pretty sure of is that Nowery did nothing improper while here.

"We worked pretty closely for three years," Dannon said. "I never saw anything like that, never."

Nowery was "brilliant" as a priest working with youths, Dannon said.

"He is a real open man," Dannon said. "He fit in with the times. He was definitely very popular."

Dannon said he is one of many who received proper guidance from Nowery.

Nowery's guidance helped "me go in the right direction," Dannon said.

Dannon said he doesn't approve of what Nowery is alleged to have done later in life. But Dannon also noted that Nowery received treatment and had long since returned to his work as a priest without problem.

"Everybody has made mistakes they are sorry for," Dannon said. "I just feel like (the church dismissing Nowery) was crappy. ? It really hurts me that it happened to him."

Dannon said the church's motivation in dismissing Nowery wasn't based on doing the right thing. He said the New Orleans diocese used a "technicality" in what amounts to Nowery's job application to remove him.

"They are interested in their (legal) exposure and their pocketbook," Dannon said.

Although still religious, Dannon said he became disillusioned years ago with organized religion.

The allegations against Nowery in Texas were first described as sexual in nature, but the New Orleans diocese has since said neither allegation involved touching.

The incidents occurred in 1981 and 1986 while Nowery worked with a diocese in Austin, Texas. He received psychological treatment and returned to work.

He moved to the New Orleans diocese in 1994.

About 70 of the parishioners in the diocese have signed a petition asking that Nowery be allowed to return.


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