Lawyer Says Rev. Messier Abused Boy
Pastor in Athol Formerly Served Worcester Parishes

By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)
May 16, 2002

The Rev. Raymond P. Messier, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Athol and St. Peter's Church in Petersham, had inappropriate sexual contact with a 9-year-old boy when he was serving at Sacred Heart Church in Worcester in the early 1980s, according to Boston lawyer Carmen Durso.

The incident allegedly occurred around 1980 or 1981 at a camp owned by the priest's family in Charlton, Mr. Durso said.

Mr. Durso was contacted by the mother of the alleged victim, who told of an agreement from the late Bishop Timothy J. Harrington to make sure that Rev. Messier was never in a position to have contact with children again.

The bishop also said the priest would be sent for treatment, Mr. Durso said he was told.

Rev. Messier served in three parishes after that time and is still in active ministry. He is also chaplain for the Athol Fire Department and held a similar position in South Grafton.

The lawyer said the child's mother first learned of the incident when another boy saw something inappropriate happening between the boy and the priest and reported it to his mother. His mother then told the boy's mother.

The mother went to a police officer she knew and told him about the incident. She said in an interview yesterday that the police officer, who is now deceased, told her that "the church takes care of its own" and he could not intervene.

At some later point, the boy's mother met with a therapist in Worcester who said the boy had drawn a picture of a skeleton with skull and crossbones and labeled it "Father Pig," Mr. Durso said. The boy also revealed the abuse to the therapist, he said. Mr. Durso said the therapist confirmed the incident.

The mother had a meeting with Bishop Harrington, at which he said the priest would not be put where he would have access to children, Mr. Durso said.

She was recently shocked to learn that Rev. Messier was a pastor in Athol and Petersham.

"This woman did everything people say parents should do and she still didn't get anywhere," Mr. Durso said- going to police, meeting with the boy's therapist, meeting with the bishop and getting an "agreement" that the priest would not have access to children. "Now she finds out he is still in active ministry," he said.

Mr. Durso said he spoke yesterday with Gavin Reardon, lawyer for the Diocese of Worcester. His goal was not to sue the diocese, but to make sure the priest was not in a position to abuse children, he said. "This isn't about money," he said.

Raymond L. Delisle, spokesman for the diocese, said the diocese learned late yesterday of the allegation of sexual misconduct regarding Rev. Messier, and would conduct a review to determine the appropriate actions.

"We will also cooperate fully with the district attorney or other appropriate authorities on any investigation," Mr. Delisle said in a statement.

"The Diocese of Worcester has clearly stated in its sexual abuse policy that it will not tolerate sexual misconduct with minors by anyone, including clergy, employees or volunteers serving in its name."

The family does not wish to be publicly identified and it is a policy of the Telegram & Gazette not to identify abuse victims without their permission.

Rev. Messier, 60, a native of Auburn, prepared for priesthood at the Seminary of Philosophy in Montreal and the American College of Louvain, Belgium, and was ordained in 1968 at Holy Name of Jesus Church, Worcester.

He was first assigned to St. Paul's Cathedral and later moved to St. Joseph's parish, Worcester. In 1970, he was transferred to Our Lady of the Rosary parish, Gardner. He moved to St. James of South Grafton in 1971 and was named associate pastor of Our Lady Immaculate parish, Athol, in 1974. He first became fire chaplain for the Athol Fire Department in 1975.

He became associate pastor of Joan of Arc parish, Worcester, in 1976. While pastor of the Lincoln Street parish in 1977, Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan relieved him of duties as diocesan chaplain for Scouting. He was moved to Sacred Heart of Worcester in 1978.

From there he moved to St. Roch's parish of Oxford and was transferred from there to St. Peter's of Petersham in 1984. He was named pastor in 1985. He was named pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in Athol in 1990.


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