Sexual Abuse Charges Made against Former Rayne Priest
By Charlie Bier
Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, LA)
July 30, 2002
RAYNE — Mary Katherine Figaro, a longtime parishioner at the Shrine of Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church, was a girl when the Rev. Wilfred DesRosiers was pastor there beginning in 1967.
Figaro remembered that DesRosiers was a strong advocate of civil rights — so strong that he received death threats. Now DesRosiers is accused of sexually abusing four minors during his time at Our Mother of Mercy.
"He was a good man, very dynamic," Figaro said. "But if he did something, it's not right."
Officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette told Our Mother of Mercy parishioners Sunday about the allegations. DesRosiers, now 84, worked at the Rayne church until 1972. He is now retired and living at a nursing home in Canada. DesRosiers said the allegations aren't true, according to the diocese.
The Rev. Joseph Verrett, a representative of the superior general of the Josephite Fathers and Brothers, joined Bishop Edward O'Donnell on Sunday at Our Mother of Mercy to talk to the congregation.
O'Donnell said he has appointed Verrett as his delegate in the matter. The Josephites have also accepted responsibility for handling the case, the bishop said.
Verrett is staying at the church rectory until Wednesday to talk to people who want to report misconduct.
Verrett said the names of the people named as victims are being kept confidential, but civil authorities have been contacted.
A list of assignments for DesRosiers provided by the Josephites' office of the superior general shows the priest took a leave of absence from July 1972 to September 1973. DesRosiers then served as an assistant at Our Mother of Mercy in Beaumont, Texas, for nearly two years before retiring in September 1975.
Parishioner Louise Bellamy said the accusations don't fit the man she remembers.
"He seemed to be a man of God," Bellamy said.
Anyone who wishes to report information or seek assistance concerning sexual misconduct by the Rev. Wilfred DesRosiers or any other Josephite priest or employee should call the Josephite Society at 1-800-338-1383.
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