Bolivar pastor, church administrator from 1950s accused of sexual abuse

By Jill Way
October 10, 2018

A former assistant pastor and administrator for the Catholic Church in the Bolivar area is accused of sexual abuse of a minor during the early 1970s.  

According to a news release from the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, the allegation of sexual abuse involves Monsignor John J. Rynish, who died in 2001.

While the allegation pertains to the early 1970s, Rynish worked in Polk County in the early 1950s.

He was assistant pastor of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Karlin beginning in 1950.

In 1952, he became administrator of Sacred Heart Parish in Bolivar and St. William Parish in Buffalo.

Rynish left the area in 1953 when he became assistant pastor of St. Stephen Parish in Kansas City.

Rynish was born in Kansas City and was ordained as a priest in 1943 for the Diocese of Kansas City, the release said.

The Diocese of Springfield Cape Girardeau was formed in 1956 from territory that was part of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the Diocese of Kansas City prior to 1956.

Rynish retired from active ministry in 1993.

Pastoral appointments for Rynish include the following:

1943—Assistant pastor, Holy Cross Parish, Kansas City

1950—Assistant pastor, St. Wenceslaus Parish, Karlin

1952—Administrator, Sacred Heart Parish, Bolivar, and St. William Parish, Buffalo

1953—Assistant pastor, St. Stephen Parish, Kansas City

1954—Pastor, St. Canera Parish, Neosho

1960—Pastor, St. Eustachius Parish, Portageville

1965—Pastor, Immaculate Conception Parish, Springfield

1969—Elected Diocesan Administrator at departure of then-Bishop Ignatius Strecker until April 6, 1970

1973—Elected Diocesan Administrator at departure of then-Bishop William Baum until Dec. 5, 1973

1977—Pastor, St. Mary Parish, Pierce City

1979—Pastor, St. Joseph Parish, Billings


Following procedures outlined in diocesan Safe Environment Policies and Procedures, the Diocese has notified civil authorities of the allegation, including the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect hotline and the Greene County prosecuting attorney.

Additionally, pastoral support is being offered to the victim’s family, the release said.

Two other pastors — Father John Brath, born in 1983, and Father Fred Lutz, born in 1943 — who ministered in the area are the center of sexual abuse allegations from the early to mid-1970s.

Brath was the pastor of St. William Parish in Buffalo beginning in 1968. He moved to Sacred Heart Parish in Conway as administrator in 1970.

After serving in the military, Brath returned as administrator of St. William Parish in Buffalo from 1974-1975.

Brath also served in Springfield, Webb City, Joplin, Branson, Forsyth, Kimberling City, Lebanon, Pierce City, Ozark, Shell Knob, West Plains, Thayer and Lebanon. He retired in 2007 and died in 2014.

From 1975 to 1981, Lutz served as pastor of St. William Parish in Buffalo, chaplain at the Fordland Honor Camp and parochial administrator of Sacred Heart Parish in Conway.

Lutz took leave from 1981 to 1987.

Lutz also served in Springfield, Jackson, Cassville, Mt. Vernon, Greenfield, Oran, Advance, Glennon, Doniphan, Grandin and Lamar. He retired in 2011.













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