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Letter to Our Partners-in-Ministry in Buffalo

The following letter was shared with parishioners during the weekend of April 13 at Holy Name Province’s ministries in the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y.

Dear Parishioners and Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

My apologies for the intrusion on your Sunday worship, especially on the Passion of our Lord. But this message is an important one, perhaps serving as a reminder of the darkness and the crosses that we are all asked to bear.

Franciscan friars Gervase White, James Haggerty and Francis Kealy were named in media reports this week about clergy abuse in the Diocese of Buffalo. These reports stated that the friars worked at Bishop Timon High School, Archbishop Walsh High School and St. Bonaventure University.

All three of the friars are deceased, and the claim against each of them stems from alleged abuse that occurred decades ago. Since these claims are under active investigation, we cannot go into detail.

Although these may sound like hollow words to some, Holy Name Province has a zero tolerance policy for misconduct of any kind. We are deeply saddened and disturbed by these allegations – and we take all claims seriously, whether they involve active, inactive or deceased friars, or whether they occurred 20, 30 or upwards of 50 to 60 years ago.

As part of our zero tolerance policy and established policies and procedures to protect children and vulnerable adults, we swiftly and comprehensively address claims of misconduct or unlawful behavior. The Province commissions an independent investigation when a claim is presented. These independent investigators collectively have 40 years of experience in these matters.

Despite the difficulties and challenges that claims sometimes pose, as in the allegations involving the friars in the Buffalo reports – for example, when friars and potential witnesses disappear or are deceased and records no longer exist because the alleged abuse or misconduct took place decades ago – Holy Name Province’s independent investigators nevertheless investigate all claims with vigor.

To ensure transparency and accountability, Holy Name Province’s strenuous efforts to maintain safe environments and protect children and vulnerable adults – and the polices and procedures that ensure we succeed in these efforts – are monitored and reviewed by an independent third party, which evaluates child protection policies of major organizations.

As we approach Easter Sunday with the hope of renewal and rebirth, please keep in your prayers abuse survivors and their families, and the accused brothers. I will keep all of you in my prayers for a blessed and joyous Easter season.

Fraternally,

Fr. Kevin Mullen, O.F.M.
Provincial Minister of Holy Name Province