My dear St. Kilian family,
Peace be with you! I hope and pray that you know and feel the love of Christ every day as we continue to journey together as a pilgrim people.
This letter is a product of much prayer and reflection as we continue to feel the pain of the wound that’s been inflicted upon our holy Mother Church by the sexual abuse scandal. Since the Grand Jury’s report from Pennsylvania, I have had many of you share with me your pain, anger and disappointment. I have shared with you on two weekends my own feelings on the horrific and tragic betrayal by those who have been entrusted with the sacred responsibility of protecting and leading the people of God. Sadly, we have had wolves dressed in the sheep’s clothing of the Church who have abused members of the body of Christ. The beautiful image of God in which each one of us is created, has been damaged and disfigured by the satanic acts of these predators.
As I read the report of these evil acts, though committed decades ago, I felt sad, sick, angry, ashamed and have struggled to find peace and comfort. Though I have always reminded you that we must not judge or condemn anybody, I couldn’t help but judge these predators. I feel ashamed that I wasn’t able to practice what I often preach, i.e., judge not that we may not be judged. Just as I feel ashamed and hurt by these acts of betrayal, I know how my parish family is pained and let down by the same. There is absolutely no doubt that the faithful members of the church have been disappointed and embarrassed by some in Church leadership. While we feel righteous anger towards Church authority, we must never forget that the Lord has never let us down. The Church is His Church. She is the bride of Christ and as members of the Church, we belong to Christ.
I am aware that some of you may be under tremendous pressure from friends and family members to leave the Church and some perhaps have already left. I would like to humbly remind you that Christ who loves us and has given His life for us would never abandon us, especially in this time of crisis and pain. To belong to the Church is to belong to Christ who promised to be with us always.
I have prayed, fasted many days, and reflected extensively as I continue to lead and guide the people of God entrusted to my pastoral care. On my first Sunday at St. Kilian in 2017, I made a solemn promise to you that I will preach Christ faithfully and will do everything possible in my power to lead you to Him, who died for our sake. I want to renew my promise to you, my beloved St. Kilian family, that I will not let you down. As your spiritual leader, I am particularly compelled to live like Christ. I promise to be more Christ-like in everything I do. I will strive to be a good shepherd like Jesus the Good Shepherd.
What have we done at St. Kilian to safeguard our children and provide them a safe and loving environment? We take our responsibility of safeguarding our children seriously and have taken all the necessary steps to ensure that. All our staff, both clergy and office staff, are properly vetted, finger-printed and have completed the safe environment training. Our volunteers who work with children are also thoroughly vetted and fingerprinted. We are blessed with the leadership of Bishop Vann who has been in the forefront in addressing the abuse crisis and ensuring the safety of our children in the Diocese of Orange. We are committed to maintaining transparency and continuing to provide a truly loving, caring, and safe place to gather and worship at St. Kilian. As we strive to heal and rebuild trust, please feel free to come to me with any of your concerns or to provide feedback. If you have suffered from abuse, or if you are aware of any abuse, please contact the local authorities, and call the Diocesan reporting line at
1-800-364-3064. There also are resources available on the Diocesan website: www.SAFErcbo.org.
Yours in Christ,