Local Catholic churches were assigned priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse: Evening of Healing Service Planned

Local Catholic churches were assigned priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse: Evening of Healing Service Planned

April 4, 2019 0 By mlucas

The St. Joseph Church in Swedesboro, now St. Clare of Assisi, did not escape the worldwide, once secret, scandal of the Catholic Church, wherein reports of priests sexually molesting children or young seminarians were hidden or otherwise not acknowledged by church officials.

The church was headed over a span of several years by five priests and one deacon whose names recently have been listed by the Camden Diocese as credibly accused of child molestation. The unfortunate response of bishops or other church figures at high levels was too often to protect the church by keeping charges of abuse secret. Priests accused by church members were simply sent away to other parishes, removing the potential danger from one place to another.

At St. Joseph, the accused priests assigned, likely in the late 1970s to the 1990s, were: — John F. Bloh, born in 1931 — Joseph J. Brennan, born in 1914 — Kenneth Demarest, born in 1938 (Assigned as a deacon) — Francis J. Flemming, born in 1935 — Edward Lucano, born in 1923 — Francis J. McLaughlin, born in 1930

Father David Grover, pastor of St. Clare of Assisi Church, and of St. Michael in Gibbstown and St. John in Paulsboro said he believed as many as a dozen, possibly more, priests from parishes needing to remove them for abuse charges were assigned to churches in the Greater Swedesboro area, including St. Clare. A reading of the list released by Bishop Dennis Sullivan, head of the Camden Diocese, which oversees the Catholic Churches in South Jersey, shows that 17 priests and one deacon “credibly accused” of abuse were assigned to local churches.

The full list can be found at: www.camdendiocese.org/clergylist. Among the local churches listed are St. Joseph, Swedesboro, Holy Name of Jesus, Mullica Hill, Catholic Community of the Holy Spirit, Mullica Hill, St. John, Paulsboro, St. Joseph, Woodstown, St. Ann, Elmer, and St. Michael, Gibbstown.

Some of those churches, over the years, were assigned more than one accused priest. Two churches, St. Joseph in Swedesboro and St. Joseph in Woodstown, were sent the same deacon accused of abuse.The list notes which of the men are now deceased, and most of them are, but does not say when the rest of the clergy on the list, who were removed from office, were let go. It also does not give a time frame for when the assigned priests were at any one church on the list. Phone calls and emails seeking dates and/or other identifying information about the priests assigned were sent to Mike Walsh, director of communications at the Camden Diocese They have gone unanswered.

Most of the revelations of the extent and secrecy of the scandal began approximately in the 80s and 90s and continues today. Many of the priests show up at several area churches, meaning they were reassigned more than once.

Father Dave and Father Anthony DiBardino, pastor to the Catholic Community of the Holy Spirit, a parish that combines the former churches of St. Ann in Elmer, St. Joseph in Woodstown, and the Holy Name of Jesus in Mullica Hill, decided to partner in their efforts at ministering to church members upset and with questions about what has been reported.

The two priests have announced a an “Evening of Healing”, planned for April 10 at 7 p.m. at St. Michael’s in Gibbstown, 313 Memorial Avenue. Toward that goal of healing, Father Tony said the two priests met with Father James Paradis, an Augustinian Priest and counselor who lives in Philadelphia. “We are planning an evening called ‘Healing Our Church” at which Father Jim will offer information, reflection and even lead a discussion on this topic.”

Father Dave, and Father Tony, as they refer to themselves, are not waiting for further official information. They are hearing from their congregations how the news of the offenses has impacted them and, in some instances, their families and their faith.

“I have spoken with a man struggling to stay with the Church because his son was molested,” Father Dave said, adding the thought made him sad. He expressed dismay that so many accused priests were assigned to area churches, and often reassigned, but would not speculate on what that meant, focusing his remarks on the needs of his membership. In an email statement, Father Tony also chose to speak of the anguish of the community rather than the choices of the diocese. “Parishioners as well as we priests are deeply affected by this issue,” he said. “Healing, strengthening and safeguarding the Future is a very delicate and sensitive endeavor.”

Father Dave talked of the shock many of our parishioners felt when they realized they had been friends with (accused) priests. He spoke, too, of other emotions the revelations appear to have engendered. “It is hurtful when no one has ever told you, ‘I believe you’ or ‘I’m sorry’,” he said.

“It is very important to me that we bring people together, hear their anger, their stories, give them a chance to talk. We offer a place to share what you are ready to share, and to hear from a counselor, a spiritual and (trained in) psychology counselor.” Father James, said the priests, might also be available for follow-up gatherings as needed.

The “Evening of Healing”, Father Dave said, “is probably the strongest thing we can do for the community. Healing begins with talking. It is the first step.”

His sentiment was underscored by a metaphorical ‘amen’ from Father Tony. “I am hoping and praying that our meeting will begin the process,” he said.

For further information about the Evening of Healing, contact your local church. The notice may be on the websites soon or will be available from the office.

The Camden Diocese will open a path to compensation for victims of priest abuse sometime in mid-summer, according to its website. It encourages individuals to come forward, register, and see if they will qualify for financial compensation. However, without dates for the assignment of each priest at the church listed, it could be difficult for survivors, most of whom were children, to be precise in any accusation of a specific individual. To reach the Camden Diocese to report sexual abuse, go to: https://www.camdendiocese.org/cyp/report-sexual-abuse or call 1-800-964-6588.

By Jean Redstone


The following 17 priests and one deacon were credibly accused of sexually abusing a child and placed on a list made public by the Diocese of Camden. These 18 men, of 56 placed on the list by the Diocese, served in local and nearby churches, some in several area churches. Those churches are highlighted in the “Assignment” entries.
For a complete listing of the 56 priests named, see: https://www.camdendiocese.org/clergylist/
CLAUDE J. BENDER
Born: August 6, 1932
Ordained: 1965
Status: Deceased
Assignments
St. Anthony, Camden 

St. Ann, Wildwood

St. Gregory, Magnolia

O.L. Star of the Sea, Cape May 

St. Michael, Gibbstown

St. Thomas More, Cherry Hill

St. Matthew, National Park

St. Teresa, Runnemede

Our Lady of Lourdes, Glassboro

St. Michael, Atlantic City

Queen of the Apostles, Pennsville

Our Lady of Good Counsel, Ocean City

St. Rose of Lima, Newfield

Vianney Villa, Cherry Hill
According to the website http://www.bishopaccountability.org, boy claimed he was abused by Bender during 1970s. Settled claim for $25,000 in 1993.
JOHN F. BLOH
Born: October 13, 1931
Ordained: 1964
Status: Removed from ministry
Assignments
O.L. Star of the Sea, Atlantic Cit

Holy Spirit High School, Absecon

St. Cecilia, Pennsauken

St. Bartholomew, Camden

St. Jude, Blackwood

St. Mary, Cherry Hill

Most Holy Redeemer, Westville Grove

St. Agnes, Blackwood

St. Edward, Pine Hill

Sts. Peter & Paul, Turnersville

St. Joseph, Swedesboro 

Campus Minister Camden County College, Blackwood

Campus Minister Gloucester County College, Sewell
JOHN D. BOHRER
Born: September 21, 1944
Ordained: 1978
Status: Removed from ministry
Assignments
St. Cecilia, Pennsauken

St. Pius X, Cherry Hill

Diocese of Santa Fe

St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral, Camden

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Berlin 

St. Peter Celestine, Cherry Hill

Advanced Studies, California

Our Lady of Lourdes, Glassboro

Our Lady of the Pillar, Half Moon Bay, CA
Sacred Heart South, Cherry Hill

Holy Name of Jesus, Mullica Hill

Catholic Community of the Holy Spirit, Mullica Hill

Holy Saviour, Westmont
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Collingswood 

Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Collingswood
According to www.bishopaccountability.org: Named publicly as accused by diocese in January 2019 after review of personnel files. Removed from ministry and retired Dec. 31, 2018 due to accusation he abused a teenage boy in the mid-1980s, when assigned to St. Pius X in Cherry Hill. The alleged victim first told the diocese in October 2002. Bohrer was suspended at the time, then returned to ministry in 2009 after the diocese and Vatican reviewed the case.
JOSEPH J. BRENNAN
Born: May 17, 1914
Ordained: 1944
Status: Deceased
Assignments
St. Augustine, Ocean City

O.L. Lourdes Hospital, Chaplain

Holy Saviour, Westmont

St. Maurice, Brooklawn

St. Joan of Arc, Camden

St. Joseph, Swedesboro 1969-1976

Epiphany, Longport

St. Mary’s, Shelby NC
According to www.bishopaccountability.org: Accused in a lawsuit settled in January 2016 of sexually abusing a boy at St. Maurice’s in Brooklawn NJ 1957-59. On Sick Leave 1963-66.
NORMAN T. CONNELLY
Born: July 2, 1937
Ordained: 1965
Status: Removed from ministry
Assignments
O.L. Star of the Sea, Cape May

St. Rose, Haddon Heights

Cathedral Academy, Camden

Immaculate Conception, Camden

St. Peter, Merchantville 

St. Patrick, Woodbury

St. James High School, Carneys Point

St. Michael, Gibbstown

St. John, Paulsboro
St. Joseph, Woodstown

Epiphany, Venice Florida
According to www.bishopaccountability.org: Accused of abuse of at least 3 boys. One suit settled in 1993 for $25,000. Named in 1994 RICO suit. Suit dismissed on Statute of Limitations June 2002, but the plaintiffs shared in $880,000 settlement in March 2003. Suspended in 1993 and later permanently removed from ministry.
KENNETH DEMAREST
Born: December 1, 1938
Ordained as deacon: 1976
Status: Removed from ministry
Assignments
St. Joseph, Swedesboro

St. Joseph, Woodstown
ELDRIDGE T. EVANS
Born: February 18, 1939
Ordained: 1965
Status: Deceased
Assignments
Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Bridgeton

Assumption, Atco

St. Mary, Salem

St. Joseph, Woodstown

San Juan Puerto Rico

Corpus Christi, Carney’s Point

St. Casimir, Woodbine 

Leave – Puerto Rico

O.L. Star of the Sea, Cape May

St. Agnes, Blackwood

Diocese of Burlington Vermont

St. Bartholomew, Camden

Our Lady of Lourdes, Glassboro

Holy Spirit, Atlantic City

St. Anthony, Waterford 

St. James High School, Carneys Point 

Chaplain West Jersey Hospital, Camden

Chaplain Virtua Hospital, Berlin
FRANCIS J. FLEMMING
Born: May 5, 1935
Ordained: 1961
Status: Deceased
Assignments
Sacred Heart, Vineland

Puerto Rican Apostolate

Sacred Heart High School, Vineland

Christ the King, Haddonfield

St. Mary of the Angels, Haddonfield

St. Bartholomew, Camden

St. Peter Celestine, Cherry Hill

Most Holy Redeemer, Westville
Our Lady Star of the Sea, Atlantic City

St. Joseph, Swedesboro

St. John Neumann, Sicklerville
According to www.bishopaccountability.org: Accused of abuse beginning in 1960. One man said that Flemming allegedly put a gun to his head and threatened to kill him if he told. Flemming denied allegations when confronted by church in 1960s. In 1994 RICO civil suit second man claimed abuse. One suit dismissed January 2003 because of accuser’s credibility. Included in March 2003 $880,000 settlement.
EDWARD LUCANO
Born: November 10, 1923
Ordained: 1949
Status: Deceased
Assignments
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Camden

Saint Joseph, Swedesboro 

Saint Cecilia, Pennsauken

Immaculate Conception, Camden

Holy Spirit, Atlantic City
Sacred Heart, Vineland 

Saint Teresa, Runnemede

Saint Peter, Pleasantville

Holy Rosary, Ashland

Saint Mary, Rosenhayn
St. Edward, Pine Hill

St. John Bosco, Millville

Resurrection, Marmora
FRANCIS A. McCLOSKEY
Born: January 20, 1889
Ordained: 1915
Status: Deceased
Assignments
Holy Spirit, Asbury Park

O.L of Victories, Sayreville

St. Joseph, Woodstown

St. Rose, Haddon Heights
According to www.bishopaccountability.org: Sued 1994 in the RICO pleading. Accused of abuse of one boy and, later, the boy’s daughter.
JOSEPH McGARVEY
Born: July 4, 1925
Ordained: 1950
Status: Deceased
Assignments
St. Joseph, East Camden

St. Cecilia, Pennsauken

St. Mary, Gloucester

St. Joseph, Woodstown

St. Ann, Elmer 

St. Mary Magdalen, Millville

St. Maria Goretti, Runnemede
According to www.bishipaccountability.org: Lawsuit filed 1993 by 3 victims, one a priest, alleged abuse by McGarvey and William C. O’Connell in 1960s when Plaintiffs were in their teens. Plaintiffs say they were abused between January 1965 – December 1972 when McGarvey was pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Millville. Suit settled October 1993 for total of $384K and dismissed. McGarvey placed on leave in 1993 and later he was permanently removed.
FRANCIS J. McLAUGHLIN
Born: September 28, 1930
Ordained: 1962
Status: Deceased
Assignments
St. Thomas, Brigantine

Queen of Apostles, Brigantine 

Assumption, Atco

St. John, Paulsboro

Corpus Christi, Carneys Point 

St. Peter Celestine, Cherry Hill 

St. Joseph, Swedesboro

St. Francis de Sales, Barrington
PETER J. OSINSKI
Born: February 8, 1943
Ordained: 1969
Status: Deceased
Assignments
St. Andrew, Gibbsboro

Assumption, Wildwood Crest

St. Maria Goretti, Runnemed
e
Paul VI High School, Haddon Township

St. Lucy, Blue Anchor 

Immaculate Heart of Mary, Woodlynne

Divine Word College, Washington DC

Sacred Heart High School, Vineland

St. John Bosco, Millville

Camden Catholic High School, Cherry Hill

Our Lady of Grace, Somerdale

St. Stephen, Pennsauken

St. James High School, Carneys Point 

St. Michael, Gibbstown

Queen of the Apostles, Pennsville
According to www.bishopaccountability.org: Arrested in 1997. Pled guilty in 1998 to the sexual assault of boy for seven years in the 1980s, beginning when boy was age six. Sentenced to 10 years. On sex offender registry. Laicized in 2003.
TIMOTHY E. PISIK
Born: February 11, 1947
Ordained: 1974
Status: Deceased
Assignments
St. Thomas More, Cherry Hill

St. Michael, Gibbstown

St. Thomas, Brigantine

St. Mary, Salem

St. Michael, Cedarville 

Mary, Mother of the Church, Bellmawr
According to www.bishopaccountability.org: Convicted 1991 for sexual assault of 16 year old. Sentenced to 7 years and served 5. Named in March 2005 suit along with 2 other priests as abusers of one individual between 1986-1991. Also named as abuser in 1994 RICO civil suit. Diocese asked that he be laicized but Vatican sent case back and ordered church trial.
WALTER T. REILLY
Born: September 19, 1929
Ordained: 1956
Status: Deceased
Assignments
St. Agnes, Blackwood

Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Camden
St. Gregory, Magnolia

Moderator Holy Child Day Camp

St. Lawrence, Laurel Springs

Sacred Heart, Vineland
Sacred Heart High School, Vineland

O.L. of Mt. Carmel, Camden

Camden Catholic High School, Camden

St. Patrick, Woodbury

St. Joseph, Woodstown

St. James High School, Carneys Point

St. Michael, Cedarville

St. John Vianney, Blackwood Terrace

St. Edward, Pine Hill
WALTER SMITH
Born: March 22, 1940
Ordained: 1968
Status: Deceased
Assignments
St. Casimir, Woodbine

Our Lady of the Angels, Cape May
Court House
St. Luke, Stratford

Immaculate Conception, Camden

Immaculate Conception, Bridgeton

St. Mary, Williamstown

Most Holy Redeemer, Westville Grove

St. Anthony of Padua, Hammonton

St. Ann, Wildwood

St. Mary, Gloucester

Sacred Heart, Vineland

St. Michael, Gibbstown

St. Patrick, Woodbury

Chaplain Cooper University Hospital, Camden

Chaplain Newcomb Hospital, Vineland

Chaplain Underwood Memorial Hospital, Woodbury
ANTIONE ST. GERMAIN
Born: November 25, 1945
Ordained: 1976
Status: Deceased
Assignments
Corpus Christi, Carneys Point

Our Lady of Grace, Somerdale

St. Frances de Sales, Barrington

St. Martin de Porres, Hammonton 

St. Joseph High School, Hammonton 

Incarnation, Mantua

St. Augustine, Ocean City

St. John, Paulsboro

St. Stephen, Pennsauken
PATRICK J. WEAVER
Born: August 20, 1935
Ordained: 1963
Status: Deceased
Assignments
Our Lady of Victories, Landisville

St. John, Collingswood

Corpus Christi, Carney’s Point

St. John, Paulsboro

St. Mary’s Parish, Cherry Hill

St. Joan of Arc, Camden
According to www.bishopaccountability.org: Weaver was a “spiritual adviser” to Bishop Guilfoyle. Original accusation received in 1966. Arrested 1985 and 1986, charged with sex crimes. Convicted and placed on probation. Abused at least six boys. Named in 1994 RICO lawsuit. Permanently suspended. All RICO claims settled March 2003.