IL - Victim of Joliet priest speaks out
Yesterday I received a call from the Diocese and learned that the Bishop has changed his decision about returning Fr. Ryan to ministry. The spokesperson, Molly Fara, told me she wanted me to be the first to know so that I would not learn about the Bishop’s new stance from the press.
I told her that while I think the Bishop is finally exercising good judgment regarding Fr. Ryan, I was curious to know what Fr. Ryan has been doing and where he has been since he was removed in the first place. I asked her if Fr. Ryan was just an unemployed priest free to roam the streets with now more time on his hands.
She told me that he just returned from Europe where he was vacationing and that he just returned home recently. I told her that made no sense at all but she said he would be supervised.
Because of how the Joliet diocese has treated me, I'm not very confident that in fact he will be.
I also wanted her to be aware of a recent incident that happened to my mother this past Sunday while she attended Mass. I told her my mother frequently attended Mass and that she usually met and sat near a regular group of acquaintances. And at the end of Mass she and her friends would normally greet the priest with a handshake or a hug and they would express their gratitude for his message.
However, last Sunday was different in that the priest approached the group before mass started and said hello to everyone individually in the group except my mother. She extended her hand to the priest but he refused to acknowledge her, turned his back and walked away.
My mother told me that she has a “stiff upper lip” and that she was “tough enough” and that “it did not bother her.” We were discussing the incident using Facetime on our iPads and I could see the grief in her face. I know hurt when I see it in my mom!
So I asked the diocese spokesperson if she would kindly ask the Bishop to cascade a message from me to his pastors and priests who face their parishioners to please be sensitive to the families of the victims.
My experience in this horrible, vulgar incident of the past reaches beyond me. It includes family members, other past and current victims who may be still hiding their pain, and even many of the parishioners of the church, who either believe, or don’t want to believe that these crimes are committed by the faithful leaders of the church.
Additionally, last week my mother met a woman who in casual conversation asked her what she thought of Fr. Ryan and his proclivities while he was in Joliet. She was referring to the article in the Herald last week. My mother did not know how to respond because she knew this woman did not know the victim was her son.
They spoke briefly on the subject but the woman also said that she knew of Fr. Ryan during those years and would frequently see him with very young adolescents dining at the same restaurant ‘Marty’s in Joliet. She told my mother that she was suspicious of Fr. Ryan with these people (a boy and a girl) after witnessing his ‘flirtatious’ behavior with them.
I, too, had dined at Marty’s with Fr. Ryan. I also always thought that I was the only one who had any ‘relationship’ with Fr. Ryan even though I have been told in recent year that I probably was not the only one.
As time goes by, and events unfold with the deceptive ways the leaders of the church seem to be handling Fr. Ryan, I am starting to believe there may very well be others who were exploited by him.
Finally I am very concerned with how the Diocese or the Vatican will act and what decisions they will make going forward. What are they going to do now? And how will we know? In light of all the press on this last week, have others come forward? Last week, the Diocese spokesperson gave me 3 different reasons why the Bishop decided to place Fr. Ryan back into ministry. None of the reasons were related and none of them seems to make any sense to me but one of the reasons included that fact that they have new cases and that they needed to close the ‘older’ cases.
I am just not feeling the closure! I am feeling quite the opposite. I feel sad and hurt that the Diocese is using me and this situation like a pawn and without sensitive care. I also feel dismissed and betrayed that they want closure and have acted recklessly toward me and victims everywhere and their families. And I also am angry about their dishonesty about Fr. Ryan, and the lack of transparency and lack of adequate attention toward a man who has a history of destroying people’s spirits and lives.
Last week was enormously difficult for me and my family. In May, 2010, when the Diocese first heard about Fr. Ryan and his illegal acts with me, they were very forthcoming and in consistent contact with me and my family and past friends. After that, I had to push and prod continuously for months to try and understand when they would remove Fr. Ryan from ministry. I do not think this has ever been, or ever will be an honest process.
Again, if anyone finds out or figures out my identity, I ask that you refrain from using my name to protect me and my family.
SNAP blasts Bishop Conlon over Fr. Ryan situation
Statement by Kate Bochte of Joliet SNAP
Today, we are here because Bishop Daniel Conlon has decided to once again oust Fr. Lee Ryan from ministry, giving only the vaguest explanation possible for his reversal.
We are glad that Fr. Ryan is being removed. Kids will be safer. He should have been permanently ousted in 2010 when the abuse allegations against him were deemed credible. We fear that Conlon's decision to keep Fr. Ryan out of ministry will almost certainly be temporary. The chances are high that some months down the road; he'll quietly put Fr. Ryan back on the job again. Instead, Fr. Ryan should be permanently ousted now. At the very least, he should be moved to a remote and secure treatment facility where he will not be around children and vulnerable adults.
However, we are extremely dismayed and disturbed at this whole string of events. Last week, Conlon implied that he was restoring Fr. Ryan to ministry due to pressure from the Vatican. Now, Conlon removes Fr. Ryan on his own, making no mention of the Vatican. If what he said last week is true, then there is no way he could remove Fr. Ryan again the way he has.
We urge Conlon to end his secrecy and deception regarding this situation, and come clean about what really happened here, and why.
Bishop Conlon’s role in this situation is even more distressing because he is the head of the USCCB Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People. It is hard to take him seriously in that capacity now that he has attempted to return a priest he knew was a predator to ministry. Bishop Conlon clearly does not understand that decade-old “one strike and you’re out” policy that he is supposedly in charge of enforcing.
We shudder to think what would have happened if there was no media attention on this reappointment and if Catholics and parents went unaware of the fact that a predator was being put around their children again. How many more kids did Conlon put at risk? How many more would have needed to be hurt before any real action was taken?
We believe Bishop Conlon should step down from his post. He should apologize, publicly and profusely, for his decisions that have likely caused more pain and fear in already suffering victims.
There is no excuse for knowingly endangering children. The man the Catholic Church has put in charge of protecting kids in America should know that.
We are incredibly grateful to and admiring of the brave victim who came forward to ensure that no more children would be victimized by Fr. Ryan. Because of this survivor, children in the Diocese of Joliet are far safer than they would have been. We hope that others who may be suffering in silence will come forward and that all those who have been hurt by a church employee or believed that they have witnessed crimes against kids will come forward now and make a report to police.
SNAP will be Representing Clergy Abuse Survivors in Rome!
We are taking the fight to Rome and are standing up for all survivors on a world stage! From February 19-25, Board President Tim Lennon, Seattle Leader Mary Dispenza, Los Angeles Leader Esther Hatfield Miller and Austin Leader Carol Midboe will be traveling to Rome for Pope Francis' Papal Abuse Summit.
If you are a member of the media and looking to get in touch with these survivors while in Rome, click here for our media advisory and contact information. If you are interested in connecting with a survivor in the US from your area of coverage, please contact one of the SNAP leaders in the US listed below:
- East Coast/DC: Becky Ianni (SNAPvirginia@cox.net, 703-801-6044)
- Midwest/Chicago: Zach Hiner (email@example.com, 517-974-9009)
- Midwest/St. Louis: David Clohessy (firstname.lastname@example.org, 314314-566-9790)
- West Coast / San Francisco: Melanie Sakoda (email@example.com, 925-708-6175)
If you are looking to help spread the word about the importance of this summit and for survivors to be heard, add your voice to the conversation on social media using the hashtag #PBC2019. Be sure to follow SNAP on twitter and Facebook and share our posts, add your comments, and let the world know that we are watching!Learn More