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News From
WORCESTER
 
 
 

 

Priest encountered troubles before his ordination

by Kathleen Shaw - Telegram & Gazette Staff
February 22, 2005

Clockwise from top left, Worcester, MA diocese Bishop Flanagan, Bishop Harrington, Bishop Wright and Bishop Reily.

There were red flags very early in the career of Rev. Thomas H. Teczar with the Catholic Diocese of Worcester.

The priest had multiple assignments in the Worcester diocese before Bishop Timothy J. Harrington finally removed him from ministry in 1986.

The problems, which began when he was in seminary in the early 1960s, are discussed in documents from the Worcester diocese and in depositions gathered in a civil lawsuit pending against Rev. Teczar in Texas. Two men allege that he sexually abused them when they were teenagers and he was serving in Ranger, Texas.

When he was a young seminarian at St. Paul’s Seminary, in Ottawa, Canada, the seminary staff noted he had “effeminate manners” and did not “seem well-balanced.” They found it “very doubtful” that he would be ordained to priesthood, according to a report from the seminary. He was dropped from the seminary in 1963, and Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan was notified.

Bishop Flanagan contacted former Worcester Bishop John J. Wright, who then was bishop in Pittsburgh, to see if he would take Mr. Teczar. Bishop Wright, in a letter to Bishop Flanagan, turned him down as an “insecure risk.” Bishop Flanagan in 1964 succeeded in getting Mr. Teczar enrolled at St. Francis Seminary, Loreto, Pa. He was dismissed in 1967 for being “erratic and eccentric in his patterns of behavior,” according to a letter from a seminary official to Bishop Flanagan.

After Loreto, Bishop Flanagan sent the seminarian to Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Winchendon to be evaluated by Monsignor David M. Elwood. By June, the monsignor told Bishop Flanagan that he saw “many frequent instances of poor judgment” and his giving free reign to “his own impulses.” He also told the bishop in his report that he showed a propensity to “exclusive companionship with young boys,” and he feared this behavior would “break out again.” He recommended against ordination of Mr. Teczar.

Leaving Winchendon, Mr. Teczar went to work at the Nazareth Home for Boys in Leicester in the summer of 1967, but he was later fired for sexual misconduct with boys. The information was obtained from a deposition from Peter Trainor, a counselor who worked with Mr. Teczar that summer at Nazareth.

Bishop Flanagan, however, decided to ordain Mr. Teczar in December 1967, according to his assignment card provided by the Worcester diocese.

The new priest was assigned to St. Joan of Arc Parish, Worcester, where by 1968 he was accused of sexually abusing John Riganati, then a 16-year-old altar boy. The abuse lasted for two years, according to Mr. Riganati’s affidavit, which was taken under oath. Mr. Riganati later settled a civil lawsuit with the diocese. Rev. Teczar also was accused of abusing a blind adult man for about a year starting in 1970, according to an affidavit obtained from the alleged victim.

Rev. Teczar was transferred to St. Mary’s Parish in Uxbridge in 1971. While there, he was accused of sexually abusing three teenage boys, including David Lewcon, who later sued the diocese and Rev. Teczar.

After the Uxbridge allegations, he was transferred in 1972 to St. Ann’s Parish, Leicester. By 1973, the diocese decided to send Rev. Teczar for two years of treatment at the House of Affirmation in Whitinsville. He was next sent to St. Aloysius Parish, Gilbertville, where he ran the parish while undergoing outpatient treatment in Whitinsville.

Rev. Teczar was reassigned to Immaculate Conception Parish, Worcester, in late 1975, and he stayed there until Bishop Timothy P. Harrington moved him to Sacred Heart Parish, Gardner, in 1980.

He ran into more problems there when a Gardner family alleged that Rev. Teczar attempted to sexually abuse their 15-year-old son. The parents demanded that Bishop Harrington remove the priest from ministry to prevent him from harming other boys, according to a letter they sent to Bishop Harrington. The bishop instead allowed him to be pastor at St. Aloysius in Rochdale while he sought treatment. The Gardner parents did not agree with the finding, and the court records show they later sent their complaint to the Vatican.

After months of evaluation at the House of Affirmation, Rev. Teczar was asked by Bishop Harrington resign as pastor of St. Aloysius, and he was sent for residential therapy at another treatment facility in California, remaining there until October 1985.

A therapist said that Rev. Teczar had long-standing issues with sexual identity and recommended that he take a leave from the priesthood, according to the therapist’s letter to the bishop. Rev. Teczar did not take a leave and was sent to the Institute of Living in Hartford, according to a deposition from Rev. Teczar.

Bishop Harrington in 1986 finally barred Rev. Teczar from functioning as a priest in the Worcester diocese and suggested that the priest find another bishop to take him in, according to a letter the bishop sent to Bishop Daniel P. Reilly in Norwich, Conn. Bishop Harrington said that Rev. Teczar would no longer be allowed an assignment in the Worcester diocese.

Rev. Teczar asked Bishop Reilly, who would later head the Worcester diocese, for an assignment in the Norwich diocese, but was rejected. About that time, another allegation had surfaced regarding a 16-year-old boy, whose parents threatened legal action.

Frustrated by his inability to get a diocese to take him in, Rev. Teczar in May 1987 hired a Worcester civil lawyer to see if there was a legal avenue to restore him to active ministry, according to a legal memorandum provided by the lawyer to the Fort Worth diocese.

Rev. Teczar was next accepted as a priest in the Fort Worth, Texas, diocese. Although he had no permission to perform as a priest in Worcester, he was giving what church officials call “faculties” to perform the duties of a priest in that diocese.


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org

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