Jesuits Blatantly Disregard Wishes of the Father of a Deceased Jesuit
In 2012, the California Jesuit Province agreed to remove the name of one of their deceased brothers – who had allegedly been sexually abused by a fellow Jesuit – from a headstone per the request of the decedent's father. Now, that same province has quietly added a similar headstone, blatantly disregarding the family's wishes.
Fr. James Chevedden passed away in 2004 after working as a Jesuit for more than 37-years. He served overseas for 22-years before returning to the U.S., and was sent to live in the Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, CA. While he was living there, Fr. James was allegedly sexually assaulted by another member of the Order. When the attack was reported, Jesuit officials did nothing and Fr. James was forced to continue living alongside the man who had assaulted him.
After Fr. James later died under contested circumstances in California, his father decided that he did not want him to be memorialized by the Jesuits, due to their poor treatment of his son and their insensitivity to the assault he had suffered. He also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Order.
The Jesuits paid $1.6 million to the father of Fr. James as a result of the suit, but they also put his name on a headstone in Santa Clara Mission Cemetery, although Fr. James was interred elsewhere. To add insult to injury, the memorial also bore the name of Fr. Eugene Colosimo, an accused perpetrator of sexual abuse.
To have not only ignored wishes of the father of Fr. James but also to choose to memorialize a victim of sexual assault alongside an accused abuser is an egregious and callous move. Following a protest from the family, the first fake headstone was removed.
However, Fr. James’ brother John recently discovered that the Jesuits erected a second memorial bearing his brother’s name . Once again, the Order has decided that their desires are more important the wishes of the decedent’s father.
This move is stunning precisely because it is so arrogant and callous. We call on the California Jesuit Province to stop ignoring with the wishes of Fr. James’ father, to remove his name from the current memorial, and to formally agree to never again place his name on another headstone. If Jesuit officials really cared about their members and those who have suffered abuse, they would take this step immediately.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)