SNAP Calls Out Oblate School of Theology for Honoring Credibly Accused Clergy
The Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is calling out the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio for allowing a donation by a former student, Edward Speed, to honor a credibly accused clergy. Mr. Speed stated that Fr. Galeb Mokarzel, OMI, along with 7 other Oblates were instrumental in his “formation as an Oblate seminarian.” This public announcement on the Oblate School of Theology’s website is an egregious attack and revictimization of survivors of clergy abuse.
The Oblates of Mary Immaculate and Mr. Speed is aware of the names on the San Antonio list of accused, making this action inexcusable. As reported by Bishop Accountability, Mokarzel is on two Catholic Dioceses’ accused clergy lists: the Archdiocese of San Antonio and the Diocese of San Angelo. One survivor of abuse by Mokarzel was also a seminary student but his life was destroyed by a man who stalked and violently assaulted him throughout his seminary time, for nearly ten years. The survivor reported his abuse to the Oblates and to the San Antonio Archdiocese in November 2019.
This allegation was not only deemed “credible” by the San Antonio archdiocesan review board, but it is most likely not the only allegation. The survivor claims that when he called the Oblate office in Washington D.C. to report his abuse by Mokarzel, he was told that there were other victims as well. Those victims have never been revealed by the Oblates.
SNAP demands an apology from the Oblate School of Theology to this survivor who was courageous enough to come forward and report his abuse by Mokarzel. Snap also demands an apology to all the other survivors who may be out there, suffering in silence. SNAP demands a retraction of Mokarzel’s name on this honorarium and donation.
In addition, SNAP demands the long-overdue release of a list of credibly accused clergy by the Oblate College of the Southwest School of Theology and then a much-needed update to the San Antonio Archdiocese list. A list released in Minnesota names two more credibly accused Oblate clergy, Michael Charland and James Vincent Fitzgerald, who served in Texas and San Antonio, and at the Oblate College of the Southwest. Another OMI clergy, Robert Koerner was listed in San Diego, California but also served here in San Antonio. SNAP called out the archdiocese in 2019, to add these names to their list, which have not been added thus far. This information should be made available in all areas where these clergy served.
This gift to the Oblate School of Theology is to fund the “Preservation and Access Project: The Writings of Ron Rolheiser, OMI, in support of the Ron Rolheiser Research Center. Ron Rolheiser sat on the St. Mary’s University panel in September 2019 that discussed a “Way forward after Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal.” As president of the Oblate School of Theology, Fr. Rolheiser, said that working with victims of clergy sexual abuse gave him a first-hand look at the lasting damage of such abuse. After that panel, an email was sent to Rolheiser on behalf of the survivor of Mokarzel, asking if the survivor could meet face-to-face with Mokarzel, before he died, to possibly elicit an apology for his abuse that devastated this man’s life. No response was ever received.
By accepting this fund and honorarium in the name of a credibly accused priest, to preserve his own writings, Ron Rolheiser proves to survivors that talk is cheap. His understanding of the “lasting damage of abuse” means nothing if it does not result in action to protect children and adults from clergy abuse and a lifetime of trauma repair.
Mokarzel died on January 30, 2021, at the age of 89. No obituary. No service advertised. No apology ever came for the survivor of this priest’s abuse. This priest was also celebrated at the Oblate Jubilee Celebration in 2017 at the Oblate School of Theology Chapel with hundreds of others in attendance, and seen by the survivor on their website. Now, even in death, the man who destroyed lives is still being celebrated.
Wake up, San Antonio. Open your eyes and ears. The Catholic Church says it cares for victims of clergy abuse and wants to help them heal from the trauma of their abuse. This much-publicized action reveals its true colors. The Oblate Theological institution protects its reputation and its assets, not the survivors of clergy abuse.
Contact: Patti Koo, SNAP San Antonio (956-648-7385, [email protected]) Zac Zepeda, SNAP San Antonio (210-317-7511, [email protected]) Mike McDonnell, SNAP communications Manager (267-261-0578, [email protected]) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]) Steve Bartley (541-868-6292, [email protected])
(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)