SNAP Supporter & Donor Profile: Many Hands Make Light Lifting: Dan McNevin
This profile was written by Patrick Price, Fundraising and Development Manager of SNAP, to honor our courageous and dedicated supporters and donors.
In the early 1970’s from the age of 10 to 13 years old, Dan McNevin of Fremont, California, was groomed and abused by his parish priest, Father James A. Clark. For years Dan felt persistent shame and confusion. He abandoned his faith and he believed he was the only boy to have experienced such abuse by Clark, who, unbeknownst to Dan, was already on probation for a sexual felony when Clark was assigned to Dan’s parish. Later, Dan would learn that his brother had also been systematically sexually assaulted by Father Clark.
In 2002 when the Boston Spotlight scandal made headlines and the California legislature opened its first retroactive window, Dan, then a 42-year-old adult, contacted the Oakland Diocese hoping to learn about Clark and whether Clark had been moved around similar to the Spotlight scandal. The Oakland chancellor lied to him, saying Oakland “was not like Boston”. Dan discovered the lie through a media outlet reported that other Oakland priests were shuffled from place to place. At that point, Dan filed a lawsuit to seek the truth through the secular court system; the chancellor could lie to him without reprisal, but not if under oath. The lies he heard as an adult opened his eyes to an evil nearly as great as the abuse; the systemic dishonesty still persistent in the church, and he saw that dangers persisted, so reforms had to be forced upon the bishops running the show. It was through the deposition process that he discovered Clark was already a convicted felon. The discovery of that lie meant the bishop had lied to others, and as result, 56 cases settled on the same day.
Dan was introduced to SNAP in 2003 and met SNAP Leader Terri Light, whom he calls “a powerhouse of support and compassion.” He started attending support group meetings in the Oakland area, developing a profound camaraderie with other clergy sexual abuse survivors. Deeply touched by the support offered by SNAP, Dan eventually became the SNAP Leader for the Oakland area, facilitating groups and receiving calls for help from other victims or their family members.
Inspired by a SNAP protest in Rome organized by Barbara Blaine and David Clohessy during the Benedict conclave, Dan shifted his focus to media engagement and research. Dan began collecting data about clergy sexual abuse and appearing on television and radio to discuss the Church’s focused efforts to conceal and suppress the data that was being revealed through the bravery of survivors finding their voices. The 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report was a watershed event, confirming that a cover-up playbook existed and that sexual abuse by priests vastly outnumbered abuse in secular settings. The protests by survivors, SNAP’s work in the media, and the hundreds of support groups facilitated by SNAP Leaders reflect the truth that “many hands make light lifting,” as Dan puts it, for exposing and changing such a dangerous and corrupt system.
Dan joined the SNAP Board of Directors in 2020. Dan has also been a longtime supporter of SNAP, as a major and a sustaining donor. He even has held some creative fundraisers for SNAP; for instance, with help of his brothers, Dan had a “spring cleaning” garage and plant sale this year and donated the $900 proceeds to SNAP.
”No matter how broke we feel, there usually is money underneath seat cushions,” Dan says. “In our case, we sent those quarters to SNAP this year.”
Dan encourages all members in our SNAP community to become sustaining donors at whatever modest level they can afford. Why? SNAP is a grassroots network doing the work that no other organization seems to want to do: the intake and care for victims as they reveal their secrets.
The support group format is the first gateway to reaching those who are hurting, the groups help to grow new leaders, and the stories of each survivor is part of the quilt of information that leads to understanding how this crisis has become so large. The human toll of faith leader abuse is what horrifies people. It is the collection of those stories into a context that compels lawmakers to pass laws that protect kids and not the perpetrators.
Sustaining donors provide a stability for SNAP to do its most important work.