The Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades will offer Mass on Saturday at St. Joseph Catholic Church-Hessen Cassel in an ongoing effort to help parishioners heal after their priest was removed from ministry because of sexual abuse allegations at a previous assignment.
The Mass by Rhoades, bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, will be at 5 p.m. at the church, 11337 Old U.S. 27 South.
The Rev. Cornelius Ryan was removed as the parish administrator June 10 after an allegation of abuse of a young male 20 years ago in Africa was received by his superior, according to a statement released Thursday by the U.S. Province of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in South Bend, Ryan’s order.
Ryan was appointed administrator of St. Joseph by Rhoades in December 2011 after its previous priest, the Rev. Thomas Lombardi, also was removed because of a sexual abuse allegation.
The abuse by Lombardi was alleged to have occurred at his previous parish, St. Louis Catholic Church-Besancon, outside New Haven.
The statement from Ryan’s order says Ryan is 76 and spent much of his career in Africa but does not say where.
A more detailed and thorough investigation is under way by the order and the claim will be addressed in a pastoral manner consistent with its long-standing policies and mission, the statement says.
The order will do its best to bring this matter to a prompt conclusion with the welfare of any victim of abuse of any kind its first priority, the statement adds.
The order’s attorney, Dick Nussbaum of Sopko, Nussbaum, Inabnit & Kaczmarek in South Bend, said Thursday the accuser still lives in Africa but had retained an attorney from the United States.
Nussbaum said no litigation had been filed. But he declined to provide more information about Ryan or the accuser and his attorney because a lawsuit might be forthcoming.
A national directory of Holy Cross priests says Ryan was ordained in 1966 and went to Fort Portal in Uganda in 1967, staying there until 1999. He also spent time in Kenya.
He returned to the United States in 2001 to stay at his order’s provincial house in South Bend. Ryan was administrator at St. Therese-Little Flower Catholic Church in South Bend before coming to St. Joseph-Hessen Cassel.
Sean McBride, diocesan spokesman, said it’s not uncommon for a diocese’s bishop to turn to a religious order to supply a priest when there is a vacancy.
He said St. Joseph’s 1,150 children and adults are being served by the Rev. James Bromwich, a priest stationed at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Fort Wayne.
Bromwich will celebrate Masses the usual times of 7:30, 9 and 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Msgr. Owen Campion of Our Sunday Visitor in Huntington may also assist in the parish, McBride said.
A meeting has been scheduled after the 10:30 a.m. Mass June 30 for anyone with questions or concerns, McBride said. The diocese also is providing information for parents to use in speaking with their children about the events, he said, and has had grief counselors on site.
McBride urged those who believe they were sexually abused or being abused by clergy or others within the church to report it to law enforcement and the diocese.
The diocese’s victim’s assistance coordinator, Mary Glowaski, can be reached at 483-3661, ext. 3381.
We have to get the message out that if someone needs to come forward, please do so. Go to the civil authorities first and after that contact us because we want to help, McBride said.