Names released of seven Oblate priests accused of sexual abuse

| July 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

Following the July 7 release of the names of seven Oblate priests credibly accused of abuse, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis reached out to the parishes where the men served to show support and assistance for parishioners and any victims/survivors who may come forward.

The priests are Fathers Michael Charland, James Vincent Fitzgerald,  Paul Kabat, Thomas Meyer, Orville Munie, Robert Reitmeier and Emil Twardochleb.

All of the named priests served in the Archdiocese of St. Paul of Minneapolis for at least two years, but victims/survivors attorney Jeff Anderson, who publicized the names, did not indicate whether other Oblates have been accused of abuse while serving in the archdiocese.

The release of names is part of a civil lawsuit settlement reached in April between the Oblates and a plaintiff known as Doe 30, who alleges abuse by Father Fitzgerald in 1978 when Doe 30 was a minor. The settlement required public disclosures of all Oblates who served in the Central United States Province who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor or possessing child pornography.

In a July 6 statement, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate said they “abhor and condemn all abuse and exploitation of minors and have been working hard over the past decade to accomplish the goals and values that are reflected in the Doe 30 settlement. . . . All Oblates are trained in the prevention, recognition and reporting of any behavior that is abusive or tending toward abuse of a minor. We take these responsibilities very seriously.”

The Oblates also said that their members “are sincerely sorry for the suffering and loss that Doe 30 and others have lived with for many years because of the abuse they experienced. They remain in our prayers as we work to accomplish our mutual goal of a safe and supportive environment for all God’s children.”

In the archdiocese, Oblates have served in several parishes and at a retreat house: Assumption in Richfield; St. Albert in Albertville; St. Casimir and St. Mary, both in St. Paul; and Christ the King Retreat Center, aka King’s House, in Buffalo.

Father Michael Charland was ordained in 1971 at Assumption. In 1977, he was appointed to serve in campus ministry at the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul and at St. Mary in St. Paul. Later that year, he became a spiritual director for the archdiocese’s Teens Encounter Christ retreat program. He left the archdiocese in 1984 to serve in Wisconsin and requested to be laicized in 1989.

Father Fitzgerald was the treasurer and assistant director of King’s House from 1953-1957. He died in 2009.

Father Kabat lived at the Oblates’ pastoral house in St. Paul from 1959-1960, and returned to St. Paul to serve at St. Casimir from 1964-1966. He died in 1999.

Father Meyer was pastor of St. Casimir in St. Paul from 1983-1990. He died in 2013.

Father Orville Munie was chaplain of the State Training School for Boys in Red Wing from 1959-1961. He died in 1993.

Father Reitmeier was an associate pastor of St. Casimir in St. Paul from 1979-1982. He was officially dismissed from the Oblates in 2007.

Father Twardochleb became assistant pastor and then pastor of Assumption in 1950, where he served until being assigned to King’s House in 1953. He continued to serve as assistant pastor at Assumption until he moved to Wisconsin in 1955. He died in 1976.

Jeff Anderson & Associates represents Doe 30. The suit against the Oblates also named as defendants the Diocese of Duluth and the Diocese of New Ulm. Neither was part of the April settlement. The case is pending in Ramsey County District Court.

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Category: Local News