For once, the child protection system worked.
Child protection procedures mean little if those required to execute them fail to do so. But we are reassured to learn that “the system” can work, as it did recently in a parish in Nebraska.
We offer our support and appreciation to the children and parents at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic School who alerted the principal, Mrs. Sandra Suiter, to improper conduct in the confessional by Rev. Nicholas Mishek, an associate pastor at St. Robert Bellarmine parish in Omaha, Nebraska.
Mrs. Suiter immediately informed the pastor, Rev. Steven Stillmunks, upon learning about Fr. Mishek’s inappropriate behavior, and for that action, we say thank you. We also single out Fr. Stillmunks as modeling precisely the sort of response appropriate upon hearing such news. Being away when he heard, he immediately returned to the parish, calling the Omaha diocesan chancery enroute. Arriving at the parish, he immediately removed Fr. Mishek from his duties and asked him to leave the parish grounds.
The “right steps” did not stop there. A letter co-signed by Mrs. Suiter and Fr. Mishek was quickly sent to all elementary school parents informing them of precisely what had happened, what steps had been taken, and what steps were next in the effort to address the case.
As a result, by the time the Omaha World-Herald reported the story, parents had already been alerted, the Chancery had been direct in its response, and there were no attempts to cloud the issue.
The Church, at least in its communities that comprise the Faithful, can—as the parish of St. Robert Bellarmine demonstrated—take the right steps to protect our children. We are grateful for their actions.
This situation stands somewhat in contrast to the way the higher levels within the Church often react, as Fr. Tom Reese recounts in a recent column for the National Catholic Reporter.
Voice of the Faithful Statement, Sept. 20, 2017
Contact: Nick Ingala, firstname.lastname@example.org, 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.