Remember the

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests - Tennessee


The following in an article from the Knoxville New Sentinel written by Jeannine Hunter.  It shows the conflicted nature of the people about even taking the name of an admitted pedophile off our church building.  This would not have been so much of a trauma to the people in the diocese if the bishop had required that the truth be told about O'Connell.  Instead he let a false narrative grow and take over the diocese like a pestilence.  Therefore, our children and teens got the message from the adults that they would side with a pedophile.  This silenced the men abused by O'Connell while he was bishop of Knoxville.  This was the plan of Bishop Kurtz and Bishop Stika all along. 

O'Connell's name coming off family center

January 6, 2003


OAK RIDGE - The pastor and parish council of St. Mary's Catholic Church on Saturday decided to remove former Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell's name from the church's family life center.



In March the founding bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville resigned as bishop of the Diocese of Palm Beach, Fla., after admitting to sexual impropriety involving a former teenage seminary student in Missouri. The incident occurred more than 25 years ago.

Church pastor Father Michael Woods read a statement at each Mass over the weekend explaining why he had decided to change the name of the Bishop O'Connell Family Life Center at the church that serves some 1,100 families. Woods said the decision came after praying, reflecting and consulting Bishop Joseph E. Kurtz as well as meeting Saturday morning with the nine-member parish council.

"It was a very difficult decision to come to personally," Woods said Saturday afternoon. "I am deeply concerned for those who suffered from sexual abuse and for their families, and I realize that the words 'sexual abuse' and the abuser cause them tremendous pain. ... I am also concerned that the removal of the name of Bishop O'Connell (could) be seen as a removal of Bishop O'Connell from the heart of God or from our own hearts."

O'Connell served from 1988 to 1999 in the Knoxville diocese. The date to remove his name from the building has not been set.

The issue arose at Oak Ridge's only Catholic church last spring as the nation as repeated allegations surfaced about sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

Last year Woods conducted rectory chats to allow parishioners to discuss issues important to them. At each of the three meetings, which were attended by from 80 to 90 people, Woods said opinion was about equally divided on whether to retain or remove the name.

"This left us with the realization that this must be an issue we would need to address in the future for the well-being of our parish," said Woods.

Some members objected because no formal parish-wide vote was taken. They said such a vote would have reflected a true assessment of members' feelings.

In December Woods suggested to Kurtz that his church would be better prepared to address the matter after the diocese's six-week, faith-sharing Renew Program, "Healing the Body of Christ and the Call to Holiness," which begins at Lent. The prayer experience is designed to help Catholics move forward in the aftermath of recent church scandals.

Then, members of the Knoxville media received an unsigned fax in mid December, the day Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law resigned. The fax, which criticized local church leaders, caused St. Mary's to address the issue now.

Woods said that although three or four members of the parish council did not want the name removed, they did not resist the effort.

During the 10 a.m. Mass Sunday, which fell a day before Epiphany, which recognizes the manifestations of the divinity of Jesus Christ and honors the homage of the magi, Woods told parishioners the bishop had contacted O'Connell. He said O'Connell "gave his blessing."

During the service Woods preached about love and read passages from Matthew and Paul's letter to the church in Corinth that illustrate how "humanity's love draws a line in the sand. God's love is unbreaking."

As he led parishioners into prayer after his sermon, Woods said, "If your children ask why was the name up there or why is it removed, please tell them the story of Jesus."

Woods said a lot of thought will be given into how to remove O'Connell's name.

"It won't be a quick removal in the middle of the night," he said Saturday afternoon, "but there will be a ceremony associated with the grieving, healing and letting go."