As I announced at Masses last weekend, the news coming from the Chancellery on Tuesday, January 22 regarding the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy was sobering. Thirty-six priests of the Archdiocese have been listed as credibly accused of minors since the establishment of the Archdiocese of Hartford in 1953. In addition, six priest from other diocese and six more from religious orders who served at one time or another in the Archdiocese have also been credibly accused. Twenty-three of the thirty-six Archdiocesan priests have died, and number of those still alive have been removed entirely from priesthood. Again as I stated last weekend, we must continue to pray for all victims of abuse of any kind, and support the efforts of the Archdiocese to help victims and to take steps to prevent abuse from happening again in the future.
By way of transparency, there are five priests named who at one time or another have been assigned to either the former St. Mary Parish or the former St. Agnes Parish. The priest named who were assigned to St. Mary include Joseph Rozint, Robert Ladamus, and Stephen Byzdyra. Those who were assigned to St. Agnes include Howard Nash and George Raffaeta. Of these five, four are deceased, and one Stephen Byzdyra has been laicized. which means he has been returned to the lay state from which he came prior to ordination. As such, he can no longer represent himself as a priest in any way and he cannot celebrate the sacraments. I have no personal knowledge of any improper behavior having taken place on the part of any of these men while they were assigned to either St. Mary or St. Agnes.
Please be assured that the Archdiocese has put into place an extensive series of requirements and expectations for all who work for the Archdiocese in any way, be they members of the clergy(priests or deacons), religious, laity, or even volunteers. These requirements include background checks which must be renewed every five years, participation in VIRTUS training, and adherence to a strict code of ministerial conduct. These requirements have been in place since 2003, and it is important to note that in the 16 years since, only two cases of sexual abuse have surfaced, and both cases resulted in criminal prosecution.
If you have any concerns, please feel free to speak with me, to call me at the rectory, or to contact the Archdiocesan Director of Safe Environment, Kathleen Nowosadko, at (860) 242-5573.