A few words and thoughts on the Father Dan Miller charges.
You will notice on the Father Daniel Miller page that he was listed in the Canadian Catholic Church Directory (CCCD) at Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church in Petawawa one year (1999) , and the next year his address is listed as that of the Pembroke diocesan centre. When a priest’s address is listed thus it is often an indicator that he has been in trouble. Not always, but, …often.
That was 2000.
Was Father Miller in ‘trouble’ in or around 2000?
The fact that Miller is not active in a parish and no other address is listed is not suffice to say with certitude that he was in trouble. It is, however, suffice to raise questions.
And now, these many years later, Father Miller has been charged.
According to media reports, Bishop Mulhall said in a press release: “He [Father Miller] has not been in active pastoral duty for over a decade. He’s living in the rectory at Lourdes church.”
Bishop Mulhall’s comment raises two questions:
(1) What constitutes “active pastoral duty”?
(2) Why has Father Miller NOT been “in active pastoral duty” for over a decade?
Regarding the latter, note that the bishop did not say that Father Miller has been in ill health and has therefore not been assigned a parish. The bishop simply said that Miller “has not been in active pastoral duty for over a decade’ and is living at the rectory at Lourdes church
“Over a decade” marries with Father Miller’s address in the 2000 directory being that of the diocesan centre.
This, I suggest, is suffice to raise more questions.
What exactly happened in or around 2000 which might have prompted the bishop of the day to pull Miller out of circulation?
That we don’t know, but, as is always case in such a situation, there are ‘stories.’
Now on to the stories which have been circulating in the Pembroke Diocese and beyond. This, sad to say, is what Roman Catholics must live with in situations such as this where honest explanations are not forthcoming from diocesan officials. Stories. Not fact. NOt truth fed by their bishops. Stories.
Stories spread. They travel. In some cases it can become hard to separate truth from fiction, but in it all there is the unsettling sense that where there’s smoke there must be fire. Given the charges laid against Father Miller, that would seem to be the case.
There are a few facts, one being that some time around 2000 Father Miller was suddenly removed from Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church in Petawawa and from his duties as Chaplain at Bishop Smith Catholic School in Pembroke.
That much is fact.
Now the stories.
The stories which came on the heels of the removal were that, about 11 or so years ago, Father Miller was confronted by angry parents who accused him of sexually abusing their son.
Another story, which may in fact be another dimension of the above, is that an enraged father beat the living daylights out of Miller.
Those stories have been circulating for some time.
Also circulating were/are stories that Father Miller (i) was yanked by Bishop Richard Smith the day after Miller was beaten up; (ii) has been living “in residence” at Our Lady of Lourdes in Pembroke; (iii) isn’t supposed to say public Masses; (iv) “looks after” the sisters at the Grey Sisters convent; and. (v) has a condition which does not allow him to “be on public display.”
Let’s take a look at each:
(i) Father Miller was yanked by Bishop Richard Smith.
Bishop Smith became Bishop of Pembroke in April 2002. That was well beyond the time Miller disappeared from Petawawa and Bishop Smith Catholic High School and showed up in the CCCD (2002) with an address at the diocesan centre. From what I can see I also believe that Father Miller was already living “in residence” at Our Lady of Lourdes by the time Bishop Smith took the helm in the Pembroke Diocese
But, perhaps there was some other Miller-related crisis which Bishop Smith oversaw? Perhaps a beating transpired under his watch? I don’t know, but the dates don’t add up.
Bishop Brendan O’Brien, on the other hand, was Bishop of Pembroke until December 2000. That marries with Miller showing up in the CCCD with an address at the diocesan centre.
Where does the truth lie? Time will tell.
(ii) Father Miller has been living “in residence” at Our Lady of Lourdes in Pembroke
“In residence” presumably means that he is living in the rectory but not assisting in the parish.
This seems to be fact. It is borne out by addresses in directories
As an aside, Father Doug N. Bridge, the Chancellor of the diocese, has lived at the rectory at the same time as Miller
(iii) Father miller isn’t supposed to say public Masses
Father Miller has been listed as assisting at St. Edward’s Church in Bristol Quebec
St. Edward’s Catholic Church
Father Michael Costello or Father Dan Miller
36 Aylmer Rd.
Services: Saturday-5:00 p.m. & Sunday-9:00 a.m.
He also, as you can see on the page, says funeral Masses.
His name is also listed as a contact on Neville Funeral Home website (Pembroke, Ontario)
I don’t know if Father Miller has ever assisted at Masses or heard confessions in his years “in residence” at Our Lady of Lourdes. I would frankly be shocked if he never once over these years covered a weekday Mass, or assisted with confessions, especially at Easter.
So, is it fact or fiction that Father Miller can’t say public Masses? In light of the above, and unless there is something we don’t know, it looks like fiction.
(iv) Father Miller “looks after” the sisters at the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception convent
Yes, and that includes ‘saying ‘ the funeral Masses for the sisters who die, and being publicly identified as the priest who said that Mass.
I would imagine it also includes hearing the sister’s confessions and providing spiritual direction.
So, it seems that it is fact that Father Miller looks after the sisters.
(v) Father Miller has a condition which does not allow him to “be on public display;”
This is quite strange. Perhaps an ever-so-slight exaggeration?
No matter, bottom line is Father Miller has been able to assist at funerals, and has apparently assisted at St. Edwards.
Furthermore, Father Miller has been seen out and about for strolls through the city, often in the company of Father Murray Tardiff, and sometimes in the company of Monsignor Bridges.
On several occasions he has been seen in the company of two Pembroke priests, all strolling the walkway along Pembroke’s waterfront. The waterfront I am told connects the marina park to Riverside park, both of which have a children’s playground.
I am told too that Father Miller did not appear to suffer from a condition which would keep him from appearing in public.
So, fact or fiction that Father Miller suffers from some strange ailment which prevent him being int he public eye? It looks like fiction, but, who knows/ Again, there may be something here that we don’t know about
And now, in light of the above, back to the beginning, and this whole matter of what has been going on with Father Miller for the past 10+ years…
Bishop Mulhall has said that Father Miller has not been in “in active pastoral duty” for over a decade.
(1) What constitutes “active pastoral duty”?
(2) Why, if Father Miller was deemed unfit to minister publicly, were his faculties to say Mass and hear confessions not revoked?
(3) Was Father Miller ‘yanked’ from Our Lady of Sorrows and Bishop Smith Catholic High School in Pembroke? And if so, when and why?
(4) Did parents confront Father Miller to accuse him of sexually abusing their son? And did an enraged father of a boy beat Miller up?
If yes to either of those questions, was an internal investigation conducted to determine if Father Miller might be a sexual predator and therefore a threat to unwitting Catholics?
(5) Why the abject failure to be honest with Catholics when a priest is suddenly pulled out of circulation. It is such failure and silence which allows fact to turn into or be dismissed as “rumour” and Catholics to distrust their bishops and diocesan officials.
Father Miller has been charged. Police found enough evidence to lay charges.
I am hard pressed now not to think that there is some truth to the stories which have been circulating among and burdening the Catholics of Pembroke for all these years. Have they been willfully deceived? Betrayed? Has there been a cover-up?
We shall see.
On a closing note, I requested a copy of the press release early this afternoon. As soon as I have it I will post.
Enough for now,