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Office of the Bishop
Diocese of Antigonish
168 Hawthorne Street, P.O. Box 1330
Antigonish, NS B2G 2L7
Chancery 902-863-3335 / Fax 902-863-0037
Residence 902-863-1557
E-mail: bishopdunn@dioceseofantigonish.ca

February 17 , 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, especially Parishioners of Frenchvale, Christmas Island, Iona, Boisdale and Baddeck parishes,

As most of you have heard, Talbot House Board has placed Father Paul Abbass on leave from his role as Executive Director of Talbot House as a result of a complaint that was submitted to the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services. Fr. Paul has also taken a leave of absence from his pastoral responsibilities on the diocesan and parish levels.

In light of these events, I want to write to you to offer you support. The Board for Talbot House in cooperation with the Department of Community Services has initiated a process of review and investigation and is seeking to respond to the complaint as quickly as possible. In the meantime, I have sought further information from the Talbot House Board and from the Department of Community Services and pledged the cooperation of the Diocese of Antigonish in whatever way possible. Since this is a review of a complaint, both the Board and the Department have not released any information as to the nature and scope of the complaint.

In this entire review, we will seek what is best for all involved and we hope that all will be given the appropriate respect. For the complainant, this will mean being listened to and having any complaints investigated thoroughly. For Father Paul, it will mean a fair, timely and thorough investigation to find the truth, with the understanding that any person is innocent until a complaint is verified. For the staff and the residents at Talbot House, this will mean that appropriate support be given to them. For parishioners of the five parishes involved, this will mean that I will keep you all informed and will provide appropriate avenues for discussion and dialogue.

In terms of continuing pastoral service while Fr. Paul is on leave, I have asked Fr. Agit Kerketta, the present associate pastor, to oversee the pastoral care for the five parishes. He will be assisted by Fr. Francis Cameron, Fr. Joe Ambrose MacNeil, and others to serve the pastoral needs of parishioners and I am appreciative of their generous availability. In terms of Fr. Paul’s diocesan responsibilities, I have asked Fr. Angus MacDougall to act as Vicar General on an interim basis and Fr. Donald MacGillivray to act as diocesan spokesperson for the time being. For those serving on the various committees with Fr. Paul, I ask that you continue to meet in the absence of Fr. Paul.

This is a very difficult time for all concerned. I appeal to all to be supportive of one another. While we wait for the conclusion of this entire situation, I encourage all to pray for the Lord’s wisdom, guidance and peace for all concerned so that the complaint may be investigated thoroughly, that the truth may be reached and that we may all rediscover the Lord’s presence in the midst of difficult situations.

Sincerely in Christ,

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