Sasso: Father Alfred Sasso

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Father Al Sasso

Father Alfred Francis Sasso

Father Alfredo Frank Sasso

Priest, Diocese of London, Ontario. Ordained 30 May 1965. Guilty plea 1980  to three counts of gross indecency involving three youths, one a former altar boy.  Sentenced to three months in jail.  After conviction served in the Archdiocese of Vancouver, British Columbia.

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Bishops of the Diocese of London from time of Father Al Sasso’s ordination to his death: Gerald Emmett Carter  (17 February 1964 – 29 April 1978 -Appointed, Archbishop of Toronto, Ontario);   John Michael Sherlock (7 July 1978 – 27 April 2002 )

Auxiliary bishops of Diocese of London, Ontario from time of Father Al Sasso’s ordination to his death:

Auxiliary Bishop:  Gerald Emmett Carter  (Auxiliary Bishop: 01 December 1961; Bishop: 17 Feb 1964) ; John Michael Sherlock (25 June 1974 — Bishop: 7 Jul 1978); Marcel André J. Gervais (19 Apr 1980 – 3 May 1985); Frederick Bernard Henry (18 April 1986 — 24 Mar 1995);

Archbishops of Archdiocese of Vancouver, British Columbia while Father Sasso served in the archdiocese: James Francis Carney  (08 January 1969 – 16 September 1990); if he was still there in Spring 1991 – Adam Joseph Exner, O.M.I. (25 May 1991- 10 January 2004)

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The following information is drawn from the Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD) which I have on hand and media (M)

27 September 1991:  Died  (in St Peter’s necrology) (Unless he was a late vocation he would have been relatively young when he died, ie early 50s.  Does anyone know the cause of death?)

1991:  2335 Dougall Ave., Windsor, Ontario  (address for Brentwood Recovery Home) (listed as “Alfred Francis Sasso”) (CCCD)

May 1989:  Working at Brentwood Recovery Home for past four years (M)

1985-86:  address for St. Patrick’s RC Church, Vancouver, British Columbia (Pastor Father Wm. Somerville) Phone number listed as 604-874-7818.  Phone number for St. Pat’s listed as 604-874-7817. (CCCD)

November 1980: Guilty plea to three counts of gross indecency involving three youths, one a former altar boy.  Sentenced to three months in  jail. (M)

1980:  Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Parkhill, Ontario, with missions at St. Peter in Biddulph Township, Precious Blood in Exeter (CCCD)

August 1980charged. (M)

1973-74, 1971-72:  In residence at.  St. Joseph RC Church, Sarnia, Ontario 293 Stuart St., Sarnia, Ontario (Pastor Father J.J. Devine) (CCCD)

1968-69:  Assistant St. Benedict RC Church,  1011 Oak Ave., Sarnia, Ontario (Pastor Father R.J. Groome) (CCCD)

1967:  St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church,  Windsor  Partington Ave. (Pastor Father M. J. Donovan cssr) (CCCD)

 30 May 1965:  ORDAINED

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All started on road to help at Brentwood

The Windsor Star

20 May 1989

By Donna Glasgow Star Staff Reporter

Published in the special section “Brentwood’s 25th”, an 8-page section commemorating the 25th anniversary of Brentwood Recovery Home for Alcoholics

IF, 15 YEARS AGO, someone had told Anne Cheeseman she would still be living with her husband in 1989, she would have said, “Forget it!”

But, it will be 15 years in June since her husband, Ted, entered Brentwood. She said they have been married 31 years now, have three grandchildren and are happy.

The Cheesemans both work at Brentwood, sharing their knowledge and experience with other alcoholics and their families so they too might get control over this “family disease.”

The Cheesemans’ story is common at Brentwood. The 74 staff members, except for a psychologist and two social workers, and hundreds of volunteers share a common purpose because of their drinking and/or drug-taking backgrounds. They all started on the road to recovery at Brentwood.

They know, first-hand, the destruction that substance abuse brings to the lives of the abusers and their families. This knowledge, they believe, makes them the best people to help Brentwood’s new clients.

Rick Laprise said he has no doubt alcoholics are best able to help other alcoholics. Laprise graduated from Brentwood more than six years ago and now volunteers. He said he relates to the moods and attitudes of alcoholics.

Laprise, 32, said he was raised in an alcoholic home and, although he wasn’t drinking or doing drugs much when he entered the program, he had an alcoholic attitude.

He described it as an “I-don’t-care” attitude. For example, if he hurts someone’s feelings, he probably wouldn’t notice, he said. And if he did notice, he wouldn’t care.

Father Al Sasso described this characteristic as inhuman selfishness. He said, if clients make an effort at Brentwood, they can “go on with the rest of their lives as happy, productive human beings as God meant them to be.”

Cheeseman said the love and fellowship at Brentwood helps alcoholics care about others.

Based on a success rate, which he said is from 80 to 85 per cent, Father Paul Charbonneau said that it has been estimated the program has reached from 12,000 to 15,000 people in the 25 years since he founded it.

Laprise said now he does care if he hurts someone’s feelings. “And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

This new attitude has saved his marriage, he said. He credited Brentwood’s program with changing his attitude.

“It taught me a lot . . . to take other people into consideration.”

He said, while he’s far from perfect, at least he is aware now when he’s wrong.

Part of the Brentwood program that taught him this consideration is the duty office. Before they do almost anything, people in the program must check with duty officers. For example, if they want to go to their room or to the store, they must ask first.

Father Al Sasso said the slogan at Brentwood is “Ask, listen and do what you are told.” He said people in the program must live by this slogan for three months while they are given the principles by which to live.

“From age 16, I never asked to do anything. I did my own thing.” The duty office simply taught him to ask permission and consider his actions, he said.

Now, Laprise volunteers as a duty officer. “I do it because I care about other alcoholics,” he said.

Jim Broderick, fundraising co-ordinator at Brentwood, said the volunteers are an extremely important part of Brentwood.

On any given day, there are about 125 volunteers helping with various aspects of the program.

For example, a wife of a recovering alcoholic might help with a support group for wives of alcoholics, while her husband might work with a group of new men in the program.

Broderick said most of the volunteers are alumni of Brentwood or family of alumni.

Broderick said he wouldn’t hazard a guess how many volunteers in total help at Brentwood.

For years, his wife was a volunteer at Brentwood before she went on staff. She worked at wives and couples meetings, helping them to understand that alcoholism affects the whole family and that the whole family needs help.

In 1984, Anne Cheeseman joined the staff of Brentwood and said she loves her work.

“It’s very fulfilling. I feel, in my small way, I’m helping to continue what Father Paul did for me 15 years ago. It’s a joy to get up in the morning to go to work. I feel like I’m coming here to be with family. We look on this as a family organization. People care about each other here.”

Other staff and volunteers at Brentwood also said they get personal satisfaction from working there.

“I get satisfaction out of seeing them turn their live s around.” In 90 days, he sees a total change in the men, he said.

Father Al, a recovering alcoholic, has worked as a priest for 24 years. He said that his last four years as a priest have been the most fulfilling because he has worked them at Brentwood.

“This place is really intriguing. You get everything and anything. No day is the same.”

He added, “I love it here.”

Some people come to Brentwood with low self-esteem masked with bravado, he said. Others have attempted suicide or are seriously contemplating it. “They’re hurting, confused human beings.”

Father Al compares Brentwood to an emergency ward at a hospital. “We bandage them up temporarily, then get to the real thing in our three-month program.” He said the program helps to heal the negative feelings and attitudes the alcohol or drug abusers have.

He said the greatest reward of his work is seeing the down-and-out begin to piece together their lives and family relationships after 13 weeks of treatment.

“A miracle right before your eyes,” he said. “It’s like a successful operation and the person leaving the hospital with a new heart.”

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“I’M STILL GLAD I CAME HERE”

The Windsor Star

20 May 1989

By Donna Glasgow Star Staff Reporter

Published in the special section “Brentwood’s 25th”, an 8-page section commemorating the 25th anniversary of Brentwood Recovery Home for Alcoholics

EIGHT YEARS AGO, Father Bob Charbonneau was stopped by a former parishioner who had seen him coming and going for two weeks around Brentwood, a recovery home for drug or alcohol abusers.

She asked him if he was in training to take over for his brother, Father Paul Charbonneau, director and founder of Brentwood.

No, he answered, he was there because he was an alcoholic.

“She did a double flip!” said Father Bob, who now works at Brentwood. Having worked in seven local parishes in his 28 years as a priest, Father Bob was well known in Windsor. He said he met other former parishioners during his 13-week recovery period at Brentwood, even former altar boys.

But, while he can look back and say, “I’m still glad I came here,” the natural embarrassment, fear and confusion that alcoholics feel when they first enter the program may have been more intense for him, he said.

This means Father Bob is well qualified for his job of meeting with people who are considering entering Brentwood.

“Very few come voluntarily,” he says of the persons he meets at Brentwood. “I would say 98 per cent are morally forced here.”

He said sometimes the courts demand people enter Brentwood as a condition of probation. Sometimes defence lawyers refer clients to Brentwood so they’ll look better in court after an alcohol-related crime.

As well, employers and union representatives sometimes tell people they should go to Brentwood or they may lose their job. Doctors and psychiatrists sometimes refer to Brentwood. And family problems often force people to enter the program.

For example, Father Bob said, often a wife will just give her husband an ultimatum – if they don’t enter the program, the alternative is divorce.

“We don’t care for what reason a person comes . . . because the records show that even even if a person is forced here, once he gets the feel of the place, he’ll feel this is what I’ve been looking for and give it a chance.”

He says the alcoholic or drug abuser soon relates to the persons he meets at Brentwood. While people at Brentwood may be from different walks of life, they relate to each others’ fears and insecurities.

Most people come into Brentwood thinking they don’t have a problem, he says.

But, “by time that person comes into my office, they’ve travelled a long way to changing their mind.” The openness, immediate acceptance and good spirits of the people at Brentwood convince them to stay.

“I’ve never experienced such a community of caring people in my life.

“I know it sounds like I’m being a salesman for this place, but it happens that way.”

Receptionist Anne Cheeseman is the first person who meets those who enter Brentwood. She says it is normal for people to be nervous at first. “They’re literally shaking.”

She says she tries to set the new person at ease by explaining the steps of the program while gathering basic information. Then she matches him up with someone who has been in the program for several weeks. This person can show the new person around, tell them about the program, what it has done for them and can relate to the first-day jitters.

Then the new client fills out an extensive questionnaire which delves into such things as substance-abuse history, health status and legal problems. The form gives a fairly complete picture of the person, Father Bob says.

Father Bob or Father Al Sasso will then talk to the new person, trying to probe into their feelings and attitudes. “The majority of us – when we first come in – think that booze and drugs are our main problems,” Father Bob says.

“But, in reality, it is the negative feelings and attitudes a substance abuser has about themselves that is the problem.”

After that first meeting, the new person will meet again with Father Paul, who confirms a person’s entry into the program.

Father Bob says about 25 persons are interviewed each week, with only a few deciding against entering the program.

“We take it for granted that anyone who comes here needs the program,” he said. “We’ll willingly accept them as long as there is some willingness on their part to be a part of the program.”

Father Paul does not believe in waiting lists, Father Bob says. “Father Paul has never told anyone, ‘Sorry, you can’t start the program yet.’ ”

Brentwood doesn’t delay admissions because the person might not come back, Father Bob says. Even if there are no beds available, arrangements can be made.

For example, a new client might commute from home to Brentwood for a few days unt il a bed is available. The only exception would be those who live too far from Windsor to commute. “We strike while the iron’s hot . . . I compare it to an emergency ward at a hospital,” Father Al says.

Brentwood charges clients for bed and board if they can afford it, Father Bob says. If they can’t, government funds, corporate contributions, individual donations and fundraisers help defray program costs.

Father Bob says the program is popular and people come from all across Ontario to enter it. He says the majority are from from Essex, Kent and Lambton counties, but there have also been clients from Toronto and Kingston.

Alcoholism is a disease and, by law, employees are eligible for sick leave and sick pay if they go to Brentwood, Father Bob says. If the company for which they work has no medical plan, they can qualify for unemployment insurance sick benefits, he said, adding that the great majority of employers co-operate, understanding when an employee says he has a problem and needs to undergo treatment.

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Guilty of indecency, priest is jailed

The Toronto Globe and Mail

Saturday, 01 November 1980

OWEN SOUND ON — OWEN SOUND, Ont. (CP) – A Roman Catholic priest has been sentenced to three months in jail after pleading guilty to three counts of gross indecency involving three male youths – including one of his former altar boys. Rev. Alfredo Frank Sasso, 46, of Mount Carmel, Ont., about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of London, was sentenced to one month for each count as well as two years probation. Rev. Sasso was relieved of his duties as parish priest in Mount Carmel when charged in August. Dr.

William Hughes, chief of psychiatry at York County Hospital in Newmarket, testified that he has been treating Rev. Sasso since late August for suicidal depression, alcoholism and ”psychosexual crisis problems.”

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Priest jailed

The Montreal Gazette

01 November 1980

OWEN SOUND, ONT. (CP) _ A Roman Catholic priest has been sentenced to three months in jail after pleading guilty to three counts of gross indecency involving three youths, one a former altar boy.  Court was told that Rev. Alfredo Frank Sasso, 46. was relieved of his duties as parish priest in Mount Carmel. Ont. when charged in August.

 

10 Responses to Sasso: Father Alfred Sasso

  1. John O' says:

    I do remember Fr. Al as an altar server in St. Patrick’s, Vancouver. I remember questioning the pastor about him, as he seemed a bit “off”when he celebrated mass. I was told “off” that he had a bad back and was unable to raise his arms during parts of the Mass. He was praised for his efforts in talking down a suicidal person, but I did find the chain smoking of his a bit too much around the Church.

  2. Bill says:

    Fr Al was at Brentwood in 1985 and forward. He died of cancer

  3. Sylvia says:

    Thanks Bill. While he was at Brentwood did Father Sasso say Mass and hear confessions? Do you know?

  4. Peter says:

    This disgusting man raped my brother while ‘working’ at Brentwood. Stole his soul and ruined his life…. My brother will take this secret to his grave… The cases we learn of in the media are the tip of the iceberg; 90% of victims never come forward because of the shame and trauma..

    Brentwood knew of his history yet continued to allow him around children.

    • Robert Talach says:

      Peter

      Sasso was criminally convicted of sexual abuse of minors in 1980 so the Diocese’s use of him at Brentwood and retention as a priest is not just negligent but criminal. I previously represented a Sasso victim from Mount Carmel and know the whole story. If your brother wants to seek justice and compensation – I am more than ready and willing to assist. rtalach@beckettinjurylawyers.com

  5. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Peter – Thank you for the courage you are showing in standing up for your brother. If more people would pull their heads out of the holy sand and “man up”, we would all be much further ahead. The Church has demonstrated very clearly that it is unwilling/unable to police itself. As a consequence the responsibility falls on us, the lowly unwashed victims of their deviant clergy, to hold their feet to the fire (sometimes so close their feet start to blister) before they will react.
    You are making the right choice in speaking to Rob Talach. He has been the support and encouragement that literally thousands of us have been so desperately looking for, but couldn’t find.
    If it wasn’t for Talach (and Sylvia) I don’t know where I would have ended up.
    If I can help you and your brother, you only need to reach out and ask. I’m here. Mike.

  6. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    For myself (and Sylvia’s support) I swore a year ago that I would not post any longer on the site. Go ahead and chuckle, but I have changed my mind. I can do no good sitting at home silent, all the while watching the charade that continues with the likes of Pennsylvania, Germany, Ireland, etc.
    What is astonishing me is the silence here in Canada. Why? I know that the closets in Pembroke are full to the rafters with skeletons and ghosts of evil deeds of the past. Why are we letting them away with this?
    If the church is still the great institution that it should have been all along, why the secrecy?
    I have great news for the church – you cannot prevent a scandal that ALREADY EXISTS! Either you face the reality, or you chose to deny, to deceive, to manipulate, to denigrate, and to blame.
    I believe the Pope has seriously misrepresented himself and his organization. He has claimed to have NO knowledge of Karadima, Barros, McCarrick et. al., but unfortunately for him there is independently corroborated evidence that he actually did know of these matters, and chose to sweep them under the rug.
    What does this mean for us who are struggling with our faith? Where should we look? Obviously not to Rome – it appears to me that Jorge is sitting idly by fiddling, while Rome burns. Mike.

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