14 October 2011
By Pilot Staff
BILLERICA — The Archdiocese of Boston announced Oct. 8 that Father Eugene Tully resigned as Pastor of St. Theresa of Lisieux Parish in Billerica after it became known that he allowed a parish volunteer who had recently been accused of sexually abusing a minor in the 1970s to lead a youth group on an overnight trip.
Father Arthur M. Coyle, Episcopal Vicar for the Merrimack Region, released a statement announcing Father Tully’s resignation and calling his actions “a serious error in judgment.”
“The matter of concern for the Church is that the volunteer was allowed to participate in the April 2010 parish teen outreach trip, even though Father Tully had been made aware of the circumstances of the civil suit prior to this trip,” Father Coyle said. “I want to make clear that there have been no allegations of misconduct received at St. Theresa involving this volunteer.”
Father Tully, according to the statement, “now recognizes the seriousness and the implications of his earlier decision” and the archdiocese anticipates he will be able to continue to “serve the people of God in his priesthood.”
According to the policies and protocols established in the archdiocese for the protection of children and young adults, if an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is brought forward, that volunteer must step down from any parish ministry while the allegation is being investigated.
The archdiocese expects to name a new pastor shortly. In the interim, Father Agustin Anda, parochial vicar, and Father John J. McCormick, senior priest in residence at St. Theresa, will continue to provide pastoral care to parishioners.
Archdiocese statement on Billerica priest’s resignation
The Lowell Sun
Updated: 10/09/2011 06:41:30 AM EDT
I want to inform you of a change involving the leadership here at St. Theresa Parish. As you know, Fr. Eugene Tully has been pastor since 1992 and has enjoyed a more than 40-year ministry of exceptional service as a priest. We are very grateful for his outstanding work with St. Theresa serving the many needs of the parish community.
That said, I must regretfully report that Fr. Tully has tendered his resignation as pastor effective immediately. Unfortunately Fr. Tully exercised a serious error in judgment regarding his handling of a matter involving a parish volunteer who has served at St. Theresa’s for many years. The volunteer has been named in a civil lawsuit involving an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor many years ago in another state. The matter of concern for the Church is that the volunteer was allowed to participate in the April 2010 parish teen outreach trip, even though Fr. Tully had been made aware of the circumstances of the civil suit prior to this trip. I want to make clear that there have been no allegations of misconduct received at St. Theresa involving this volunteer. In fact, the policy of the Archdiocese is that any Church official or volunteer who works with young adults or children must be subjected to a Criminal Offender Record Information (or CORI) review. A CORI check was processed for the volunteer and it was returned as “no record found,” which cleared him for ministry as late as Fiscal Year 2011.
The Archdiocese of Boston has established clear policies and protocols for matters involving ministry that includes young adults and children. The primary purpose of these policies is the protection of children. All pastors are expected to be vigilant in the implementation of these policies and protocols. Further, if an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is brought forward, that volunteer must step down from any parish ministry while the allegation is being investigated.
Fr. Tully now recognizes the seriousness and the implications of his earlier decision regarding the April 2010 trip. While he has resigned his role as pastor, after a period of prayer and reflection, the Archdiocese will review future assignments with Fr. Tully where we anticipate he will be able to continue to serve the people of God in his priesthood. In the coming week he will be moving from the rectory and we wish to make this transition as smooth as possible for Fr. Tully. We also want to respect his privacy during this time of transition.
I know this news comes as a shock to many of you. Please pray for Fr. Tully and your fellow parishioners. Please also know of the Cardinal’s solicitude, prayers and concern for you and Fr. Tully. A new pastor is expected to be named very shortly. In the interim, Fr. Anda, and Fr. McCormick, senior priest will continue to provide pastoral care to the people of St Theresa.
Thank you and God bless,
Very Reverend Arthur M. Coyle
Episcopal Vicar for the Merrimack Region
Archdiocese of Boston