Pastor resigns after volunteer accused of abuse leads parish trip

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Boston Pilot

14 October 2011

By Pilot Staff

Posted: 10/14/2011

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.

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Archdiocese statement on Billerica priest’s resignation

The Lowell Sun

Updated: 10/09/2011 06:41:30 AM EDT

Following is the full text of the statement released by the Archdiocese of Boston yesterday:

Good morning/afternoon,

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

20 Responses to Pastor resigns after volunteer accused of abuse leads parish trip

  1. Sylvia says:

    How can this be? Father Tully knew there were allegations against this, and still let him lead a youth group on an overnight trip?!!!

    Tully now “recognizes the seriousness and the implications” of that decision?! Why does he recognize now what he didn’t recognize then? Aside publicity, what has changed?

    This is disgusting.

  2. Sylvia says:

    Ah yes. It gets worse.

    Check this article. Turns out the volunteer to whom Tully turned over those children for an over-nighter is in fact Renald “Ron” Hallee, an ex priest.

    Note that this trip transpired last year. Why is it only now that this little “error in judgment” on Tully’s part is coming to light?

  3. CJ Plourde says:

    It is with sadness that I write this. Renald Hallee is my brother in law, married to my sister, Doris Plourde Hallee. Father Hallee, as he was known to me as a teenager, was the priest in the Fort Kent Maine Parish. He openly courted and chased my teenage sister and was eventually chased out of the parish when he was driven out of town sometimes in 1976 or 1977. Renald Hallee, as I feared, not only chased my sister, writing her pornographic letters, kissing her openly on the mouth in front of my parents, and visiting her when she was babysitting at the homes of other parents, but is now accused of having abused a nine year old girl.

    The fact is that many in the Billerica and Lexington Ma area did not know about Father Hallee’s past as a priest, the fact that he was chased out of town and forced to leave the priesthood. Of course, I dont know what the priesthood did in Maine when he was forced to leave our parish. DId they prevent him from returning to ministry? Or was that his decision? I doubt many of the friends and family of the Hallees knew of his past.

    Strangely, I learned of the recent accusations in Maine just last week, when I was preparing to call the Billerica Police Dept to tell them about my brother in law. I had seen that he was teaching Ethics in some church in Billerica a couple years ago and that weighed heavily on my mind. It just so happened that as I typed his name to get his street address, I came upon an article in the Bangor Daily News or Portland paper.

    Though I did call the police, it seems that the church of St. Theresa and the police department already knew. I hope that my brother in law did not do this thing he is accused of, however, he was a 30 year old priest chasing a 15 year old girl, breaking his vows, etc. Even though she was willing, she is a victim, and I still see her as such.

    The victim of child sexual abuse by members of a boys home run by Catholic Charities in Bangor Maine, I cannot help but believe the woman who brought forth these accusations. Again, it is apparent that the Catholic Church and its priests and leaders are willing to go to any lengths to cover for their perverted friends.

  4. JG says:

    CJ Plourde,
    Your sadness was felt a thousand miles away… I hope you will be able to replace that sadness with Peace in your heart. You are doing a lot of good by expressing your thoughts and feelings to a lot of people who continue to need support …In return, you will not be alone….
    This abuse of children is the tragedy of our human condition. It tears at the abused individuals but at their family as well… It is a cancer!… It is our death!..I hope you and your sister do not become estranged because of your honesty and caring…I wish she understands your words are from a very Loving place . The abuse hurts the children, then the families, then the communities and then all of us. By speaking about it , the cycle is broken….once the children are safe, so will our families, our small villages, our communities and then the human heart. Giving up is not an option! WE have to think and act for the long term…not just today, tomorrow or next year…but for the shelter of our children’s children’s children’s in a more gentle world…That is just the way it was meant to be…
    Every time I told myself I should go away from this site( almost a year ago) where I came because of a simple conversation between two strangers, inevitably something else happens to draw me back…
    In the last paragraph of your post, I understand that your are a survivor also, from a catholic boys home…?!..not everyone responds as you will notice, if you return here, but many will feel your pain and sadness. All are here to support you even if the silence seems too long at times. Be patient..without anger or remorse, or guilt …The generosity in your heart will be refunded a thousand fold…
    The abusers, users, cheaters of children’s will pay with a thousand times more sleepless nights and lifeless days. Their choice and their reward.
    We all know that but we don’t believe it…because we fail to pay attention to the details, the coincidences, the gut feelings…the inexplicable! Being attentive is all we require.
    CJ Plourde, you may not understand it now, but you have placed “your brick” on the wall…
    Release yourself from any more sadness. You have just become a leader!…
    Thank You and Bless You for helping save another child…

    As for the church and the priests…Indifference will be their payment!

    jg

    • CJ Plourde says:

      Hi JG,

      I have not been to this site for so long. Thanks for your kind words. I finally came to my senses years ago when living with my sister and her husband. It was at that time that Renald Hallee, the former Father Hallee, had married my sister, when I was living in Boston. I was best man at their wedding. In 1993, I lived with my sister for a couple months after I had returned from living abroad.

      At that time, my brother in law defended a priest from Bangor, the director of a boy’s home where I had been sexually abused by two different male staff members, one a psychiatrist, and the other a house parent.

      When I mentioned this to my brother in law he got furious. He turned bright red. It was then that I realized just what kind of a man my brother in law was. He was defending a colleague, this priest that he had known when he lived in Bangor, which is where I was living, at a boy’s home. I also realized that my brother in law knew about my life at that boy’s home and that he could only have gotten that info from the priest xx Cote, who was the director of the Boys Home.

      It touched a nerve in me, and it was in 1993 that I started suffering from depression and contacted Catholic Charities Portland, Maine about my abuse. They settled out of court, but it was for less than $20k, may 9k or 18k, I can’t remember.

      What I see today is that Catholic Charities in Maine is a duplicitous group of pedophiles and pedophile advocates. For example, Father X, who was the priest in and or near the Billerica, Massachusetts church in which my brother in law was teaching “Ethics” yeah! can you believe it!!!???? B says that he had at some time heard of the allegations against Renald Hallee, but I don’t think he is being truthful. As I wrote years ago, X was sitting on the Board of Catholic Charities in Maine, I can’t remember how I found that out by I must have checked!! As such, there is no way that he could not have know about Renald Hallee and his dirty past. As such, Sue Bernard is disingenuous and so are the staff of Catholic Charities, Portland, as a whole!

      Someone should mention this to a journo so that they can do their fact-checking. Why is it that none of the journalists who worked on this were ever aware of it? By luck, I suppose, is how I found this out.

      I know that for years my sister and her husband, the ex Father Hallee, worked in the greater Billerica Catholic community, and I suppose it is Ste. There et al., which is where they were married, I think, spreading the teachings. My sister was also in charge of converting people of other faiths to Catholicism.

      Clearly, B knew about Renald Hallee and his past. He and others in the Catholic church would have had to check out the histories of Hallee and my sister before they hired them, or allowed them to work in their church. As such, they must have known, if not either they are lying or Hallee and my sister were deliberately deceitful. I doubt that Renald Hallee could keep quiet about the fact that he had been a priest, but I doubt he told people exactly how he and my sister met, when she was 15.

      • Sylvia says:

        At CJ’s request I have deleted the names of two priests mentioned in the above post. He is currently seeking clarification and will update when that is accomplished.

      • jg says:

        CJ,
        I read your post several days ago but I decided to wait a few days. Still overwhelmed by a lot of things that keep coming up in my life…Have do deal with one at a time.
        What is kind of strange as I read through the account of your journey is that we live such a short distance apart, between Maine and New Brunswick. My story is only through my Father who was abused in 1931. The priest who abused him(the first!)was born a stones throw from the Maine border and New Brunswick…Such a long, repeated, sad story these priests have left in their wake. You mention the token sum you received as their “reparation”. It was less than that which was paid for my Father to the lawyer and a “charity” to cover their lies… Anyway, I keep returning here once in a while and I guess my last post , above yours, spoke of where I have arrived with “the church”: I am really becoming “indifferent” to anything local, all the way up/down to Rome. Anything coming from them leaves me clam cold. Too bad.
        I wish you well as I do all the vulnerable children who were led to the pagan sacrificial alter of these despicable monsters who called themselves “men of God”!
        Leon Gagnon was my Father’s abuser, and of many others, and he came from Drummond, New Brunswick. He is listed here among his fellow abusers, if you are interested.
        They have left entire families destroyed “for ever and ever”! …
        Elie Theriault was a stranger to me as well as my Father…
        I never got to know him thanks to that cover-up church…
        What a waste!
        Take care

        • CJ Plourde says:

          JG,

          When I go to look at the list of accused in the SNAP network one thing I note is how many of those men and women are of French Canadian descent. That is very sad. Of course, the priesthood was a place for many to hide, especially if they were gay, or pedophiles. As a gay man who is also a monastic and a Buddhist monk, if men and women cannot take vows of celibacy then they should not do so. It is that simple. Today, there is still a lot of discrimination against the gay and lesbian community, but we all need to stand strong and to accept ourselves. We cannot expect others to accept us if we cannot do it ourselves.

          You and I and all the many who have been abused do the best we can to move ahead. We get on with our lives. That is all any of us can do. My aim is to make certain that men like my brother in law do not abuse children and all we can do is concentrate on our own healing.

          I wish you well. I am not a Catholic and never was, even though I was born one, so I do not know how to resolve those issues one might have as a Catholic. I am certain that this is an entire dimension that many people have experience with.

          Take care and I wish you all the best. Today it is sunny, here in Montreal. And that is a good day. Enjoy it.

          • jg says:

            CJ,
            I have thought of that ” French Canadian” connection but I can only explain it with the overwhelming control of the catholic church and the number who were called/pushed to the seminary because of the large families, lack of funds, the need or desire to have someone educated, a daughter or/and son…Large families of 18 were not uncommon in largely,poor, uneducated farming communities. Sometimes I feel it is like when I consider the lottery winners; they are always from Ontario, B.C. or Alberta. It is a “numbers” thing.
            I didn’t personally experience the abuse but only the secondary effects of neglect which I have only come to understand in the last 5-6 years…My Father and some siblings had a more sinister time of it…
            As for the gay, lesbian community I concede there are different choices and I can only respect them without pretending to understand.
            Life is good and you don’t have to be a catholic to have Christian values. I think all religions aspire to this higher state of “humanity”. It starts with protecting, nurturing and guiding children without taking them in as hostages.They too need the respect.
            That’s enough. The best to you also.

  5. CJ Plourde says:

    I noted that one of the board members of Catholic Charities Maine is Fr. Philip A. Tracy.

    Notably, “Father Philip is Pastor of St. Therese of Lisieux Parish and was previously Pastor of Holy Savior Parish.”

    Isn’t it strange that Father Tracy is from St. Therese of Lisieux, which is the parish in question, in Billerica, MA? Another member of the Maine CC is, oddly enough, my cousin, Reverend Monsignor Andrew Dubois, Diocesan Chaplain. He is a good guy, I am sure.

  6. CJ Plourde says:

    Also, in addition to a CORI check, when Father Hallee was chased out of the Fort Kent Parish, I doubt my mother or father or anyone else, including the church elders, reported him to the police. As such, he never would have shown up on the CORI check.

  7. Elaine says:

    Renald Hallee is, ironically enough, listed in the acknowledgements for Stephen King’s 1975 novel, “Salem’s Lot,” as having been a resource for King, presumably involving the church’s protocol surrounding supernatural issues. He is referred to as pastor of St. John’s Catholic Church in Bangor at that time.

    • CJ Plourde says:

      Hi, Yes, this is something that Renald, my brother in law, let us all know, many years ago. He was very proud of that.

  8. CJ Plourde says:

    Elaine, yes, you are right that Hallee is mentioned in Salem’s Lot, and I am sure that if Stephen King was aware that there are an estimated 20-30 women who are on file as having been abused by Hallee when he was a priest in Maine, he would certainly remove Hallee from the remerciments.

    Hallee, my brother-in-law, like most pedophile priests, was moved from one church to another. When Catholic Charities spokeswoman Sue Bernard makes mention that they did not know where Hallee was, they are lying. The church was aware that he was chased out of Fort Kent Parish, and I am sure they paid for his computer school education.

    What people in Billerica, Massachusetts, where Hallee and my sister lived, for years, and the staff of Lexington High School don’t know is that Hallee had an inappropriate relationship with my young sister, who was around 15 at the time, if I remember correctly. I was actually living in my home town for about a year at the time, and saw Hallee and my sister together, often times. I was, however, naive, and did not know the depth of his infractions.

  9. CJ Plourde says:

    Hi again

    Yes, we live in the northeast and the presence of the Catholic Church was a strong presence for so long. Unfortunately, in Canada they did a lot of damage to the aboriginal and First Nations communities also. I think that is just aberrant human behavior. If we were in Utah it would be Mormons and their lapses, etc.

    Thanks for sharing. All we can do is continue to witness and to advocate for those who are at risk.f

  10. James says:

    James
    O’Leary
    CJ how are you remember seeing Nana M with me?

    • CJ Plourde says:

      RIP my friend. I wish I had seen this reply of yours and made the connection—I did not.
      And yes, Nana Mousskiri something like that, a great singer. I also wish that you had told me about your illness when you reached out to me. I sadly learned of your passing after several months, long after I had wondered why you were not replying to my emails anymore. love, CJ

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