Sunday, May 27, 2012

Deacon Jonathan Joseph Slavinskas: "Father Joseph Coonan was a great influence and helped nourish my vocation"

Deacon Jonathan Joseph Slavinskas, one of four deacons to be ordained for the Worcester Diocese on June 2nd at Saint Paul Cathedral, is featured in an article by Tanya Connor in this week's "Catholic" Free Press.  Deacon Slavinskas says that his vocation journey began with Bishop Timothy J. Harrington, who was known for being very dissent-friendly.  I wrote Bishop Harrington many times over the years about various issues, most especially the column of dissident priest Father Richard P. McBrien which appeared in the diocesan newspaper with his approval.  Bishop Harrington assured me in one letter that he didn't find anything wrong with Fr. McBrien's column.  This came as no surprise at the time.

In the same article, Deacon Slavinskas is quoted as having said that, "Father (Joseph) Coonan, of course, was such a great influence, and helped nourish my vocation." (CFP, May 25, 2012 edition, p. 7). 

It is troubling to hear that Fr. Joseph Coonan was "a great influence" on Deacon Slavinskas.  I say this because some fifteen men came forward to share very similar stories about abuse, many involving Joseph Coonan's fondness for watching boys urinate, defecate or masturbate.  According to an article in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette (August 9, 2002 edition), two Oxford natives came forward with details of alleged sexual misconduct against Fr. Coonan, who was then serving at St. John's Church in Worcester.  Both men said that Fr. Coonan had delved into sexual perversion and had urged them to urinate or defecate in his presence.  See here.  Fr. Coonan was also accused (twice) of assaulting his mother and sister while intoxicated.  See here.

My prayers are with Deacon Slavinskas.  Especially given some of the influences on his vocation.  I urge you to keep him in your prayers as well.  In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul writes, "Do not be led astray: 'Bad company corrupts good morals'." (1 Cor 15: 33). 

Related reading here.


Anonymous said...

A great influence. But was he a good influence? It would have been better if Deacon Jonathan had remained silent about Fr. Coonan. This rubs salt in the wounds of those who were victimized.

Is that very Catholic? Should the CFP have published that?

ShrewsburyCatholic said...

Under Bishop Harrington a culture of dissent thrived. That culture is still entrenched in the diocese. It just takes more subtle forms at times. At other times, as with the promotion of New Ager Joyce Rupp, it becomes more manifest. The old axiom, "You are known by the company you keep" applies here. Faithful Catholics, be cautious around this future priest.

Anonymous said...

I presume Maciel influenced a number of vocations to LC and RC, but that does not make him a saint or a model. The best that can do is to lessen his punishment where I think he is in the afterlife.

1921Diner said...

What I found strange is that the CFP ran a front page photo several weeks ago or so depicting a Catholic sister taking care of Fr. Robert Kelley with a grant from monies raised for Partners in Charity.

That's right folks. The Worcester Diocese takes monies which are supposed to be used to help good people in need and uses some of them to provide nursing care to a serial child molester.

Fr. Robert Kelley was sentenced to 5-7 years in Walpole state prison on March 11, 1990, after pleading guilty to two counts of indecent assault and unnatural rape of a female child. Father Kelley was pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Gardner when the molestations took place. He was released frm prison in 1996. On May 6, 2002 he was charged with raping another girl when he was assigned to St. Cecilia Parish in Leominster from 1980 to 1983. In the early 1990s, Kelley was named defendent in separate sexual abuse lawsuits by women who said they were molested by him in parishes in Southbridge and Gardner, Ma.

When you donate to "Partners in Charity," some of YOUR monies will be used to provide comfort and care for a man who denied such humane treatment to his victims.

Utterly shameful. Sickening actually.

Dennis J. Roy said...

In sticking with the La Salette message, our focus is not upon others, other churches, other writings, other newspapers, other religions, other faiths etc.
Our Focus is upon our own sinfulness where "pray for us poor sinners, now and at the hour of our death" includes ourselves. Stick with this and all divisions, all schisms, all dissent, all your problems (our) fade away. The Fatima message is not "forgive the Anglican Church, lead them my way or no way at all". No! It is "Forgive us "OUR" sins, save "US" from the fires of Hell. Lead "ALL" souls to heaven; especially those in most need of Thy Mercy (include yourself). Now. Who has a problem here if not ourselves?

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Actually Dennis, you are mistaken. Marcel Schlewer, a member of the religious congregation of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, helps us to understand the La Salette message. He asks, "What did she [Our Lady of La Salette] wish to communicate to the people of that period and to us today?" He then explains the significance of Our Lady’s words "If my people will not submit." He writes, "Already, a hundred years before the Second Vatican Council, she speaks of ‘the People of God.’ She comes to draw us away from our religious individualism (‘One soul alone have I to save’) to situate us in the midst of this people and remind us that we also are responsible members of that people. ‘To submit’: who likes to submit? If Mary uses this term, it is not to lecture us, but to remind us of something essential which is at the heart of the New Testament. In our human world all things find their meaning in Jesus Christ, God in human flesh. One could cite numerous Scripture texts to support this assertion. Let us take Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: ‘When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the One who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all’ (1 Cor 15: 28). Here one finds the verb ‘to subject’ used three times in one verse! This basic truth is taken up again in the Council decree entitled ‘Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.’ At the end of each chapter we find the same thought expressed: the Word of God, who became flesh, comes to give meaning to human realities (Gaudium et Spes, Nos. 10, 22, 38, 45). The Virgin tells us that the People of God are refusing to carry out their mission, that of seeing to it that everything finds its meaning in Jesus Christ. And she comes to tell us that this is a grave refusal." (All My People, pp. 12, 14).

When faithful Catholics oppose dissent within the Church, they are not saying that others should follow "their way," but rather Christ's Way.

Dissent in the Church is refusal to submit to the Lord Jesus.

Stewart said...

Dennis Roy seems to be taking the same attitude as Cain in the Old Testament: "Am I my brother's keeper?" The answer Dennis is yes, you are.

Pope John XXIII said that the Church's authentic peace, "is not completely untroubled and serene; it is active, not calm and motionless. In short, this is a peace that is ever at war. It wars with every sort of error, including that which falsely wears the face of truth; it struggles against the enticements of vice, against those enemies of the soul, of whatever description, who can weaken, blemish, or destroy our innocence or Catholic faith." (Ad Petri cathedram, AAS, 51 (1959) 517, PE, 263.93).

Are you more knowledgeable than the Holy Father Dennis?

Amy Whittemore Proud Sister of Fr.Jonathan Slavinskas said...

It sickens me that people in todays society feel the need to judge a person by who their role models or influences are. How bad is it to look up to someone who was ACUSED of something that may or may not have happened? Fr. Coonan was an influence to my brother before any of the scandals come out. Who are we to judge others? The only one to judge is God. Father Coonan was a better role model than the ones teens look up to today such as the drug addicted alcoholic singers, actors, and reality show stars. ShrewsburyCatholic, how dare you tell others to be "cautious" around my brother, Fr. Jonathan Slavinskas. It angers my so much for you to say this. He has done nothing but love and give his life to the Lord. He would never, NEVER do anything to hurt someone. It is people like you who make it so hard for young men to become priests. They struggle constantly with their calling to the priesthood and what others will think of them. They have to put up with so much ridicule that it is sickening. Not all priests or men studying to become priests are gay, or child molesters or abusers. You have no idea how hard it is to even be considered to be a seminarian. The amount of paper work and background checks they do is quite extensive. It saddens me that young men who give their life to God have to go through so much judgment. Then again ShrewsburyCatholic it is also people like you who make them stronger. They become stronger in their faith, which is something you can never take away from them. My brother is going to be an amazing priest. He has had wonderful role models both in and out of the Catholic Church. He is truly a blessing to the Catholic Church and she is very lucky to have him.

Beth said...

You should really keep your comments to yourself if you don't even know this newly ordained priest!! He is a wonderful person who does a lot of good in the communities he has been in. And as father Coonan he was a great priest who revitalized a lot of youths faith in the catholic church!!! He did a lot of good and te allegied aligations took place before he became a priest!!

Beth said...

Amy, I couldn't say it any better! Any one who has encountered OUR BROTHER kows how much passion and love he has for the church. Fr. Jonathan Slavinskas has had many influential people in his life, who have made a positive impact in his life, Including Harrington and Coonan. Fr. Slavinskas is an amazing individual who will do great things!!! He has much support and love from his family and his many followers!!!!!

Stewart said...



Paul Anthony Melanson said...

A woman named Beth left a comment here in which she said, "You should really keep your comments to yourself if you don't even know this newly ordained priest! [referring to Fr. Slavinskas]...Father Coonan was a great priest who revitalized a lot of youths faith in the Catholic Church."

Why then was he removed from ministry? The Diocese found the accusations against him to be credible. Beth is challenging the Worcester Diocese in this statement as well as Bishop Daniel Reilly's judgment in the matter.

I should keep my comments to myself? Perhaps the newly ordained Fr. Slavinskas should have exercised a modicum of common sense and good judgment and refrained from making any comments about a priest who was removed from active ministry because the local Ordinary found accusations against him of abuse to be credible.

Michael Cole said...

Of course she wants you to keep silent. The easier it will then be to "rehabilitate" the memory of those who harmed minors.

I suppose Fr. Coonan's mother and sister were also imagining things when they were victimized?

The culture of silence and approval with regard to sexual (and other forms of) abuse needs to be broken.

HolyCross2013 said...

It's that culture of silence which fosters an atmosphere of abuse. What Beth is saying is that the laity should never question their priests. What she is saying is that anything a priest says or does is "acceptable," even if it hurts others.

And that is just plain evil.

ShrewsburyCatholic said...

"It sickens me that people in todays society feel the need to judge a person by who their role models or influences are."

That statement was made by Fr. Jonathan's sister.

So, if someone finds Adolph Hitler to be a role model or influence, we shouldn't be concerned?

How about Fr. Paul Shanley or Fr. John Geoghan?

Idi Amin or Jim Jones?

What the heck...

Beth said...

You take things out of content, and make us seem like bad people. I am saying that Fr. Coonans time at saint johns was Positive, his attendence from his masses showed how valuable he was to our parish. I am not trying to say we need to be silent, I am trying to hurt anyone I am speaking of what I know of Fr. Coonan during his time at Saint johns. I didn't not know him prior to him becoming a priest just the work he did during his time at our parish.

Site Meter