By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
When it comes to clergy sexual abuse, “I think everyone is affected,” said Father Guillermo Trevino, who serves at St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City and St. Joseph Parish in West Liberty. “People look up to priests and bishops as models. When (abuse) happens, it affects everyone and people react with anger, sadness, disgust, etc.”
From Sept. 8-17, members of the West Liberty parish gathered nightly to pray the rosary for Pope Francis and for healing within the church.
In mid-August, a Pennsylvania grand jury released a report on clergy sexual abuse committed over a 70-year span. The report revealed that some of the Catholic Church’s leaders— in six dioceses in the state of Pennsylvania — hid allegations of sexual abuse of minors and brushed aside the victims. More than 300 priests were linked to abuse claims, and more than 1,000 victims were identified, according to Catholic News Service.
The report came out on the vigil of the Assumption of Mary. During Mass the following day, Fr. Trevino told the West Liberty congregation the news and apologized. “The Assumption of Mary has been hijacked by this evil,” he said. “Please forgive us and remember that in spite of the sins of the clergy, the church goes on with you.”
Fr. Trevino invited the congregation to stay and pray before the Blessed Sacrament in reparation for sins committed by members of the clergy. “Most parishioners stayed after Mass to pray. I was amazed and in tears by the support.”
As the days went by, some parishioners told Fr. Trevino that they were being mocked at work for their Catholic faith. A group of parishioners came to Fr. Trevino with the idea to pray the novena for victims of sexual abuse by the clergy and for the church. “I am very happy that we in West Liberty are doing something about it, and take joy that the parishioners decided to do this.”
Father Dennis Martin participated in the novena alongside members of the parish. “It is important for us (as a church) to gather in prayer in difficult times. The answers to this ongoing crisis are not all in place; some are. But it seems that to gather together in prayer would be a good place to start looking for the further answers.”