Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

SNAP Recognizes Wisconsin Priest & VOTF Leader During Its 2012 Annual Conference in Chicago

NEWTON, Mass., Aug. 17, 2012 -- The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has recognized a Wisconsin priest who is scheduled to speak at Voice of the Faithful’s 10th Year Conference next month and a VOTF Washington state affiliate leader.

During its 2012 Conference in Chicago, July 27-2, SNAP presented its Millstone Award to Rev. James E. Connell, a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and an advocate on behalf of victims/survivors of Catholic clergy sexual abuse. The award’s name refers to the Biblical passage in the book of Matthew 18:6, which is inscribed on the award: “But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

According to SNAP, Fr. Connell (photo at right) received the award “in admiration and appreciation for your dedication and willingness to help SNAP protect kids and heal survivors. We remain grateful for your courage, compassion and commitment to keeping kids safe.”

In his activities for victims/survivors, Fr. Connell said he was catching up to where he should have been years earlier. “I had explained to my parishioners two years ago, as I was beginning to stand publicly with SNAP, I cannot change the past, but I can be different in the future. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Fr. Connell is a featured speaker at VOTF’s 10th Year Conference in Boston, Mass., Sept. 14-15. He will deliver his talk, which is called “Speak Up for Those Who Cannot Speak for Themselves,” on Sept. 15 at the Marriott Boston Copley Place Hotel. He is a Canon lawyer and pastor of St. Clement and Holy Name of Jesus parishes in Sheboygan, Wisc. Also, as a former member of the Milwaukee archdiocese’s clergy sexual abuse audit review board, he has called for Church leaders to reveal the complete truth about clergy sexual abuse because, he said, “only from such a revelation can this poison be removed from the Body of Christ.”

SNAP also presented Robert Fontana of Yakima, Wash., with its 2012 Lay Person of the Year Award. Fontana is a long-time leader of VOTF’s Central Washington state affiliate. SNAP presented Fontana with the award “in admiration and appreciation for your courage and constancy in speaking and exposing truth, demanding justice and offering support to survivors.”

“It was gratifying to receive recognition for all the work that my wife and I have put into VOTF Central Washington,” Fontana said.

Voice of the Faithful: Voice of the Faithful is a worldwide movement of concerned mainstream Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at http://www.votf.org.

Contact: Nick Ingala, 781-559-3360 Office, 617-291-3495 Cell, nickingala@votf.org