It is with a heavy heart that we write this email to outline what transpired last week involving our students. We take seriously our students, parents, and teachers concerns regarding this event by taking the appropriate steps and providing support.
- On the morning of Friday, September 15, one of our parents notified Mrs. Suiter alerting her that during confessions for seventh and eighth grade students on Thursday, September 14, Fr. Nicholas asked inappropriate questions.
- Subsequently, several other parents came forward throughout Friday to report the same story.
- Specifically, during the confessions for grades seven and eight, Fr. Nicholas asked the children the following questions. “Have you cheated? Have you lied? Do you watch pornography? Do you masturbate?”
- Over the weekend, it came to our attention that Fr. Nicholas also asked fifth and sixth grade students similar inappropriate questions during their confessions on Wednesday, September 13. The questions were more vague such as, “Have you ever viewed or watched inappropriate shows or videos?” Nonetheless, still very serious in nature.
- Mrs. Suiter contacted Fr. Stillmunks (who was out of town at the time) within ten minutes of the first parent conversation on Friday, September 15.
- Fr. Stillmunks drove back to St. Robert Bellarmine School and Parish.
- While he was in route, he notified the Chancery of what had transpired.
- At 1:00 Friday afternoon, Fr. Stillmunks dismissed Fr. Nicholas of his duties at St. Robert Bellarmine Parish.
- Fr. Nicholas has not been on our parish grounds since Friday afternoon.
- Fr. Stillmunks has been in constant communication with the Chancery.
Tomorrow morning, homeroom teachers in grades 5-8 will talk to their students about how and to whom they can direct their questions or concerns regarding this matter. In future days, additional conversations will take place with our students about the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Due to the nature of what occurred, we have scheduled a parent meeting for Wednesday, September 20 at 7:00 pm in the Mainelli Center. All are welcome. A Chancery official and Mary Beth Hanus, Manager of the Archdiocesan Office of Victim Outreach and Prevention, will be here to listen to your concerns and discuss steps you can take to help your child move forward. Fr. Stillmunks, Mrs. Cosgrove, Mrs. Suiter, and Mrs. Reinhart will also attend.
We are grateful to those parents who came forward and notified us in such a timely way. Because of their quick response, we were able to take necessary steps immediately. We especially want to thank our brave students who knew this was inappropriate and voiced their concerns to their parents.
Keeping our students safe is of the utmost importance that we all share. Working together with our parents, we will do everything necessary to help our children both spiritually and emotionally to validate their concerns. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us prior to Wednesday night. We will make every effort to get back to you as soon as we can.
Fr. Steven Stillmunks Pastor
Mrs. Sandra Suiter Principal