Emily & Rosemary Fund for Women in the Catholic Church Awards $5,000 to Former Michigan Teacher

NEWTON, Mass., Dec. 21, 2011 – A Michigan teacher fired from her position at a Catholic elementary school has been awarded $5,000 in the fourth round of grants from the Voice of the Faithful’s Emily & Rosemary Fund for Women in the Church. These grants support women who have lost employment in the Catholic Church because of injustice or discrimination.

The Emily & Rosemary Fund grant review committee determined Linda Bohlinger, Oscoda, Mich., presented material in her grant application that indicated she was wrongfully terminated from Holy Family Catholic School in East Tawas, Mich. Written comments in Bohlinger’s record, for example, did not agree with her positive numerical performance scores and her work history did not appear to warrant losing her job. At the time she had been a teacher for 24 years.

In response to a disciplinary letter removed from her employment history and later put back into her file, Bohlinger wrote, “I have never had a write up, I have never had a complaint from a parent, I rarely need a substitute, I feel I need to defend myself and have been blindsided by this disciplinary action.” The disciplinary report included four alleged incidents within three months of 2009, and Bohlinger’s contract was not renewed for 2010. She had been at the school for four years.

Bohlinger said she will use her grant to continue her education and start a Spanish immersion tutoring business to help meet the educational needs in her rural community. “We applaud your plans to share your gifts with Spanish-speaking communities,” the review committee said in its award letter. “The review committee is pleased to provide you this funding, and we hope that it will assist in getting you started in a new educational direction.”

“The Emily & Rosemary Fund grants provide women with an opportunity for redress,” said Dan Bartley, VOTF president, “and the grants actually are funded by a woman who was callously wronged by her Church employers.”

Lynette Petruska, formerly a Roman Catholic nun and now a St. Louis attorney, established the Emily & Rosemary Fund in 2009. The fund helps support women who lose employment in the Roman Catholic Church as a result of injustice or discrimination and also supports women who are working to bring about justice and equality in the Church. Petruska said she experienced injustice and discrimination after opposing sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct by priests at Gannon University, Erie, Penn., where she was appointed the first female chaplain in 1999.

Emily & Rosemary Fund for Women in the Church grants are awarded in October and April. Grant applications are available at https://www.votf.org. Completed applications are accepted by e-mail at office@votf.org.

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 shape structural change within the Church. More information is at https://www.votf.org.

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