May 21, 2014

Franciscan priest with ties to western Mass. removed from ministry


 

REGIONAL

Staff report

SPRINGFIELD-  A Franciscan priest who served in two western Massachusetts parishes in the 1990s has been removed from active ministry by both his Conventual Franciscan order and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pa., where he had served since 1997.

Conventual Franciscan Father Michael Lewandowski was removed from his position at St. Anne Parish in Davidsville, PA on May 19 based on allegations dating back to the 1980s which happened in Maryland according to news reports. In removing him, Altoona diocesan officials indicated that there had been no complaints regarding Father Lewandowski during his 17 years in their diocese. 

Likewise in a statement released late Wednesday afternoon May 21 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, officials here also indicated that “(n)o complaints against this priest have been forthcoming from his time in western Massachusetts.”

Father Lewandowski served locally at both St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Basilica and St. Anthony of Padua parishes in Chicopee from October 1991 until shortly before his reassignment to Davidsville, Pa.

The Springfield diocesan statement concluded by urging “anyone with knowledge of sexual abuse of a minor by any member of the clergy or other church personnel to contact the local District Attorney's Office and Patricia McManamy, a licensed social worker and victim assistance coordinator for the Diocese of Springfield at (1-800) 842-9055.”

The complete statement, listed below, will be read and distributed at all Masses at the two Chicopee parishes this weekend.

May 21, 2014 Statement by RC Diocese of Springfield, MA on Franciscan Father Michael Lewandowski

"The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield has learned of  the removal from active ministry this past weekend by the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pa., of  Conventual Franciscan friar, Rev. Michael Lewandowski . That diocese undertook this action because of Fr. Lewandowski’s suspension by the Conventual Franciscans of Our Lady of the Angels Province in Ellicott City, Maryland resulting from an allegation of sexual misconduct dating back to the 1980’s elsewhere.

Because Fr. Lewandowski was assigned to both St. Stanislaus Basilica and St. Anthony of Padua parishes in Chicopee during the 1990s, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield is also disclosing this action undertaken by the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pa. No complaints against this priest have been forthcoming from his time in western Massachusetts.

We urge anyone with knowledge of sexual abuse of a minor by any member of the clergy or other church personnel to contact the local District Attorney's Office and Patricia McManamy, a licensed social worker and victim assistance coordinator for the Diocese of Springfield at (1-800) 842-9055."