MOUNT CALVARY — The Capuchin Province of St. Joseph has removed Capuchin Fr. Dennis Druggan, rector and president of St. Lawrence Seminary High School, from public ministry according to a statement the province released Monday, Feb. 18.
Fr. Druggan had been on administrative leave from St. Lawrence since July 2012 pending an investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct involving a minor at St. Labre Indian School in Ashland, Mont., more than 25 years ago, where he served as pastor, 1984 to 1988, and co-executive director, 1988 to 1991. He was officially removed from public ministry on Sunday, Feb. 17, according to an email from Colleen Crane, public relations director for the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph.
For more information
View the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph's Misconduct Policies and Procedures and who comprises the Provincial Review Board, by clicking on the "Safe Environment" button at top left at www.thecapuchins.org.
If you have concerns or need assistance, contact Amy Peterson, the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph's Director of Pastoral Care, at (414) 374-8841, ext. 22.
“There have been no allegations involving his ministry at St. Lawrence Seminary High School,” the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph said in the written statement.
Fr. Druggan, a 1974 graduate, served at St. Lawrence since 1992, first as dean of students before he was appointed rector in 1994 and named president in 1997, serving since then as president/rector.
According to its statement, the province reported the allegations – a second complaint was made after the first one in July – to law enforcement officials in Rosebud County, Mont., who determined they couldn’t proceed with the criminal investigation of the allegations.
“Rosebud County Law Enforcement has been unable to pursue the allegations because the victim has been unwilling to provide a statement to law enforcement or otherwise cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation of the matter,” Michael B. Hayworth, Rosebud County Attorney, wrote in an email to your Catholic Herald. “The Province then retained the services of an independent investigator to conduct an internal inquiry,” the province said of the investigation that began Oct. 1, 2012.
After the internal inquiry was completed, the report was submitted to the 10-member Provincial Review Board of St. Joseph, which met twice to review the investigator’s reports and other materials submitted by the parties, the statement said.
“In light of the findings of the Review Board that there is sufficient evidence to sustain the allegations and respecting their competence and recommendations, the Provincial Minister, Fr. John Celichowski, has decided that it is necessary to remove Fr. Dennis from the offices of rector and president of St. Lawrence Seminary,” it said. “He is barred from public ministry as required under the terms of the ‘United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.’ He will be encouraged to live a life of prayer and penance in a suitable friary.” The friary will not be near a parish or school, according to Crane.
After faculty, staff and students were informed about Fr. Druggan on Monday morning, an email, with an attached letter from Fr. Celichowski, was sent to parents.
“We recognize that Fr. Dennis has served with dedication and distinction at St. Lawrence and that he is loved by many; and for these reasons this decision will be very painful,” Fr. Celichowski wrote. “We ask you to please keep everyone concerned in this matter in your thoughts and prayers.”
Fr. John Holly, local minister of St. Lawrence Friary, will continue to serve as acting rector, and David Bartel, academic dean, will continue to serve as acting principal, positions to which they were appointed last year when Fr. Druggan was placed on administrative leave.
The province said in the written statement that it and St. Lawrence Seminary, which observed its 150th anniversary in 2010, are dedicated to creating safe environments for everyone in their ministries. The province began a voluntary, independent audit of its provincial files and procedures last June to review personnel, misconduct, and initial formation files of current members, deceased and former friars, in Detroit Milwaukee and Chicago.
“The abuse of any child is a crime and a sin. We know that there have been times when children and youth entrusted to our care have been harmed, for that we are deeply sorry,” the statement said. “While we cannot undo the harm that was done in the past, we are committed to doing what we can to prevent any future harm and to assisting those who have been hurt by a Capuchin friar. The Province will reach out to the victims in this case and provide whatever pastoral assistance we can.”