Abbey Press Release

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COLLEGEVILLE, MN – Saint John’s Abbey’s External Review Board, established in 2003 as part of Saint John’s Abbey’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct by some of its members, has submitted its annual report to Abbot John Klassen, OSB, and the Abbey’s Senior Council. “We are deeply grateful for the support and guidance the Abbey has received from this group during a period of community healing and renewal,” the Abbot said. “I look forward to the Board’s ongoing service, recommendations and support as this process continues.”

The nine-member board, which has met monthly throughout the year, reported its activities on key issues ranging from assessment and supervision of offenders to assistance for victims. Board chair David Baraga said one of the group’s priorities during the year was “the development and assessment of individual programs of accountability for monk offenders.”

The Board also dealt with allegations of sexual misconduct against three members of the monastic community: 1) The late Father Robert Blumeyer (for an abusive ten-year relationship with a young man that began in a Twin Cities parish in 1969); 2) Father Michael Bik (for inappropriate sexual contact with two teenagers in the 1970s before Bik joined the Abbey and prior to his ordination); 3) Father Bruce Wollmering, a retired faculty member (for allegations of sexual misconduct early in the 1980s reported by a former Saint John’s student in 2004.) There have been no subsequent allegations against Bik or Wollmering.

Blumeyer died in October, 1983. Wollmering and Bik live and work under restrictions in the Abbey where their activities are guided by individual plans of accountability.

The Board worked with the Abbot to tailor responsible plans for members of the monastic community charged with credible abuse allegations. The Abbey contracted with Project Pathfinder, Inc., an organization skilled at assessing offenders and developing recommendations for safety plans, and the Board has been given summaries of all individual plans.

The Board’s Victims Assistance Committee developed assistance procedures that will be available for victims and, as a result, the Abbey has contracted with the Walk-In Counseling Center in Minneapolis to provide first response assistance to victims if there are new allegations of abuse. The Board met with several victims and made recommendations to the Abbot for additional support of individual victim’s emotional and spiritual recovery.

“The Board continues to review the Abbey’s policy regarding sexual abuse and exploitation,” Baraga said. “We have made suggestions to refine and strengthen the document.”

Concluding, Baraga affirmed the Board’s commitment to its charge. “I am confident we can support the Abbey in its determination to continue self-evaluation, to assure openness and to eliminate any aspects of community living that might contribute to boundary violations.”

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Topics: Bruce Wollmering, David Baraga, John Klassen, Michael Bik, Project Pathfinders, Review Board, Robert Blumeyer, Senior Council

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