How different might Saint John’s had been if monks like Father Jerome Tupa left the monastery to pursue their own selfish pleasures and allowed individuals such as these two men, who were called to monastic life, remain!
Letter to Reverend Robert Rolfes, Diocese of Saint Cloud
December 12, 2012
Reverend Robert Rolfes, J.C.L.
Bishop of the Diocese of Saint Cloud
214 3rd Avenue South
Saint Cloud, Minnesota, 56301
Toward the end of our November 16, 2012 telephone conversation we discussed a hypothetical situation in which a young seminarian is driven from religious life due, in part, to the sexual overtures offered by an ordained priest within the diocese.
When I asked how the Diocese of Saint Cloud would handle such a report, you said that once you received a credible allegation of such misconduct you would, at a bare minimum, have the priest evaluated at St. Luke’s. By this letter, I wish to make you aware of misconduct similar to that which we discussed.
In early June of 2010, I met with a gentleman who had been called to religious life in the late 1980s. He reported to me that he left the religious life, in part, due to the sexual overtures offered by an ordained priest twenty-six years his senior.
The priest was Father Jerome Tupa, a monk from Saint John’s Abbey who is currently pastor at Saint Joseph Parish, a parish of the Diocese of Saint Cloud. The parish, as you are well aware, is located in Saint Joseph, MN. The former religious was a young monk who I shall refer to in this letter as “Kenneth” but whose true identity I hope to share with you later this week via telephone.
According to my contemporaneous notes from the visit, Kenneth approached the Father Tupa for spiritual counseling after his counselor left the abbey, presumably for issues involving misconduct.
During the course of his “counseling” with Father Tupa, Kenneth became “disappointed.” He described Tupa’s actions as “shady” and commented that Tupa had “more on his agenda” and showed an interest in a relationship with Kenneth that went “beyond a brotherly monk kind of interest.”
After only a few counseling sessions it became obvious to Kenneth that Tupa wanted to be involved in, according to Kenneth, a “let’s me more than friends experience.” At the time of our meeting/conversation in 2010, I did not ask Kenneth for additional details regarding the specifics of the alleged.
Kenneth’s stay at the monastery was a short one. He is listed in only one ordo, the yearly publication that lists all monks at a given abbey.
After his interaction with Tupa, Kenneth shared that the spiritual side of his religious experience began to unravel.
In an email dated June 30, 2010, approximately two weeks after our visit, Kenneth wrote:
“… my memories of those days are negative ones. There certainly seemed to be a great deal of ‘sexual’ tension and many of the monks seemed to have agendas aside from monastic brotherhood. As a young man and monk I ended up very confused about the whole experience. Upon leaving the monastery all those years ago I have never returned to the Catholic church. Although still a ‘believer’ I’ve just never gone back.”
Please keep in mind that this was written by a man who once felt a calling to religious life. Tragic.
After our conversation in November, Father Rolfes, I contacted another former monk from Saint John’s Abbey regarding additional alleged misconduct by Father Tupa. This former monk shared that while still in the monastery, he consoled a monk who had experienced “boundary issues” with Father Jerome Tupa. That monk, whose identity has been made known to me, also left the monastery. Like Kenneth, the monk was listed in only one ordo.
How different might Saint John’s had been if monks like Father Jerome Tupa left the monastery to pursue their own selfish pleasures and allowed individuals such as these two men, who were called to monastic life, remain! How many good men did Father Tupa drive from religious life?
While these allegations of misconduct should be enough for the diocese to reconsider Father Jerome Tupa’s current assignment, I am compelled to bring additional information to your attention.
As a parent, former educator, and former parishioner, I find it wholly inappropriate for a priest to be actively displaying and selling artwork depicting naked women while simultaneously ministering to a congregation that includes so many impressionable children – and has lived the trauma of its long history of sexual misconduct and deceit perpetrated by the Tupa’s own monastic brothers.
The image to the left is currently available in Father Tupa’s online gallery.
Any argument regarding the “artistic” elements of Father Tupa’s work and style could easier by countered by claims that that this and other of his works are simply “pornography.”
Image Source: https://eelement.appolis.com/jerometupa/eproddetail.asp?S=128&P=8120&PubID=4463&V=26&PID=5786 (Warning: NSFW)
In his current role as pastor at Saint Joseph Parish, Father Tupa also acts as confessor and spiritual counselor. I do not believe that the diocese can afford to take that risk.
The parishioners in Saint Joseph do not deserve yet another scandal. They have been dealing with scandal for over 50 years.
As you are aware, the Diocese of Saint Cloud has recently received several notarized statements regarding allegations of sexual misconduct by two priests, Father Othmar Hohmann or Father Dan Ward, dating back to the early 1960s. Both men served as pastor at Saint Joseph Parish.
Yet, despite these statements, the Diocese of Saint Cloud has failed to notify the parishioners of reported misconduct by either Father Hohmann or Father Ward. This is the same tactic used by the diocese in 1996 when Thomas Gillespie was removed from the parish.
Father Gillespie, you are no doubt aware, spent time with the Wetterling family following Jacob’s disappearance in . While some saw Gillespie’s actions as oddly “involved” Father Tupa took an opposite tact following the disappearance of Joshua Guimond in 2002. Any investigation into misconduct by Father Tupa should include interviews with members of the Guimond family.
It is not surprising that Father Tupa has stood in the way of honest and open dialog regarding issues of sexual and other misconduct for some time. In an email from May of 2011, Father Tupa suggested “the advisor to the Record should be admonished and then replaced” following an article in the Record (The Saint John’s University Student Newspaper) regarding sexual misconduct by members of the abbey community. By the end of the year, the Record’s advisor was replaced.
Finally, please note that Saint Joseph Parish was the last parish I regularly attended. It was while a parishioner at Saint Joseph Parish that I was molested at the Prep School by Father Dunstan Moorse, a monk from Saint John’s Abbey.
It is precisely because of my own background and my understanding of the parish’s history that I bring these matters to your attention, and that I ask you to bring these same matters to the attention of the good people of Saint Joseph.
I swear, under the pains and penalties of perjury, that the information I have provided on these pages is true, to the best of my knowledge and belief.
Patrick J. Marker