Abbey Uses Timothy Kelly’s Obituary to Rewrite History


Recent obituaries in the StarTribune [ View ] and on the Abbey web site [ View ] include information (and revisionist history) regarding the abuse scandal at St. John’s. Shame on the Abbey for using Timothy Kelly’s death as a public relations tool.

With regard to the obituary in the StarTribune [ View ]:

1. The Abbey was rocked by abuse allegations in the early 1990’s. Jerome Theisen was abbot. [ View ]

2. Timothy Kelly was elected in 1992. ISTI was created in 1993. ISTI was, and continues to be, a public relations tool. Even though ISTI has been inactive since 2002, information still exists on the SJU web site. [ View ]  Richard Sipe was an original ISTI member:

“Here I was Chair of a project set up and widely publicized to protect children and help eliminate dangers, first and foremost at St. John’s, but the head of the institution turned a deaf and defiant ear to the information that I was relaying to him. I polled the Executive Committee of the ISTI board for advice. They seemed supportive of my determination to speak with Kelly openly in an Executive Board meeting on September 18, 1995. The reaction of Abbot Timothy Kelly can only be described as verbally violent and rejecting. “I will not be manipulated,” are some of his words I remember.” – Richard Sipe [ View ]

3. On February 23, 1996, Timothy Kelly pulled Fr. Thomas Gillespie from St. Joseph Parish. Neither Timothy Kelly nor Gillespie’s replacement, Fr. Dan Ward, would provide the congregation an honest reason for Fr. Gillespie’s removal. It wasn’t until long after John Klassen became abbot that the parishioners found out that Fr. Tom Gillespie molested young boys. Both abbots concealed the fact that some of Gillespie’s misconduct took place at the parish. [ View ]

4. St. John’s became aware of abuse allegations by Fr. Francisco Schulte under Jerome Theisen’s tenure as abbot in the 80’s. Timothy Kelly knew about Schulte but never made his name public or attempted to contact potential victims. Despite a public policy that states otherwise, a third abbot, John Klassen, continues to keep information about Schulte from those communities and populations where Schulte served. [ View ]

5. Timothy Kelly said the right things…

We may wish at times that we could simply bury this whole business and maybe then it would go away. But it won’t. In their anger and pain victims sometimes strike out at us and make us feel abused in turn. But that is the price we may have to pay for the years when our culture decided that denial of responsibility would somehow be less damaging than facing the truth. I thank the community for supporting our efforts to live in the light. Is there in fact any other way to live if we sincerely claim to be followers of Christ who is the light of the world? – July 2004 [ View ]

… but St. John’s still lives in the dark.

Like the abbot before him (Jerome Theisen) and after him (John Klassen), Timothy Kelly proved to be anything BUT a leader when it came to the issue of sexual abuse by the members of the St. John’s community. Public relations should always be a secondary concern when dealing with these issues. For St. John’s, however, public relations is often the only concern.

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Topics: Francisco Schulte, Jerome Thiesen, John Klassen, Obituary, PR Machine, Thomas Gillespie, Timothy Kelly

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