Society of the Divine Word
Our Commitment to Protecting Children and Youth from Sexual Abuse
Dear Friends in the Lord,
The Society of the Divine Word considers ministry to youth – bringing the Gospel message amid the challenges of today’s secular culture, violence, poverty and the erosion of Christian values – as one of the primary ministries of the more than 6,000 Divine Word Missionaries who serve God’s people in more than 80 countries around the world. Our commitment to protecting children and youth from sexual abuse is an important part of that mission.
As far back as the 1970s, the Chicago Province (then known as the Northern and Eastern provinces) of the Society of the Divine Word made a concerted effort to remove from public ministry and restrict contact with minors for all those accused or otherwise suspected of sexual abuse or the violation of acceptable boundaries with minors.
Beginning in 2002, the Chicago Province instituted numerous reforms for responding to claims of abuse and striving to ensure the safety of minors.
In 2003, the Chicago Province implemented a comprehensive program of Sexual Abuse Policies that requires initial and annual ongoing education in sexual abuse prevention and mandated reporting for all province members. Each member is also required to undergo initial and ongoing background checks, and to meet annually with a religious superior to review efforts to protect children and youth from sexual abuse.
The Chicago Province has been accredited since 2007 by Praesidium, Inc., an independent agency, for its compliance with standards for the safeguarding of minors. The accreditation is updated annually with required onsite accreditation visits and reviews in 2010, 2013 and 2018. The next onsite review will occur in 2025.
An independent Sexual Abuse Review Board meets annually and more often if needed to oversee the response to all allegations of the sexual abuse of a minor including the review of the investigation, reporting to civil and church authorities, assistance to the victim/survivor and restriction of the offending member should he be alive.
As an additional step for greater accountability, the Chicago Province arranged for an external audit of all member files (current, deceased, transferred and former) to ensure that previous internal reviews were both accurate and complete, and that no case of the sexual abuse of a minor has been overlooked or not fully recorded.
As a sign it its desire to be transparent in matters related to the sexual abuse of minors, the Chicago Province of the Society of the Divine Word has listed the names of Divine Word Missionaries with ties to the Chicago Province who have been credibly accused of the sexual abuse of minors.
Separate lists include living and deceased members of the Chicago Province, Divine Word Missionaries who have served in the Chicago Province and been transferred to another province, and men who are no longer affiliated with the Society of the Divine Word.
Words cannot express the deep sorrow we feel for the harm these men have caused to victims/survivors and their families. We also apologize for participating in the harm that abuse has done to the Catholic Church. The People of God have suffered, and they rightly demand transparency and accountability. We hope that this disclosure of names will contribute to reconciliation and healing.
Most of the cases related to the names that are listed here date back decades. We view the disclosure of our shameful history as part of our commitment now to preventing abuse. The Chicago Province employs a strict zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse of minors and reports to civil and church authorities all accusations of sexual abuse involving a minor.
We encourage anyone who suspects abuse by any member of the Chicago Province to contact local law enforcement or church officials or
Chicago Province Center
P.O. Box 6038
Techny, IL 60082-6038
Sexual Abuse Review Board
Jack Leyhane, Chairperson
Survivor Assistance Coordinator
Maryjo Hogan Hubick, Counselor
Director of Child Protection
Please click on the links to the left to learn more about the ongoing efforts of the Chicago Province to protect children and youth from sexual abuse, how to report sexual abuse and view the names of those who have been credibly accused.
Yours in the Divine Word,
Very Rev. Adam Oleszczuk SVD
Provincial Superior – Chicago Province
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