Metro

Paulist Fathers identify 3 priests accused of sexual abuse of minors

Boston, MA - 6/4/1986: The exterior of the Paulist Center on Park Street in Boston is pictured on June 4, 1986. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff) --- BGPA Reference: 180315_BS_030
Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff/File 1986
The Paulist Center on Park Street.

The Catholic religious order that runs the Paulist Center in Boston said Tuesday that credible allegations of sexual abuse involving minors have been made against three priests who once lived or ministered in the city in years past.

The allegations were made against the Rev. Thomas Dove, the Rev. Robert Michele and the late Rev. Frank M. Sweeney, and involve two females and one male, according to an e-mail sent Tuesday evening by the director of the Paulist Center.

“To the Paulists’ knowledge, these are the only Paulists ever stationed or living in Boston who have had credible allegations raised against them,” the Rev. Michael McGarry wrote in the e-mail sent to members of the Paulist Center community.

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The allegation against Dove, now 84, involved a minor female at the Catholic Information Center in Los Angeles, and has only recently “been established and reported to the authorities,” according to the e-mail. He served in LA from 1965 to 1974, the e-mail said.

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Dove served in Boston at the Park Street center for one year immediately after he was ordained, from 1961 to 1962, said McGarry. He currently lives at the Paulist House in San Francisco.

In September, a credible and substantiated allegation involving a minor female was made against Michele when he was an associate pastor at a church in Oregon more than 40 years ago, according to McGarry.

Michele served in Boston at St. Ann’s Church in the Back Bay, from 1973 to 1979, according to McGarry. St. Ann’s was administered by the Paulists from 1945 to 1978. It subsequently closed and the congregation was folded into St. Cecilia’s Parish, McGarry said in his e-mail.

Michele, 90, is now living in a nursing home outside Portland, Ore.

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A third allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor male was recently made againstSweeney, who was on staff in Boston from 1961 to 1962. He was removed from ministry in 1993 and was later "in residence,” but not in ministry, at 5 Park St. from 1995 to 2004. Sweeney, according to Tuesday’s e-mail, was removed from ministry in 1993 following two credible allegations of sexual abuse of two underage males in Baltimore. He died in 2013.

Paulist Fathers previously “released information” about Sweeney’s alleged misconduct and discussed his behavior at a 2004 meeting.

“However, a new, anonymous allegation against Fr. Sweeney has surfaced, so I am including him in this list in case anyone here in Boston they wish to relay about him (his known allegations all occurred in Baltimore,)” said McGarry in the e-mail.

The news of the allegations came as the New York-based order “. . . nationally are releasing names of members who have had recent credible allegations of abuse of minors and are making announcements in each place where these Paulists served,” said McGarry.

To the order’s knowledge, Michele, Dove, and Sweeney are the only “Paulists ever stationed in Boston who have had credible allegations raised against them.”

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“The Paulist Fathers are committed to protecting children and to helping survivors of abuse in their healing process,’ said McGarry. “We are deeply sorry for the pain suffered by survivors of abuse due to the actions of some members of our community.”

The first American Catholic religious order of priests, the Paulist Fathers came to Boston in the late 1940s, according to the group’s website. The Paulists established a “Catholic Information Center” on Park Street, and, in the 1950s built its current structure, the Holy Spirit Church, along with classrooms and office space, according to its website. The Paulist Center in Boston describes itself as a “Catholic community that welcomes all, fosters healing and reconciliation, and acts for justice.”

Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.