National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date:  September 26, 2003

Parish rocked by second unanticipated departure


In upscale Hancock Park (a district within Los Angeles), St. Brendan’s parishioners recently gave a tearful farewell to their pastoral associate, Sr. Judy Diaz Molosky of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her contract was not renewed by incoming pastor Fr. John Love, who arrived in July.

It was the second time in less than a year the parish was rocked by unanticipated departures. Last December then-pastor Fr. Charles Gard departed under allegations of sexual improprieties with adult women. Love, his successor six months later, is now leaving in the wake of the uproar caused by Molosky’s departure.

A new pastor will take over in January when Love heads to The Catholic University of America. Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony said Love will go to the university at Mahony’s “personal invitation.”

Love told NCR he was offended when parishioners claimed that he fired Molosky. He had not renewed her contract, he said, because the parish was $1.2 million in debt.

According to his critics, Love, in his Mass announcement, gave the impression Molosky was leaving voluntarily -- and there was no word of thanks for a year in which she helped hold a pastorless parish together.

St. Brendan’s in three years has gone from 800 parishioners to 2,400. Gard led the revival but was removed after two years.

In a statement read at weekend Masses last December, Msgr. Craig Cox, Los Angeles vicar for clergy, told the parish that Gard had been placed on administrative leave. “In this time of scandal and controversy let me be very clear so that no one jumps to inaccurate conclusions,” Cox wrote. “Fr. Gard has not, let me repeat, has not been involved in any sort of misconduct involving minors.” He said Gard had been involved in “misconduct with adult women.”

Molosky, with an impressive resumé and four months into her first job as pastoral associate when Gard left, worked to keep the still-growing parish together. There was a parish card- and letter-writing blitz to Mahony when she was let go.

Dozens of Sisters of St. Joseph, many of whom live in the parish, signed a questioning letter to Mahony, asking what rights pastoral associates have. Mahony, who is inducting a dozen new pastoral associates at a Sept. 28 ceremony, replied he would establish a special committee to develop new, collaborative principles. Pastors, sisters’ council members, priests, pastoral associates advisory committee members, human resources people and others would be members of the committee.

National Catholic Reporter, September 26, 2003

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