A reader writes:
I am a (currently non-practicing) Catholic mother of two adult sons, both of whom were altar servers at our beloved church in Florida. The span of time during which they served was 1979 through 1997. During those years, we became close friends with several priests. My protestant husband even converted to Catholicism during those years. Even though my husband and I were very involved in volunteer positions in our parish and were considered quite devout, we were constantly on the alert for any hints of unusual priestly interest in our boys.
One of our close Franciscan priest friends brought one of his Franciscan colleagues (I refuse to call him a priest) to our home for dinner and swimming one Sunday. The Franciscan colleague was not serving at our parish, and we had never met him prior to this Sunday visit. He played piano as did our younger son, who was about 9 years old.
That man insinuated himself onto the piano bench and could not get close enough to our son while they played duets. And, that Sunday afternoon, after having just met us, he invited our two boys to Disney World for a long weekend, suggesting that it would be nice for my husband and me to have a weekend break from parenting.
Needless to say, we never again invited that person to our home, nor did we take him up on his offer! (This event would have occurred in 1988.) My husband and I still shudder to think what might have happened if we had been naïve and trusting. After reporting this incident to a different priest friend, we learned that the Franciscan had been transferred to our diocese because of some “troubles” in his Pennsylvania diocese, and he was not supposed to have contact with children.