A Saginaw priest has been placed on administrative leave following an allegation of misconduct involving a minor.
A priest of the Diocese of Saginaw, Father Dennis Kucharczyk, has been placed on administrative leave from priestly ministry by Bishop Walter A. Hurley.
Kucharczyk is a pastor at St. John XXIII Parish, which includes St. Mary Church in Hemlock, Sacred Heart Church in Merrill, and St. Patrick Church in Ryan.
The leave took effect on Sunday, May 19.
The Diocese of Saginaw received information from police regarding an allegation of misconduct involving a minor that allegedly occurred many years ago.
Based on the information, the diocese said it immediately removed Kucharczyk from active ministry.
Barbara Wood is a member at St. Mary Church. She said she was shocked to hear the news.
"He's a very nice person," Wood said. "Friendly, nice to everybody."
Zach Hiner, executive director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (or SNAP), says he worries other survivors could be suffering in silence.
"What they should do is go to every parish he served at and urge others there who may have been suspected or suffered abuse to come forward," Hiner said.
Hiner said he thinks the diocese is taking appropriate action.
"The first step the diocese took was the right one, publicizing those allegations, removing him from ministry," Hiner said.
In these situations, Hiner said there's always more that can be done.
"I fully believe the only way that we can prevent future cases of sexual violence is knowing exactly what happened in the past that allowed cases of sexual violence to happen in the first place," Hiner said.
According to the terms of the leave of absence, Kucharczyk is to have no contact with individuals under 21, which prohibits him from going on school properties or participating in school parish activities and functions.
He also was informed that he must refrain from wearing clerical garb, refrain from the exercise of public ministry, and may not present himself as a priest while the allegation is investigated by the diocese.
Hiner said as this moves forward, he wants possible survivors to feel comfortable breaking their silence.
"I want them to know that they are believed and loved and that there are places to come forward and get help," Hiner said.
Kucharczyk was ordained a priest on October 27, 1985. Below is a list of his assignments:
- Associate Pastor of Ss. Peter & Paul, Saginaw (October 27, 1985-July 14, 1986)
- Associate Pastor of St. Anne, Linwood (July 14, 1986- July 14, 1988)
- Associate Pastor of Blessed Sacrament, Midland (July 14, 1988-June 1, 1991)
- Leave of absence (June 1, 1991-July 14, 1993)
- Pastor of St. Roch, Caseville and Sacramental Minister at St. Felix, Pinnebog (July 14, 1993-July 18, 2001)
- Pastor of Sacred Heart, Caro (July 18, 2001-June 30, 2015)
- Pastor of St. John XXIII, which includes churches in Hemlock, Merrill, and Ryan (June 30, 2015- May 19, 2019).
- In addition, Father Kucharczyk served in the military ordinariate (serving the military as a chaplain).
Michigan State Police are investigating.