A child sexual abuse allegation has surfaced against a deceased Catholic priest who once served in the Diocese of Marquette.
Diocesan officials say they believe the allegation against the late Father Bernard Van der Schueren is credible.
The complaint deals with an incident involving a boy in July 1989, when Father Van der Schueren was filling in for another priest at St. Michael Parish in Marquette. He died in 2009 at the age of 86.
Diocesan officials say that as soon as they received the allegation, they referred it to the Jesuit Chicago-Detroit Province. Father Van der Schueren was a Jesuit priest.
The Office of the Administrator informed the Diocesan Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People of the complaint. The diocesan attorney also reported the allegation to the Marquette County Prosecutor’s Office.
The Jesuit Chicago-Detroit Province initiated their safeguarding procedures for sexual abuse of minors in pastoral ministries and contacted the Flemish Jesuits in Belgium. Father Van der Schueren was from Belgium. Diocesan officials say the Flemish provincial superior has agreed to cooperate fully with the investigation. The Jesuit Chicago-Detroit Province has contacted the victim, offering him counseling and spiritual assistance.
Marquette Diocesan Director of Ministry Personnel Kevin Branson has apologized to the victim and to any other victims who may have been harmed by Father Van der Schueren.
Anyone wishing to report a sexual misconduct complaint to the Diocese of Marquette, or seeking support from the diocese, can do so in any of the following ways:
- Call the Diocesan Victim’s Assistance Coordinator, Sister Colleen Sweeting, toll free, at 866-857-6459;
- Call Kevin Branson, the Diocesan Director of Ministry Personnel, at (906) 227-9107 / 800-562-9745, ext. 107. If Kevin Branson is unavailable, call Father Francis Dobrzenski, the Diocesan Administrator, at (906) 227-9115 / 800-562-9745, ext. 115;
- Write to Kevin Branson, Diocese of Marquette, 1004 Harbor Hills Drive, Marquette, MI 49855. Please mark the letter “Personal and Confidential” and indicate the means of response desired (by phone, by letter or in a meeting)