SPRINGFIELD (NEWS RELEASE) — A Special Panel convened to advise Bishop Thomas John Paprocki concerning the matter of Father Thomas Donovan, former pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in Springfield, has concluded that his "gradual return to ministry is appropriate."
As a result of the panel's recommendation, Bishop Paprocki has announced that Father Donovan will be assigned as chaplain to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, with residence at their provincial house in Alton, effective Sept. 15.
"The Sisters have agreed to this assignment in a spiritual environment and supportive atmosphere of prayer and compassion," Bishop Paprocki said.
In a written recommendation to Bishop Paprocki, panel members said they reviewed relevant material concerning the incident that occurred at the rectory of St. Aloysius Parish on Nov. 28, 2012, including reports of mental health professionals summarizing treatment, diagnoses and recommendations for treatment for Father Donovan.
Two members of the panel conducted a "lengthy and probing interview" of Father Donovan and the panel as a whole conducted a "full personal interview" with him.
In light of this review, the panel concluded that "Father Donovan was alone at the time of the incident;" that there is "no information to suggest that Father Donovan is a danger to himself or others;" and that "gradual reintroduction to priestly ministry is appropriate" if there are roles for priestly ministry for Father Donovan based on the ongoing reports of mental health professionals.
The panel also recommended that a "respect for the pastoral concerns of any community to which Father Donovan, who once served at Quincy's St. Peter parish, might be assigned is important for the welfare of both the community and Father Donovan" and that "Father Donovan's ministerial and therapeutic progress should be regularly and carefully monitored for the foreseeable future."
"I have accepted the conclusions and recommendations of the panel and am grateful to the members of the Special Panel for their time and expertise in addressing this matter," Bishop Paprocki said. "I also commend Father Donovan for his complete cooperation with his spiritual directors, medical and therapeutic professionals, and members of the panel."
Members of the Special Panel are William Roberts, chairman; Carolyn Graham; Lt. Robert Sgambelluri; Sister Jomary Trstensky, OSF; Very Reverend William Spencer, OFM; and Senator William Haine.
The full transcript of the panel's recommendation to Bishop Paprocki is available online at the diocesan website: www.dio.org.
The Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois is 130 parishes in 28 counties in central Illinois.
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