Authentic forgiveness is a hard business, as any crime and justice reporter trying to fashion an article on the topic will confirm.
Archive for Shooting at the Abbey
During a May 18, 2011, telephone conversation, we discussed … Your failure to disclose misconduct by Bede Parry and other monks following the 2002 shooting at Conception Abbey.
Two sexual molestation lawsuits against yet another Catholic institution surfaced late this summer. Bede Parry was a priest and director for a boys’ choir at Conception Abbey in Conception, Mo., about 17 miles southeast of Maryville. While supervising a boys’ choir camp in 1987, he allegedly engaged in sexual relations with a minor.
CONCEPTION, Mo. (AP) — The doors at Conception Abbey in northwest Missouri are still unlocked and open, and forgiveness continues to be the theme as the members of the rural monastery remember a day of horror five years ago. Yesterday was the anniversary of a shooting spree that left two monks dead. The gunman also killed himself.
The abbot learned that it’s best to make certain that no disagreement goes unresolved. A lack of forgiveness or inability to be forgiven can be among the most crippling of experiences.
I learned a couple of things in the aftermath of that June morning in 2002 when an old man with a rifle opened fire in the hallways of Conception Abbey. The first was that dawn always follows darkest night; that even the most senseless of tragedies and deepest of pain will give way to unexpected blessings. The other thing I learned was how to manage national media coverage in the aftermath of a bizarre, headline-grabbing tragedy.
At 8:45 a.m. on June 10, 2002, an internal e-mail hit computer screens across Conception Abbey. “HELP!!!” it read. “We have heard gun shots. What is going on! PLEASE CONTACT!!!!
No one could make sense of such a message. A year later, its meaning is still coming clear.
CONCEPTION, Mo – Every day, the Rev. Kenneth Reichert is reminded of the deadly rampage a year ago that shattered the serenity of his northwest Missouri abbey. He recalls the bloodshed whenever he uses his hands _ the tip of one finger is missing. His mind goes back to that day whenever he puts on the brace that stabilizes his right leg. “I can’t even take a shower without being reminded because of the scars on my body,” he said. “I can’t even walk down the hall without remembering.”
The body fails. Even with pharmaceutical help – and Lloyd Robert Jeffress had plenty of that – the breakdown continues. This deteriorating march of time found Mr. Jeffress starting from a bad place. He suffered from polio in his youth, and his gait in the 71st year of his life included a limp from a left leg an inch and a half shorter than his right. He tried to restore the symmetry with a heel lift duct-taped inside his left shoe, but the hitch in his movement remained.
Conception’s ninth abbot tries to make sense of the shootings. In an effort to understand and help authorities, the abbey staff went through press files, employment records, seminary rosters and guest registries looking for any tie between Mr. Jeffress and Conception.
My mom called the minute she heard the news.
“Oh, honey, was that your monastery?”
The man who shot four monks, killing two, wasn’t on any medication when he opened fire at Conception Abbey last month. The toxicology results of Lloyd Jeffress came back with no sign of Prozac in his system. Mr. Jeffress had been prescribed Prozac, an anti-depressant.
The presence of so many friends of Conception Abbey here this evening is a great gift to us. The outpouring of prayerful support, heartfelt sympathy, and hope-filled encouragement has enabled us to moved forward with faith. As I have said before, we have been living on a strength that is not our own. We have tangibly seen God’s grace touching our lives through you; we have tangibly seen God’s grace active within our monastic community, allowing light to shine through the dark events of 10 June 2002. Your presence here this evening honors our slain and wounded brothers, Fr. Philip and Bro. Damian, Fr. Kenneth and Fr. Norbert, and it encourages us who strive to follow Christ under The Rule of St. Benedict in this little corner of God’s great creation. We thank you most sincerely.
My understanding is that the shooting incident at Conception Abby had to do with a matter that was completely unrelated to the “sex scandal.”