After a shooter killed two monks at Conception Abbey in June of 2002, the leadership at the abbey had to decide whether to disclose that they had knowledge of sexual misconduct by at least one member of its monastic community. Instead of doing the right thing, Abbot Gregory Polan and Mr. Daniel Madden misled the authorities.
Archive for Lloyd Jeffress
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 St. Joseph News-Press reports the mid-morning shootings at Conception Abbey located in rural Missouri on Monday, 10 June. Three persons, including two monks, were killed by gunfire. Both monks had been at the Abbey for over 30 years. Abbot Gregory Polan OSB heard six shots from near the business office and phoned emergency services. The person who shot the monks, Lloyd Robert Jeffress, 71, lived in a seniors’ housing complex in Kearney, MO, and was unknown to the Abbot and the monks. He was found dead in the Basilica with two weapons, “a replica AK-47 assault rifle and a Ruger .22-caliber rifle,” according to Ben Espey, the county sheriff. The assailant died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Two other monks were also injured and rushed to local hospitals.
(St. Joseph News-Press) CONCEPTION, Mo. — The Rev. Philip Schuster and Brother Damian Larson finished their lives’ work Friday morning when their brethren solemnly took them to St. Columba cemetery, a short walk from their decades-long home — Conception Abbey.
At the time of this writing, we don’t know the answer to the question “Why?” for what happened at Conception Abbey. One cannot help but wonder if Mr. Jeffress was once an abused altar boy, exacting his revenge on the innocent clergy.