Our Children

Eagle Family of Families,

Your children are safe. Let me start here, and then later I will return: Your children were and are safe.

By now, most of you know that Monsignor will not be returning to Cathedral because you were at Masses held this weekend. I have promised honesty and transparency, and I have given you my best effort at that. To be frank, since Monsignor’s departure I have been placed next to you in the pews as a parishioner and parent – no extra communication or inside information.

Recently, however, I was brought into the full light of the conversation regarding Monsignor. It was here that a final decision was agreed upon for our community. Monsignor was a gentleman during this process, and chose to put the Cathedral community ahead of himself (please see his letter to you below my signature).

This is where the transparency comes in…

Monsignor is working through an array of issues, and the accumulation of years trying to be a “Superman Priest” – all things to all people. He has impacted many lives, taught us much, and worked very hard during his short time at Cathedral. While this news is another blow to our community, there’s also hope: in a diocese that has too often been playing defense, this was an offensive move to get a great priest much needed help.

Let me now put on my “parent hat”: I would never send my own four kids to a school in which I knew children were in danger or harm’s way. Never. If any part of you thinks differently, well…let’s get to know each other better: Nothing is more sacred to me as a husband, father and educator than the safety of our children. It is, quite literally, my vocation and calling to take care of children.

I know it’s hard to determine who the good guys are right now, so I’ll just tell you the following and allow you to place your trust where God directs you: I walked every step of last year’s Attorney General’s requests, and did so as meticulously and thoroughly as any project I’ve undertaken. Along the way I dealt with the speculation, drama and hearsay, swatting it away as I focused on the objective truth I was asked to ultimately present. While I certainly heard from both fringes, the focus was to maintain objectivity. And so, with clarity and peace of heart, I state the following…

  1. Monsignor Nemec never hurt a child. Besides being contrary to his nature, we have so many strong measures in place. I’ll outline these at Back to School Night (again).
  2. Monsignor Nemec was sent to his program for exactly what was stated in the bulletin. Before he departed, I sat in the rectory and discussed this with him. I was given information about the program. You may recall this was the point at which I emailed and told you I was reserving comment because Monsignor asked to be the voice you heard.
  3. It is absolutely true that in the course of that program Monsignor Nemec began to face the deeper issues discussed at Mass this weekend.

People are people, and so they will speculate, talk and play therapist or legal counsel. They will seek satisfaction and justification of their outrage rather than acceptance of the truth. The speculation does not help your family, and none of it helps us move forward. Eagles, be very intentional about what content you choose to absorb.

These last months have been incredibly taxing as we’ve tried to keep the momentum of our school (now nearly 400 students!), welcome almost three dozen new students, and juggle the daily rigors. We have kept our focus and are excited to welcome in the start of a new academic year with you. I support Fr. Wylie as the new leader of the Cathedral. I respect people who do hard things, look truth in the eye, and ultimately stand by what is real regardless of the forces around them. As was on full display at this weekend’s Masses (and in his impressive social justice career), Fr. Wylie is such a man. Bishop Conley was wise in seeing the anchor he provides.

In closing, I pray for Monsignor Nemec and wish him the best. I also pray for anyone victimized by the Church  – God give them the consolation and strength needed to help us heal our Church. Finally, parents of Cathedral students, I remind you that my door is still open, my table available to meet, and my love for our Cathedral children as strong as ever. After all, what sort of Cathedral and what kind of Church do you want them to inherit? Let’s now get to work building it.

Blessed to be an eagle,

J.J. Ekeler
Principal, Cathedral of the Risen Christ School

 

monsignor nemec letter to Cathedral

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