Collegeville — New allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced Friday against three members of the St. John’s monastic community.
The Revs. Michael Bik, Bruce Wollmering and the late Rev. Robert Blumeyer were named in a statement by the abbey based on an annual review board report to Abbot John Klassen.
“It is the abbot’s view that these allegations are credible,” said the Rev. William Skudlarek, abbey spokesman.
The allegations against Bik were made in 1997 and include “inappropriate sexual conduct with two teen-agers in the 1970s” before he joined the abbey and before his ordination.
The allegations against Wollmering were made in 2004 and include “sexual misconduct early in the 1980s reported by a former St. John’s (University) student,” according to Skudlarek.
The sexual abuse charges against Blumeyer were made in September and involved a teen-age boy he knew while an assistant pastor at St. Bartholomew Parish in Wayzata.
“Sometimes these things are not easy to hear. ... And, as far as I’m aware, they are permanently removed from ministry,” Skudlarek said.
As many as 13 priests at the abbey have faced similar allegations.
At least 26 priests in the St. Cloud diocese were accused of sexual abuse from 1950 to 2003.
Skudlarek did not elaborate on the allegations against Bik, Wollmering and Blumeyer but said there have been no subsequent allegations against Bik or Wollmering, who remain in Collegeville.
“We really do consider ourselves a family ... and so they are our brothers. You just don’t say, ‘You’re not our brother any longer,’ ” Skudlarek said.
“The kind of ongoing supervision and mentoring that goes on here — they are in fact at much less risk of re-offending than they would be if they were simply sort of cut loose and on their own, and in fact, this makes for a more safe situation.”
Bik, 57, and Wollmering, 65, live in the monastery and work under restrictions in the abbey “where their activities are guided by individual plans of accountability.”
“That would mean in terms of freedom to travel, whether or not they could travel unaccompanied, the necessity of informing a superior in the monastery when they would be leaving campus, what parts of the campus they are restricted from,” Skudlarek said.
Bik’s main responsibilities were teaching theology and working in campus ministry at St. John’s Preparatory School until 2002.
Blumeyer, an Iowa native, served as assistant pastor at the Church of St. Augustine in St. Cloud from 1965-68.
He died of a heart attack in 1983 at the age of 61.
Wollmering’s main responsibilities were teaching psychology and working in the counseling center at St. John’s University until 2003; he is now retired.
“One of the reasons for being forthcoming with names is it allows those who may have been victims or affected to come forward with a certain degree of confidence that they will be heard,” Skudlarek said.
St. John’s Abbey has contracted with the Walk-In Counseling Center in Minneapolis, which is independent of the abbey, to provide assistance to victims of sexual abuse.
“We really do want to reach out to those who have been harmed in any way. We also want to provide for our members who have offended the kind of assistance they need to move on and to make reparations,” Skudlarek said.
St. John’s Abbey has also contracted with Project Pathfinder Inc., a nonprofit organization that assesses offenders and develops recommendations for treatment.
“Those individual plans of accountability (for Bik and Wollmering) are drawn up and worked out with Pathfinder, ... and basically what they determine is the risk factor of something like this happening again,” Skudlarek said.
The abbey’s external review board has met with the victims and made recommendations to Klassen for additional support for their “emotional and spiritual recovery.”
“I think the other thing that’s important, maybe, to underline is there has been no recidivism since these allegations were brought forward,” Skudlarek said Friday.
Skudlarek said he was not aware whether the nature of the allegations against the three constituted any sort of criminal behavior.
“If there were anything here in which law enforcement would need to be involved with, that would immediately be reported — that’s our policy,” Skudlarek said.
How to report abuse or get help:
Victims of sexual abuse related to the St. John’s monastic community can receive free and confidential assistance from the Walk-In Counseling Center in Minneapolis by calling (612) 870-0565. For information, visit www.walkin.org.
St. John’s Abbey’s external review board was established in 2003 as part of the abbey’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct by some of its members.
The nine-member board meets monthly and reports on key issues ranging from assessment and supervision of offenders to assistance for victims.
Source: St. John’s Abbey.