Former Finance Employee Speaks Out

My name is XXXXXX. I worked in the business office at St. Mary’s Abbey / Delbarton School between 199X and 199X. During my tenure at St. Mary’s, I witnessed several incidents that I believe, given the current climate of silence and secrecy at the abbey, need to be exposed.

My first supervisor in the business office was Father Rembert Reilly. On at least two occasions, Father Rembert approved the disbursement of funds to support Father Kenneth Mayer’s gambling habit at the racetrack. One or both checks were written in the amount of $500.

Father Rembert also approved the disbursement of funds so that Father Adrian McLaughlin could go on a cruise with one of his female friends. When I spoke to another employee about Father Adrian, I was told that it was not the first time he had gone on a cruise with a woman.

I recall that Father Rembert was replaced quickly and without explanation. I was tasked with cleaning up the mess he left behind. I found uncashed donor checks in books and desk drawers, and bottles of booze in several places.

A St. Mary’s employee (“Mary”) once confided in me that Father Justin Capato had been sent away for issues related to pedophilia, that he was gone from the abbey for over a year, and that when he returned he was involved with the abbey’s retreat center, at which young boys and men would stay over night.

She also said that Father Justin spent some time at the “Upper Room” in Neptune New Jersey.

One morning. Father Jude Salus got such a kick out of showing me copies of a penis, supposedly for his sex education class, that he made on the office copy machine. This incident made me very uncomfortable because it was 7am, I was in the building alone with Father Jude, and he was acting differently.

Father Simon Gallagher often acted inappropriately toward me, often making comments with very sexual connotations. That last such incident occurred when he came into the office and said that he wanted to get into my drawers. After I had become visibly embarrassed and upset, he said, “you know, the filing cabinets.”

Father Conall Coughlin, who had heard the comment from another room, said to me, “I’m sorry that he talks to you like that.” And to Father Simon, he said, “Get out, and don’t ever talk to her like that again.”

I recall an occasion, possibly after the “drawers” incident. Father Simon didn’t show up to work for several days. Several of the monks broke into his room and found that he was on an alcohol binge.

Fr┬áConall served as a Navy chaplain for years. After recently returning from his years at sea, Fr Conall confided in me that he was going to leave the abbey and move to Pensacola Florida to work at a parish there. He told me he was disillusioned at the behavior of the monks. He received a sizeable pension check from the Navy and said he couldn’t imagine it being used to support the monk’s behavior.

Father Conall ultimately left the monastery to live and work near Pensacola, Florida. We stayed in touch and even met for lunch a few years later. The communication and lunch meeting, to me, had seemed quite platonic. A few months after our lunch meeting, however. Father Conall professed his love and said he wanted to marry me. I never responded to this comment or any of his attempts to contact me thereafter.

I felt disgusted and betrayed. I never even considered that the times he stood up for me and acted protective of me, was anything more than the legitimate concern of a boss.

In addition to money spent at the racetrack and for cruises, I witnessed large quantities of merchandise purchased for the monks at St. Mary’s Abbey. Alcohol, cigarettes, and purchases from catalogs like LL Bean were frequent and seemed out of place for a monastery with members who took a vow of poverty.

When I began working at the monastery I was a strong Catholic. During my years at St. Mary’s I became so disillusioned that I left the Catholic church.

The final straw came when I was asked to “cook the books.” I was asked by my supervisor to sign off on the disbursement of money from a restricted, donor- funded scholarship to pay for roof repairs. When I considered that I could go to jail because of the fraud being committed by the abbey, I decided to leave.

Signed & Received on May 14, 2012