SLIDELL, La. — St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church in Slidell is without a priest after Father Patrick Wattigny was removed from ministry Thursday by The Archdiocese of New Orleans, because of Wattigny’s admitted sexual abuse of a minor.
“When did the archbishop, the officials or legal team know about Wattigny?” questions Kevin Bourgeois with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
Bourgeois says the big concern is the little amount of information coming from the Archdiocese.
In a statement, the Archdiocese calls it a “grave disappointment,” but didn’t release any details other than the abuse happened in 2013.
“Today’s news underlines the point that it’s not an old issue,” Bourgeois said. “It’s happening today. It’s happening now.”
Ordained to the priesthood in 1994, Wattigny had seven different assignments in those 26 years.
“That raises a red flag of why he was moved so many times,” Bourgeois added.
According to the Archdiocese, Wattigny has served at churches on the North Shore in Covington and Slidell and on the South Shore in Kenner, Metairie and Marrero. He even served as chaplain at Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie and Pope John Paul II High School in Slidell.
“If you were a student there or a resident there or a parishioner, if you have a family member that was there, you question was Wattigny ever inappropriate with someone that you know or love,” Bourgeois said.
According to Wattigny’s bio, which has now been removed from St. Luke’s website, he served for nearly seven years there. One parishioner who spoke to our partners at the Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate, says rumors stated going around over the summer when Wattigny was gone for a month on some type of retreat.
Words like “shocked,” “stunned” and “angry” are how parishioners say they’re feeling.
“It’s going to continue to happen I’m sorry to say,” Bourgeois said.
Bourgeois says survivors are the ones baring the heaviest cross and urges others to come forward.
“It’s the first step of healing for one thing and to hold those accountable that abuse these individuals and also to hold accountable the hierarchy that protected them,” Bourgeois said.
The Archdiocese of New Orleans reported the case to authorities.