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Priest resigns after review of inappropriate contact

Served in Struthers, Boardman parishes

YOUNGSTOWN — The Diocese of Youngstown announced Sunday the findings of an independent investigation concerning a November 2021 allegation against the Rev. Marian Babjak regarding inappropriate physical contact with a minor who is now an adult.

Babjak has served as pastor of Christ Our Savior Parish in Struthers since August 2020 and previously served as associate pastor at St. Paul in North Canton and St. Charles Borromeo in Boardman, as well as pastoral assignments before 2016 in Slovakia. He was ordained in 1995.

In accordance with the Diocese’s Safe Environment Policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults and the policies of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Babjak immediately was placed on administrative leave by Bishop David J. Bonnar to allow for a thorough and independent investigation, without presuming guilt or innocence, a news release from the diocese states.

The diocese initiated an independent third-party investigation that included interviews with all of the affected people. The diocese also notified public authorities about the allegation and, through the diocese’s victim assistance coordinator, informed the person making the allegation of civil reporting procedures and his or her legal options. Information about legal and canonical options also were provided to Babjak.

Following the third-party investigation, the matter was turned over for review to the Diocesan Review Board, an independent, confidential and consultative body composed of professionals from a wide range of fields. These include the treatment of sexual abuse of minors, the medical and legal fields, and pastoral care. Additionally, the majority of its members are lay persons who are not employed by the diocese, with members from various faiths. All are appointed by the bishop for a five-year term.

The Diocesan Review Board determined the allegation of inappropriate physical contact was credible and there was a violation of the diocese’s Standards of Ministerial Excellence, but it did not rise to the level of sexual abuse. Officials said the Review Board recommended that Babjak be considered for future active ministry after a period of evaluation.

Babjak has agreed to resign as pastor of Christ Our Savior Parish in Struthers, effective July 6, and that his decision came after much prayer, and was made for the spiritual welfare of the parish, according to the diocese.

“I commend the person making the allegation for coming forward. This has been a very challenging time for so many people, including the person who brought forth the allegation, Father Babjak and the faith community in Struthers. I thank Father Martin Celuch for caring for Christ Our Savior Parish during this time, in addition to his responsibilities at Holy Family Parish, Poland; St. Luke Parish, Boardman; and to the diocese. I am grateful to the independent Review Board for their important work and to diocesan staff for carefully following our policies and civil law. I pray for healing on the part of all involved,” Bonnar said.

Bonnar named the Rev. Philip Rogers, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo in Boardman, as the new pastor of Christ Our Savior Parish in Struthers, effective Aug. 1.

“Having previously served the faithful in Struthers, Father Rogers brings not only a familiar face but a shepherd’s heart. I know that he is very excited to serve the people of Christ Our Savior Parish,” Bonnar said.

Bonnar said in the coming weeks, a new pastor will be named for St. Charles. Rogers will continue his responsibilities as dean of Mahoning South Deanery.

The Diocese of Youngstown’s response to allegations of abuse by clergy or church personnel is governed by civil law and its Safe Environment Policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults, available at doy.org/safe-environment/.

The diocese encourages anyone who has experienced misconduct by a clergy member or church employee to contact public authorities or the diocese directly through Dominic Colucy, Victims Assistance Coordinator, at 330-744-8451, Ext. 293, or via the confidential diocesan response line: 330-718-1388 or dcolucy@youngstowndiocese.org.

news@vindy.com

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