January 11, 2006

Bishop will meet with reeling Hudson parish

Pioneer Press

Pioneer Press

Three emotional months after a judge found that the Rev. Ryan Erickson likely had killed two men and sexually abused a teenage boy, the bishop of the Superior Diocese will visit St. Patrick's Catholic Church on Sunday to meet parishioners still reeling from the priest's divisive tenure in Hudson, Wis.
Bishop Raphael Fliss' long-awaited trip will include private meetings with several parishioners, including members of the O'Connell family who have criticized the bishop for what they contend was an inappropriate response to the matter.
A judge ruled in October there was probable cause Erickson, 31, fatally shot mortician Dan O'Connell, 39, and 22-year-old intern James Ellison on Feb. 5, 2002, at the O'Connell Family Funeral Home. The St. Croix County judge also found that Erickson, who later committed suicide amid an advancing police investigation, likely sexually abused at least one boy and had aroused the suspicions of O'Connell, who attended St. Patrick's.
Erickson's stormy three-year tenure at the 1,800-member parish was polarizing, pitting parishioners against each other and prompting some to quit attending the church even before the priest was linked to the homicides. Fliss will attempt to heal that divide, meeting first with the parish council, then the parish, followed by individuals.

Posted by kshaw at January 11, 2006 07:57 AM