Dear Parishioners of Saint Peter Parish,
I am writing to you this weekend to share some information regarding Father José Rebaque, S.A.C., who has served at Saint Peter’s since 2008, first as Parochial Vicar and, since July 2015, as Parochial Administrator. As you know, Father José has been absent from the parish for the past several weeks.
On September 17th, it was brought to the attention of the Diocese that, in January of 2017, Father José, while on a cruise sponsored by the parish, had shared a cabin on the ship with a 15-year-old boy. While Father José was traveling with this minor with the knowledge and consent of the boy’s parents, with whom he is close friends, and while there is no allegation of any kind of abuse, this was an egregious violation of the diocesan Code of Conduct. Therefore, the Diocese immediately began to investigate the matter and contacted Father José, who was traveling out of the country at the time.
On Tuesday, September 25th, at my direction, Monsignor Thomas Powers, Vicar General, met with Father José, who returned from his trip the night before, and informed him that, in accord with diocesan policy, he was immediately suspended from the exercise of priestly ministry while the matter was being investigated. Father José was instructed to vacate the rectory of Saint Peter Parish and to temporarily move into the Queen of the Clergy Residence in Stamford, which is the diocesan home for retired priests. The Diocese duly informed Father José’s religious superiors and brought the case before the Diocesan Review Board.
It is important to reiterate that Father José has not been accused of sexual abuse and that both the boy with whom he shared the cabin, and the boy’s parents, have stated that nothing inappropriate took place between them. However, because Father José’s decision was so imprudent and disregarded the safeguards that have been put into place to protect children, I have determined that, effective immediately, Father José will no longer serve as Parochial Administrator of Saint Peter Parish, nor have an assignment in the Diocese in the future. Since Father José is a member of the Pallottines, the Diocese has sent notice to his religious superiors of this action and has asked for their guidance regarding the course of action they wish to take regarding Father José’s future. While we await a response from his provincial, Father José will remain in residence at Queen of Clergy.
It is of great importance to me that the pastoral needs of Saint Peter Parish continue to be met, both now and in the future. For that reason, I will appoint a new Parochial Administrator, who will hopefully be in place in early December. During this time of transition, which I know will be difficult for some of you and for Father José, please keep everyone involved in your prayers. It is my intention to visit you personally as soon as I am able. Until then, be assured of my continued prayers for you, your families and Saint Peter Parish.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano
Bishop of Bridgeport