David Baillargeon, a deacon who claimed he was reprimanded for speaking out against the church’s handling of clergy sexual abuse, said that he has been barred from preaching at Holy Family Parish Roman Catholic church in Russell and placed for reassignment.
MassLive reports that Baillargeon said he was informed during a morning meeting with the Rev. Ron F. Sadlowski, the pastor at Holy Family Parish, and others that he would no longer be able to conduct weekday masses at the Russell parish.
The deacon said while he had yet to receive a formal letter from Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski — who must approve such reassignments, he was asked to turn in his keys to the church.
Mark Dupont, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, confirmed that Baillargeon will no longer serve as deacon at Holy Family Parish. He added that “the Permanent Diaconate Office will be working with Deacon Baillargeon regarding any potential future assignment.”
Baillargeon, who has worked with activist Olan Horne to advocate for survivors of clergy abuse, argued that church leaders pushed for his reassignment after he publicly spoke out against the Springfield diocese. He also accused Sadlowski of retaliating by cutting back the days he could hold mass.
“The priests and the deacon who were there, they were just trying to say, for the betterment of the church — and this and that — I shouldn’t talk to the media. I just kept insisting that the truth is what we’re supposed to be about and we should have full transparency,” he said in an interview. “I’m not going to be silenced.”
The deacon told The Republican earlier this month that he believed local church officials had prohibited him from preaching at weekend masses after he criticized the Springfield Diocese in a homily two years ago.
He said he faced further pushback after offering prayers for Buffalo, New York, Deacon Paul Snyder, who had called for Catholic Bishop Richard Malone’s resignation.
Baillargeon, who was ordained in 2005, said while he has yet to hear further details about his reassignment, he is unlikely to move on to another congregation, given his commitment to Hilltown residents and concerns about his wife’s health.
Baillargeon further stressed that whether he remains a deacon or not, he’s “still going to be there for anyone who needs (him.)”
“I have no intention of abandoning the people who need me. That’s for sure,” he said, adding that he’s “not going to stop telling the truth.”
Sadlowski, who has rejected the suggestion he retaliated against his deacon, said his decision to “strongly suggest” to Rozanski that Baillargeon be reassigned was based a series of incidents that have occurred in recent years.
“It began when he used the pulpit to speak against the bishop and that’s where I asked him to make a promise that he would not use the pulpit to speak against the bishop … It’s not just the last time, to blame it on the deacon that he prayed for, but it’s an ongoing process,” he said.
Sadlowski added that he recommended Baillargeon’s reassignment “a while ago.”