Faith ‘not shaken’ for parishioners of church where four accused priests served

Investigations

LULING, TX (KXAN) – The sounds of teenage chit-chat filled the porch of St. John the Evangelist church Friday afternoon. It was broken up by the growl of a charter bus engine as it turned the corner of the church. 

Before the air brakes hissed the bus to a stop, those teens had already gathered their bags, ready to head to a convention in the northern-most corner of the Austin Diocese. 

Those teens were heading to Waco for the weekend-long Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference, hosted by the Austin Diocese. 

If you were standing beside me on the sidewalk, you’d never have known these kids knew anything about the news that broke just 24 hours earlier. News that their diocese was once home to at least 22 clergy members — all with “credible allegations” of sexually abusing children. 

The Luling church is one of two Austin Diocese parishes with the largest number of accused clergy members to have served in a single parish, according to the list released Thursday afternoon by the Austin Diocese. The list revealed four separate accused priests there: 

Conrad Kinder (died in 1978)
Longinus Juventius “Lonnie” Reyes (removed from ministry in 2004)
Vincent Waiches (died in 1995)
Claude Faust (died in 1973)

Unlike the list of accused priests the Fort Worth Diocese published in 2007, the Austin Diocese’s list kept secret the years these men ran those parishes and the allegations made against them. 

The diocese’s list shows St. Louis King of France Catholic Church and School on Burnet Road was home to four different clergy members whose names appear on the accused list. Those names are: 

Milton Eggerling (died in 2008)
Longinus Juventius “Lonnie” Reyes (removed from ministry in 2004)
Louis J. Wozniak (retired in 1999)
James R. O’Connor (removed from ministry in 2004)

“Lonnie” Reyes, a 77-year-old former priest, was ordained by the Austin Diocese in 1969 and was moved to nine different assignments during his time in the Austin Diocese. Reyes was assigned to both the Luling and Burnet Road churches at some point, but the diocese list kept secret the dates of Reyes’ assignments and what allegations were made against him. 

The parish assignments indicate similar trends uncovered inside a Pennsylvania grand jury investigation into that state’s Catholic dioceses. There, priests were moved from parish-to-parish and even on to other states after abuse allegations arose. The Pennsylvania attorney general characterized moves there as attempts by the church to cover up abuse, according to the July 2018 grand jury report there.

St. Louis parish is already taking signs of one of its four accused priests. The parish told KXAN it will be renaming Wozniak Hall, the parish’s activity center, following the release of the diocese’s list Thursday. Monsignor Louis J. Wozniak is the man the building is named after. 

Wozniak was ordained in 1951 and retired in 1999. Wozniak was removed from the ministry in 2015, according to the list. Although Wozniak was removed four years ago, the parish only decided to strip his name from the building when the list of accused abusers was made public Thursday. 

The diocese has also kept secret the years Wozniak served as priest at St. Louis parish and the details of the allegations against him. Attempts to find a phone number and an address for Wozniak have been unsuccessful. 
 

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