Quirk Was Wronged
It’s time to get the record straight.
Years before the Washington Post printed allegations of criminal activity against Bishop Michael Bransfield, one priest alone reported to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston these very crimes that he had witnessed concerning Bransfield. One priest alone alerted Bransfield’s personal physician about the Bishop’s alcohol abuse and “doctor shopping” in order to obtain prescription drugs. This one priest began to collect evidence of unwanted sexual activity by Bransfield so that it could be reported to the Diocese. At the time Bransfield was writing out checks to his friends or those in power — extending all the way to Rome, this priest reported it — and he did so many times.
There were no responses to his reporting — ever. When this priest received a check from the bishop, it was forwarded to Catholic Charities in the bishop’s name. This is the priest who turned the bishop in to the authorities.
Now, don’t you think this priest should have been praised, elevated, or thanked? At the very least he should have been defended and protected because of his heroic and untiring attempts. This gifted and loved pastor who celebrated over 25 years in the priesthood, was secretly and deliberately removed from his parish to become an “assistant to the pastor” in another parish.
Because of his loyalty to the priesthood and his vow of obedience, he left quietly. We learned after he was gone that he was forbidden to contact his parishioners to even say good-bye.
We were devastated, hurt, angry, and confused. Petitions were signed, letters to the archbishop, the Washington Post, and even to the Vatican were sent. Just like the priest, no replies came. One Saturday evening at the end of the six o’clock Mass, the father of this priest stood up and in his megaphone voice proclaimed, “My name is Jim Quirk, and Monsignor Kevin is my son. I just want to thank the many of you who have reached out to me and Sean, Kevin’s brother. It has meant a great deal to our family.” When he sat down, a thunderous applause shook the church. After the Mass nearly everyone who had been in attendance stopped by to hug him, cry with him, and let him know they were shocked and devastated by what had happened. They shared their grief and utter frustration of how the Catholic Church that Father Kevin loved and served, the one for which he had dedicated his life, could have abandoned him.
Who is Kevin Michael Quirk? He is a brilliant, funny, compassionate, dedicated, and much loved priest. He traveled to Morgantown to baptize a seriously ill infant late one evening.
He celebrated milestones with his congregation, applauding for them and praying for them. He is a gifted homilist who is primarily responsible for bringing many to the Cathedral of St. Joseph. Even non-Catholics tuned in to the Sunday broadcast of the Saturday evening Mass just to hear his homily. He spoke of God’s love and His mercy for us, and we positively believed him. He was our spiritual advisor, comforting us, giving us hope when we were suffering, and always, always praying for us.
We have heard people say that they’re DONE with the Catholic Church. Some of our parishioners have begun to attend other Sunday services in the area because “it’s just too difficult to be there without Father Kevin.” It’s not the same anymore — attendance is down, donations are down, and there’s a sense of hopelessness. Those of us who have stayed are there because Monsignor Kevin has written, “… and take care of our Cathedral and our people.”
What we don’t understand is why — after all this time — has Michael Bransfield been able to enjoy the same life style he had when he lived here? He has shown no remorse for hurting so many. He was a monster manipulator and used people against each other, embarrassed and threatened his priests, and continues to blame others for all the sins he committed.
What about Monsignor Fred Annie? He lived with the bishop and didn’t know about his alcohol problems, his sexual abuses, his fraudulent spending? Annie was the Director of Buildings and Construction and had to approve every building project and land acquisition … and didn’t know about the bishop’s secret fund or of his handing out checks to his friends? Surely he must have been privy to some things. It’s no secret that Father Annie is not a friend to Catholic education and has been known to say that he’d like to close all the Catholic schools in the state. Rumor has it that he was the one to suggest the closing of Bishop Donahue. Now, Monsignor Annie is pleasantly retired, living in a lovely condo in Morgantown and travels to Wheeling to baptize babies and marries young people. No investigation of him, no disciplinary action!
Monsignor Quirk was vilified and taken away because of his greatest flaw, which is also his greatest virtue. He is loyal. He takes his responsibility to its fullest, and he takes his vow of obedience to the highest possible degree … and this is how he is repaid for his loyalty. Why should he have been the one to take the blame for the mess Bransfield caused our church? Did he know too much? Did he offend someone? Why has he been made the scapegoat for the Diocese?
This is what I do know. I am convinced that Monsignor Kevin Quirk is and has always has been a good and holy priest. I know that this is not going to define him. This hurt to him and to all of us has never been addressed by our Church.
As for Monsignor Kevin, we have always known that he wouldn’t be spending a long time with us. He was destined for bigger and better things. He was too good, too spiritual, too wise, too educated, and so-so loved! He has finally been the offered parishes he had been assigned as an assistant to the pastor. For those of you how live around the New Martinsville or surrounding area, please get to know this priest, and be sure to thank God for sending him to you.
Rose Marie Carroll