Ron's Conversations With Fr. Ilango and Fr. Bob
The following are descriptions of meetings that Ron had with Fr. Ilango (Fr. Xavier Ilango) and Fr. Bob (Fr. Bob Schreiner) in early 2017. These meetings with Fr. Bob and Fr. Ilango led Ron to his final meeting with the Bishop prior to the press conference.
On Friday March 10th I met with Fr. Ilango to discuss the purchase of vestments for Tabor. My family had decided to purchase matching Dalmatics and Chasubles in honor of my mother and donate them to Tabor parish. Tabor did not have any Deacon vestments.
At this meeting I presented Fr. Ilango with pictures of different types and styles of vestments. He said he wanted them to match the vestments they had at Sacred Heart. We picked out a matching set that was made by the same company as the vestments from Sacred Heart. I was told to order the ones he picked out.
On March 15th during priests’ meetings, Fr. Ilango presented Bishop with an unsigned, undated letter stating I should be delayed a year for ordination. This meeting was attended by Fr. Ilango, Fr. John Christianson and Msgr. Foltz, (not verified). This meeting was held after he sent to the Bishop and Fr. Bob Schreiner a full recommendation for both Mark LeTexier and myself for ordination to the diaconate. Fr. Bob was called to a meeting with the bishop on March 16th, in which Fr. Ilango and Msgr. Foltz were present. He was handed the unsigned, undated letter. Fr. Bob was shocked by this and had lengthy discussion with all present as to why in the 11th hour some concerns were all of a sudden, an issue. The letter made no sense to him.
On the evening of March 16th, I received a phone call from Fr. Bob. He was deeply saddened to inform me of this new development. Patty and I were shocked and dismayed by this news. I asked who was at this meeting and he told me. I knew instantly what was happening, more betrayal and intimidation by Bishop and Foltz to remain silent about Grundhaus and the ensuing cover up. Fr. Bob and Patty were devastated. At this point neither knew of my abuse and the further coercion by the Bishop and Foltz. Fr. Bob asked us to meet him after formation that Saturday.
During formation that weekend I was wondering why I was still attending formation classes as it looked like I was not going to be ordained. I had a sick feeling in my stomach the entire weekend and the guys sensed something was wrong. At the last meeting of the formation weekend Fr. Bob informed the group what had happened. Patty had come in for the meeting with Fr. Bob after formation and was there when he told the rest of the group. It was a very emotional end to the formation weekend. The group went to the chapel and said a rosary for the situation.
During our meeting with Fr. Bob he showed Patty and I the unsigned, undated letter from Fr. Ilango. He was having a hard time understanding what was happening at this late date and the reason for the sudden change in process for ordination. Every procedure had been followed and all the recommendations had been sent in approving my ordination, without any objections by anyone. Everyone was confused but me. I knew exactly what was happening.
At this point I told them I had something to tell them that would crush them and break their hearts. Both of them were good friends of Fr. Grundhaus and I knew this was going to be devastating for them the hear. I told Br. Bob. “I was abused 47 years ago by a priest of this diocese and now I am being abused all over again by other priests.” I had never told Patty about the abuse, and Grundhaus had officiated at our wedding! 41 years of marriage. As I told them of my abuse in 1971 by Fr. Grundhaus they were deeply saddened and surprised by what I was telling them. As I told them the entire story about the abuse and the meetings with the bishop in 2010 and again in 2015, the reason for the letter by Ilango started making sense. It was now clear that the letter from Ilango had nothing to do with my qualifications to be a deacon but rather was a direct threat to me to remain silent about the issue of abuse and the cover up of Grundhaus’s abuse by the Bishop and Foltz. They finally knew what had happened to me on several occasions in my meetings with the bishop. We all knew what was at stake. Once I was ordained my silence would be part of obedience to the bishop. The letter was part of the plan to keep me quiet, and now with ordination as the threat. We knew that if I was ordained, the Bishop would be my hero and I would be expected to continue to “play ball”. More coercion.
Fr. Bob instructed me as per Bishop’s orders, that I was to meet with Fr. Ilango and get things straightened out and then go meet the Bishop. We were all sick with disgust.
On Wednesday March 22nd Fr. Ilango texted me and asked if I could meet him after 7:15 mass on Friday the 24th.
We met in his office on Friday morning. I walked in the door and he told me to sit down. He asked “What do you have to say for yourself?” I asked him “What are my crimes?”
He told me “You can’t tell a priest how to say mass! I told him I have never told a priest how to say mass. Ilango told me I was telling Fr. John how to say mass.: Fr John wasn’t here 2 weeks and you were telling him how to put the chalices on the altar: I was taken aback by this comment. I asked him if he wanted to hear about that. He said no, it’s not important. I told him if I was not being ordained because of this he was going to hear my side of the story.
I had been going to daily mass for a number of years to get ready for ordination. After I had received the Rite of Acolyte, I was purifying the vessels after communion on mornings when it worked for me to do so. Around the beginning of June, I went to the altar to pick up the vessels to purify. When I approached the altar, I saw that it was half cover in wine. I did not know if it was wine or Precious Blood. My heart sank to my knees as I was scandalized by this. After mass I asked Fr. Adam what had happened. He told me someone had spilled wine the day before during mass. It was not precious blood. I asked why it had not been cleaned up. He told me “I’m not in charge.” I knew what he meant. Foltz was the pastor.
After Fr. John was ordained and was assigned to Sacred Heart he was doing morning masses. As I watched him I noticed how he was placing the chalice of the sacrifice far to the front of the altar. As he was reaching for it, his vestments would cover up and hit the other chalice. I watched this for two weeks. I had seen the results of chalices getting spilled on the altar and was concerned for Fr. John and the Precious Blood. I went into the sacristy after mass one day and told Fr. John what I had been observing and my concern for him. I told him I knew if my son would ever spill a chalice of the Precious Blood he would be sickened. I said I am sure you don’t realize this is happening and I thought you would like to know. He told me that is the way he was taught. I asked him if he could maybe hold his vestments with his other hand to prevent an accidental tipping of the closer chalice and he said he would try to do that. He thanked me and I left the sacristy.
I told Fr. Ilango “If that is telling a priest how to say mass I guess I am guilty. My love for the Eucharist compelled me to inform Fr. John what I was seeing.” Fr. Ilango then told me I told him which end of the casket to stand on for Dennis Novacek’s funeral. This was the first funeral Fr. Ilango had in Tabor and both he and Fr. John always asked me “How do you do things in Tabor.” I would inform them of how we had done things in the past as they asked. I couldn’t believe the pettiness of these allegations.
His next statement to me was that a contingent of people from Tabor had come in and said they would leave the parish if I was ordained. He said their concerns were that they didn’t know I was being ordained and there had been some issues with them during the building of the hall. I asked how that had anything to do with me being ordained. No answer to that question.
I told him that when he asked me a year and a half ago if the people in Tabor would accept me as a deacon, I told him 97% of the people would but a family probably would not due to an incident with Fr. Mike Sullivan about the communion rails. I told him they might be the only ones. When he told me, the hall was also an issue I had a good idea who the contingent was. He did not tell me who they were.
I asked him, “How could they say they did not know I was being ordained a deacon. It had been in the OND for 4 years as we went through each step of the way?” He told me “No one reads the OND.” I then reminded him of his promise that he was going to keep both Sacred Heart and Tabor informed of both Mark’s and my progress through the diaconate program. He was to explain each step we were taking and why we would be starting to purify the vessels and other duties as we got closer to ordination. He said he had forgotten to do that as he got busy with the “big Parish.” I asked him if that was my fault. I didn’t feel like it was my responsibility to inform the parish as I was trying to be as humble as I could about this process. I did not want to appear boastful. He said he was sorry for not doing what he said he would do.
He did not bring up any of the other objections he had put in his unsigned, undated letter to the Bishop. He said the meeting was over and the Bishop was going to decide what to do. You have to meet the Bishop. As I was about to leave the room I asked him, “In light of our discussion today are you still inclined to recommend a delay of a year in my ordination?” He said “No, I think you will make a good deacon.” I didn’t know what to think at that moment, he was so unpredictable in his actions. He came over to me and gave me a hug and said have a good day brother. I though he was going to inform the Bishop about our meeting and the results of it. I guess I was mistaken.
I left that meeting not know what was going to happen next. Again, a sick feeling came over me. I had confronted the betrayer. I was very upset with the meeting as it seemed so cavalier to him, like it was a meeting about nothing important to him. My next meeting was with Bishop Hoeppner.
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