My Dear St. Mary’s Family:
I come to you today with a heavy heart but also with a renewed sense of joy, hope, conviction and faith.
As many of you know, and for those whom I have met for the first time since my return on September 14th, I began my priestly journey here at St. Mary’s back in 2008 and was privileged to be part of the building process of our new church in 2010. Since my somewhat expedited departure in August of 2010, I have spent the last 8 years working for the Diocese of Buffalo in both our Diocesan Marriage Tribunal as well as occasionally serving as Bishop Malone’s canonical advisor when called to do so.
For the past 5 years, I have worked diligently to canonically assist the diocese and the bishop in any way I could. However, as the years have passed, I have become rather disillusioned with the results of my work and the frequent disregard for many of my canonical recommendations.
I come to you today as your new pastor to inform you that after many hours, days and weeks of prayerful discernment I have decided to inform you that I too, was a victim of abuse by a priest nearly 40 years ago when I was 13. It deeply pains me to share this but I feel it is vital for me to do so at this time. Because of this revelation both to the Diocese of Buffalo and others prior to my arrival here at St. Mary’s, this has caused a great deal of introspection, therapy and healing, which are ongoing. Over the last month, due to circumstances that you may or may not be aware of, I have been contacted by multiple news organizations because of the public nature of the crisis and my experiences.
I write to you and speak to you today to ask for your continued prayers for both me and our parish as we continue to seek the healing and wholeness that only Jesus, our Divine Physician and Healer can provide. I come to you as your new pastor, with enthusiasm, energy, love, zeal and a firm commitment and purpose to be that “Wounded Healer” that can make all this new and to rekindle the fire of God’s love and truth.
As a result of all these unique and divinely inspired experiences in my life and in the life of the parish, I want to inform all of you that I was asked by CBS and 60 Minutes to be part of an interview that will air this Sunday night at 7pm. I only agreed to do so out of my love for our holy, good, divine and beautiful Church.
Please know that I did not do this for recognition and it was the last thing I ever thought I would have to do as a priest. I have struggled for weeks over what to do, taking into consideration the fact as your pastor; I understood, that I cannot think of myself but also all of the 2800 families that make our parish special and unique. But I came to a prayerful conclusion after the events of the last few weeks that I could be silent no more.
I write to you today to assure each and every one of you, especially all of the victims and victim survivors that I will lead you, shepherd you with a Father’s care and I am more than willing and able to carry your burdens on my shoulders and fight for you.
May God heal the wounds of all victims and victim survivors. May God bless you, our parish, our diocese and our Church. May the Immaculate Heart of Mary envelope you and May the Spirit of the Living God give all of us the strength, peace of mind and heart and lead us to the joys of everlasting happiness!!!!
Fr. Bob Zilliox