Sometimes people call me with information that’s so maddening I wish I had never heard it.
Such was a call I received recently from a friend who told me St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua is still referring to its parish hall as “Father Henry Hall.”
Father Joseph Henry was a serial child sex abuser.
One of his victims, on learning that the now deceased Catholic priest’s name is still on the church website, was surprised and upset.
“”Father Henry destroyed many lives,” says John Michael Pedro Jr. of Kailua. “His name should not be anywhere, not on St. Anthony’s parish building, not on the website, not in church publications.”
And yet it has been.
“Father Henry Hall” was listed in the church’s website as a meeting place for the “Grades Nine and Above” youth ministry. “Father Henry Hall” is mentioned in maps and announcements in the St. Anthony’s school’s 2016-2017 handbook , and “Father Henry Hall” as the site for parents to pick up their children “For the St. Anthony Child Pick-up Plan.”
The Catholic Diocese of Honolulu has settled more lawsuits for Father Henry’s alleged sexual predation than any other priest in Hawaii.
Pedro, 68, is one of 25 men who accused Father Henry of sexually molesting them when they were children. The retired city bus driver says the priest sexually attacked him when he was an 8-year-old elementary school student at St. Anthony’s, where he also attended church and served as Father Henry’s altar boy.
The Catholic Diocese of Honolulu and the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers (Father Henry’s order) settled Pedro’s lawsuit last month.
When I called St. Anthony’s to find out why the accused sexual predator’s name is still appearing in written references to “Father Henry Hall,” church administrator Father Exsequel Tuyor did not return my calls or answer my email.
Instead, church business manager Lucy Poueu called me the next day. Poueu said the parish priests were too busy to talk to me. She said she was surprised that Father Henry’s name was in church notices and bulletins.
“Sometimes people make mistakes,” she says. “Sometimes things are done without even thinking. We apologize. We try to make sure we don’t use his name anywhere.”
By going online Thursday, I discovered my alert might have made a difference. “Father Henry Hall” had been deleted from all references in both the school and church websites except for “Father Henry Hall” on a map that’s still in the school’s handbook.
Father Henry died in 1974, yet his name lives on in lawsuits. And unfortunately, it apparently been difficult to erase entirely from the church.
“Father Henry’s name is a stain they haven’t washed away,” says attorney Mark Gallagher. “They are just not trying hard enough.”
Gallagher has filed lawsuits on behalf of 10 of Father Henry’s alleged victims, including Pedro.
Father Henry, a Maryknoll priest, served at St. Anthony’s as pastor and eventually became the superintendent of the church and school, where he served until he died. After his death, he was celebrated by the St. Anthony’s parish with many services, including a special Mass for the school children.
His alleged victims now are in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Some died before the church settled their lawsuits. Their claims have been so credible that the Diocese of Honolulu and Father Henry’s religious order have settled with almost every one — a few are still pending.
“The diocese has settled so many claims from Father Henry’s accusers there can be no doubt about his character and conduct,” Gallagher says.
Attorney Randall Rosenberg says Father Henry also sought child victims outside of the church. Rosenberg says Henry convinced officials at the Koolau Boys Home, where he was counseling troubled boys, to let him take certain boys to sleep-overs at his Kailua house, where he sexually molested them.
St. Anthony’s was forced to take down the Father Henry sign from the parish hall in October 2015 after Rosenberg insisted that the sign’s removal be a pre-condition to settlements.
Rosenberg says he insisted on the sign removal after one of his clients visited St. Anthony’s for a service and was stunned and hurt to see the priest’s name still on the hall. The man then blurted out to his wife about all the sexual humiliation he had suffered at the church as a child, Rosenberg says, adding the client had never told his wife before.
Rosenberg says he has filed claims with the diocese and the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers for 15 of Father Henry’s victims, and all have been settled.
Still, says Rosenberg, people continued to call his office saying they didn’t believe Father Henry could have sexually harmed children.
“Father Henry was charismatic. He was immensely popular. Under his leadership the parish became three times larger. Some church members told me they loved him like a family member,” says Rosenberg.
“We had an agreement. In the future, the building is supposed to be called “Parish Hall,” not “Father Henry Hall,” says Rosenberg.
Gallagher says St. Anthony’s should have paid better attention to the continuing use of the name.
Gallagher represented Mark Pinkosh, the first victim of Father Henry to talk publicly about a settlement he had reached with the Catholic Church.
Pinkosh accused Father Henry and then Father Joseph Ferrario of sexually abusing him in the late 1960s when he was a fourth-grader attending after-school programs and serving as an altar boy at St. Anthony’s.
Pinkosh said of Father Henry: “He raped me. It wasn’t just touching. It was violent sex.”
Almost immediately after he was sexually attacked, Pinkosh told two nuns and another priest at the church, but none of them informed Pinkosh’s parents or called the police. One of the nuns slapped Pinkosh and told him to stop lying.
Later, Pinkosh sought help and counseling from then St. Anthony’s Father Ferrario, whom he says listened intently and then raped him himself.
Ferrario later became bishop of the Diocese of Honolulu, from 1982 to 1993. He was the first Catholic bishop to be accused of sexually abusing children in his past at St .Anthony of Padua Church and St. Stephen’s Seminary. Ferrario died in 2003.
The Catholic Diocese of Honolulu and the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers settled Pinkosh’s complaint in 2015.
I reached Pinkosh by phone in London, where he is working as a playwright, to tell him about the continuing references to Father Henry Hall at St. Anthony’s.
Pinkosh emailed this reply:
“If the faculty, administration and staff of St Anthony’s of Padua Church in Kailua are continuing to use the name Father Henry in reference to the hall on their grounds, I can only assume it is done as an oversight and not as a statement of defiance or tribute to the man. The church, the Maryknoll organization and the Diocese of Honolulu have all apologized to me for the actions taken by this terrible and troubled man, and the use of his name on a Memorial Hall would seem inappropriate and insulting to myself and the nearly two dozen other individuals subjected to his horrific actions. I only hope that this oversight will be addressed and that the use of his name as a memorial will discontinue.”
It would be nice if St. Anthony of Padua Church would add an “amen” to Pinkosh’s statement.