Thursday, May 14, 2009
My name is Benjamin Flores. I am a Native NYer, age 36, living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and I belong to the Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish (OLGC). After completing 8 years of elementary education at OLGC School, in 1986 I chose to attend Cathedral Preparatory Seminary. One of the primary reasons for attending this high school was due to the guidance and nurturing friendship I developed with then Fr. Wallace Harris; who was a visiting priest who presided over Sunday Mass at the request of his friend Fr. James Doyle. At that time, Msgr. Richard Guastella, was an Associate Pastor of OLGC and he was also a former Seminarian classmate of Msgr. Harris. Knowing these men thru my youth made me contemplate the possibility of the priesthood as a path in my life. Sorry to say, I did not answer that calling but have a deep respect and admiration for the men who did and do today.
I attended the Prep from 1986-1990. Part of the faculty that molded the Man that writes you today were Msgr. James Sullivan, Msgr. George Thompson, Fr. Salvatore LaSalle (deceased), Bishop Gerald Walsh, Msgr. Kevin Nelan, Fr. Edward O’Halloran and of course Msgr. Wallace Harris. All fine men, and all I consider excellent priests. After high school, I attended Penn State and earned a Business Degree in Real Estate & International Studies. Throughout all those years, I have maintained my close friendship with Msgr. Harris and leaned on him pretty hard; especially when my Father passed in the Spring of 1995 while I was studying overseas in Costa Rica. Thank God I had him to get me through it all.
Now that you have a little background on who I am and my relationship to Wallace Harris, I would like to inform you as to why I am writing this letter. I am requesting an audience with you and approximately 5-7 former Men of the Prep to share stories, experiences and lessons learned about the man we call Wally. Also, we would like to relay our concerns and doubts about the allegations brought against Msgr. Harris, especially since most of the men you will meet were one time students of the Prep during the years in question.
I know you are a busy man with an enormous amount of work and responsibility; but I firmly believe that if a man stands accused, and whether that person is guilty or innocent, you deserve to hear all sides of the story. If victims have the right to be heard, then so do the men who were not victims and believe in the Man’s innocence. The men you will meet have some of the closest bonds to Wally and can give you some insight to the Man that has been a friend, mentor, guidance counselor, Father to those with no Dad and of course one of the finest priest we have ever known. While Wally patiently but anxiously awaits his Judgment Day, I can not let the opportunity go by without reminding you of his 37th Anniversary to the Priesthood is just a few days. I firmly believe he deserves better and I truly believe you will give him the best and fairest treatment possible.
Msgr. Harris has been away from his Parish of St. Charles Borromeo and the Archdiocese of NY since August of last year. Requests for meetings and/or simple talks have gone blatantly ignored by your Predecessor for the past year. All we want to do is talk. We are Men in our mid 30s or early 40s, but we all feel like we're being treated like children. In some way we are. Like a child that has lost their parent in a crowded airport or the busy subway system in this great City. I am turning to you Archbishop Dolan, the Sheppard of the Flock, to help us. I completely understand the graveness of the alleged crimes and mis-doings that have been brought forth by the victims but I firmly feel that the men who believe in Wally and what he stands for, are victims as well. Victims because we are being shut out. The man who we would normally go to in such troubled times as these is not available to us. We do feel a sense of great loss and I ask that you guide us and lend us your ear while we wait for our friend to return home in whatever capacity and no matter what happens. A true friend is a friend for life and Wally needs those friends even more now as he struggles with this ordeal. But a friend can’t help if he is kept in the dark. Please shed some light on this for us and help us to ultimately help him.
Make no misrepresentations, I want Msgr. Harris back in NY and at St. Charles yesterday but I do realize there is a process. But this same process has taken over 5+ years for Msgr. Charlie Kavenaugh and this is something I can not let happen.
I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (917) 860-5811. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
Very truly yours,
Benjamin Flores III
Class of 1990
Friday, November 7, 2008
Back in the day, the norm for my parents and circle of friends was to motivate children; success through - family life, education, hard work and staying close to the church. Hopefully children would do better than their parents, become model citizens and be a pride to their race.
Loyalty, Honesty, Dedication, Love, a positive philosophy of life where all components in the Road to Success.
It is with pride that I salute the Cathedral Prep alumni that have stood tall, loyal to their former teacher, mentor, friend Monsignor Wallace A Harris.
" a friend in need is a friend indeed"
It is easy to be there in good happy times but you re really needed in bittersweet/ bad times.
You are to be congratulated, encouraged and recognized for your willingness to STAND UP , WRITE , ARTICULATE and DO.......... You have walked away from the toothless tigers, those waiting standing muted.
Isabel Dennis - Cummings
Monday, November 3, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
"who steals my purse steals trash; tis something, nothing; 'twas mine, 'tis his and has been slaves to thousands. But he that fliches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed." William Shakespeare
The allegations against Msgr. Harris brings Shakespeare's words into 2008 reality. The Archdiocesan press release in August manifested another 2008 reality that we have witnessed that when black men are accused they are deemed GUILTY to be proven otherwise.
The excuse that the Bishops Dallas 2002 remedy to solve the sins of the priest by providing aid/sympathy for the alleged victim and public exposure to the priest - takes the situation over the top. What happened to innocent until proven guilty or privacy until the trial / inquiry is proven. WOULD JESUS SANCTION SUCH A TRAVESTY?
If this is the reward for years of dedicated service; submission to the establishment; being the BEST - then it begs the question whether Men of Color native born to America should entertain a life of priestly ministry. It appears the Archdiocese sees the profit of the cosmopolitan, highly educated, foreign born to fulfill the priest quota and the color diversity publicity perception.
The Harris assassination motivates the wondering about the current status of the Black priest in the New York Archdiocese - who are they - where are they - are there any active or are most in a controlled box of inactivity like Msgr. Harris?
The procedure for justice to address allegations against priest accused of child molestation needs to be thorough, within a reasonable time frame and sensitive to both the alleged victim and alleged accused. Protection, Privacy, Sensitivity must be ingredients in this process. Honesty in this process must be key for Justice.
Wallace Harris has become the sacrificial lamb in this 2008 mismanagement of justice. God is showing us, this procedure ruins the reputation of the man and leaves him damaged forever.
Shakespeare's wisdom, Jesus Christ story, the black mans struggle in racist America manifested in the Msgr. Wallace Harris travesty.
Isabel Dennis- Cummings
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The man that I knew couldn't hurt a young man and anyone for that manner. I truly believe that his accusers have misconstrued situations. I'm quiet sure that Fr. Harris will face this adversity with dignity and his faith will only grow. There are thousands of people that have faith in this man so hopefully this terrible situation will end in a fair conclusion.
Cathedral Prep (Class of '87)
Friday, October 24, 2008
Hopefully, this terrible nightmare will quickly come to an end, and we can once again make our BJ Wholesale runs, “One-Day Only” shopping trips, and countless other wacky adventures we have done thru the years.
Most importantly, your guidance, leadership, the understanding you provide and the love you show me and my family is what I miss the most in this unusual time of forced separation.
So until we meet again; know that I love you and pray for your speedy return every single day.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
FOR RELEASE: August 3, 2008
For further information:
(212) 371-1011 ext. 2997
AS YOU CAN SEE THE ABOVE STATEMENT WAS RELEASED ON AUGUST 3, 2008, THE DAY BEFORE THE PARISHIONERS OF ST. CHARLES WHERE TOLD THAT MSGR. HARRIS WAS REMOVED.
TODAY IS OCTOBER 1, 2008, ACTUALLY 2 MONTHS SINCE MSGR. HARRIS WAS REMOVED FROM ST.CHARLES (he was rushed out like a thief in the night the Thursday before the grand announcement).
- No advisory board meeting yet.
- Now we have 11 accusers.
- No more statements from the Archdiocese.
- No visits to St. Charles from any Archdiocesan officials.
- No show of support or comfort to the Parish
- NOTHING AT ALL!!!!
THIS MAN HAS BEEN FAITHFUL AND LOYAL TO THE ARCHDIOCESE FOR THE PAST 35+ YEARS, AND THIS IS HIS REWARD FOR BEING A TRUE AND FAITHFUL DEDICATED SERVANT TO HIS CHURCH. WHAT HASN'T HE DONE FOR THE ARCHDIOCESE? HOW MANY PEOPLE HAS HE ALONE BROUGHT INTO THE CHURCH? HOW MANY BOARDS/ORGANIZATIONS/COMMITTEES HAS HE SERVED ON? HOW MANY TIMES HAS BEEN CALLED TO REPRESENT THE ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK? HOW MUCH MONEY HAS HE RAISED FOR THE ARCHDIOCESE?
And all of that now means NOTHING. I guess right now i should be more like my teacher and mentor and just be OBEDIENT AND LOYAL to the Church of New York. Hell NO, my mentor and teacher instilled values in me along with obedience and loyalty like following the actions of Jesus. Jesus walked among the accused, and stood up for them.
For the past 5 weeks at St. Charles, we have been told to pray, be silent, wait, and to not do anything to hurt MSGR. any more, keep tithing, sign up, don't talk to the press and so on and so on. I HAD ENOUGH OF THAT. please someone tell me what are we waiting for, who are we waiting for and why are we waiting?
- MSGR. didn't give you a chance to wait to sign up, he told you what he needed you to do.
- MSGR. didn't bite his tongue, he said what he had to say and didn't care about your little feelings.
- MSGR. needed money for a project, and you gave your money for the completion.
- MSGR. was loyal to 1011 first avenue, but he was not afraid of the archdiocese.
- MSGR. is our leader, and he has EMPOWERED each and every one of us to lead.
SO IT IS TIME TO LEAD MY FELLOW MSGR. HARRIS SUPPORTERS. IT IS TIME TO CARRY THE MANTEL UNTIL MSGR. RETURNS. SINCE WE HAVE HEARD NOTHING SINCE AUGUST 3, 2008; WE CANT POSSIBLY BELIEVE MSGR. HARRIS IS BEING TREATED JUSTLY BY THE GOOD ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK.
BUT IF THAT IS THE CASE AND THEY ARE DOING EVERYTHING IN THEIR POWER TO HELP THEIR LOYAL AND FAITHFUL SERVANT.......... THEN OPEN YOUR MOUTHS AND TELL US SOMETHING.
BETTER YET, LET MSGR. HARRIS SPEAK!
Either one will be good for me, I will continue to pray but the Archdiocese will not receive another penny from me or my family until this humiliation of MSGR. HARRIS IS OVER.
David Dennis - Class of 1987
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I write these words first and foremost to make a clear statement that I believe in the innocence of Msgr. Harris. I believe that what is going on here is much bigger than what anyone currently understands. And I am certain that there are people in the Catholic community in New York City who are determined to destroy the legacy, the work and the influence of this giant of a man.
I grew up in Harlem and although I went to Catholic schools all my life, attended Church every Sunday, and learned to turn the other cheek. Let it be known that in my world only a coward accuses through the voice of another. I grew up in a place where both men and women came forward to accuse another in the light of day. And I learned on those streets that only those brave enough to be seen are worthy of reply. At this time there are 10 accusations. Of the 10 one has come forward and with that we are all certain that this one face is the face of an opportunist and a liar. And as such not worthy of further comment.
So where are the other 9? At a meeting of the 20 Cathedral Men we were able to deduce that the first two accuser's stories have numerous holes in them. And we also discovered that not one of us had been questioned or called. And that no one else that we knew had been questioned or called. To this date, no one who supports Msgr. Harris has been asked to witness for him. It would seem strange to me indeed that the Archdoicese of NY who sponsored the education of every Cathedral Prep alumnae is not interested in hearing from us. But there are two, and two seems to be enough to condemn. If Msgr. was not already condemned he would still be at St. Charles. The actions taken against him are the actions taken against those deemed guilty. And his deafening silence - a silence that he has been informed by them is necessary - further confirms that the Archdoicese of NY presumes his guilt over his innocence.
With so many new accusations, don't you think its time that we hear from him? With these new accusations being levied, don't you think its time that voices of support rise up to be heard? Or are we like sheep going to the slaughter? Too conditioned to even look up and see our fate. Too trusting to rear up and protect ourselves. Just little dumb sheep happily walking to the slaughterhouse and bringing those that we love along with us.
Class of 1981
Sunday, September 14, 2008
As a ’85 graduate of St. Joseph’s and ’89 graduate of Cathedral Prep- I am very familiar with H as well as the accusers. For me as well as other St. Joseph’s students with only a mother at home H was not only the father figure but basketball coach, camp counselor, teacher, director of the altar boys, etc. You see main stream America- Harlem in the 70s and 80s was not the Bill Clinton, Starbucks and expensive brownstones area you know it now to be- it was the center of the Crack epidemic and making ends meet with odd jobs and the help of welfare.
My mother stressed books, Church and sports. These values were some of the same ones that H stood for and has continued to preach at St. Charles Borromeo. When deciding a high school I knew that H would continue to take care of me and help me grow spiritually and become a young adult. Cathedral Prep is basically no longer around because it was geared to stress the priesthood. Obviously that idea did not work as me and other 14 year old boys picked the school for its excellent academic reputation, its strong ties with the New York Catholic elementary schools and it just happened to be the most inexpensive Catholic Boys high school at the time. At the Prep H was a father figure to Whites, Blacks, Asians and Latinos who shared a common faith and wanted to become positive individuals in society.
In my opinion sexual predators are more than likely to violate a person they have known for a long time and have close ties to their families (a position of trust and confidence). Monsignor Harris was the dean of discipline at the school basically the person who tells young men to get to class or find a new high school. See, the first accuser did not do well at Cathedral Prep and was gone after 2 years. The second accuser graduated, played sports and was very outgoing- hardly the resume of someone who has been abused for 4 years. Then again are these men still practicing Catholics or do they resent the religion or just attempting to get back at their old Dean of Discipline? Then we have a third accuser who also has started his own church. Let’s be serious if someone molests you, you get away from them not continue to be involved with them for the next 10 years!
For this Harlem boy, Monsignor Harris is not a sexual predator. Instead, he is the father figure I needed to lead and encourage me at Cathedral Prep, Syracuse University and Hofstra University School of Law. See growing up in the 80s in Harlem usually lead to teen pregnancy, jail, drug dealing or death if one did not have the right role models. Maybe the Archdiocese of New York and District Attorneys should contact more men like me for our opinion- believe me I can get them there to testify!