St. Paul’s 1st Letter to the Thessalonians is the earliest Christian writing that we have. In the passage we have tonight (today), he gives us one of the most encouraging but challenging directives in all the Sacred Scriptures. “Brothers and Sisters: Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks…” That seems straightforward and simple when things are rolling along as I like, but what about when they’re not. What about when we face hardship, trials, suffering, tragedy, disappointment, injustice? St. Paul, as much as anyone, knew from experience all these painful human times. But his encouragement to us is undaunted. Why? Because, as he attests a few verses later, “The One who calls you is faithful.” The One who is faithful is the One St. John in the Gospel calls the Light, the Uncreated Light of God, God from God, Light from Light. This is the One who has drawn close to us. This is the One who calls us.
This weekend I need to share with you one of those times of hardship and trial and humbly ask for your prayers. About six weeks ago a woman now living in Colorado called the diocese and made an accusation against me dating back to the time when I served as pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Brusly, some 21 years ago. When the Bishop’s representatives read her allegation to me, I assured them that it was a sick, twisted and monstrous lie. I have never, at any time, in any place, done such things to anyone, much less a minor.
Even the most baseless and outrageous accusations require the diocese -- out of an abundance of caution -- to take the matter seriously and to begin an investigation through a professionally trained, independent team of laypersons. This has been going on for the past six weeks and will continue as long as necessary. I am fully cooperating with and supportive of this investigation to bring forth the truth. Let me read to you the statement from the diocese that was released last evening.
Media Release Concerning Allegation of Sexual Misconduct Against Fr. Eric Gyan
December 15, 2017
On November 8, 2017, the Diocese of Baton Rouge received from a woman in her thirties a written allegation of sexual misconduct against a priest of this diocese, Fr. Eric Gyan, currently Pastor of St. Theresa of Avila Parish in Gonzales. The misconduct was alleged to have occurred in 1996 when the woman was a minor and Fr. Gyan was pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Brusly. This is the only such complaint the diocese has ever received about Fr. Gyan.
The diocese’s victim assistance coordinator, Mrs. Amy Cordon, has spoken to the person making the allegation and offered assistance on behalf of the diocese.
Following the diocese’s own Policy Regarding Sexual Abuse of Minors by an Employee* when an allegation is made, and in compliance with the U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People**, the diocese immediately notified civil officials of the allegation and assured them of our full cooperation. The diocese also informed the person who made the allegation that she had the right to contact civil officials.
As required by canon law, and the aforementioned policies, trained professional lay persons were appointed by the diocese to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the matter. In addition, the Independent Review Board of the diocese was notified. The investigation is ongoing and to this point has not yielded any cause to remove Fr. Gyan from his current pastoral service. Fr. Gyan has categorically denied the allegation.
The diocese takes such allegations very seriously. If anyone has information that can assist the diocese concerning this matter, please contact Mrs. Amy Cordon in the diocesan Victim Assistance Office at 225-242-0250.
Throughout my adult life I have lived by the principle to do right, to seek to honor the Lord with your life, and to hold your head high. As I look back over my 32 years as a priest, I am proud of the life I have lived and what I have stood for. I have tried to be a good shepherd to every person, young or old, that the Lord entrusted to my care.
In this present trial, I humbly ask for your prayers, as you have mine. I humbly ask for your trust. Please do not let your faith be shaken. Remember St. Paul’s words, “The One who calls you is faithful.” The Lord will bring us through. I have told the devil, “Do your worst. Jesus I trust in You!”