Friday, November 21, 2014

"I Accept This Injustice"

By Ralph Cipriano

An oblate of St. Francis de Sales takes priestly vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. He prays to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

Few who pray that prayer could have ever imagined the fate that befell Father Charles Engelhardt.

That was the message of the homily delivered today by Father Michael Connolly at the funeral of Father Engelhardt, his friend and fellow oblate of nearly 50 years.

An oblate wears a silver cross around his neck, Father Connolly said. He fished his own cross out of his priestly garments to show the crowd. It's a cross an oblate receives on the occasion of his first presentation of faith, the priest said. It's not a crucifix; there's no body on it.

"Charlie was the body on that cross in his life," Father Connolly said. Like Jesus, Father Engelhardt was falsely accused, tried, and convicted, Father Connolly said. Like Jesus, "Charlie endured his suffering" with patience and humility, Father Connolly said. Like Jesus, Father Engelhardt was repeatedly humiliated before he died as a prisoner.

What was Charlie Engehlardt's response to his fate?

"I accept this injustice believing God will make it right in the end." That's what Father Engelhardt repeatedly told his lawyers and fellow oblates, Father Connolly said. It would be Father Engelhardt's parting message on the day that his family and fellow oblates gathered to bury him.

Sadly for Father Engelhardt, there would be no earthly vindication. Just a funeral service held at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, Delaware, a place where Father Engelhardt had once served as parochial vicar.

Charle's two sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews, all gathered to say goodbye. His 89-year-old mother was too ill to attend.

If he had to pick one word to sum his uncle's life, it would be "devout," Michael Boyle, his nephew, told the crowd in the pews. Boyle said he always admired how Uncle Charlie [pronounced Uncle Chollie] prioritized his life.

God and the oblates came first, Boyle said. A close second was Uncle Charlie's love of family. Finally, there was his sometimes misplaced loyalty to Philadelphia's frequently disappointing sports teams.

Uncle Charlie never missed a family gathering, whether it was a communion, baptism or picnic, his nephew said. Or just a weekend gathering in front of the TV to cheer on the Phillies or the Eagles.

Growing up with an uncle as a priest was a big deal, said Richard Stever, another nephew.

"We felt like we were so important," Stever said. At his first communion, Stever recalled, the parish priest had to step aside and let Uncle Charlie officiate.

"Yeah, I'm special," Stever said he felt like telling the other kids. "Uncle Charlie we love you and we miss you."

Today was the feast of the presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the day that Mary at three years old was presented in the temple at Jerusalem. It was on this feast day that Father James J. Greenfield, the provincial, or leader of the oblates, led some 80 priests clad in white in the renewing of their vows.

Father Greenfield thanked Father Engelhardt's family for their loyalty during the priest's ordeal. It was an "inspiration to all of us," Father Greenfield said. "Thank you for your example of love."

Then Father Greenfield turned his attention to his fallen colleague.

"Charlie was a happy guy, he was a steady guy, reliable and predictable," Father Greenfield said. If he had a fault, Father Greenfield said, it was "his inability to express rage."

And in Charlie's case, rage would have been appropriate.

"He was an innocent man," Father Greenfield said. The district attorney offered Father Engelhardt a plea bargain but "He would not perjure himself," Father Greenfield said. Father Engelhardt refused to say he had done something he didn't do, even if it would have meant staying out of jail.

It's been brutal, Father Greenfield said, watching Father Engelhardt's ordeal in the criminal "justice" system. It began in January 2009, when a former altar boy named Billy Doe came foreword to claim that the priest had abused him a decade earlier.

Father Engelhardt did not recall the alleged victim's name. If he was in the room, the priest said, he could not pick him out of a crowd. There wasn't a shred of evidence or any witness to confirm the alleged victim's improbable allegations.

But he was presumed guilty. Within hours, the priest was taken out of active ministry. He was subsequently indicted, convicted by a jury, and sentenced to 6 to 12 years by Judge Ellen Ceisler.

It was a railroading "fueled with false judgements," Father Greenfield said. "Like our church our courts are not perfect."

After he was convicted, Father Engelhardt told his lawyers and fellow oblates that "the only judgement that matters" is what Jesus thought of him.

Charlie Engelhardt had an easy-going manner and a "boyish grin," Father Greenfield said. But beneath the surface calm he had "an iron commitment to the gospel."

Father Engelhardt had a dizzy spell the week before he died. He wound up in the hospital, where he was handcuffed to a bed and under armed guard. The day he died, the priest was inexplicably discharged and sent back to prison. He collapsed there after having some kind of a "cardiac episode," Father Greenfield said.

The priest was rushed by ambulance back to the hospital but it was too late.

"His heart finally gave out" on Nov. 15th when he died, Father Greenfield said. "He left behind a soft, calm soul bearing the image of God."

"He was a good man and a good priest," Father Greenfield said. The provincial told the church that Father Engelhardt's death would not end his legal battle in appeals court.

Father Engelhardt's lawyers will continue the fight to clear his name. "Every effort will be made to set the record straight," Father Greenfield said. But in heaven, Father Greeenfield said, the matter is already settled.

The God that Father Engelhardt prayed to "for truth and justice has at last set him free," Father Greenfield said. Regardless of his earthly struggles, Father Engelhardt is "where he always wanted to be."


  1. Ralph - compassionately well done, as usual.

    I was one of those who attended today's liturgy. As I walked in, the grim reality of Father's death was reinforced by the presence of the new grey hearse parked in front of the church.

    I'm sorry to say that I allowed my attention to drift from the healing liturgy to ponder how:
    - the DA could ever have indicted in the face of all those inconsistencies, how
    - the jurors convicted when presented with glaring reasonable doubt issues, and how
    - Ceisler could refuse to set aside the verdict and then impose draconian punishment.

    In essence, two innocent men were imprisoned and one has since died as a result.

    Let's hope and pray that the Superior Court reverses the decision, exonerates both men and frees Bernie forthwith.

    Let's also hope that those in the DA's office who know the truth have the courage and conviction to make it known once and for all.

  2. Its Just sad that it takes so long for the Supreme Court to here all the facts first dot there i.s cross there t.s before they make a decision. If the Da.s office done the same took there time got more back ground on these
    witnesses and seen some of the fabrication of both the Da.s office and the detectives we would.nt be having this conversation. So Sad hope it gets corrected.

  3. What is sad about the whole event is that this priest was given a hero's funeral. Priests who have been found guilty, especially in a court of law, are supposed to have funerals that are low-key, essentially private, and not overly complimentary of the deceased. Clearly, this did not happen in the recent funeral in Philadelphia. The priest was found guilty by a jury of his peers which should have prompted his religious order to downplay the funeral of the priest so as not to further traumatize the victim/survivor. The Oblates should be ashamed of themselves.

    Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D.
    Road to Recovery, Inc.
    Livingston, NJ

    1. Get over it Bob his family can do as they please and as for Billy Doe and his dad hopefully they get picked up for some crime u know the junkie will soon and all them accusations
      he made on the stand maybe the boys can pass him around while he.s in the joint and show him the true meaning of being violated and may be u can Join him since ur bleeding heart feels sorry for his lying ass.

    2. No one cares what Danny Gallagher or you think. Your comments carry no weight. What skeletons are in your closet? Fr. Engelhardt was a kind and gentle man who never hurt anyone. He was an innocent man who was wrongfully convicted.

    3. Hoatson. Thank goodness you were laicized. You do not have the qualities to make it as a priest. Looks like you are just another PhD who couldn't hold down a real job either. Another rehab worker who couldn't get a job anywhere else. You write as if you think you are Almighty God making judgments on others. You probably have never even met these people. I hope to witness your final judgment day when you are given your rightful due and punishment unlike this priest who was not convicted by a jury of his peers but a jury of Seth Williams peers. You do not even have the decency to let the dead rest in peace, you are a true follower of satan.

    4. Well put corruption in phila.s DA.s office. I mentioned what he is >>7 down and that Catholic Racist Seth is no better they.ll get theres karma.s a bitch

    5. A laicized priest passing judgment on an innocent priest who received his just due yesterday in a truly deserving tribute.. All you've shown is your total ignorance for the malicious prosecution of that man who has now died at the hands of the Pennsylvania Prison System.

      The fact that you didn't even know where his funeral was held yesterday reinforces my bellief you are nothing but an ignorant, bitter disgraced ex-priest.

      A humble, kind priest was laid to rest yesterday truly deserving of each and every word that was spoken about him in that Church.

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. Glad you believe in the infallibility of the jury system. To quote Jimmy Stewart in Call Northside 777, What if they got it wrong?

  4. Correction: "recent funeral in Wilmington, DE.

  5. Robert, in this case there is no "victim/survivor". Only a liar supported by many liars. Liars need to be traumatized by a hero's funeral.

    Jesus was also convicted by a jury of His peers, so I do not put ANY stock in that as a measure of guilt.

    1. St. Seraphim:

      You cannot be serious to compare the "kangaroo court" that convicted Jesus to the criminal justice system of a civilized society that convicted your friend. Please don't say it's the same thing!

    2. That was no kangaroo court, it was the "criminal justice system of a civilized society" of that time. Besides, I'm not comparing judicial systems, I'm comparing mob mindsets. That mob mentality was one and the same, regardless of what court carried it out.

    3. Mr. Hoatson: Did you ever even once hear and consider Fr. Charlie's side of the story? You see, regardless of how Fr.was convicted, one fact remains: what happened to Englehardt, Shero, Lynn, and even Avery does NOT meet the biblical mandate for making and prosecuting an accusation. Even your comrade Tom Doyle at least makes an effort to weigh the facts and consider false accusations, but yourself and the SNAP mindset overall is too quick to deem ANY accusation as "credible". You guys can't even properly define "credible". Your'e a joke and a disgrace to both true victims and those that are falsely accused.

  6. If I were you, I'd just ignore Hoatson. Don't give him the time of day or any more keystrokes. He must be Dennis Ecker's neighbor.

    1. Like dennis eker.s Hoatson cant help himself . They were both just born stone Jerkoff.s and there.s no fixing that anonymous. Havent heard from dennis did he meet his waterloo!

    The pope is being as progressive as he can be.

  8. Awwwww... poor convicted pedophile priest was just like Jesus on the cross... Right.

    1. Coward. Your ignorance and willingness to understand the true facts in these cases leads me to hope you experience a lifetime of pain and suffering for yourself and family members

    2. Anne just published this comment on the often 'priest unfriendly' Catholics4Change blog (11/20/14):

      'How very, very sad that Fr. Engelhardt passed away before a new retrial could be granted! We always believed in his innocence.

      I worked at my rectory during the years that Fr. Engelhardt was stationed here & never once was there a complaint from an altar server or parent! He was in charge of the altar servers & also the CCD Program.

      Since I was the housekeeper/laundress at the rectory, I had access to his bedroom & office & never did I see anything inappropriate & neither was his behavior! He was alway kind & respectful!

      We were all very stunned to hear of his passing. May he rest in peace. We feel so badly for his entire family! God bless them. We will continue to pray for them & Fr. Engelhardt'.

  9. "I could not concern myself when Engelhardt fell ill and I cannot concern myself to learn of his passing. I will however say a little prayer not for Father Engelhart but for his family for the feeling of pain they must feel inside because the loss of a loved one."

    " I will say an even bigger prayer for those who are truly the innocent victims of clergy abuse, may you continue to find the strength to be with us each day and for those who we lost may you be at everlasting peace at the right hand of God".


    Dennis Ecker

  10. Thank you for the prayers for Fr, Engelhardt, for he is an innocent victim, who paid the highest price for the sins of the guilty clergy that went before him. Also, please pray for the accusers who were never victimized and only sought to clear their lengthy police record and gain a high pay out for they will never rest in peace for the lives they have destroyed.

  11. A hero's funeral and the opening of the pearly gates to Fr. Englehardt which is comparable to the missing man formation flown at funerals for deceased pilots - 4 F-16's fly together with one soaring up into the heavens.

  12. A hero ? I thought he was being looked at as a martyr ?

    I was not there for Engelhardts send off but I can only hope his box was not flag draped because that would have been an insult to true hero's.

    I would say he is still waiting for those gates to open while he feels the heat building at his feet.

    1. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even you.

      Although a martyr would be a "true hero" to people. they stand by their faith and morals, unwilling to give into temptation for monetary purposes or to attempt to take the easy way out and accept a plea deal. here's a man who accepted the fate bestowed upon him and never asked why, never forgot who he lived his life for. Sounds like a true hero to me.

      If you disagree please enlighten me on what you mean by a true hero because Fr. Engelhard in the eyes of many is just that.

    2. I seriously doubt this innocent priest is waiting for any gate to open, after the malicious prosecution and wrongful conviction at the hands of the Philadelphia DA's office

      The heat is revving up for the lying addict/accuser Danny Gallagher and I just hope that the Superior Court has the integrity to overturn the unjust verdicts of both Fr Engelhardt and Bernard Shero in the near future.....

      I was there for the Mass

      ....I'll stake Fr Engelhardt's 48 year reputation in the oblates of St Francis DeSales against the 23 rehabs & counting 7 arrest reputation of Danny Gallagher son of Philly Poliice Sgt. James Gallagher & Sheila Gallagher, brother of James Gallagher, Jr (aka as the ghost because he's yet to show up in any courtroom to back up his lying, drug addict brother Danny's numerous stories of abuse since he'd lose his law license if he was caught perjuring himself on behalf of Danny.

      Let's see how smug you SNAP people are after the Superior Court rules on the issues raised concerning Fr Engelhardt's and Bernard Shero's trial. It is my belief the appeals for overturning the conviction will continue......

    3. Anonymous Nov 24th @ 9:44am, I'd like to help you understand the use of hero and the use of martyr. More than likely there are numerous people posting on the board. Some choose to call Father Engelhardt a hero and some choose to call Father Engelhardt a martyr. It is similar to this; If three different people posted something about Danny Gallager, one might call him a druggie, another a junkie, some might even refer to him as a scum bag piece of white trash. In the English language, character traits sometimes get grouped together, but typcially have similar meanings. I hope this helps clarify.

    4. I like to call Engelhardt child abuser, rapist, sexual predator I can go on and on but if you don't believe me try entering Father Charles Engelhardt into any search engine of your choice and the world is calling him that also.

      You can try and make Chollie look good anyway you want but the old saying goes "you can put lipstick on a pig but in the end it's still a pig"

    5. I have to wonder how many of these 'negative' posts are being made by Billy Doe, his family, or perhaps even his lawyer.

    6. Does anyone happen to know the city that Dan Gallagher currently gets doped up in? Would like to ensure that Danny shows up in his local search engine.

    7. Flagler Beach, FL

  13. I guess Ralph will turn his attention to Bernie Shero and his family now A man he truly did not speak much about. You know the guy who tried to kill himself, the guy who was warned by fellow teaching staff on his behavior around children. The man who was warned by parents in his neighborhood to stay away from the children, and let us not forget about the children. Children who thought it necessary to protect themselves.

    We can only ask why his plight was not mentioned more especially when Engelhardt and Shero were both convicted of raping the same child.

    I think the reason for not hearing much about Shero as we did Engelhardt is because one had a white collar and the other did not. People most likely believed by throwing Engelhardt in prison can be compared to throwing God in prison.

    1. @ anonymous - when all of this is over, I believe it will be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Father Engelhardt and Bernie Shero were just more 'collateral damage' in the DA's unholy and unethical quest for an 'historic conviction' to bolster his career, e.g.:

      Mayor Williams
      Senator Williams, and even
      President Williams.............

    2. forgot ..... Governor Williams....

    3. I love how these attacks are always done under the cover of anonymity. Maybe you missed this story about Shero:

      You seem to be missing the point that none of Billy's stories make any sense when you consider logic, common sense, his own endless contradictory statements, the evidence gathered by the DA's own detectives, and the evidence of how sex abuse really happens as laid out in the secret archive files.

      Let me spell this out for you: a transparent fraud makes false accusations. So everyone he targeted was actually innocent of what he accused them of, even Ed Avery.

  14. To all those negative anonymous people out there i hope someday ur daughters get to meet somebody like Billy Doe and he introduces them to the life and has them tricking and doing things u wouldnt do to farm animals so she can support his habit and hers the lies they come up with after robbing u then u want him out of her life and the cops say they have rights while ur home is turned up side down. This is what SETH DONT TELL THE TRUTH WILLIAMS PUT ON THE STAND and ur sticking up for this crum bum.But u.ll want justice and ur not gonna get it. There.s a thousand Billy does in ur neighborhood i hope she brings u one home for the holidays and then after the misery u.ll get what were talking about here.But it will be to late for ur little girl and u.ll understand the pain these familys are feeling for the lies Billy Doe and the Catholic Racist Seth dont tell the truth Williams caused them.

  15. Let me say for a moment I question the truth of Danny telling the truth. I would like some questions answered.

    How possible is it that one child was able to pick out from the staff at St. Jeromes three individuals who all had questionable behavior with Children ?

    Not only did Avery admit to raping Danny, did he or did he not have questionable behavior around children in his disc jockey days ? Information only the Archdiocese would have known about as they moved him around. Information the police department knew nothing of in case you want to say he got Avery's name from his father.

    How did Danny know to name Shero ? Another person who had questionable behavior with children. A person who was spoken to by school staff on his behavior around children. I will leave out that suicide attempt and that letter to his parents that failed to mention anything about his innocence.

    Finally Engelhardt, was there not testimony in court from someone very close to Charlie that portrayed him not as an angel as those here think he is ?

    I don't even think Jimmy the Greek would give you odds on how a child could be three for three on picking out these men who all should have not been around children, and a child who has been described as an "addict or all doped up" doing it.

    .....and speaking about his drug addiction, I believe Danny was doing drugs but not for the reason why people here think. He was doing what is normal for what some sexual abuse victims go through, taking the drugs to forget and destroy the memories of what Avery, Shero and Engelhardt did to him.

    1. He.s 3 for 3 with help may be from Da.s office as for avery and shero i cant comment dont know enough about there stories as for engelhardt with what i read and Billys Does conflicting reports i gotta give Charlie the benefit of doupt grew up with people like Billy Doe some were my friends but u cant believe a word that comes out of there mouths .

    2. Since you are entitled to having your questions answered because you seem to know everything about this case and the history of it i will be more than happy to help out another misguided member of the St. Jerome community. Avery is the only one with a past here. Shero's so called questionable behavior occurred after he left st. Jerome's b/c the kids in the neighborhood thought it would be funny to throw rocks through his window. what would you do if you were falsely accused and were going to bring shame to your family? (don't answer that, i'm sure it's already been done or in the planning stages) and engelhardt, well that someone very close only had one statement in the courtroom as a witness for the prosecution - "he has a terrible reputation in the community." that's one person in a span of 30+ years of being a teacher, priest, etc. that said "he had a terrible reputation in the community." Did anyone else take the stand to back that person up. where is the history for two of the three defendants? Your taking the word of drug addict, dealer who has not said the same story twice in five years.

    3. That is your words that I seem to know everything not mine. But here is some reading material that may change your mind about Shero.

      Friday, January 18, 2013

      Moms Say Former Teacher Was "Touchy-Feely" With Kids

      I'm sure Ralph would not mind you reading some of his past blogs.

    4. Timeline - can you confirm when this was observed by the teacher? Was it before or after st. jerome's.

      Do you need to call one of the DAs detectives? They should be able to find it in their notes that none of them seem to be able to locate.

      Your saying there is a history and what is your proof before st. jerome's for shero or engelhardt?

    5. Anon 3:40: I strongly urge you to read the Abel Harlow study as to what the typical make up of a pedophile is, then talk to child welfare agents that root out pedophiles for a living, and you will find that both clerical collars and weird behavior is not even a blip on their radar when it comes to uncovering pedophiles. Give Chris Isaak's "Speak of the Devil" a spin, and realize that the ones that are raping our children are normal, middle class, married men; "Mister Rogers" and "Ward Cleaver" types. It's your kind of mindset that enables the devil to distract the public from where pedophiles really are.

  16. 4 up, two down, two to go.

  17. Hi Ralph - trying to 'reason' with some of these narrow minded dolts is like 'pizzing up a rope'. Just can't be done


  18. I could be mistaken, but from what I recall after reading the Grand Jury report, there was testimony about Shero's inappropriate behavior at St. Jerome's, which was reported to the former Principal, Ms. Nendza. What sticks out in my mind was that she stated that there was no protocol for dealing or reporting the behavior or something to that effect at that time. You can refer to the 2011 Grand Jury Report for exact details.

    1. So why didn't the DA prosecute the principal under the same EWOC law as Msgr. Lynn?

      Because it would have been a PR nightmare for the DA. Instead he went after the RCC as he felt it would help out his political career.

      Maybe if he did go after the principal the people in the community would have seen right through the tale of lies that Danny Gallagher and his parents, James Sr. and Sheila, were putting out there as truth.

    2. You mean the grand jury report with the more than 20 factual mistakes in it? That grand jury report? The one that rewrote the grand jury testimony of Billy's mother and said falsely that Father Brennan raped Mark Bukowski when both of them had their underwear on? That grand jury report?

    3. yes, same one.

      ralph - i doubt you will hear anything from anon@1126

  19. Good question. I don't think she was called as a witness at the trial. I can't figure that part out.


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