A message from Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe

On July 25, 2019, Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe sent the following letter to the clergy, wardens, and vestry of St. Mark’s Church, Chenango Bridge, St. David’s Church, DeWitt, the Dean of the Syracuse East District, members of the Diocesan Board and Standing Committee, the diocesan staff, our diocesan Intake Officers, our Chancellors, and our diocesan Pastoral Care Team.

Parish leaders, please ensure that your parishioners are aware of diocesan Safe Church policies and the contact information of our Intake Officers.

July 25, 2019

To the Clergy, Wardens, and Vestry
of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Chenango Bridge
and St. David’s Episcopal Church, DeWitt

Dear friends,

I am writing to inform you that a lawsuit was filed this week against the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. The suit contains allegations of sexual misconduct by the Rev. Paul Kowalewski, a priest who served in our diocese from 1990 to 2005. The abuse is alleged to have taken place in Buffalo in the 1970s, when the Rev. Kowalewski was preparing to be a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. Media have also reported that an additional lawsuit may be filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, alleging that the Rev. Kowalewski sexually abused a minor, also in the 1970s.

There is no record of any allegations of sexual misconduct against Kowalewski during his tenure in our Diocese of Central New York. The Rev. Kowalewski was received as a priest in The Episcopal Church by the Diocese of Central New York in 1990. He served as the rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Chenango Bridge (July 1990 to August 1993), rector of St. David’s Episcopal Church, DeWitt (September 1993 to January 2002), Dean of the Diocesan School for Ministry (September 1999 to January 2002), and as Canon Visionary for the Diocese (January 2002 to September 2005). He is currently canonically resident in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and has been suspended from ministry by the bishop of that diocese pending an investigation of these complaints.

The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York takes clergy misconduct complaints very seriously and we are committed to ensuring the safety of all people in our congregations and diocesan programs. We cooperate fully with civil authorities in all investigations related to criminal sexual misconduct, and require all clergy, church employees, and volunteers to participate in Safe Church training to protect children and adults from sexual abuse and misconduct.

Our diocesan Safe Church policies are available at cnyepiscopal.org/safechurch. If you or anyone you know is aware of any violation of these policies, including any violation related to the allegations against the Rev. Kowalewski, there is a process in place to support you and to investigate and respond to clergy misconduct complaints. I encourage you to contact any of our three diocesan Intake Officers.

In addition to our Intake Officers, who handle clergy misconduct complaints in accordance with the canons of The Episcopal Church, we also have a Pastoral Care Team of professional clinicians. They are available to provide counseling and pastoral care to victims of sexual abuse and misconduct at no cost. Any of our three Intake Officers can make a referral to this team.

Our commitment to Jesus’ Way of Love is reflected in all that we do, especially in the sacred work of safeguarding the most vulnerable members of our community. Please join me in praying for all who have been affected by sexual abuse, exploitation, or harassment in our Church. Please pray also for our diocesan leaders as we work to respond to this suffering. Working together, may we truly establish a safe and healthy church.


The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe
Bishop of Central New York

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