Matt C. Abbott
September 14, 2014
The case of the 'missing' New York monsignor
By Matt C. Abbott

Certain troubling developments have come out of the Archdiocese of New York in recent weeks, as covered in this column and a number of other Catholic (and secular) news outlets.

The latest development, an interesting side note to the controversy surrounding the suspension of the cause for Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's canonization, is the intriguing "disappearance" of a once-esteemed New York priest, Monsignor Michael F. Hull.

A source recently provided me with information that Monsignor Hull quietly left, or was removed from, the priesthood within the last several months. Because everything is so hush-hush on these matters, I decided to take a "wait and see" approach. (Also, it's difficult for me to truly investigate something since I'm not paid for my Catholic journalism. I have neither the time nor the resources that many secular, and even some Catholic, journalists and commentators have. I mention this because there are still readers who assume that I make my living doing Catholic journalism. I don't.)

Lo and behold, Maureen Mullarkey provides a confirmation of sorts at the First Things blog. She writes:
    There are better reasons to be uneasy about the efficacy of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Center for Art and Culture as the zenith of evangelization. History is full of mischief. The Center has already suffered two blows before the ribbons are cut.

    Expensively architected and stage-designed, the state-of-the-art center lost its scheduled executive director. Msgr. Michael F. Hull – erstwhile pastor of the Church of the Guardian Angel in Chelsea, Professor of Sacred Scripture at St. Joseph's Seminary, and ardent member of MoMA – has gone missing. The journalist who had interviewed him in March for The Wall Street Journal tells me that the monsignor 'left the Church.'

    To clarify, I phoned the rectory at Guardian Angel. The resident priest who answered said: 'I know nothing of his whereabouts.' A call to Dunwoodie elicited only the comment that Msgr. Hull was no longer there. Was there anyone at the seminary who could answer a few questions about the Center itself? Who has taken on directorship in the monsignor's absence? After a lengthy pause, the receptionist offered to connect me to the Center's press office. Unable to put the call through, she told me to email. Next, I tried the phone number listed for the Center. It connects only to a ticketing service. ('Have your credit card ready. If you are calling about Ticket Mania's Gold Club....')
My original source informed me that "I heard about Michael Hull's laicization from several of his fellow priests in the archdiocese – all trustworthy and faithful men. There was tremendous anger and disappointment from these priests in the way it was handled, especially given the archdiocese's unjust treatment of Father Justin Wylie at around the same time."

And so it goes.

Speaking of Father Justin Wylie (a Latin Mass-appreciating priest from South Africa who was essentially run out of town on a rail by the jolly New York cardinal), I received the following email from him earlier today:

"Dear friends: I'm begging your prayers, please, at the start of a new ministry. After 12 weeks of requesting an assignment, I am appointed to the troubled parish of Thokoza [South Africa]. It has been vacant for some time. Five priests left in rapid succession over the last couple of years. Here's a news clip showing images of Thokoza, detailing its historic troubles. The parish house is derelict, so I may have to lodge in the sacristy for starters. Wish me luck. I start on Sunday."

I thanked him for the update and wrote: "It's probably good that you no longer have to be in the cesspool known as the Archdiocese of New York."

Pray for Father Wylie and all priests and religious who are being persecuted in various capacities. And pray for our bishops, some of whom are giving more comfort to the enemies of the Church than they are the faithful.

© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.


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