Father Andy Syring resigned last week as associate pastor at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in West Point.
He was accused of significant boundary violations with young adults and minors in 2014 at a parish in Schuyler but denied the accusations and was never charged. After being admitted to a treatment center the Catholic Church returned him to the ministry.
Parishioner Charissa Steffensmeier believes Syring was forced to resign and is urging the archbishop to reconsider.
The following is a news release from the Archdiocese of Omaha website dated November 4, 2018:
November 4, 2018 (OMAHA, NE) –Archbishop George Lucas’ promise to hold the appointment of clergy to a higher standard has led to the resignation of a priest for significant boundary violations with young adults and minors.
The Rev. Andy Syring resigned Tuesday from his assignment at St. Mary Parish in West Point, Neb. Syring, 41, had been serving as associate pastor there since 2016.
The allegations occurred in 2014 when Syring was associate pastor of Divine Mercy Parish in Schuyler, Neb. Archbishop Lucas removed him from the parish for unwanted touching of young adults, publicly hugging and kissing minors on the cheek, and inappropriate conversations with young adults and teenagers.
Syring denied the allegations, which were reported to law enforcement. No legal action was taken.
In 2014, Archbishop Lucas held two back-to-back listening sessions at Divine Mercy Parish, where he shared the claims against Syring with parishioners.
Syring was admitted to a treatment center shortly after the allegations surfaced. He was evaluated by a team of mental health experts and received months of in-depth residential care.
His case was heard by the Archdiocese Review Board, a panel of lay experts in the fields of law enforcement, child protection and welfare, education, psychology and medicine. One priest also serves on the board.
The review board and the treatment center determined that Syring could return to priestly ministry. In 2015, he was assigned to St. Wenceslaus Parish in Omaha.
In recent parish listening sessions on the sexual abuse scandal in the Church, Archbishop Lucas heard the call for greater accountability and transparency for clergy and Church personnel. In response, Archbishop Lucas promised he would hold clergy to a higher standard of ministerial conduct. He also said he would begin the process of reviewing current clergy assignments, to ensure that priests and deacons are appropriately placed for the good of the people. It was this review that led to Syring’s resignation.
The archdiocese has received no allegations of misconduct against Syring since his time in treatment and return to ministry.
Syring was ordained by Archbishop Lucas in 2011. He served at the following parishes: Divine Mercy-Schuyler (2011-2014); St. Bernard-Omaha (resident 2014); St. Wenceslaus-Omaha (2015-2016); St. Mary-West Point (2016-2018).
Anyone who has been sexually abused by church personnel should contact law enforcement or Mary Beth Hanus, the Archdiocese of Omaha manager of victim outreach and prevention, at 402-827-3798.