Accused pedophile priest's picture included in Holy Spirit yearbook
This year's issue of the Holy Spirit School yearbook was supposed to be special, a treasured keepsake to remember the 47-year-old Catholic school that's set to close Thursday. Not anymore.
This year's issue of the Holy Spirit School yearbook was supposed to be special, a treasured keepsake to remember the 47-year-old Catholic school that's set to close Thursday.
Parents and Packer Park community members are incensed with a parish decision to include a photograph of a smiling defrocked priest in the last Holy Spirit yearbook — next to a 1965 photograph of the eighth-grade graduating class. David C. Sicoli was featured prominently in the 2005 grand-jury report, accused of molesting several boys during his 33-year ministry. Sicoli served as pastor at Holy Spirit Church before he was defrocked in 2008 after the Archdiocese logged 11 credible abuse claims against him dating back to 1977.
He was never charged criminally, but many parents and residents in the parish blame Sicoli for the school's eventual closure.
Parent Maria Capetola said that Sicoli's image next to children is "a disgrace" and "the last slap in the face that they're [Holy Spirit] going to give us."
Capetola said that she was "livid" when she saw the photo Tuesday morning and, believing it was a mistake, went to see Holy Spirit's current pastor, the Rev. Mark Kunigonis, at the rectory.
"Why would you put a pervert in the yearbook with innocent children?" she asked Kunigonis.
"Well, he was a pastor and he wasn't convicted," Kunigonis said, according to Capetola.
"You're sick. You're a sick man," she told him.
Kunigonis declined to comment and said a letter would be sent home with students for their parents Tuesday. None of the parents interviewed by the Daily News claimed to have received it Tuesday night.
Leslie Davila, director of the Archdiocese's Office of Child and Youth Protection, called the photo's publication "regrettable."
"When an image or a name of a known child-abuser is published, it causes some very real wounds and it reopens wounds for victims," Davila said. "The inclusion was regrettable and may have caused pain for victims of abuse or acted as a traumatic cue for people."