by Aaron Brom and Susan Van Cleaf
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has released a list of former priests that it says have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children since 1950, including a former priests who served at the Catholic churches of St. Peter and St. Joseph in Delano and Sts. Peter and Paul in Loretto.
Ramsey County District Court ordered the archdiocese to make the list public in a ruling made by Judge John Van de North.
Named were the Rev. Robert Zasacki, formerly of Delano, and the Rev. Joseph Wajda, formerly of Loretto.
Zasacki served from 1989 to 1995 as pastor for the St. Peter and St. Joseph parishes. He was born in 1940 and ordained in 1967. He served at seven churches prior to coming to Delano and two churches after leaving Delano. He was permanently removed from the ministry in 2002, and then he died in 2008.
Wajda served as a temporary administrator for Sts. Peter and Paul parish in Loretto during 1986. Born in 1947, he was ordained in 1973. He served at five churches in various capacities prior to coming to Loretto, including associate priest, administrator and temporary administrator. After leaving Loretto, he served at three churches, either as pastor or associate priest. From there he went on to be a student for three years at Catholic University of America. From 1996 to 2002 he was a judicial vicar for the Metropolitan Tribunal in St. Paul. Then in 2003 he was permanently removed from the ministry. He lives in Minneapolis.
In a letter, Archbishop John Nienstedt announced new disclosure practices in relation to abuse allegations.
He wrote that it has been the practice of the archdiocese to report all allegations of clergy sexual abuse of minors to law enforcement and “any clergy member facing a credible claim of sexual abuse of minors will be removed from ministry pending an investigation of the claim.”
Nienstedt went on to say that if the claim is credible and can be substantiated, new disclosure practices will require that the claim be disclosed on the archdiocese’s website.
All of these claims have been substantiated, which means that there is reasonable grounds to believe that the reported abuse occurred. Most of the reported incidents of abuse occurred between the mid-1950s and the 1980s, and most of these men have been previously identified in media reports. All of these men have been permanently removed from ministry, and most of them have been out of ministry for a decade or more.