Michael Voris: Have you forgiven him or do you hope he's in Hell?
Mike Paciorek: I haven't forgiven him. He's where he belongs in Hell, I'm sure. That's where he belongs, anyway, in Hell. I mean he's a piece of crap, as far as I'm concerned.
Cy Paciorek: In my opinion, if he’s in Heaven, then there’s no Hell.
Those are some of the memories and thoughts of brothers who were victims of homosexual predation by a Detroit priest back in the 1960s and 1970s. Church Militant recently interviewed the three brothers who were each molested — picked off one at a time — by Fr. Gerald Shirilla as they each, in turn, grew up in their teen years.
Cy: Yeah, well my first experience with Shirilla, aside from coming over and visiting our family all the time, I remember he wanted to take me to Elias Brothers Big Boy, like Bob. I was all excited, all I had on my mind was that Bog Boy hamburger, french fries and milkshake.
I couldn't wait to get, you know, couldn't wait to get there. And so, I remember he had this green Pontiac LeMans, with bucket seats. He had the car parked next door to our house, and soon as I got in the car, he immediately attacked me and groped me, like grabbing my crotch, and I'm going...
Voris: How old were you?
Cy: About 9 or 10, I'd say — somewhere in that area. I was perfect prey for him because I, as a young boy growing up, I was very quiet and very shy, and naive, and so, when he attacked me like that, I didn't know what to do, I was in such a state of shock that I didn't know whether to cry or jump out of the car.
And I was like, "Oh I'm so uncomfortable I can't stand this, you know I'm like, ugh! So finally we take off and I'm thinking we're going to Big Boys, all of a sudden he says, "Mike, I just remembered I got to stop at Sacred Heart Seminary for something." I go, "Oh, OK."
So he has me come up with him, you know, and I remember we get up into his room, he locks the door and he's doing something and all of a sudden he says, "Hey would you like a rub down, I used to give it to your brothers Johnny, Tommy and Bobby; they used to love it." I go well, all right, still thinking about that Big Boy, you know — still thinking about that Big Boy, you know.
Shirilla was the chief organizer for the archdiocese of Detroit's papal visit by Pope John Paul II in 1987 and was on the faculty of Sacred Heart Seminary. He was, in fact, a very well-known priest in the archdiocese and was a serial homosexual predator for decades — and despite incessant rumors constantly surrounding him, continued to be given plum assignments. For example, he eventually became the director of the archdiocesan Office of Worship.
He was ordained for Detroit in 1968 by the uber-liberal Cdl. John Dearden. At the time of his ordination, he had already been molesting the first couple of the Paciorek brothers, taking them back to his room at Sacred Heart Seminary on frequent trips.
In 1970, he was placed on the faculty of Sacred Heart and used his office space to continue the molestations. The rector of Sacred Heart at the time, Fr. Thaddeus Ozog, became best friends with Shirilla and both routinely vacationed together in a camper, well known by Detroit clergy and hierarchy.
Ozog was also a molester — the archdiocese of Detroit releasing his name posthumously just two months ago that there was a credible report of sex with a minor. He died of AIDS in 1994.
Court documents reveal that in 1973, Shirilla was ousted from the seminary for sexual impropriety, yet remarkably he was allowed to continue on in his priesthood, despite some higher-ups saying he was "unfit to serve as a priest."
The timeline is important here because it reveals a system that knew about his evil deeds yet still advanced him along, as we said, eventually becoming director of the Office of Worship in 1983 and being tagged to be the point man for Pope John Paul's visit and Mass to Detroit in 1987.
All the while, Shirilla continued his homosexual predation of teenage boys, and various archdiocesan officials knew about it; while others strongly suspected it and quietly talked about it.
Cy: I just kind of blocked it out, I just kind of blocked it out over a number of years.
Tom Paciorek: You were kind of sworn to secrecy, not only through him but to yourself because, you know, you go into a different place mentally. I don't know how much counseling my brothers have had over the years, but I've had hundreds of hours talking, trying to get through this thing.
And I find that when this whole story was revealed in 2002 — in 2002, about this incident I was preparing to do the interview with Detroit News with Jim Schaefer, Patty Montemurri. I was reliving the worst possible scenario that ever happened to me, the worst event that Shirilla had put me through.
I just remember saying, "Is this ever going to be over? Is it ever going to be." I felt like I heard a voice say, "It's over." And that's when the healing process can begin. Now, that happened to me. I don't know what experience all the other thousands and tens of thousands of kids had gone through. At the time, I was in my fifties before I had this, it's almost like an apparition that this thing is over.
In 1993, it all started to unravel. One of his victims informed the archdiocese of homosexual predation by Shirilla from when the victim was 9 to 16.
Archdiocesan spokesman Ned McGrath dutifully kept all information as hush-hush as possible, only saying the allegations were from years earlier. He refused to reveal any details or even any general information — like the sex of the victim — which would have, of course, revealed that it was homosexual.
According to media reports from the time, Shirilla had not only been director of worship for the diocese but also on the faculty of the seminary — again. That raises the question of how he got back on the faculty after being dismissed for sexual impropriety twenty years earlier.
In fact, the question of why he was still a priest at all started being asked. None of these questions were given adequate answers by McGrath who continued to deflect as much as possible. McGrath's presence in the scandal is key because, as it continued to unfold, he played an important role in keeping the press at bay. He was, after all, the communications director.
According to various press reports citing McGrath, the archdiocese had barred Shirilla from ministry, sent him to the well-known St. Luke's in Maryland for treatment and suggested that he would no longer be a priest — that they recommended to him to leave the priesthood. But the archdiocese never followed up and forced the issue as you would expect.
In fact, after time at St. Luke's, Shirilla formed a Virginia-based pilgrimage travel company with another Detroit molester priest who was eventually convicted and imprisoned, Fr. Harry Benjamin, close seminary friend — in fact, best friend of eventual archdiocesan power broker Msgr. John Zenz.
According to archdiocesan personnel present during the scandal, Zenz was instrumental in trying to keep the wraps on the Shirilla news, along with McGrath.
Why is all this pertinent now? Because even after all this, men like McGrath and Zenz retain massive influence in the archdiocese, exercising enormous power and control during the reign of Cdl. Adam Maida from 1990–2008, nearly 20 years.
Maida was followed by current Abp. Allen Vigneron who kept the men in his inner circle, men who actively worked to keep the homosexual predator priest problem under wraps. Even to this day, entering their final professional years, these trusted advisors of Abp. Vigneron and keepers of many secrets still operated with the institution in mind.
For example, after Shirilla dropped off the radar in the early 90s, he suddenly resurfaced in the diocese of Gaylord, Michigan.
Tom: On paper, it may not seem — well, you're not physically, you weren't beat up, emotionally you're destroyed, and that's the thing I want to get across.
When I heard that he was going to be exposed to more kids, and that was absolutely, I said, good grief, you've waited long enough, you've got to get this thing out or I couldn't have lived with myself had those steps not been taken, and still you grieve over not doing it.
But you understand a little bit more and more as time goes on why we didn't. But it's still, it's still, it's him, he's the bad guy, you're not the bad guy, you're the victim.
When the Detroit Free Press broke the news, the archdiocese of Detroit went into meltdown mode. Maida, Zenz and McGrath all knew Shirilla was active again in ministry as McGrath himself told the Detroit Free Press at the time.
But once news got out that he was an active priest again, the Paciorek brothers went to the local Detroit press and told their story of years of abuse by the homopredator priest.
That's when the deflection and finger-pointing began by McGrath as he tried to steer the narrative with local reporters and save the image of Cdl. Maida and the archdiocese.
McGrath told the press that Maida had not given his consent, but Cooney publicly contradicted that and said that Maida approved of the transfer of his Detroit priest to Alpena.
McGrath went into full spin control and contradicted Bp. Cooney's account that the archdiocese of Detroit had been consulted by Cooney, claiming Maida had not given his approval.
But the problem is Shirilla was still a Detroit priest and answerable to Maida, his bishop. All the archdiocese would have to have done was order Shirilla back to Detroit, like they eventually ended up doing once the press reports started multiplying.
See, the Pacioreks were a pretty well-known Detroit family — two of the brothers Shirilla abused having gone on to successful careers in Major League Baseball. So when they started talking to national reporters, things heated up at the archdiocese and McGrath and company had to start answering uncomfortable questions.
They blamed the situation on bureaucratic snafus and paperwork, etc. But no one close to the case believed that. Shirilla even remained on the payroll of the archdiocese all those years, although McGrath couldn't give a figure of how much money he was paid.
Shirilla had an extensive history of homosexual predation, had been removed once from his post at the seminary 30 years earlier and eventually removed again 20 years later from additional high-profile offices.
Yet after laying low, doing the travel agency business with another molester priest — another fact the archdiocese of Detroit admitted to knowing — he ends up back in a parish in another Michigan diocese with the full knowledge of the power brokers in Detroit — Maida, Zenz and McGrath. Only media reports got this cleaned up as one of Shirilla's other victims told the Detroit Free Press.
As for the brothers who were victimized by Shirilla:
Voris: What would you like to see — any of you like to see — the archdiocese do in reference to this case, just step up and say, "Yep, we screwed this up, we didn't care." Is that what you want to hear?
Mike: Admit you're wrong. Admit your bad behavior.
Cy: And get rid of all those predators and send them to jail. They should be locked up, permanently, forever, in my opinion.
Voris: What do you think is the motivation for treating all of this so kind of, oh, well, you know.
Tom: I think it's money because we were talking earlier, Mike, about the billions of dollars that have been forked over now and they want to minimize that, I think, as much as they can.
Church Militant has the full interview with three of the four brothers molested over years by Shirilla available by just clicking on the link.
As for the archdiocese of Detroit, these kinds of cover-ups and deceitful practices by men still in influential positions are what the laity want to see owned up to and action taken about.
Why did Abp. Vigneron keep these men in place when he arrived? Why do they still have any role whatsoever in his administration? All of this was very well known. In fact, Vigneron was rector of Sacred Heart Seminary shortly after all this came very public.
Why have they not been named publicly by the archdiocese for their complicity in all this and other cases? How are they still on the payroll? Why are they still able to look down the road at a pension?
Vigneron announced that he was going to introduce a "new DNA" into the archdiocese as he faced plummeting numbers of active Catholics. Yet faithful Catholics are asking the serious question: How can that possibly be done when some of the very people who have participated in all of this are the very people closest to him, handpicked personally by him to stay on when he began as archbishop of Detroit 10 years ago, and they are still in place today?
It's increasingly clear that as long as the old guard is still in office, those in Detroit who still bear the stamp of the Cdl. Dearden era that nothing substantive is going to change. The mindset, the policy, the personnel, all of it has to go.
We strongly advise you to watch our Church Militant interview with the brothers so you can get a serious understanding of how ugly and soul-damaging this evil really is — not just the crime, but the cover-up as well, especially the cover-up.