(WBEN) A former Buffalo area priest and principal has been suspended and is accused of sexually abusing a minor in the 1970s in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Police are investigating.
Father Michael Kolodziej was a teacher and principal at Saint Francis High School in Athol Springs and at Cardinal O'Hara in the 1970's and early 1980s. He was also at Bishop Turner, Villa Maria and as school director at St. Mary of Sorrows in Buffalo
Kolodziej is 69 years old and most recently served as vicar of a parish in Jonesboro, Ga. He has been suspended from public ministry.
A statement from the Buffalo Diocese says they have " been made aware of the allegations involving Father Kolodziej while he was a religious order priest serving in the Baltimore Archdiocese. We are now following our diocesan policies to determine whether there are any issues arising from his tenure as a priest of our diocese. "
In between stints in Western New York, Kolodziej worked in the Baltimore area and that diocese said a statement Thursday that a former student has alleged that Kolodziej abused him on several occasions while they were wrestling.
Former students tell WBEN that while at Cardinal O Hara as a deputy principal Kolodziej was widely respected, and used wrestling as a form of discipline.
The Baltimore accusations are specific to his work there.
"Anyone who has any knowledge of child sexual abuse is urged to come forward, and to report it immediately to the police. If clergy or other Church personnel are suspected of committing the abuse, please also call this confidential hotline: 716-895-3010" , the Buffalo diocese said.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore says it's cooperating with the investigation.
The Baltimore archdiocese says it's not aware of any other allegations of misconduct against Kolodziej. Officials from the Archdiocese of Baltimore and in Springfield Mass are asking members of other parishes where Kolodziej worked to come forward if they know of any abuse.
Here's the statement released by the Archdiocese of Baltimore:
STATEMENT REGARDING FR. MICHAEL KOLODZIEJ, OFM CONV.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, and Archbishop Curley High School have received an allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor by Fr. Michael Kolodziej (kuh-low-jay), OFM Conv. Father Kolodziej is a member and former Minister Provincial of the Order, which has staffed Archbishop Curley High School since its founding.
Father Kolodziej, age 69, was a teacher at Archbishop Curley High School from 1975-79. A former student from this time period has alleged that he was abused on several occasions while Fr. Kolodziej wrestled him. Archbishop Curley High School reported the allegation immediately to authorities, and the police were promptly informed; the School, the Order, and the Archdiocese, which owns Archbishop Curley High School, are cooperating fully with authorities. The Order has suspended Fr. Kolodziej from all public ministry and the Archbishop has withdrawn Fr. Kolodziej’s faculties to function as a priest in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Order, and Archbishop Curley High School are unaware of any other allegations of misconduct against Fr. Kolodziej during his time at Archbishop Curley High School.
Fr. Kolodziej was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Buffalo in 1970 and served in Buffalo as a hospital chaplain (1970), associate pastor and school director at St. Mary of Sorrows Church (1970-71), and teacher at Bishop Turner High School and Villa Maria College (1971-74) until he entered the Franciscan Order in 1974. After serving at Archbishop Curley High School, Fr. Kolodziej served as teacher and assistant principal at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, NY (1979-82), principal at Cardinal O’Hara High School in Tonawanda, NY (1982-88), pastor at Holy Trinity Parish in Lawrence, MA (1988-91), rector at St. Stanislaus Basilica in Chicopee, MA (1991-2001), Minister Provincial of the Order in Ellicott City, MD (2001-2010), and parochial vicar at St. Philip Benizi Parish in Jonesboro, GA from 2010 until his recent suspension.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Franciscan Order, and Archbishop Curley High School are committed to protecting children and helping to heal victims of abuse. Anyone who has any knowledge of child sexual abuse is urged to come forward, and to report it immediately to the police. If clergy or other Church personnel are suspected of committing the abuse, please also call the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Office of Child and Youth Protection at (1-410) 547-5348.