As a lifetime parishioner of St. Brendan’s, and a friend of Father James Lane, I am outraged that a single individual can make an accusation against this wonderful man who died five years ago and tarnish his reputation 40 years after the fact. He is unable to speak back against the charges. And the Archdiocese is content to give the accuser money despite the lack of proof and the absurdity that the individual would have a supposed abuser perform his marriage and baptize his children.
Anyone who knew Father Lane knows that the accuser is absolutely, unquestionably mistaken. Father Lane was a good, honorable, trustworthy man who lived his life in Christ’s light. He cared about all of the people he met and watched over all of the families of this parish. I have lived in St. Brendan Parish for 32 years and spent 8 years at St. Brendan School as a student with Father Lane as the pastor. Father Lane was the patriarch of our St. Brendan Family. We looked up to Father Lane; he was a role model to us all, a truly good man.
Father Lane was special in that he truly cared about individuals and was always there to support people in the parish and their families during hard times. Although he was a sort of figurehead for the parish, he was also very approachable. He would not brush anyone off; he was always ready to listen, whether it was to an elderly parishioner’s pains or a young school child excited to tell of a big game that was won. Everyone was important to him. In his good-natured way he could joke with children or find the words to comfort a grieving relative. He was real and that made religion and Christ’s teachings that we were learning as children real, too. It was not just something that the teachers were saying…it was what Father Lane was living and what he preached each week at Mass.
When I was in seventh grade I was diagnosed with cancer and spent the next year undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment. In the middle of that horrible year, I lost my father to cancer. It was Father Lane who accompanied my mother to the hospital to retrieve me from the chemotherapy treatment I was undergoing when my father died and it was he who drove us home. Granted, the day was so cloaked in sadness and heartache that it has become a blur, but I do remember that Father Lane was there. He knew that it was not the time to preach of eternal life and God’s plan. He remained relatively silent – just what we needed, as no words would matter at that point. Our world had collapsed and our lives had markedly changed that day and Father Lane was there for support and guidance…for prayers.
That is what he gave the people of St. Brendan’s day in and day out: so much support and so many prayers. And as any child in St. Brendan’s Parish knew, Father Lane’s prayers were up there with those of the pope.
The reason that the accusations are so crazy is in part because of the fact that Father Lane had talked about the priest molestation cases that occurred before his death and he was so upset by them. He was the one who had Father John Geoghan removed from St. Brendan’s in order to protect the children. He was so angry that a priest could use his collar to gain a child’s trust and then hurt that child. It deeply upset him – to the point of tears. Father Lane would never hurt a child; he would never hurt a living soul.
Because St. Brendan’s is a family of sorts, and our patriarch’s good name is being drawn through the mud, I think you may expect a bit of anger. We here in this parish love “Our Father Lane.”
I just cannot believe that the archdiocese would pay money to a man with no proof – scarring Father Lane’s memory – in granting a settlement that seems like an admission of guilt. It makes those of us who knew Father Lane absolutely livid. I don’t know if the accuser is remembering incorrectly or is making the story up for monetary gain, but I do know that he is wrong.
It may seem hard for people on the outside to understand, but anyone who knew Father Lane knows without a doubt that these accusations are not true. He was a man and priest who put others ahead of himself and truly cared. I realize that in this day and age it may be hard to believe that such a man existed,… but he did exist and his name was Father James H. Lane… and I am honored (as so many are) to have called him my friend.
Lauren O’Brien, DVM
St. Brendan’s Parish