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Fr. Hanna Appointed to Leadership Position with Basilian Fathers After 2013 Misconduct Allegation

February 13, 2019

by Siobhan Fleming, PhD

Fr. Jack Hanna, CSB was named in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston (ADGH) Clergy Disclosure List of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor. The minimal information provided by the ADGH says only of Fr. Hanna’s status, “Faculties Removed 2013 (Galveston-Houston).” The sole assignment listed: St. Thomas High School (STHS), Houston.

Connecting the Dots

Fr. Hanna, a native Houstonian, is a member of the order of priests, the Congregation of St. Basil, (CSB), referred to as the Basilian Fathers. His inclusion in the list, and ensuing statements from the ADGH and Basilians, lead to more questions than answers.

In 2013, Fr. Hanna had a very public exit from STHS that, while described at the time as a "voluntary resignation," was mired in an allegation of misconduct. Allen Turner of the Houston Chronicle reported on that story March 8, 2013:

 

Rev. Kevin Storey, school president…said Hanna had been accused of unspecified misconduct. School officials said the complainant was an adult.

On the same day, the high school president and principal emailed STHS alumni to inform them that...the allegation of misconduct was made by an adult against Father Jack Hanna...

Key Points in this Debacle

The carefully worded description in 2013 that the allegation of misconduct was "made by an adult" led many readers to infer the misconduct itself involved an adult. As is usually the case with statements from the Church, it's what they don't say that is the most telling.

They did not say if the person who made the allegation was an adult at the time of the alleged misconduct or was an adult when the allegation was brought to their attention. The distinction is a very important piece of information missing from the Basilians' 2013 statements about Hanna. It is a glaring omission.

If we reread the 2019 statement from the Basilians (Hanna was removed from active ministry and from any involvement with minors since 2013) with the context of the 2013 allegation in mind, it reads like the Basilians are pointing to the 2013 incident as the credible accusation of sexual abuse of a minor. It leads to another question about that 2013 statement: Did the Basilians use semantics to not lie about the accusation per se, but still not tell the whole story ("Well, the person was technically an adult when the allegation was made, so that's not a lie...but we haven't said if the person was an adult when the misconduct happened!").

The 2019 statement by the Basilians has an air of virtue signaling that they followed the Dallas Charter by removing Hanna from active ministry in 2013. The Dallas Charter refers to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People developed in 2002 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops when they met in Dallas, Texas. It is a set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. Those procedures clearly state that if it is established that a priest sexually abused a minor, he is to be removed from ministry.

Hanna was removed from active ministry in 2013, and of course we now know he was credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor. So what was with the statements in 2013 about the misconduct allegation from an adult? Were they to protect the reputation of the Basilian Fathers and Hanna? If so, they failed miserably.

When even a single act of sexual abuse by a priest or deacon is admitted or is established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon will be removed permanently from ecclesiastical ministry...(SST, Art. 6; CIC, c. 1395 §2).

The Aftermath of Being "Removed from Active Ministry"

Following his “voluntary resignation,” described in the 2013 email from the high school, Fr. Hanna moved to the Basilian headquarters in Toronto. We know this because in August of that same year, just five months after that email sent to alumni and after “focusing on his treatment,” Fr. Hanna was listed as the Treasurer General of the Basilian Fathers in their “2013 Charity Return.”

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requires registered charities to list all its directors and trustees with the date each began in the position. Fr. Hanna’s start date: August 1, 2013.

According to the Basilian Way of Life, the documented principles and practices of the order, the Superior General appoints a priest to the position of Treasurer General. All other positions on the Basilian Leadership Council are elected positions.

The Basilian Way of Life

In 2013, the Superior General was Very Rev. George T. Smith, C.S.B. The Basilian Way of Life says,

“The other officials of the general administration are appointed by the Superior General, with the consent of his Council. Among them, the Secretary General and the Treasurer General exercise functions of special importance in the Community.”

Fr. Hanna is listed as Treasurer General in the Charity Returns for the Basilian Fathers from 2013-2018. He was appointed to a leadership position that had a “special importance” to all Basilian Fathers for six years in a row after resigning from STHS in March 2013 amidst an allegation of misconduct "from an adult" and/or a credible accusation of sexual abuse of a minor.

As Treasurer General, Hanna was prominently featured online in promotional news items put out by the Basilians. The Basilian Directory, Digital Edition dated May 14, 2018 lists Hanna as the Treasurer General. In July 2018 the Basilian Fathers’ Twitter account posted a photo (left) of Fr. Hanna at the Basilian’s annual General Chapter meeting.

Fr. Hanna is still alive and well (unlike 50 percent of the priests named on the ADGH list who are deceased). The order's Instagram post in September 2018 shows Fr. Hanna in Mexico having lunch with Basilian scholastics (seminarians).The inclusion of Fr. Hanna in the ADGH list begs the following questions:

1: When did the Basilians and the ADGH receive the accusation about Hanna sexually abusing a minor?

2: What was the age of the victim at the time of the abuse? (not the person's age when the accusation was made)

3: How many accusations of sexual abuse have been made against Fr. Hanna?

4: Why did the Basilian Superior General appoint Fr. Hanna to a leadership position in their religious order in August 2013 after the allegation of misconduct (or credible accusation of sexual abuse)?

NB: This isn’t the first time a Basilian priest was appointed to a leadership position on the Basilian Council after misconduct. Follow up on that is forthcoming.

Education and History of Assignments for Fr. Hanna

DOB: 1944, Houston, Texas

Schools: St. Rose of Lima Elementary School, St. Thomas High School, 1962

Basilian Novitiate: 1962-1963

B.A., University of St. Thomas: 1967

Ordained (transitional) Deacon: 1973

M.A., Spanish, Stephen F. Austin University: 1973

M.Div., St. Michael’s College Toronto: 1973

Ordination: 1974

Assignments

1967-1970:  Andrean High School, Gary Indiana (Basilian school)

1970-1973:  St. Michael’s College Toronto, graduate student, Basilian Scholastic (seminarian)

1973-2008: University of St. Thomas

1981-2013:  St. Thomas High School

2013-2018: Treasurer General, Basilian Fathers Council, Toronto, Ontario

Before his 2013 resignation, Fr. Hanna was profiled in the high school’s alumni newsletter, Eagles’ Pride, 2011-2012:

Fr. Hanna taught in Houston for more than 40 years. We don't know how many accusations have been made about Fr. Hanna. We only know that in 2013 an allegation of misconduct was made by an adult against him, and that the Basilians removed him from active ministry and any involvement with minors since 2013...coincidentally the same year the allegation was made by an adult.

Here are some photos of Fr. Jack Hanna through the years from the yearbooks at St. Thomas High School and the University of St. Thomas. Yearbook photos courtesy of: personal collection.