My dear Tom,
Unfortunately, I find myself in the position where I have to bring the on-going scandal that is Silverstream Priory to your immediate attention.
As you are probably aware, in my blog posting dated October 13, 2021, I posed (via e-mail) a series of questions to the father of one of the simply professed monks of Silverstream Priory, Dr. Kwasniewski. At the time of this writing, Dr. Kwasniewski has not replied to same. In my missive to Dr. Kwasniewski, I made reference to an ex-priest of the Archdiocese of Sydney, Fr. Richard Abourjaily.
The said Fr. Abourjaily made life extremely difficult for Cardinal Pell for reasons that do not need to be elucidated within the present.
In light of this blog posting, I have been contacted by a third priest from the Diocese of Meath. Obviously, I assured this priest total discretion, because he was concerned about retaliation because Silverstream Priory and my on-going blogging about same is very contentious and sensitive matter within the Diocese of Meath.
The good priest confirmed to me that Fr. Richard Abourjaily was physically present at Silverstream Priory. He confirms that Fr. Abourjaily was frequently seen on the grounds of Silverstream Priory wearing the traditional soutane; he further confirmed that he had seen Fr. Abourjaily in the choir stalls of Silverstream Priory during the celebration of the Divine Office on several occasions.
I am apprised that Fr. Abourjaily was approached by people who were visiting the Priory when he was out and about to hear confessions, which he did without any hesitation. I am also told by my informant that Fr. Abourjaily was appointed to be the “monasticll cook” by then Prior, Dom Mark Kirby.
It has been confirmed to me that Fr. Abourjaily did celebrate the Conventual Mass at Silverstream Priory on several occasions. Let me be clear, I am stating that Fr. Abourjaily publicly celebrated Mass in the oratory chapel at Silverstream Priory, attended by the monks and members of the public with the explicit permission of Dom Mark Kirby. A Laytown-based woman has confirmed that she attended a Mass at Silverstream celebrated by Fr. Abourjaily. She clearly remembers his Australian accent. She also remarked she was surprised that it was not a monk celebrating the Mass. She was very clear on this point.
However, I now e-mail with the following questions that you will have to ascertain from your predecessor, Bishop Michael Smith.
It is my understanding from the Meath-based priest that Fr. Abourjaily was prohibited from representing himself as a priest under any circumstances while present in the Diocese of Meath. He did NOT have permission to celebrate the Eucharist publicly; he definitely did not have faculties to hear confessions, because he was in a lot of trouble with his then Ordinary, the Archbishop of Sydney. Is this true?
Was Fr. Abourjaily canonically present in the Diocese of Meath with the explicit written permission of his Ordinary, the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, OP?
Was Fr. Abourjaily given written permission to reside at Silverstream Priory by your predecessor, Bishop Michael Smith?
Was Fr. Abourjaily, given faculties to celebrate the Eucharist publicly, and to hear confessions by your predecessor, Bishop Michael Smith?
If, Fr. Abourjaily, did not have permission to canonically reside at Silverstream Priory and did not have faculties to say Mass and/or hear confessions, from the Diocese of Meath — did Dom Mark Kirby have jurisdiction to grant Fr. Abourjaily the requisite permissions? I am not a canonist, however, I am apprised that because Silverstream Priory is under the jurisdiction of the Ordinary of the Diocese of Meath, such permission could only be granted by then Bishop Michael Smith. Is my understanding correct?
Was the fact that Fr. Abourjaily was saying Mass and hearing confessions brought to the attention of the Diocese of Meath? If so, was a Decree rendered by Bishop Michael Smith (at that time) prohibiting Fr. Abourjaily exercising priestly ministry in the Diocese of Meath?
Did the Diocese of Meath have any communication from the Archdiocese of Sydney about Fr. Abourjaily?
Did the Archdiocese of Sydney provide financial assistance to either Silverstream Priory and/or the Diocese of Meath or both to support the then Fr. Abourjaily?
Is there any correspondence pertaining to Fr. Abourjaily in the archives of the Diocese of Meath? If so, are you, (Bishop Deenihan) willing to make it public in an act of transparency?
Of course, I realise, that you are not a fan of mine, however, I am a fair-minded and reasonable individual, so I recognise that the scandal and saga that is Silverstream Priory is not of your creation. You inherited the mess of your predecessor, however, I think it is reasonable to assert that you have made a bad situation worse by failing to address the issues at hand, namely that Silverstream Priory is the misguided vanity project of an individual who purports to be a mystic. However, the misguided mystic has led a life of debauchery that is completely at variance with the normative Christian vocation.
If you had hoped that the visitation (conducted by a Cistercian abbot mired in scandal and a compromised Benedictine abbot who has been complicit absolving Dom Mark Kirby’s known misconduct) would ameliorate the situation – you are very much mistaken.
Bishop Tom, would you accept that Silverstream Priory is hopelessly and irredeemably compromised?
Would you accept that the best way forward is for the Priory to be suppressed by a Decree of the Holy See?
Would you also accept that those who are constituent members of the community should be offered assistance to transfer to credible institutes of religious/monastic life, and those who wish to return to secular life should be afforded financial assistance to make that a reality?
Are you in a position to confirm what will happen to the lands that constitute the Priory should the institute be suppressed by the Holy See?
Do you plan to sell the grounds and use the proceeds of the sale for evangelisation within your canonical territory?
With an assurance of heartfelt prayers and requesting an occasional remembrance in your most powerful prayers, I remain sincerely yours in Christ;
Your brother bishop,
+ Pat Buckley