Pastor resigns after volunteer accused of abuse leads parish trip

BILLERICA -- The Archdiocese of Boston announced Oct. 8 that Father Eugene Tully resigned as Pastor of St. Theresa of Lisieux Parish in Billerica after it became known that he allowed a parish volunteer who had recently been accused of sexually abusing a minor in the 1970s to lead a youth group on an overnight trip.

Father Arthur M. Coyle, Episcopal Vicar for the Merrimack Region, released a statement announcing Father Tully's resignation and calling his actions "a serious error in judgment."

"The matter of concern for the Church is that the volunteer was allowed to participate in the April 2010 parish teen outreach trip, even though Father Tully had been made aware of the circumstances of the civil suit prior to this trip," Father Coyle said. "I want to make clear that there have been no allegations of misconduct received at St. Theresa involving this volunteer."

Father Tully, according to the statement, "now recognizes the seriousness and the implications of his earlier decision" and the archdiocese anticipates he will be able to continue to "serve the people of God in his priesthood."

According to the policies and protocols established in the archdiocese for the protection of children and young adults, if an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is brought forward, that volunteer must step down from any parish ministry while the allegation is being investigated.

The archdiocese expects to name a new pastor shortly. In the interim, Father Agustin Anda, parochial vicar, and Father John J. McCormick, senior priest in residence at St. Theresa, will continue to provide pastoral care to parishioners.