Sr. Mary Finn, 84, resigns from seminary position after abuse allegations surface

A member of the Detroit-based Home Visitors of Mary is the latest Catholic sister to be accused of sexual abuse.

Sr. Mary Finn, now 84, is accused of having initiated sexual relationships with two Home Visitors of Mary novices in the early '70s while she was the novice director. According to Deadline Detroit, which first broke the story, Finn arranged for multiple private retreats with the two novices — both of whom were kicked out of the order in 1972, allegedly with no explanation.

In the 1990s, one of the accusers was paid $20,000, although Sr. Barbara Dakoske, administrator of the Home Visitors of Mary, told Deadline Detroit the money was to help cover the cost of the woman's therapy, not to keep her quiet.

It was around that time, too, that the now Archbishop of Detroit, Allen Vigneron, first heard of the accusations against Finn. At the time of the alleged abuse, he was the rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary, where Finn had been teaching theology since 1969. In a statement from the seminary, Vigneron said he was given "partial details" in the late '90s, but thought the matter "had been resolved. I regret that this was not the case."

Just before the Deadline Detroit story was published, Finn resigned from her position as an assistant professor of theology at Sacred Heart, writing in a statement published by the Detroit Archdiocese that she regretted misusing her position of authority to engage in "inappropriate conduct with two adult novices" and that she sincerely apologized for the harm she had caused.

While stories of sexual abuse perpetrated by women religious are less common than those of abuse perpetrated by priests, a growing number of cases have come to light in recent months, including one in which a New Jersey woman has accused a Sister of Charity of St. Elizabeth of abusing her while she was a novice. The Home Visitors of Mary told Global Sisters Report they were not making any comments about Finn or her resignation. The Detroit Archdiocese also declined to comment further "out of respect for those involved."

[Dawn Araujo-Hawkins is a Global Sisters Report staff writer. Her email address is daraujo@ncronline.org. Follow her on Twitter @dawn_cherie]

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