FLEMINGTON, NJ – A priest who formerly served in Hunterdon has been permanently removed from the priesthood, according to a press release issued today, Good Friday, by the Diocese of Metuchen.
Mark Dolak, 66, served in various Catholic churches throughout the state, including St. Catherine of Siena in Pittstown. He was ordained in 1979, according to the Diocese.
Dolak “had his priestly faculties removed” more than 20 years ago, the Diocese said.
“He has now been permanently removed from the priesthood by the Holy Father via the laicization process,” today’s press release states. “When a priest is laicized, he is returned to the status of a lay person.”
Dolak was previously identified by the church as “credibly accused” of sexual abuse of a minor.
“Upon receiving the news from the Holy See about the removal from the priesthood of Mark Dolak, my first thought was to pray for the survivors of child sexual abuse,” said Bishop James F. Checchio in a statement. “While his crimes and sins are decades old … they are no less shameful and horrific and their effects sadly remain.
“I asked diocesan staff to let his survivors know of this latest step,” he said. “I pray that this action in at least some small way aids his victims in the healing process.”
The Diocese of Metuchen reports that it has taken many steps to create safe environments for children. The Diocese has required background checks, child protection training for all who work or volunteer with children and has implemented zero-tolerance policies since 2002, according to the press release.
“No cleric who has had a credible accusation of child sexual abuse is in ministry,” the press release states. The Diocese “reports every accusation to the appropriate County Prosecutor’s office, regardless of when or how long ago the abuse is alleged to have happened and whether or not the accused is living or deceased."
The Diocese also relies on a Review Board, which consists of nine members. That includes three medical professionals, three members of the clergy, two former judges and one survivor of clerical sexual abuse.
The Diocese asks that anyone who has been harmed in any way, by any clergy in the Church, to reach out to local law enforcement and the Diocesan Response Officer at 908-930-4558 to report an offense or arrange for counseling assistance.