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Reinstated priest to Notre Dame Academy parents: accusation "most painful experience" in his life

Posted at 11:58 PM, Jun 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-27 01:21:27-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Dozens of parents of Notre Dame Academy students came to St. Ambrose in South Buffalo Wednesday night for a forum. It was organized by the school after Reverend Samuel Giangreco, Jr. was reinstated to Our Lady of Charity. Last November, the Diocese suspended the young priest for alleged sexual misconduct with an adult woman.

Rev. Bryan Zielenieski, the Canonical Administrator, sat alongside a Franciscan Sister of St. Joseph's, who facilitated the discussion, and Rev. Giangreco to listen and answer questions from parents for well over an hour.

"The accusation came about and I was removed right away and I moved into my sisters house and it was the most painful experience I have ever, ever underwent," Giangreco told the room. Rev. Giangreco called the investigation "long." Diocesan officials interviewed him twice before returning him to ministry with 14 weeks of counseling, according to Giangreco.

"The details of it, I am not able to share out of respect for the privacy of the adult female," he said. Several parents asked specific questions about the allegations, but Giangreco said he couldn't answer them, leaving many frustrated.

"You cannot have all of us parents and be like we can't know anything about the case. He went to therapy for 14 weeks and we all have to sit here with a grave face and be like okay. It's not okay," a parent said.

Father Zielenieski made clear several times during the forum that Giangreco is assigned to the parish, not the school.

"Father Sam would not be here if I did not have full faith and confidence from the report that came about Father Sam," Zielenieski said. Adding he sent a letter to parents about Giancreco's arrival since children may see him in passing.

"You have to understand on our end, we're not able to just blindly say we will welcome you in when we don't know what you did and if we can forgive you or not, but our children need to come first," another parent said.

Parents also brought up the fact that the Diocese did not send a representative for the forum and questioned why. As of 11:30 p.m. Wednesday evening, the Diocese did not respond to 7 Eyewitness News request for comment.