Pastor Steps Down from St. Mary's in Colts Neck

Two Youth Ministers have also left their positions.

Amid what has become a public scandal, Fr. Tom Triggs of St. Mary's Parish in Colts Neck has stepped down from his position, joined by two youth ministers.

The Star Ledger reported on Sunday that Triggs announced his resignation during  Saturday evening mass, following public outcry regarding Rev. Michael Fugee who had been working in the church youth ministry despite a court order to refrain from working with minors.

According a The Star Ledger investigative report on April 29, Fugee confessed in 2001 to groping a 14-year-old boy while working at the Church of St. Elizabeth in Wyckoff. 

However, The Ledger reports Fugee has been seen on youth retreats in Marlboro where he allegedly heard young children and teen's confessions in private while working with the youth ministry.

In an email to parishioners, Fr. Triggs said Fugee had never worked unsupervised with children and was not an official member of the staff.

Fugee resigned from a position with the church last week, and could face additional criminal charges in relation to violating his plea agreement, according to The Star Ledger.

Fr. Triggs resigned on Saturday, along with two Youth Ministers Michael and Amy Lenehan. The Star Ledger reported it was not clear whether the three left voluntarily or were asked to leave.

Calls to St. Mary's were not immediately returned to Patch. 

An email from St. Mary's to parishioners was forwarded to Patch:

Dear members of St. Mary's Parish,   

Our pastor, Fr. Triggs, has asked that the following announcement be made at all Masses this weekend: Fr. Tom Triggs- Statement to Parish

The Bishop of our Diocese, Bishop David O'Connell, has asked that the following announcement be read at all Masses this weekend: Bishop O'Connell- Statement to St. Mary's Parish

Yours Humbly in Christ,
St. Mary's Communications Coordinator 


Read the original full investigative report on NJ.com.

Robert May 05, 2013 at 06:08 PM
It is sad because you cannot even find honesty and safety in a religious place in this crazy world.
Michael Thomas May 05, 2013 at 11:29 PM
Just one more example of what happens when we allow homosexual deviants to become ordained ministers.
Susie Smith May 05, 2013 at 11:37 PM
Perhaps if the Roman Catholic Church allowed their priests to be MEN first, and to have wives and families as they do in other denominations, there would be LESS "homosexual deviants".
Michael Thomas May 06, 2013 at 12:06 AM
To be a priest, one DOES have to be a man, albeit a celibate one. Roman Catholic priests are wedded to the Church (the Bride of Christ), and are called to bear children on the spiritual order. (There is more to being a man than having sexual intercourse.) The Roman Catholic Church is not merely a "denomination." She is the one true church established by Christ. All other churches claiming the name "Christian" are merely "denominations."
Susie Smith May 06, 2013 at 12:19 AM
Point taken. But my personal opinion is that it is unfair of the Church to require celibacy. Some priests are fine with it, and some leave the Church in order to pursue relationships with partners. Others stay in the Church, become deviant, and cause problems when they really should not be there. How are we to know who is "sexually deviant" and who is not BEFORE they become ordained?
Michael Thomas May 06, 2013 at 01:00 AM
The Church's practice with regard to the celibate priesthood is not about "fairness" but rather about wisdom. For a man to commit himself to both a biological family, as well as the temporal and spiritual needs of a parish, would be overwhelming. So there's a practical as well as theological reasoning at work. (It could likewise be argued that women dividing themselves between the duties of motherhood and a career has had many undesirable consequences.) Though matters pertaining to sexuality may be complex, men don't simply "become deviant" as a result of becoming ordained. The truth that many don't want to face is that there is a homosexual network within the clergy that has been permitted to exist for far too long. We mistakenly talk about the problem of "pedophilia," when the problem is actually one of ephebophilia, the attraction of homosexual adult males to adolescent boys.
Coffeegramps May 06, 2013 at 02:22 AM
I am curious. How did Father Fugee come to work at St. Mary's. Did he come with a letter of reference? Did he apply for the position? Was he interviewed for the job? Was he working at St. Mary's because he was a long time friend of the Youth Ministers? It is so puzzling how this priest came to be at this parish without the Bishop knowing about it. Can anyone answer these question?
Harold Sullivan May 06, 2013 at 02:58 AM
@Jennifer Sterner: You're confusing homosexuality and pedarism. Two entirely different things. And of course, priests should be allowed to marry. And of course, women should be admitted to the priesthood. But these things will not happen in our lifetimes.
Michael Thomas May 06, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Actually, they're not two entirely different things. They are both unnatural manifestations of a wounded sexuality. I am curious how one can put forth the notions of priests being allowed to marry, or women being "admitted" to the priesthood, as somehow being obvious statements of absolute truth. Just the use of the expression "admitted to the priesthood" (as if it were some sort of club) demonstrates a lack of understanding of what the priesthood actually is.
Joe Stein May 06, 2013 at 11:56 AM
For a man to commit himself to both a biological family, as well as the temporal and spiritual needs of a parish, would be overwhelming. Overwhelming??? Trying to care for a family if your are out of work or living in a third country where there is no clean water and you fear for safety at all times. Those are overwhelming. Being a married man or woman and having a job (even as a priest) - not so overwhelming.
Michael Thomas May 06, 2013 at 12:07 PM
Yes, we all bear crosses of varying weights and sizes. But there is wisdom in the celibate priesthood. Important to remember that being a priest isn't merely a "job," it's a vocation.
W.H.Yourmachine May 06, 2013 at 05:46 PM
I greatly hope that instead of vitriol and accusations we can now stand behind our Church as we move on from this unfortunate episode.It is clear that Bishop O'Connell has acted appropriately regarding his obligation as a Shepard. To further criticize and excoriate serves no other purpose than self aggrandizement . Let us remember that the Church , after all, is made up of human beings ,witness Saint Peter's denial of Christ on Good Friday . The Church also however is our salvation.
Michael Thomas May 06, 2013 at 05:55 PM
I agree. My main point is that scandal is brought upon the church not because of her teachings, but rather when her members do not faithfully live in accordance with those teachings.
Hank May 07, 2013 at 05:57 AM
May God help this church and it's parishioners, It must be a very hard time for them. This has hit the national papers and websites. They are under the gun. This is a small town parish. Please, let our prayers be with them. The Lord Jesus, will be with them, will you?


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