MORE INFO: Msgr. John Zuraw, Vicar General, (330) 744-8451; Justin Huyck, Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org, (330) 744-8451, ext. 320
YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO – The Diocese of Youngstown reports the death of the Rev. Marian Babjak on Monday, October 3, 2022 in the Houston, Texas area. On Monday afternoon, the Diocese of Youngstown was notified of the death of Father Babjak by apparent suicide. At the time of his death, Father Babjak was seeking therapeutic assistance at a treatment center in Houston, Texas.
At the time of Father Babjak’s death, the Diocese of Youngstown was preparing to announce a second allegation of inappropriate physical contact against Father Marian Babjak. Father Babjak had been on administrative leave since November 2021, when a first allegation was reported to the diocese and immediately disclosed by the diocese to public authorities in Ohio, the Diocesan Review Board, and the general public. The first allegation involved a minor who is now an adult. After an independent third-party investigation, the Diocesan Review Board found that the allegation in question did not constitute sexual abuse, but that a violation of the diocese’s Standards of Ministerial Behavior had occurred. The Review Board recommended that Father Babjak engage in a period of evaluation, after which the diocese might consider him for possible future active ministry. Father Babjak resigned as a parish pastor and remained on administrative leave during his time of evaluation.
On Wednesday, September 27, 2022, the Diocese of Youngstown received, through its Victims Assistance Coordinator, a second allegation of inappropriate physical contact with a minor who is now an adult. The second allegation was unrelated to the first allegation and came from Slovakia, from the time that Father Babjak had served as a priest before being incardinated in the Diocese of Youngstown. It involved multiple alleged incidents. Without making a judgment about the claims, the diocese immediately began drafting a communication to the Diocese of Zilina in Slovakia, which involved translation and was being completed at the time of Father Babjak’s death. While the alleged incidents occurred outside of the diocese’s jurisdiction and before the time of Father Babjak’s incardination to the Diocese of Youngstown, the diocese was greatly concerned about this matter and intended to cooperate with the Diocese of Zilina and all civil authorities. Father Babjak was informed of the allegation on Friday, September 30, 2022, in accordance with his rights.
Following his death on Monday, Father Babjak’s family in Slovakia has been notified, along with others who may be traumatized by his death. Pastoral accompaniment services are being provided. Father Babjak’s funeral services will be private. Father Babjak served as pastor of Christ Our Savior Parish in Struthers from August 2020 until being placed on administrative leave in November 2021, and resigning as the parish’s pastor in July 2022. He previously served as Associate Pastor at St. Paul in North Canton and St. Charles Borromeo in Boardman, as well as pastoral assignments before 2016 in Slovakia. He was ordained in 1995.
The Most Rev. David J. Bonnar comments, “The Diocese of Youngstown is devastated by Father Babjak’s death, and the trauma that will be experienced by all involved. As I extended my sincere condolences to those who mourn and offer my prayers for Father Babjak’s eternal rest, I wish to support those who have come forth with allegations. It is important that we as a Church support all victims of abuse and any inappropriate conduct, and remain vigilant and transparent.”
The Diocese of Youngstown’s response to allegations of abuse by clergy or Church personnel is governed by civil law and its Safe Environment Policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults, available at https://doy.org/safe-environment/. The Diocese of Youngstown encourages anyone who has experienced misconduct by a clergy member or church employee to contact public authorities or the diocese directly through Dominic Colucy, Victims Assistance Coordinator at 330-744-8451, ext. 293, or via the confidential diocesan response line: 330-718-1388. Mr. Colucy’s email is email@example.com.