Braving the Cold and Heavy Rain, Bronx Parishioners March In Support of Bishop Jenik As Evidence Mounts of False Accusation

Bishop John Jenik : false accusation

Hundreds of supporters turned out in support of Bishop John Jenik last Friday in the Bronx

Nearly 300 parishioners from Our Lady of Refuge Church in Bronx, New York, did not let nasty weather deter them from marching in support of accused Bishop John Jenik last Friday.

And as the spirited defense of Bishop Jenik grows, more information is now surfacing suggesting that Jenik's accuser, Michael Meenan, has some serious explaining to do.

Character counts spoke with Michael Breslin, now 50, who has known Bishop Jenik "longer than anyone" outside of Jenik's own family. Breslin first met Jenik at age 14, after his two parents who had died, and Bishop Jenik became a mentor to him.

Beslin especially emphasized that Jenik never at any time acted inappropriately or even demonstrated even a hint of inappropriateness. To that effect, Breslin had earlier left a comment with us last week in the story we posted about Jenik's accusation (emphasis ours):

"I met [Bishop Jenik] as a 14 year old boy living a few blocks from Our Lady of Refuge and spent countless moments alone in his company. I spent many nights away from home as a teenager and a college student with Bishop Jenik. The majority of these trips ranged from a few days to a week or more whereby Bishop Jenik and I spent almost every waking hour together. At no time did Bishop Jenik ever display inappropriate behavior whether by word, action, innuendo or anything which could otherwise be construed as simply wrong. Bishop Jenik never acted or exhibited behavior either in word or deed that could be interpreted as sexual in nature. On the contrary, Bishop Jenik offered me guidance and sound advice. I never experienced, witnessed or heard rumors which even suggested any sort of inappropriate behavior on his part. On the contrary, Bishop Jenik was and remains a role model to me and countless others. I pray for him, his parishioners, his family and friends and all those who have been adversely impacted by this matter."

Bishop John Jenik : false accusation

Different ages and languages, but all in support of Bishop John Jenik

We also spoke with Juan Carlos Salazar, 34, of Bronx, New York, who says he has known Bishop Jenik so long that he cannot even remember a time in his life when he didn't know him.

"There are stories for days I can tell you," Salazar says of the positive influence that Jenik has had on him and countless other individuals. In addition to being a powerful role model, Jenik has helped others secure affordable housing, tuition, computers, or books if needed. (We also direct readers to a glowing July 7, 1996, article about Bishop Jenik in the New York Times: "Making It Work: The Priest With the Bulletproof Vest.")

When asked about the claims of Jenik's accuser that the priest plied him with alcohol, Salazar almost laughed. "He never drank around us or anything like that," Salazar explained.

And what about the accuser's claims of inappropriate sexual behavior? Salazar said that he thinks such claims are "ridiculous" and "absurd." As a priest and as a man, Jenik was "tough," and "rigid" – "not the kind of guy to give hugs."

"He was a hard-ass, but in a good way," Salazar explains. "He always pushed us" to do the right things in life and to do well. (A comment from an Angie Diaz at Norwood News echoes Salazar's assessment: "He was very strict and firm. He played no games, but showed us right from wrong and impacted many of us on how to be respectful human beings.")

"We know who this man is," Salazar concludes, and he is not even remotely like the man that Michael Meenan, Jenik's accuser, has described.

Meenan's back flip

We already chronicled in our previous post the numerous questions about Meenan's wild charges. And now it seems Meenan has some more explaining to do about remarks he recently made.

At a November 1 press conference, Meenan ominously declared to the world, "I'm here to tell you I'm not the only [victim]. There are others."

But a new article in the New York Times reports that Meenan's lawyer, the notorious Mitchell Garabedian, is only "exploring allegations by two other people that question the bishop's 'moral fitness' but do not allege sexual abuse."

Stay tuned.


  1. Anne Rowe says:

     I am proud to say  I knew and worked with Bishop John Jenik. My children trusted and admired him.  He was a good friend and mentor  Bishop Jenik was a welcomed guest  in our home.   NEVER was there  inappropriate behavior, comment, or discussion.  After 40 years of totally dedicated service to his parishioners and the people of the Bronx community, ONE individual cannot be allowed to destroy the reputation and career of this amazing priest and human being. I pray My Catholic Church, will wake up and listen and do the RIGHT  thing this time. 

    • malcolm harris says:

      Heart-felt admiration for those loyal supporters at Our Lady of Refuge Church, in New York. Wish there were more demonstrations of support…. for priests and Bishops, and I pray that others will be inspired. But why hasn't it happened before?.  Given that so many priests have been accused over the years?. And that the local parishioners have often been in disbelief at the accusations?. Well I think that the explanation lies in something that Hitler once wrote. He asserted…"the bigger the lie, the more likely it is to be believed."  The shocking accusation stuns people into a bewildered silence, and the  resulting media  witch-hunt just makes it even more demoralizing. However I wish to say that in an earlier lifetime I was an auditor… my job was to separate fact from fiction. My advice is this……if your personal experience differs from what the media is telling you…..then believe your personal experience.

    • Dan says:

      "Heart-felt admiration" for Catholics and all who wish to seek the truth, even when that truth may be painful and hard to believe. I've listened to Pope Francis' letter to the synod and the first few days of their meetings and they sound awful concerned with the ongoing crisis in the Church, giving it top priority. I hope to see action spawned from their words. The Pope said something in the order of, "These are our sins, not the sins of the media." Glad to see someone not pointing their fingers at others. 


  2. Mark Taylor says:

    How come you never read about this at sites like Catholics4Change?

  3. Lucy says:

    I’m appalled and saddened by these accusations made towards a man who served as my role model for the past 29 years.  Growing up in a turbulent neighborhood, the church he maintained was a safe haven for me where I was able to grow both spiritually and intellectually. All this was made possible by the countless of hours spent with Jenik and other kids in church activities either as altar server or in school, teaching us Latin, Logic, computer office software classes, history discussions… This man led his life in discipline but with his dynamic and charismatic personality, I always felt welcomed, safe and free to learn new things. Through the guidance of this wonderful and caring soul, I had an enriching childhood, which I will always be eternally grateful.

    I only pray that the accuser receives some clarity and rethinks his accusations. 

    It is unjust to go through sexual abuse, (as I woman I would know) but its just as equally unjust to be falsely accused. 


  4. Lizbeth Rivera says:

    I know Bishop Jenik as long as l can remember, more than 35 years, he is a man of faith. Always strict and never acted innapropriate with anyone. I pray that the false accusation, will clear up soon! Always in our prayers!

  5. Stephanie Velez says:

    I have known father Jenik since I was 10 yrs old, I’m 29 now. I have worked with him and so has my older sister. He has never, ever been inappropriate with her nor me. He was a guiding light for my sister and I. He was the one that gave jobs to those who wanted to better themselves. We were also alter servers my sister and I and again he never did anything to anyone. He was never alone with anyone, never touched anyone and never drank in front of us. He was strict in a good way. He wanted what was best for the kids and he helped the parents when they needed him most. It’s sad that someone would try to hurt a person that has only tried to make “his area” a better place for the students and those who attend church in our lady of refuge.

  6. mark says:

    A big thank you to the parishioners of Our Lady of Refuge Church, in New York, for standing with and supporting Bishop Jenik. You are a credit to your Bishop and I am sure he must be proud of you. I sense this is one false accuser (Michael Meenan) who is going to regret his actions till his dying days. 

  7. Dan says:

    Now once again we're back to kicking the catholic can down the road. The bishops have a synod and throughout the meeting the majority are discussing the need for transparency and disclosure regarding the child abuse matters, and the results, drum roll please, absolutely nothing! They brought one proposal to the table asking the Vatican to release all documentation regarding the misconduct of Cardinal McCarrick and the result, shot down. 

    Shouldn't we be discussing the elephant in the room, rather than cherry picking these few cases of supposed fraud. When is the Vatican going to realize that we're fed up with these Kangaroo courts, worthless tribunals and fake commissions. The only ones you're fooling is yourselves. Wise Catholics are leaving the Church and holding back on donations and as much as the pope tries, I'm not sure he can hoodwink the LGBT community into picking up the slack. Time to clean house and come out into the light, but the Church keeps refusing to! 

    • LLC says:


      Please inform yourself better before speaking (or writing, as is the case here). The resolution (which was modified multiple times during the discussion) was finally shut down due to its ambiguous and ultimately unresolved language. In the words of Bishop Cupich, “So we’re voting on asking the Holy See to do what they already said they’re going to do?”.

      “Shouldn't we be discussing the elephant in the room, rather than cherry picking these few cases of supposed fraud” = essentially, this is what this (and many other sites) are doing. The “elephant in the room”, as you call it, are the cultural changes brought forth by liberal and progressive policies especially in the sixties and seventies.

      “Wise Catholics are leaving the Church” = according to Scriptures, the only one who left the Church was Judas…

    • Dan says:

      LLC, You may wany to pay better attention to what I was saying "(or writing, as is the case here)". Ninety-five percent of bishops and speakers during the synod were speaking of "transparency and disclosure regarding the child abuse matters". However they didn't conclude anything regarding these important matters and thought instead they would throw the world a bone by bringing one vote forward on McCarrick. "The result, drum role please, absolutely nothing". 

      The "elephant in the room" is the sexual sins, cover-ups and secrecies regarding child abuse among the clergy of your Church = disgusting, and it's past time that something is truly done to address these problems and prosecute the perpetrators. Quit trying to place blame on "liberal and progressive policies especially in the sixties and seventies", when these perversions were occuring in the Church long before that time. 

      The apostles were the members of the True Christian Church of believers and were never members of Catholic, Protestant, Presbyterian or any other false churches. However Judas would probably find a pretty good fit as a member of your Church. 

  8. LLC says:


    “You may want to pay better attention to what I was saying…” = I do, as much as your confused writing allows (for the sake of clarity and understanding each other, please re-read your posts before submitting, and correct the spelling, at least). In your post, you made at least three points:

    1) the result of the Bishops’ general assembly was, in the mater of child abuse, nothing

    2) the Bishops brought forth one proposal that was shut down

    3) we need to discuss the elephant in the room

    In my response, I focused on your claims #2 and #3, demonstrating how again and again your biased opinion (to which you are entitled, of course, but is nevertheless biased and incorrect) blinds you to consider this matter with objectivity.

    Regarding claim #1, please refrain from absurd claims such as “the majority are discussing” or, even worse, “ninety-five percent”. Did you tally how many Bishops were present, how many were discussing and how many were speaking of transparency? Since you claim, if I am not mistaken, that you majored in Math, a numerical proof of such claims would be appreciated. As for the original argument (“The result, drum roll please, absolutely nothing”), can you please show any proof that the Conference did not yield any result?

    “when these perversions were occurring in the Church long before that time…” = while this is correct (and, again, it applies to every human institution, including your church), studies have shown how since the sixties and seventies these issues (not only in the Church, but everywhere) have vastly increased in numbers due to social changes in matter of sex and policies.

    One final thought, if you allow. You continuously claim membership in the “True Church”, but have always failed to name it. It is easy for you to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet and attach Catholics, since our believes and social structure (and sins, of course, when they actually happen) are clearly identifiable, yet nothing is known about yours. Can you provide the name of your Church, unless, of course, you feel that is a threat to your security? I simply would like to know more about it. Again, if you do not feel comfortable about it, no problem