Rev. Arthur W. Niemeyer, another Priest added to list of 50 clergy credibly accused of sexually abusing children
When the Catholic Diocese of Belleville announced last week that it had expanded its list of clergymen credibly accused of sexual abuse of children, Bob Fellner, now age 79, had a lot to say about the subject. When Fellner heard that the Rev. Arthur W. Niemeyer was now a priest named on that list, he knew that he had to speak up.
The now deceased, Rev. Arthur W. Niemeyer, who had worked at churches in Belleville, Shiloh, Kinmundy, Salem and Cahokia, and also worked as director of St. John’s Orphanage in Shiloh in the 1950s and ‘60s, which overlapped when Fellner was there as a volunteer house parent for three summers.
In 1966, Fellner said he and the mother superior of the Orphanage both reported to Bishop Albert R. Zuroweste that they suspected sexual abuse of young, underage school boys by Niemeyer. At the time, Niemeyer was simply transferred to another parish.
To Fellner, the transfer of Niemeyer seemed like the bishop was ignoring the allegations and never held Niemeyer accountable.
“It kind of blew my mind,” he said last week.
In 1967, Fellner become a priest despite his suspicion that Bishop Zuroweste allegedly tried to get him kicked out of seminary because of his involvement in the case. Fellner was a Priest at the former St. Catherine Laboure Catholic Church in Cahokia, then he left the ministry, got married, and worked in the insurance industry for more than 30 years.
Fellner said that even though it took 54 years for the truth to come out, he’s glad the truth about abusive clergymen is finally being reported all over the country.
“Some of the things that I’ve found out since then, and some of the kids that were affected … One boy in particular, he committed suicide, which I suspect was a result of the trauma,” he said. “I still get worked up talking about it today. It did not have to happen.”
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