Santa Clara U. President Resigns After Inappropriate Behavior, Officials Say

A Jesuit priest who delivered the homily at a Mass for the inauguration of President Biden has resigned because the president of Santa Clara University after he engaged in inappropriate conduct, college officers stated on Wednesday.

An investigation by the Jesuits West Province discovered that the priest, the Rev. Kevin O’Brien, “engaged in behaviors, consisting primarily of conversations, during a series of informal dinners with Jesuit graduate students that were inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries,” the chairman of the college’s board of trustees stated in a statement to the college

“The Province also advised the Board that alcohol was involved and that no inappropriate behavior was found in any settings outside of these dinners,” the assertion stated.

The assertion, which didn’t elaborate additional on the conduct, stated that Father O’Brien, who had been positioned on go away in March, notified the board of trustees that he was resigning on Sunday, and that the board accepted his resignation on Monday.

“The Board of Trustees takes this situation very seriously and fully supports those who came forward to provide their accounts,” stated the assertion from the board chairman, John M. Sobrato.

Mr. Sobrato stated the province had directed Father O’Brien to stay on go away and to enroll in a four- to six-month “therapeutic outpatient program, which he has now begun, to address related personal issues, including alcohol and stress counseling.”

Father O’Brien couldn’t be instantly reached for touch upon Wednesday evening.

A former practising lawyer who was ordained to the priesthood in 2006, Father O’Brien had served as dean of Santa Clara University’s Jesuit School of Theology since 2016 and was named president of the Jesuit college in 2019. Before that, he had served for eight years at Georgetown University, together with 5 years as vice chairman for mission and ministry, in accordance with Santa Clara University.

Father O’Brien has additionally served on the boards of 4 Jesuit universities: Fordham University, Seattle University, Marquette University and Boston College, in accordance with his biography at Santa Clara University.

On Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, he celebrated a Roman Catholic Mass for President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and congressional leaders on the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Father O’Brien had been associates with the Biden household for almost 15 years, since serving at Georgetown University, according to the Jesuits.

In his homily, Father O’Brien in contrast Mr. Biden’s upcoming inaugural message to the phrases of Jesus.

“Your public service is animated by the same conviction,” he stated, “to help and protect people and to advance justice and reconciliation, especially for those who are too often looked over and left behind.”

The Rev. Scott Santarosa, provincial of the Jesuits West, stated that the college and Father O’Brien had been “in our prayers during this time of transition.”

“This is a challenging time for Santa Clara, but Father O’Brien has shown both generosity and freedom in wanting to do what is best for the university,” Father Santarosa stated in an announcement. “With care for the faculty, staff, students and entire Santa Clara community, he has decided to step down.”

Mr. Sobrato stated that whereas the board begins the method of trying to find a brand new president, Lisa Kloppenberg, the college provost, would proceed to function appearing president, a job she assumed in March after Father O’Brien was positioned on go away. At the time, Mr. Sobrato stated that Father O’Brien had agreed to cooperate absolutely with the investigation.

“I realize that a development like this can bring up many feelings — I humbly ask everyone to give each other grace and space as we collectively absorb the news of Father O’Brien’s resignation,” Ms. Kloppenberg wrote in a message to the college group on Wednesday. “I am grateful that you will stay focused on your responsibilities to our students, other stakeholders and each other as we finish out this academic year and continue preparations for a return to campus in the fall.”

Azi Paybarah contributed reporting.

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