Fr Cesáreo Gabaráin, deceased hymn composer, credibly accused of abuse

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The Marist Congregation in Spain has confirmed it has received credible accusations of the abuse of minors against Fr. Cesáreo Gabaráin, a composer who died in 1991.

The English version of Fr. Gabaráin’s “Pescador de Hombres” is “Fisher of Men”, or “Lord You Have Come to the Seashore.”

According to the Spanish newspaper El País, there are four former students of the Chamberí Marist school in Madrid who have accused Fr. Gabaráin of abuse dating to the 1970s.

One of the alleged victims, Eduardo Mendoza, 57, said that he reported the priest to his homeroom teacher in 1978, the probable cause of Fr. Gabaráin being removed from the school.

Another alleged victim of Fr. Gabaráin, César Aguilera, spoke about what happened with his father, who reported the case to Brother Aquileo Manciles, now deceased, who supposedly admitted that the abuse took place.

Shortly after leaving the Marist school, Fr. Gabaráin was appointed vicar of the Our Lady of the Snows parish in the Mirasierra neighborhood of Madrid and was assigned to San Fernando school. 

He died of cancer in 1991 at the age of 55, without being charged or tried for abuse.

The Iberian Marist Province published a statement July 28 expressing its “pain and regret for the incidents recently published in the media detailing the sexual abuse suffered by several students decades ago in some of our schools.”

"We condemn these incidents and we ask forgiveness of the victims for not having been able to protect them, to take care of them, and for not having properly handled these situations," the Marists said.

The province stated they are “conducting an internal investigation to clarify the incidents that occurred. For our institution, the victims are the priority, we believe their word and we are at their disposal for whatever they need.”

Sources at the Archdiocese of Madrid told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner, Aug. 8 that Fr. Gabaráin “does not show up in our database as a priest incardinated in Madrid, although there is a record that he was a parochial vicar at Our Lady of the Snows.”

“In the diocesan archives there is nothing relating to alleged abuses or more information related to him, but as we have said on other occasions, the doors of our Repara Project are open to possible victims,” the archdiocese said.

Cesáreo Gabaráin was born 1936 in Hernani in northern Spain, in 1936. He attended the seminary in Zaragoza and was ordained a priest in 1959.

For 20 years, he served as a college and nursing home chaplain. He started writing hymns when he was in his 30s. He was an assistant pastor in Madrid in the 1980s and headed the theology department of a local university.

He composed more than 500 songs, some of which are frequently used at Masses in the Spanish-speaking world. About 30 of his compositions are found in the Oregon Catholic Press song book.

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