Michael Betzold with Deadline Detroit reported that Finn’s resignation was announced by the seminary as his story on the allegations was being prepared.
In her resignation letter, posted to the seminary’s website, Finn admits to having “misused my position of authority as a director of novices in the Home Visitors of Mary (HVM) Order, engaging in inappropriate conduct with two adult novices. I regret that behavior, have repented of my actions, and sincerely apologize for the harm I have caused.”
The Home Visitors of Mary hung up the phone when CNA attempted to contact the order about Finn. Subsequent attempts to contact the order went unanswered.
Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, chairman of the board of trustees at Sacred Heart, was quoted in the seminary statement supporting Finn’s resignation, citing “additional information and what we have come to learn about how best to respond to these situations.”
He said that “While serving as rector of Sacred Heart in the late 1990s, I was given partial details about Sr. Mary's inappropriate conduct that had occurred in the early 1970s. At the time, I thought the matter had been resolved. I regret this was not the case.”
In a Jan. 18 statement, Archbishop Vigneron went on to say: “It is only in recent days that I have come to know new and additional details and context regarding Sr. Mary's misconduct. Based on this information, the current rector, Msgr. Lajiness, accepted Sister Finn's resignation and I endorse this action.”
In 1969, three years before Camden and the other novice were expelled from Finn’s order, Finn began working at Sacred Heart Seminary, where she has served in various positions ever since.
Most recently, Finn was an assistant professor of theology and served on the Priestly Formation Team for the College of Liberal Arts, among other roles, according to a cached website of her seminary page, which had been removed from the school’s website by Friday, Jan. 18.
Edward Mischel, director of community psychiatry at Wayne State University in Detroit, was in the seminary at Sacred Heart about 10 years after Finn started there, in the late 1970s.
Mischel, who completed four years of college at the seminary before discerning that he was not called to the priesthood, told CNA that he chose Finn for his spiritual director and remembers her fondly. They still maintain contact to this day.
“She’s been this quiet, spiritual, loving, easy-going person,” Mischel told CNA. “The guys in the seminary, they adore her.”
News of the allegations of sexual misconduct in the early 1970s was “disheartening,” Mischel said, but he rejected any insinuations that Finn “was dominant or in this old boy’s club, that’s like the antithesis of her. I’ve never seen that in the 30, 40 years I’ve known her, nothing like that at all.”
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Mischel said he knows Finn to be a staunch advocate for the people of Detroit, and a very kind and forgiving person.
When asked if he had any concerns that she was placed in charge of young seminarians, after having been accused of sexual misconduct with young women, Mischel said he was not concerned, because he had seen “nothing like that at all” by Finn against the seminarians.
But not all former seminarians of Sacred Heart remember Finn as fondly, and the news of her resignation and the allegations against her as a novice master have also raised serious questions and concerns about her conduct at the seminary.
Two former seminarians at Sacred Heart seminary have told CNA that Finn had a reputation for being overly “handsy” with seminarians - extended hugs, smooches, squeezes and generally unwanted contact were to be expected from Finn.
“In legal terms, it was unwelcomed touching. But if a seminarian reported it, they became a problem,” one former seminarian, who asked for anonymity, told CNA.
Another former seminarian, who also asked for anonymity, told CNA that Finn had become such a “fixture” of the seminary and was so well-liked and considered so holy that she became “untouchable” - any complaints against her were promptly dismissed.