The Ararat district's Catholic community hastaken steps towards dealing with the impact of indecent assault chargeslaid against a former Ararat priest.
The Bishop of Ballarat, Peter Connors, attended masses in Araratlast weekend to talk about recently jailed priest Father Paul DavidRyan.
Ryan was a relieving priest at Ararat's Immaculate Conception parishin 1991, and was appointed as assistant priest at the Ararat parish inJanuary 1992 by the Ballarat diocese despite a cloud of suspicionhanging over him.
The disgraced priest appeared in Warrnambool Magistrates Court onSeptember 8, 2006 and was jailed for 18 months, with a non paroleperiod of 12 months, after pleading guilty to five counts of indecentassault.
Members of the Broken Rights victim support group have spoken outagainst Father Ryan and alleged that he also offended during his timein Ararat.
Bishop Connors said he visited Ararat to express his deep sympathy for those affected by Father Ryan's actions.
"It is regretful these incidents ever occured," he said.
"I apologised (at weekend mass) to the community on behalf of the Ballarat diocese for what happened."
He said the diocese had established new procedures to deal with complaints about indecent activity within the church.
"We can't change the past but we have changed our procedures."
Bishop Connors said he made himself available after the weekend'smasses to talk to parishoners about their concerns, and that he iswilling to hear from people in the community.
Dr Bernard Barrett from the Broken Rites victim support group saidhe believes Father Ryan also committed indecent acts while involvedwith the Ararat Catholic parish.
According to the Herald Sun a former Ararat boy was found hanged inan Aspendale bayside bathing box in 1999, he had absconded from aBallarat psychiatric unit.
His mother told the Herald-Sun her son was never the same afterspending a night at the Ararat presbytery, turning to drugs andattempting suicide to escape the trauma.