2002 Year in Review
Observer Staff Report
The rector of Sorin Hall, Father Sam Peters, was fired after University officials say he had an "inappropriate sexual relationship" with an adult female, a school spokesman said Wednesday.
The University first learned of the relationship between Peters and the woman when a family member of the woman notified school officials, said University spokesman Matt Storin, who declined to comment on whether the female was a student.
"The family has requested that we do everything to guard the privacy of this woman," Storin said, adding that the woman was not a minor.
It is unclear how long the relationship lasted. However, Storin said the relationship occurred during this school year.
The University removed Peters from his his position as rector May 1 and officially fired him a few days later, Storin said.
Peters, who had served as Sorin's rector since 2001 and was ordained a Holy Cross Priest last September, is no longer allowed on Notre Dame's campus. It is unclear if he will be removed from the priesthood for his inappropriate sexual relationship.
A statement from the Indiana Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross expressed concern for the woman's family and regret for Peters' actions.
"We are deeply sorry and apologize for the betrayal of the trust that the People of God place in those whom we ordain for sacred duties," the statement said.
According to the statement, Peters is still a priest at this time but is not permitted to exercise public ministry in the immediate future.
"It will be important for him to re-examine his life priorities and his fidelity to them," the statement said.
The statement said Peters agreed to the Province's offer of professional assistance to help him in his assessment.
Father Mark Poorman, director of Student Affairs, officially notified Sorin residents of Peter's dismissal May 6. An assistant rector is in charge of the dorm until school ends.
Before becoming Sorin's rector in 2001, Peters taught at St. Joseph's High School in South Bend and served at Christ the King Catholic Church in South Bend and St. Pius X in Granger.
Peters made his perpetual profession of the religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience on Sept. 1, 2001 and was ordained a priest exactly one year later. His ordination was delayed because Peters, who told Notre Dame Magazine in an interview that he was a recovering alcoholic, was initially prevented from drinking wine at the altar — a problem the Vatican corrected by granting him a special dispensation.
Notre Dame Magazine — the University's alumni magazine — profiled Peters' journey to the priesthood in its Spring 2003 issue, at one point likening him to a Holy Cross recruiting poster. According to the article, Peters frequently welcomed students into his room and wanted to avoid insinuations of impropriety — given the recent sexual scandals in the Catholic Church — when he made a potentially suicidal student sleep on his couch.
Sorin residents said Peters was known for talking about how happy he was with his celibacy.
"I'm the happiest guy you've ever met who's poor, celibate and obedient," Peters told the magazine.
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