Former Miss America, Angela Baraquio
Former Miss America, Angela Baraquio

BY ANGELA BARAQUIO GREY – Fr. Maurice McNeely was the pastor at my parish school, Holy Family Catholic Academy  in Honolulu, Hawaii when I was in junior high.  I attended the school from 1988-1990, and I served as our Student Body President.

I saw Fr. McNeely daily at morning mass, which I attended with my family.  “Fr. Mac”, as he was lovingly called by all the parishioners and students, was by far the coolest and most down-to-earth priest that had a knack for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to all he met, in a way that anyone could understand and appreciate. A true visionary, he began what is known as “Stereo Mass” every Sunday night at 7pm, which was popular with the youth.

Fr. Mac could be found celebrating Mass on the beach at Waikiki, where all were invited to attend.  He was fearless in spreading God’s word and always had time for anyone who sought help, guidance, or assistance.

After I graduated from college, I was hired at Holy Family by Fr. Mac as a teacher at the school.  Many times I had personal questions about my faith and he always served as a spiritual guide and mentor to help me get back on track.  When my family had gone through challenges, he was always there to help any of us get through our tough times, (and I come from a family of 12)!  My family loved Fr. Mac because of his kind heart, generosity,  creativity, forward thinking, and compassion.

When I was competing for Miss Hawaii, he was supportive of my quest to become Miss America, saying that there needed to be more Catholics at the forefront.  He also told me before I ever won, that “WHEN” I became Miss America, and passed on the title, that  I should leave it better than I found it.  He said that no matter how busy I got, I should always remember that my family and I would always be connected through the Eucharist.

Those words inspired me to attend Mass every Sunday, no matter what city I was in, during my year as Miss America, despite traveling 20,000 miles a month and being in a different city every other day.

In 2002, Fr. Mac flew to Honolulu to concelebrate my nuptial mass to my husband.  I will never forget the Papal Blessing he was able to get for us as a wedding gift.  He was like a second father to me and a member of our family for years.

I am shocked and saddened to hear about the allegations he is currently facing in a civil lawsuit brought against him in federal and state court by a Colorado man.  I cannot fathom the accusations being true, given the long history we have had knowing Fr. Maurice McNeely.  He has been nothing but wonderful to my family and me, and I pray that the truth comes out in the end.

I also pray for Fr. Mac’s strength during this challenging time.  May he have the grace to get through this ordeal, and know that so many people like myself, love and support him, as a result of his countless good deeds to others throughout his life.

Angela Baraquio Grey is Miss Hawaii 2001 and Miss America 2001

Comments

comments

8 COMMENTS

  1. It is sad that thousands of credibly accused priests have raped/molested tens of thousands of children in America alone. Some of the priests plead guilty (because they are) others do not.
    According to the John Jay report which was funded by the roman catholic bishops conference of america less than 1.5percent of all allegations made against priests in the United States were false.

  2. The Roman Catholic Jesuit priest who molested my son in Santa Barbara California was adored by all. He was young charismatic, sweet, everyone loved him.. Thankfully he pled guilty when the police confronted him. (all his adoring fans thought he was lying as he had betrayed them too).
    On Maui several years ago a beloved Roman Catholic deacon was arrested and alleged to have raped a 12 year old boy in the church for a year.. The deacon Ron Gonsalvez pled not guilty.. everyone in the parish rallyed around their special deacon.. they even went to court and raised money for him after all he got them a special statute..and made a lot of money for their church. long story short when he was offered a plea deal he pled guilty. and he said
    "because i am".. it is important that our representatives are informed about the global clergy abuse crisis ..

  3. It is terribly hurtful to victims to see parishioners openly rallying behind an accused priest. Even if the priest is innocent, somewhere a young girl is being molested by a relative or a boy is being abused by his coach or youth leader. If these children see adults they love and respect publicly rallying around accused perpetrators, they will be less likely to report their own victimization to their parents, the police, or other authorities. They will be scared into remaining silent, and their horrific pain will continue.

    If you have been the victim of abuse, don't suffer alone and in silence. Speak up and learn your legal rights. There are people who will believe you and support you.

    Melanie Jula Sakoda
    Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)
    SNAP East Bay Director
    Toll Free Phone: 1-877-SNAPHEALS (1-877-762-7432)
    melanie.sakoda@gmail.com
    925-708-6175

  4. Something to keep in mind-

    Child predators are very cunning and manipulative. They know every trick on how to groom, threaten, lie, and put the fear of god into their victims and sometimes even their family members.

    They also appear to do a lot of goods things, they can be very charismatic and you may think they would never harm a child. They have to be this way, in order to not get caught and to continue to abuse

    Sexual predators are often powerful and well-loved. It would be comforting if those who preyed on the vulnerable were obvious social misfits whose appearance would somehow set off alarm bells and give us the willies or the creeps. They rarely do. Usually, predators are among the last people we would suspect of sexually violating others. At a party, the predator isn't some oddball sitting alone in a corner because others feel uncomfortable with him. Most often, the predator is the guy throwing the party.

    We must overcome the dangerous myth that because someone is successful or warm or caring, he or she couldn't have done that!
    Also, we must stop thinking that because a man is old, that somehow he's automatically safe. It's just irresponsible to endanger kids by assuming an adult is harmless simply because he or she may be losing hair, wearing glasses, using hearing aids or walking with a cane. These can be signs of advancing age, but they are not signs that an individual is safe around kids.

    It is extremely rare that a child predator has only one victim.

    This victim is extremely brave for taking action to expose the truth about being sexually abused.
    Let's hope that every person who saw, suspected or suffered sex crimes by Fr. Maurice McNeely, will find the courage and strength to speak up and call police.
    Keep in mind that child predators rarely have only one victim. And your silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511. snapjudy@gmail.com,
    (SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,)

  5. Pretty pathetic article written by a former Miss Hawaii, Miss America. Like this is supposed to give you more credibility. So what he made a positive impact to many people of Hawaii. This sexual predator ruined the life of at least one person and probable more. All these child predators should be castrated and thrown in jail. I doubt your brother in law Rick Hamada feels the same way.

  6. While living in Las Vegas and attending the Shrine Father Mac restored my Faith in my Religion. This is America where we are all innocent until proven guilty. Let us hold off judgement until all the facts are in.

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