AUGUSTA - The City Council in Maine’ s capital is supporting unanimously a resolution urging legislators to change the name of an Augusta bridge that now is named for a deceased Catholic priest.
The matter next goes to the Legislature, which would have to authorize a name change for the downtown span named for the Rev. John J. Curran, who died in 1976 at age 76.
The Augusta council’ s endorsement of the name-change resolution Monday night came after an emotion-filled discussion in which a man who claims he was sexually abused by Curran urged councilors to rename the bridge. Robert Dupuis, now of East Lyme, Conn., said he was abused by Curran in 1961, when he was a 12-year-old altar boy at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Old Town.
Some Augusta residents fondly recalled Curran as a priest who worked tirelessly for his community. The priest served at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Augusta from sometime in 1962 to 1972, when he retired.
Curran was ordained a priest in 1927, according to Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. He served from 1960 to mid-1962 at the Old Town parish, which primarily served the community’ s French-speaking Catholics.
St. Joseph’ s merged with St. Mary Catholic Church, Old Town’ s English-speaking parish, in the mid-1990s and formed Holy Family Catholic Church. The city’ s historical society now occupies the former St. Mary’ s church.
The diocese received a complaint against Curran in March 2007, Bernard said Tuesday. If he were alive, Curran’ s ministry would have been restricted and a fuller investigation would have been conducted, she said.
BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.