FREMONT — The last time Dan McNevin stood in Corpus Christi Catholic Church, he was a 13-year-old altar boy.

On Monday night he returned, 33 years later, to hear the leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland apologize for the sexual abuses he and others have alleged they suffered under the Rev. James Clark, who served at the church from 1965 to 1984. Clark died in 1989.

"I am trying to move toward forgiveness," McNevin said after the service. "Forgiveness of Father Clark, and a greater understanding of how this happened in this parish and in this diocese."

The emotional service drew about 150 parishioners, who sat in silence as Bishop Allen Vigneron of the Oakland Diocese delivered his apology.

"I beg pardon from all who have been hurt by these acts of abuse," he said. "I apologize for the failure to act on the part of many of the leaders of the Catholic Church."

Vigneron named Clark and the McNevin family in his apology.

"It's a heavy burden," Vigneron said. "It is a burden for all Catholics in the United States, a burden for the Church of Oakland and surely a burden for this parish that was directly involved in this history."

McNevin said that at least a dozen sexual abuse survivors attended the service. Sonia Rubino Todd was one of them.

She opened the service by playing a song on her wooden flute, and she shared a poem she wrote for victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse that was printed on the back of the program.


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She has played at other apology services in the Oakland Diocese.

"It helps me feel like I'm safe in church," she said, cradling her flute. "An apology ceremony — it's like putting a bandage on a wound in a way."

The apology service was Vigneron's second in Fremont as part of 14 being conducted in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. In June, he apologized to about 60 people at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, where three other accused priests served.

Clark is one of six former Fremont and Union City priests named in some of the dozens of lawsuits against the diocese — part of about 160 Northern California cases designated "Clergy III." Negotiations for a mass settlement are ongoing.