Parents at Catholic school in the Northland blind-sided by news of charges against priest

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Father Shawn Ratigan served more a year and a half at St. Patrick's Catholic Church before attempting to commit suicide in December 2010.

Since then, parents have been praying for his health to recover not knowing what charges would lay in his future.

On Thursday, Ratigan was charged with possessing child pornography

A wave of shock was released as parents learned the news.  Many were blind-sided as they picked up students on Thursday Afternoon.

School Board member and parent Darrel Drumright said, "I never heard anything but good about Father Shawn's interactions at the school.  I have a daughter who just turned 12 years old.  I've had no concerns about his presence at all."

His confidence was echoed by a number of parents at the school on Thursday afternoon.  Though, many were in shock and chose not to speak with NBC Action News on camera.

Deacon Michael Lewis with the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph said news of the charges saddened him.  He explained, "The highest priority we have is for the care and protection of our children and anything that damages that confidence and our effort is saddening and disappointing."

He continued, "We ask all those who love and care about our parish to continue to pray for us right now.  We believe that it's going to work.  It will lead us into the light of day."

Lewis said the school and parish will work to build trust again with the help of a long healing process.

Lewis said the biggest frustration may be that St. Patrick's parishioners may never know if the crimes were committed there.  With the nature of the pictures taken and obtained, the identity of the children won't ever be disclosed.

Drumright explained there are programs in place to guard children.  The Protecting God's Children program requires two adults with children at any given time. 

Teachers and staff met Thursday after school to create a comprehensive plan for answering the concerns and fears of students as they return to school Friday.

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