Rick Springer Update

Rick pointing him himself as a student for his interview with Brianna McClane of Northwestern University

Saturday, November 15, 2014 1:55 pm: Rick Springer has taken his last breath surrounded by friends and the love and spirit sent to him by so many of his dear friends and family members in many different ways.  Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, he’s free at last!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2014 1 pm: Messages from around the country are pouring in to be read to Rick at his bedside. Arizona, California, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois. Those will Rick now are sure he can hear the thoughtful and loving messages for him. I’d be happy to post any of these messages on http://firethepope.com/rick-springer-update page but I’ll only do that if the sender says so. They can be posted anonymously or with a name. Thanks, all. What a community of friends!

Two abuse survivors and an advocate peacefully protest outside the Chicago Archdiocese HQ
Therese Albrecht, left, is at Rick’s bedside today. Beautiful!

Saturday, November 15, 2014 11 am: Rick is not conscious but can probably still hear and feel touch. He has a steady stream of visitors today that are holding his hand, and delivering word-for-word the messages that are being passed on to him. If you’d like to send your own, you may email me at kate@firethepope.com or text me at 630-768-1860. I’ll forward them asap. Doctors who examined Rick this am said he is failing quickly and will most likely pass today or tomorrow. Rick is surrounded by love from all of us he shared his love with. Soon, he will be free at last. 

I am also getting word that the new bishop, Blase Cupich, had a hand in the representative from the archdiocese coming to Rick’s room yesterday and reading him the file they have on him. Although that wasn’t 100% what Rick had requested, it was something and I believe it did bring him a lot of peace. When he closed his eyes last  night, he knew the copy of the confidentiality agreement he had with the archdiocese that he fought so hard to get  was in the chair at his bedside. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014, 9 am: Doctors encourage anyone who wants to see Rick to do so as soon as they can. For address, phone, and room number you can email me at kate@firethepope.com. For those who are unable, we will do our best to communicate your messages with him. It is a sorrowful time for all of us. Rick feels the love and support and outreach and is grateful for it.

Friday, November 14, 2014: Today, the Victims’ Assistance Minister of the Chicago Archdiocese, Tom Tharayil, called Rick’s hospital room. He told Rick they were preparing his file for him to review. Once the lawyers were able to approve the filing leaving the premises, Tom would bring the file over to allow Rick to review it. This is the file the archdiocese maintains on Rick, a survivor of clergy sexual abuse. Tom said he hoped to have the file ready by Thursday of next week. At the same time, doctors were telling us Rick was on a fast decline and that anyone who wants to see him should do so as soon as possible.

While Rick was on the telephone with Tom, I received an email from Jan Slattery of the archdiocese. It was also sent to three other people. It read, “Good Morning, You have all expressed concern about Mr. Springer receiving his file. Tom Tharayil in Assistance Ministry is reaching out to Mr Springer at Hines. Tom is hoping to meet with Mr. Springer next week. He will have a copy of Mr. Springer’s file with him so that he can read the file again. Tom will bring the file back with him. Jan

 

Rick's German Christmas Card
Rick’s German Christmas Card

I wrote the following to Slattery in a reply email: Jan, Thanks but Rick will not be alive next week. He is hanging on to life by a thread right now. He asked you for his file in early June. If you want to partially fulfill his wish by letting him glance at his file, Tom had better come today. Rick’s doctors have said anyone who wants to see him should come now. It’s just a shame and a tragedy you will not even give him a copy of his settlement which he already had but cannot find. What can possibly be your excuse for that? His attorney cannot find his copy. Can Tom or a messenger at the very least bring that ASAP? That would help. Please do what you can but do not delay. p.a.. Rick deserved MUCH better than this. All victims and survivors do.

Within an hour and a half, Tom Tharayil was in Rick’s room reading to him his file, page by page. Rick was awake, aware, and attentive. He was able to ask questions, raise objections, or fill in the blanks – words that hand-written notes were hard to decipher. Tom was very respectful to Rick. At one point, he asked Rick if he needed a break to which Rick shook his head. At about mid-point, the nurse came in to administer to Rick while we waited in the hall. There were seven of us standing in his room listening to the reading of his file papers which took between and hour and a half and two hours. When Tom had finished, someone asked Rick what he was feeling. “Grateful,” he said.

Rick has wanted a copy of his file since at least 2010. In June, he mailed a letter to the archdiocese requesting his file. Ten days later, he received a letter from Slattery telling him NO. In October, struggling with severe health issues and pain, he wrote another letter to the archdiocese. After Tharayil left, I told Rick he could check that off of his list and asked him if there was anything else on his to-do list. He said no. Then, after a pause and through his exhaustion, he said, “I just want to know I made a difference.” Those of us left in the room assured him he had, more than he will ever know.

 

Thursday, November 13, 2014: Yesterday, I republished a blog post about Rick Springer. I did because, on Sunday, Rick was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.

 

Rick pointing him himself as a student for his interview with Brianna McClane of Northwestern University
Rick pointing him himself as a student for his interview with Brianna McClane of Northwestern University

The post is Rick’s story, as told by him and published in the book Crosses by Carmine Galasso. It also includes a more recent article written by Briana McClane. According to Rick, he picked up Briana when he was a cab driver in Chicago. Not surprisingly, Rick began evangelisizing but not in the way one might think. Rick Springer wanted to be a priest when he was a kid. He entered the seminary when he was a young teenager. He was sexually assaulted by a priest.

I met Rick ten years ago after he came to a court hearing regarding a different child-molesting priests. Since then, I have been honored to know him and consider myself one of his many, many, many  friends.

Rick is one of original members of the LinkUp, a clergy abuse survivors’ group. He truly has lived tending to “the least of these”, those who are most vulnerable, most wounded, most in need of a simple but meaningful call from a friend.

For the past six months, Rick has been trying to get a copy of the file the Archdiocese has on  him. After Francis Kane, an auxiliary bishop with the archdiocese told the Daily Herald they would “do anything that would help those who were abused,” Rick sent him a letter requesting a copy of his file. Kane did not respond to Rick and, instead, passed his letter on to Jan Slattery who told him he could not have a copy of his file.

Rick asked for a copy of his file for some sense of closure as he has been battling severe health issues for decades. Also, he asked for a copy of the paperwork of the settlement he had with the archdiocese decades ago on which they attached a gag order. He also asked for a statement in writing that he was released from that gag order. He wanted this not just for himself but for all other survivors who entered into a similar contract with the archdiocese.

The fight for Rick’s files – and the files of any survivor who wants a copy of their own – continues.

Rick has been too ill in the past few days to answer the many calls he is getting. But, his friends and family should  know that he feels your love and support and he is grateful for it. If he ever gets to feeling better, he will answer his phone. In the meantime, you may leave a comment on this page and anyone who gets into see Rick and share some of them with him without overwhelming him. Right now, he is focused on feeling better and getting some relief.

Also, Rick has a guardian angel with him. His name is Gus and he’s been Rick’s part-time caregiver for the past two months. It was shortly after Gus started helping out Rick that some of us saw a dramatic change in Rick for the better. I’ll write more about that and  try to post a video later on today.

Please feel free add a comment of message about or for Rick Springer below. Also, if you have pictures you’d like to share, you can send them to kate@firethepope.com and I’ll put them up on this page. Thank you.

 

13 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh, I am overcome with sadness at the thought of Rick not being in this world. How many many laughs we have had back in the day. Despite your personal struggles Rick you always brightened our home whenever you’d visit. I remember your passion for visiting the Art Institute & the magnificent sketches you would put down. How easily talent always came to you. You and Danny fishing till the sun set and then cleaning fish in the back yard till all hours. What a good friend you have been. Mary and Chuck, they LOVED you. So many times Mary would speak of your visits, laughing with Chuck. making a real difference in their lives. The way you have STAYED with your cause. It is truly impressive. Many people would not have the courage. You do, and its noticed. We love you Rick and hope and pray you are comfortable and resting easy. Thinking of you. I hope you received the photos I sent to your home address several weeks back. They are from family occasions from years ago. You are missed Rick. I hope we get a chance to see one another soon. Love Jane

    • What a beautiful message, Jane. I only recently had a chance to see his sketchbooks. He is a man of extraordinary talent in many regards. I think it’s always troubled him that he’ll never know what could have been. But with the cards he was dealt, he sure did play a great hand!

  2. Rick so very sorry you are so I’ll. The first time we met was at Morton College in Cicero. When you spoke the core of my being cried, for you, me and all victims. The first Convention we shared with so many people, was awesome and heartbreaking. You and Tom were insepearable, what a team, you were always much more than his driver. The protests, the marches, the almost famous almost police chase, Oprah I don’t even know how many times we were there. Can not forget Robert Mayers trial, what an eye opener. Remember driving to Springfield to Lobby, what an exerperience! Most of all I think about your kindness and love for me and my family, that crazy day you had, but you still came to our grandaughters funeral. Rick when I ment you my world was hanging on by a few threads, many a time your calls saved me. Words can not express the help, joy, and love you have given to Sam, myself and our kids who are all adults now. Thank You my friend when you feel up to having friends over let us know. God Bless you and feel the love from all of us, your friends. Love you Always Sue and Sam Stopka

    • Wow, Sue. What a tribute. You are all pioneers and trailblazers. Kids have been protected because of your grassroots involvement. Thank you for that.

      I just want to say anyone who wants to see Rick should go today or tomorrow. He might be here Monday and Tuesday but as time passes the odds get slimmer. Go and sit with him, hold his hand. He’s exhausted and in pain and he’s not the social butterfly we all know but being in the room won’t disturb him and if it does he’ll say he’s tired and that’s a hint;)

  3. The following is a message for Rick from Doreen and Tony Janotta:

    The love you shared so generously with us, since the day we met you 12 yrs. ago, has now formed a close bond among all of us, your friends. Together we will continue your journey of compassion for survivors. Today’s Gospel spoke of the persistent widow who wearied authorities with her plea for justice. You have done likewise, as proven by “your file” finally being yours. We promise you, Rick, that because of YOU, we will imitate your persistence in the plea for justice for survivors. Your life is a prayer — know, dear friend, that we love you!!

  4. The following is a message for Rick from Kristine Ward and all at the National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC):

    Rick, Thank you for your strong, dedicated and loving work for survivors. You were victorious in your fight – and we are grateful, very grateful to you. Be peaceful, you have earned it — the Lord will greet you with open arms, joyous and grateful eyes and tender, loving care. With love and gratitude.

  5. I met Rick many years ago at a LINKUP conference. Tom was there too. I am and was awed and inspired by his willingness to speak truth to power. And never be ashamed to do so! A small group of us would protest in the streets, at a church, at a bishop’s conference, whenever and wherever we could. And no one else was talking about the sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults by catholic priests. I bet Rick spoke about his good fight right until the end. And that is how he made a difference! (*I recognize and understand and respect that not everyone is able to do so for their own reason). Rick – you were a fighter right until the end! I am so glad you dedicated yourself to this cause. You, my friend, definitely made a difference :)

    • Irene, You are so right. With 30 hours left on this earth, Rick was on the telephone, lying on his deathbed, telling the Chicago Archdiocese what they needed to do. Within a few hours, the archdiocese was in his room, at least partially granting his request. He wanted to make sure the contents of his file were accurate. To him, the real power is in the truth. One of the last things he said was, “I just hope I made a difference.”

  6. The following is a message from Kate Kinser:

    Rick, you are a hero to all of us — we will miss you on earth but will pray to you in heaven. Be our messenger (the closest translation of angel) to the Most High. We will never forget you.

  7. The following is a message from Joe Klest:

    Rick was one of the most sincere, most kind and gentle people I have ever known. In part I think it was his Catholic upbringing minus the bad stuff. I miss his presence on this earth already.

    I hope his taxi ride to heaven is without any red lights. JK

  8. As survivors we value friendship and trust and therein lies who Rick Springer is, my trusted friend, as he was to sooOoo many others. And a long time friend too, going back to the days of driving Tommy Economus around, who Rick would say always wore “priest pants” …pants without any pockets and without any money and then Rick would always buy lunch. His sense of humor and presence are legendary and I’m missing him. Tom’s buying today!
    His eyes could go from emotion to emotional in a second, my favorite was when those eyes were twinkling, like only his could, because you knew his smile was coming on like an uppercut. Rick, thank you for being a fighter and a friend, I love you brother…rest in peace…

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