Sister Cathy Cesnik: Sister of slain nun pens letter to Archbishop Lori - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Sister Cathy Cesnik: Sister of slain nun pens letter to Archbishop Lori

The unexplained murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik nearly 50 years ago remains an agonizing mystery for those who remember the beloved nun. Equally vexing is the role the Archdiocese of Baltimore played in the case, both in the years before and after Sister Cathy’s death.  The murder of Sister Cathy is the subject of the highly acclaimed Netflix series The Keepers. The following letter, written on June 6, 2017 by Marilyn Cesnik Radakovic — Sister Cathy’s biological sister — was addressed to Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Maryland.  It is posted here with her permission.

June 6, 2017

Most Reverend William E. Lori
Archdiocese of Baltimore
320 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, Maryland  21201-4421

Re: An Important Message from the Archbishop

Dear Archbishop Lori:

Reference is made to your correspondence dated May 17, 2017, entitled “An Important Message from the Archbishop,” as well as prior correspondence and circumstances involving Sister Catherine Cesnik, my biological sister.

I was disappointed by many of the statements you made in your correspondence.  Among the most troubling statements was the following:  “The Archdiocese first became aware of an allegation of abuse by Maskell, in 1992, more than 20 years after the abuse occurred.”  This statement was false, and known by the Archdiocese to be false, as Maskell was reassigned by the Archdiocese to Archbishop Keough High School in 1967 after allegations of child abuse were made by the mother of an altar boy at St. Clement Parish.

Archbishop William E. Lori.

Also among the most troubling statements was the following:  “Maskell” was returned to ministry in 1993 after the Archdiocese was unable to corroborate the allegation of sexual abuse after its own investigation and conversations with attorneys representing the individual came forward.”  This statement was false, and known by the Archdiocese to be false, as the corroboration allegedly sought by the Archdiocese was within the possession, custody, and control of the Archdiocese at least since 1967.  In addition, more corroboration than the Archdiocese could have asked for or needed was right under the Archdiocese’s nose, in the form of Maskell’s harem, maintained at Archbishop Keough High School, without interference from, and without oversight of, the Archdiocese, since 1967.

Unfortunately, your correspondence represents a transparent attempt by the Archdiocese to “get in front of” the Netflix documentary series entitled “The Keepers,” which premiered on May 19, 2017.  Anyone who took the time to watch “The Keepers,” or who otherwise informed themselves as to the circumstances at Archbishop Keough High School, would easily be able to reach the conclusion that the Archdiocese was engaged in an anticipatory, disingenuous, public relations ploy.

Your correspondence was far too little, far too late.  The Archdiocese has no moral authority over the circumstances at Archbishop Keough High School involving Maskell’s  harem, or Sister Cathy.  The Archdiocese abdicated its moral authority when it reassigned Maskell to Archbishop Keough High School in 1967, and left him there, to run amok, unsupervised, to commit unspeakable, predatory, atrocities against the young girls left in his charge to guide and protect, until 1975.  Counselor, indeed.  Maskell’s counseling program was tantamount to an Archdiocese sponsored prostitution ring.

Father Joseph Maskell.

The Archdiocese was responsible for reassigning Maskell to Archbishop Keough High School in 1967, and the Archdiocese is responsible for the “cascade of horribles” that followed, including the “cascade of horribles” that happened to Maskell’s  harem, each and every one of them, as well as Sister Cathy, when she learned the unfortunate truth about the harem.  The fact that the Archdiocese was able to successfully hide behind its statute of limitations defense, and avoid civil liability, does nothing to diminish the Archdiocese’s moral liability.

I will not sit idly by while the Archdiocese belatedly attempts to use Sister Cathy, my biological sister who was beautiful in mind, body, and spirit to everyone who knew her, in its efforts to justify its inaction to prevent the “cascade of horribles,” and even its concealment and whitewashing of the “cascade of horribles.”  Please refrain from even mentioning Sister Cathy in any further correspondence promulgated by the Archdiocese, as it is offensive to her memory.

There is only one possible way for the Archdiocese to reclaim its moral authority over the circumstances at Archbishop Keough High School involving Maskell’s harem, or Sister Cathy.  Permit an unfettered audit of the Archdiocese’s complete investigative files, and the Archdiocese’s complete personnel files, for Maskell, including all assignments and evaluations, as well as any other complete relevant files, such that the audit may follow where the evidence truthfully leads.  Emphasis on “complete,” and on “where the evidence truthfully leads.”  This audit would be conducted by independent investigators, not associated with the Archdiocese or the City of Baltimore Police Department, but their findings would be made available to the Archdiocese and the City of Baltimore Police Department, upon the conclusion of the audit. So much sorrow has transpired and damage to beautiful children. I cannot sit idly by.  For whatever reason this has landed on your watch. I beseech you to find the courage to do the right thing. Do not take the easy path here and hide behind a false cover of religion.

This is your moment in time. Find the courage to not stand beside Maskell and continue to protect him but to reveal the truth. I believe you are a courageous man of God and will find the courage to permit the unfettered audit.


Marylin Cesnik Radakovic

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Baltimore Post-Examiner is run by several journalists – some who worked at the Washington Post, Baltimore Examiner and other regional and national publications. It’s the Post-Examiner because we love the play on the word “Post” but we also are hoping to answer that question: What’s next after newspapers? We see a lot of websites come and go – and many simply are not making it for various reasons. Now celebrating our sixth year of offering our readers "a little bit of everything" we continue to break that cycle. Contact the author.


  1. Sasha Glass says:

    Basing any conclusion on The Keepers is a dangerous one. Agenda filmmaking that makes no effort to find the truth, only salacious and unbelievable tales and “recovered memories”.

    Just a heads up: psychologists have unequivocally stated that there is no such thing as recovered memories.

    • robbieknight says:

      Recovered FALSE memories are the type psychologists have agreed are impossible. People often remember abuse years after it occurred. It’s how the psyche copes with trauma. Details can be hazy around a traumatic event, but the recovery of something that never happened can’t be instilled in a mentally well person. Also, the rate of false reporting of sexual assault is suggested to be between 2-10% by the department of justice and other law entities. Coming forward is no fun. It’s a horrible ordeal.

    • Thomas Goldfinch says:

      By what “medical” authority you speak such misleading nonsense is the same sort of “moral” authority the INTERNATIONAL RAPIST PROTECTION RACKET known as the Roman Catholic Church speaks – ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT FOUNDATION!

      • spark grrl says:

        i received a rather long, accusatory, and screaming-at-me-in-all-caps comment from you, but it no longer appears on this website.

        i would just like to say that yes, i am aware of those things. i do not participate in or support The Church, and never have, and find their actions despicable. i am sorry if the comment you responded to suggested otherwise.

  2. Entity1 says:

    I agree with the request she makes in concluding, but I don’t agree that the 1967 transfer of Maskell was necessarily related to the claims made in the documentary. The alleged victim, who was a boy at the time, is not credible. He claims the bishop approached him during the 90s civil suit to bribe him. It makes absolutely no sense. There were already corroborating claims against Makell at the time of the suit, so the church wouldn’t have benefited from silencing one victim. Furthermore, this man was allegedly courageous enough to tell his mother as a boy and bold enough to stand up to the bishop as a man, yet he didn’t bother to come forward and give his story during the highly-publicized civil case? I don’t buy it for a second.

    Let’s be clear, the church engaged in hideous behavior and deserves to be shamed. But that doesn’t excuse a documentary that is riddled with omissions and fallacies. Propaganda is inexcusable no matter how evil the subject.

    • Gracchado says:

      The archdiocese admitted that the bishop did come to see the man, so the meeting definitely took place. From there it’s a matter of one person’s word against another as far as what they discussed. As for what you say about it hinging upon one person’s word, that is true. But as far as the church not benefiting by silencing him, not so. A story about the church knowing about molestation allegations before transferring him to a school would definitely be something they wouldn’t want to become public knowledge.

      Not really fair to dismiss the documentary as “propaganda” either, in my opinion. I’ve never seen a documentary that is neutral. All take a position of one sort or another, and “The Keepers” makes no secret of sympathy toward the accusers. Ultimately all parties have the opportunity to publicly respond and make their own case. Some of them (the church, police departments, etc.) have harmed more than helped themselves in this regard with evasive responses heavily cloaked in legalisms.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    Marylin – YOU GO GIRL! I just found out about your sister’s story. Being from Seattle I’ve never heard about her, but I grew up Catholic as well and am utterly disgusted by all of this. Particularly because my grandma and mom are still practicing Catholics. I am not. I’m so sorry about Cathy and what your family has been through all of these years, and I’m sorry this landed in your lap, too. There is a reason…Cathy is with you every single step of the way. Don’t give up. You have thousands of people behind you now. Sending all the positive vibes and support I can from across the country.

    Peace & Love xo

  4. hers1 says:

    Ms. Marylin Cesnik Radakovic:


    Good on you looking out for your sister.

    • Thomas Goldfinch says:

      I agree with your comment, but feel compelled to ad that this “work of one person,” the monster Maskell, has been horrifically duplicated evidently FOR CENTURIES by innumerable predators wearing black dresses and white collars. It’s the wealth and power of the Roman Catholic Church that has enabled this dastardly outright criminal devastation of children’s lives and those of their families, not to mention the anguish it now causes in the spiritual lives of those innocent Catholics who are brave enough to face the indisputable FACT that the “holy” Roman Catholic Church has been and most likely continues to be FOR CENTURIES AND WORLDWIDE a racketeering crime syndicate for the protection of child predators. Let’s not forget that when, decades ago, legal cases were first filed here in the USA against these criminals of Catholicism, the “Church” used every disinformation denigrating dissembling technique OF ALL LIARS in order to CONDEMN THE ENTIRE USA AS A MERELY “LITIGIOUS CULTURE” ONLY SEEKING TO MONETARILY ENRICH ITSELF. TALK ABOUT PSYCHOLOGICAL PROJECTION BY THE PERPETRATORS UPON THE VICTIMS! Wealth and Power ALONE are the goals of Catholic “preservation” and “reform” efforts; and ever so slyly, their lawyers shave off and give up a sliver of their gold here and there to preserve the warehouses of ingots of gold they seek to protect! Now that all thinking and knowledgeable people WORLDWIDE know for certain that this has had devastating results in every corner of the Earth where there have been Roman Catholic Institutions given the supervision of innocent children, not only has there been the perverse fondling, priestly sexual exhibitionism, and the violently forcible rape of both boys and girls, but also there has been the systematic sale of the infants born from those rapes to “good Roman Catholic” families after their child-mothers were hidden away in Catholic Institutions by the same “Church” that protected the priest-father-rapists! The human bloodstream has been multiply poisoned by these “Cascade[s] of Horribles” unleashed upon childhood Catholics just as criminally as if the “Church” repeatedly dynamited dams above densely populated flood plains below those many, many devastated damns!

  5. Debra Mitchell says:

    Can’t even one person in the Catholic Church have a backbone? Disgusting doesn’t begin to describe it.

  6. FlameBait says:

    Probably the Number One Reason I left the church back in the ’90s. As a survivor myself (my perps were not priests, or even adults), I know what the victims go through. And the church just covers it up. Rot in Hell.

  7. Doug Poppa
    Doug Poppa says:

    The Roman Catholic Church has historically orchestrated cover-ups of the sexual abuse of children at the hands of the clergy for decades. That fact has been proven time and again. When the church hierarchy from the Vatican on down could of taken the moral and the legal high ground and stopped the sexual abuse of children by priests, they did just the opposite for no other reason than to protect the Roman Catholic Church. They threw the abused children under the altar again and again. Popes, cardinals, bishops and priests should have long ago along with the Roman Catholic Church as an entity been indicted for orchestrating a criminal conspiracy by concealing criminal activity by the clergy. Apparently, what the victims of pedophile priests had to endure, not only at the time of their sexual abuse, but for the rest of their lives, meant nothing to the Church. I was brought up a Catholic however what the Church as done over the years is a disgrace. What was learned from this is that no matter what title they hold in the Church those who were involved either directly or by being complicit in the cover-ups, no matter the collar they wore, were not and are not servants of God.

    • RCSawyer says:

      If there were a God this shit wouldn’t happen in the first place.

      • Vel Bristol says:

        Not true! There is a God and those of the Catholic church who perpetrated against the innocent will surely stand before the Lord and answer for their sins when Judgement day comes! As we all will!

        • hers1 says:

          Well Val, , that does not do a shit’s bit of good for the people who are the victims.

          Time to tap the Catholic Church’s wallet and try to make amends to them.

          Church has bucks, and the forfeiting of them will more than likely NOT get their attention, but might discourage people from donating to the “church” if they know their $$ is going to the legal defense settlement made necessary by the pedophile priests and those (Church) that enabled them.

          Waiting for hell is too long.

          • spark grrl says:

            the church actually did provide small monetary settlements to the victims as stated in the documentary. there is also extensive discussion of hearings and church lawyers and whatnot – all $$$.

            i believe the settlements were around $10-25k per person. the church also agreed to pay for counseling services for X number of years (i forget what the time frame was) but jane doe declined as she (justifiably) wanted nothing more to do with them. (i’m not sure if the others accepted this part of the settlement.)

          • Thomas Goldfinch says:

            Do you have any idea whatsoever of the TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS that the Roman Catholic Church possesses and controls!? Why, just the WAREHOUSE OF MANY BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF FINE ART (and I’m including ALL of the pagan art of antiquity that they possess, not just that which they claim are “holy” material objects they use to worship the abjectly impoverished Jesus H. Christ Himself!), otherwise known as The Vatican, is a mere fraction of the many more BILLIONS OF DOLLARS JUST IN ART OBJECTS AND RARE GEMS that this cabal of false pious “practitioners of poverty” possess! THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH ITSELF IS ROLLING IN DOUGH, and I do not mean the flour and water dough crackers they consume at every Mass with Communion. And then there are the MANY BILLIONS OF DOLLARS CONTROLLED BY ROMAN CATHOLIC INSTITUTIONS LIKE THE KNIGHTS OF MALTA, THE KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS, THE TAX DEDUCTIONS IN THE BILLIONS DECLARED BY EXTREMELY WEALTHY ROMAN CATHOLIC LAY PEOPLE (tax deductions as “charitible contributions” to their “Church” that EACH AND EVERY OTHER AMERICAN HAS TO PICK UP THE FINANCIAL SLACK FOR – ALL THE WHILE THE “HOLY CHURCH” CAN AFFORD THE VERY BEST OF LAWYERS AT A COST OF MANY MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO SHIELD THEIR IMMENSE WEALTH FROM THE UNWASHED AND OFTEN RAPED MASSES)! Sure, the criminals will shave a sliver off one of their gold ingots from their warehouses of BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN GOLD INGOTS TO SHUT THE MOUTHS PERMANENTLY, through legally finagled and enforceable non-disclosure contracts with the raped and molested victims. My, oh my, how very “Christian” of them!

          • hers1 says:

            I am not sure you understand, Spark, that the money is not to settle the claims, but to acknowledge that they exist. And to deter further donations to this “church”.

          • spark grrl says:

            no, i understand, it’s just your original comment seemed to imply that the victims had not received any settlement from the church.

            i personally am an atheist and do not support any church, but certainly not this one. i agree though that money talks, and people should be aware of who and what their donations support!

      • JEzz says:

        No-we the human are born with a free will-Yes He created us but man has a
        choice -embrace His holiness-or the Evil-It is never ok to molest the Innocence of children,men or women.-and hide behind the Church and embrace the veil of Evil.

      • Thomas Goldfinch says:

        Even though I feel some sympathy with what I think you were trying to say, “evil” as assessed by innate human moral standards developed over millennia of evolution does indeed exist. The greatest fallacy about these beliefs in gods is that, OF COURSE, there’s a supernatural cure for or respite from naturally innate “evil” that appears throughout the animal world, from humans on down the feeding chain. Ever see a cat toy with a sentient, pain capable mouse before the cat slowly skins it before swallowing? Higher order apes form bands to raid other apes and tear their infants limb from limb or toss them many feet from treetops to their deaths on the ground below. Mother Nature has cruelty built into its DNA and most humans agree that much of that cruelty is “evil.” The most evil of evil occurrences, I believe, occur when evil-doers cloak themselves in “pious” religious garb or wrap themselves “patriotically” in the flag of their nation. As someone afflicted by being born into a Roman Catholic family, and then forced to attend a Roman catholic school where predator priests came and went like visiting lecturers on college campuses, I’ve learned through personally witnessing one helluva lot of interpersonal evil, as well as reading as much scientific and philosophical writings as possible to finally come to the rational conclusion that there is no god, never has been, and never will be. Still, the many evils I have personally witnessed and the many, many reliable reports of Roman Catholic Church evils, occasionally make me wish there were a god who could actually eternally torture unrepentant evil people, either by making them painfully and pointlessly roll a great rock up a steep hill day after day after day ad infinitum, or eternal fire and brimstone seem literarily appropriate, too – as long as we all realize that these are ancient Walter Mitty similar fantasies to get that vicariously elusive revenge for those who escape human systems of justice.

    • Vince S. says:

      Doug, you have correctly described the Church’s historical response to this horror. Their first reaction is always to close ranks and keep any and all pertinent information from ever seeing the light of day, no matter who’s asking – the victims, law enforcement, the faithful. When we think that the Catholic Church, and in this case the Archdiocese of Baltimore, was to always be expected to stand for the truth in all matters, to be counted on to do the right, moral thing, this failure becomes more disgraceful than ever. Only the full disclosure of all church records on abusive priests can now be accepted as the only path to healing and redemption AND JUSTICE ! And for those in the Archdiocese of Baltimore that will be proven, by such disclosures, to have willfully covered up this abuse, they should be rotting in a prison cell for crimes against humanity.


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