Statement regarding Holy Childhood of Jesus boarding school

Regarding the formerly-operating Holy Childhood of Jesus School boarding school in Harbor Springs, Bishop Walter A. Hurley, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Gaylord, has issued the following statement:

“This summer [2021], we were troubled to learn of the discoveries of unmarked, mass graves in Canada on or near the sites of former Indigenous residential schools. We continue to pray for those mourning and grieving as a result. Understandably with these discoveries, concerns have been raised regarding Indigenous schools here in the United States, and, more closely, in our own diocese. An Indigenous residential school, Holy Childhood of Jesus, was formerly operational in Harbor Springs from the 1800s to 1983. While much good was done there over the years, there is also a great amount of hurt and sorrow weaved into that history. The diocese is aware of painful accounts including the disturbance of unmarked graves in the early years (1890s) during construction of the city street, as well as more recent personal accounts and allegations of misconduct brought forward by former students and their families.

“These matters are deeply concerning, and I join the past bishops of this diocese who have expressed sincere apology for wrongdoing that has caused such lasting harm and suffering. The diocese remains committed to an affirming relationship with tribal members, and our prayer is for continued healing for all involved, particularly those who are still suffering today.

“In order to provide help to victim-survivors of abuse and to bring about accountability for those responsible, we urge that any allegation, regardless of when it occurred, be formally reported. Individuals can file a report by contacting law enforcement; the Michigan Department of Attorney General at 844-324-3374; or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at 855-444-3911. Reports can be made to Church authorities by contacting the Diocese of Gaylord’s Victim Assistance Coordinator at 989-705-9010 to ensure that proper support is available to victim-survivors and that anyone responsible for misconduct is held accountable.

“As it relates to historical issues involving the disturbance of unmarked graves in the parish’s graveyard, it remains of the utmost importance that we show proper care and respect for the dead. To this end, matters involving the parish’s graveyard have been handled in collaboration with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, particularly during an extensive renovation to the church in the 1990s and from that time onward. This will continue to be the case moving forward.”


Previous statements on this topic can be found on the diocesan website here: