GW Catholics defend priest as other students campaign to oust him

Father Greg Shaffer leads a prayer in the Marvin Center’s Grand Ballroom. Hatchet File Photo

Updated: Friday, April 5 at 11:05 a.m.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Allison Kowalski.

Members of GW Catholics are standing up for their campus religious leader, Father Greg Shaffer, after another group of students mobilized a campaign to push him out.

The blog, “The Chaplain We Know,” features 10 student testimonies backing Shaffer, describing students’ positive experiences with the Newman Center priest.

Junior Chris Crawford said he created the blog after news broke Thursday that seniors Damian Legacy and Blake Bergen were lobbying GW officials to fire Shaffer.

“Over time, I have noticed that a certain narrative had emerged about Father Greg that was not actually in line with the Chaplain we all love. We know him as a man of humility, patience, and unconditional love, and this blog reflects that,” Crawford said.

Legacy, Bergen and at least 10 other students said they left the Newman Center because of Shaffer, and are demanding action from administrators. Both seniors say Shaffer, who had once been a close friend and adviser, forced them to step away from the Newman Center because they are gay.

Crawford said he had received an additional 15 submissions since posting on Facebook earlier Thursday evening.

“I am overwhelmed by this outpouring of support,” Crawford said.

 One anonymous post was written by a student who received news before finals that the student’s dad had stage four cancer, and was not expected to live past a few weeks. After hearing the news, Shaffer drove nine hours to spend time with the student’s family and bless the father, who later made a significant recovery, according to the post.

“During the 24 hours that he was with us, Father Greg also was able to celebrate Mass with my family and give my father a blessing with Lourdes water. I will never forget or be able to truly express my gratitude for the selflessness and charity he showed by coming to be with my family over this past Christmas break,” the student wrote.

Another post stressed Schaffer’s “open-mindedness.”

“He’s heard my Confessions, on the occasion I’ve made myself go, without judging, and even if I was just asking for advice he has always been honest, but compassionate and non-judgmental,” the student wrote.

This post was updated Friday, April 5 at 11:05 a.m. to reflect the following:
A earlier version of this post stated that students had submitted posts to the blog Friday evening. These posts were submitted Thursday evening. We regret this error.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.