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  Statement on St. Joseph Catholic School parents meeting

Diocese of Joliet officials and administrators of St. Joseph Catholic School in Lockport on Monday night met with school parents. The meeting was an honest outpouring of raw emotion, ranging from anger and grief to forgiveness and a call to come together as a family. Parents spoke from the heart, expressing their fears and disappointments, as well as their genuine affection for the St. Joseph family. All parents who spoke about their children said they loved St. Joseph Catholic School.

The principal and pastor addressed questions about Jeremy Hylka’s hiring for a position teaching religion and science for the current academic year, after he had just resigned from his previous employer, Joliet Catholic Academy. Hylka applied for the St. Joseph’s teaching position and was vetted like any other candidate.

Hylka was put on leave in January 2021 for two weeks out of an abundance of caution. The diocese became aware of a Tik Tok video that depicted an adult male lip-synching a song while text scrolled behind him. The text referenced a high school experience in which he was propositioned or groomed by a teacher, who was not named. A source contacted the diocese identifying the man in the video by name.

Because the text in the video referenced a situation similar to that of Hylka’s, the diocese determined the most prudent course of action was to put Hylka on administrative leave while the matter was investigated. The diocese reached out to the man in the Tik Tok video, but he wanted to remain anonymous and declined to talk to diocesan officials. Hylka’s leave status was not disclosed to parents because it was a confidential personnel matter and because the account in the video could not be clearly linked to Hylka.

Hylka was terminated from his position at St. Joseph Catholic School, as well as his positions as a youth minister at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Joliet and the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet, on Wednesday, April 28.


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