The Rev. Vincent S. Crosby, founder of Benedict House, has resigned as executive director of the residence for homeless AIDS patients on the Lower West Side.
Judith Skretny, the program director, has been appointed acting executive director. She formerly was executive director of Transitional Services Inc.
"Father Vincent was the driving force in the original organization and establishment of the facility," Molly Fenger, board chairman, said in making the announcement Sunday. "In accepting Father Vincent's resignation, the board expressed its appreciation and that of the supporters of Benedict House for the great service he has provided."
She added that the board "reaffirmed its commitment to continue to provide the housing and related services for AIDS sufferers, who so greatly need the facility's assistance."
The residence at Jersey Street and Plymouth Avenue has rooms for seven patients and is supported by grants, donations and volunteers.
Father Vincent, who had returned to his native Western New York in 1983 after 17 years as a Benedictine monk, said organizing Benedict House was one of the great goals of his life.
"We started from a point of having nothing but a dream and an overwhelming concern to effectively address the AIDS crisis, to a point where now Benedict House is an important part of the mission of helping those most in need," he said.
"However, I find that this effort has taken a great deal out of me. In effect, to use a popular expression, I am burned out, and at this point I cannot do the work on behalf of the mission that I want to do.
"I need a chance to regain my physical and emotional strength. I really feel that I must do something radical to address my own personal needs at this point, so that I will be able to contribute in the future in other ways."
Staff members voiced surprise.
"I'm really stunned," said John Halas, a coordinator at Benedict House. He recalled the monk returned for a retreat at the St. Vincent Arch Abbey in Latrobe, Pa., just before Thanksgiving.
"He must have been thinking about this recently, because he usually goes to the abbey to recharge his batteries," Halas said. "I know it's been personally taxing on him to see all these people die. It's a very stressful job. Being a father confessor, he hears all of us -- but he doesn't have anyone to go to" (at Benedict House).
Father Vincent, 45, grew up on the West Side, as did his parents, Robert and Lucille Crosby, who now live in Orchard Park. He attended Public Schools 77 and 64, Canisius High School and St. John Vianney Seminary.
He recently described how he took a temporary leave from the monastery to teach liturgy at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora in 1983.
"Quite frankly, after 17 years I was looking for a change of scenery for a while, and it was close to home. It worked so well, I stayed on."
His teaching assignment in East Aurora brought him in touch with a man dying of acquired immune deficiency syndrome. After counseling him, the priest began taking other referrals. Before long, he bought property in Buffalo, with his own savings, as a haven for people with AIDS.