Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Jan
  • 30

Bishop places Father Lettic on leave

Posted By January 30, 2014 | 2:00 pm | Local, Uncategorized
Lettic, Edward

Bishop McManus has placed Father Edward P. Lettic on administrative leave due to a credible allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor which took place 40 years ago.
Father Lettic had been serving as pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Lancaster.
On Sunday, Bishop McManus sadly told members of Immaculate Conception Parish that he placed Father Lettic, their pastor since 1993, on administrative leave
The bishop made the announcement at last weekend’s Masses. He and Frances J. Nugent, director of the Office for Healing and Prevention, were available to meet with parishioners afterwards in the rectory. Grief and disbelief were among parishioners’ reactions.
Bishop McManus appointed Father Thomas H. Hultquist  temporary administrator this week to oversee the pastoral life of the parish until a new pastor is named.
Father Hultquist had been pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Barre, which merged with St. Thomas-a-Becket Parish there to form St. Francis of Assisi Parish under one new pastor last July. At that time Father Hultquist was assigned to special ministry.
Father Lettic was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Worcester in 1973. He has served as an associate pastor at St. Joan of Arc, Worcester; St. Denis, East Douglas; and St. Joseph in Auburn, as well as a chaplain at Westborough State Hospital before being named pastor of Immaculate Conception in Lancaster in 1993.
Deacon Robert S. Connor Jr., who serves at the parish, and his wife, Irene, said he led a night of evening prayer and reflection Wednesday to pray for the parish, Father Lettic and his accuser. About 50 people attended.
“Some people came who needed the help,” Deacon Connor said. “Some people came who wanted to offer the help.” Some were not parishioners but know Father Lettic.
The deacon said he got one-and-one-half pages of signatures of people who want another such service, and he plans to hold one.
A painful experience like this could tear the parish apart or bring them together, he said.
“This is what Father would have wanted us to do,” he said of praying for all affected by a crisis. “This is how he taught us.”
Bishop McManus shared the following statement at all the Masses.
“I come before you today with a saddened heart to announce that I have placed Father Edward P. Lettic on administrative leave due to a credible allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor which took place forty years ago. Recently the victim came forward to the diocese with this allegation which has been investigated with the oversight of the Diocesan Review Committee. It is the first and only report of an allegation of misconduct which we have received involving Father Lettic. Because of the serious nature of the allegation, and consistent with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, I must relieve Father Lettic of his duties as pastor of the parish and to remove his faculties as a priest.”
“I truly realize that this news is a shock for you as it has been for me. I ask that you join me in prayer for the parish community, as well as for those who have been hurt in any way by sexual misconduct. I also ask that you keep Father Lettic in your prayers.”
“The Catholic Church is often referred to as the family of God. As your bishop, I have a serious pastoral responsibility for the spiritual care and wellbeing of this family. That is why I have come to this parish personally to share this very troubling news. A family rejoices together in good times and also grieves together in times of hurt and sadness. My fervent hope and prayer is that, relying on each other’s support and on God’s grace, we will work together to continue to make Immaculate Conception Parish a strong and vibrant community of faith, hope and love. This week I will appoint a temporary administrator to oversee the pastoral life of the parish until a new pastor is named. After Mass, I will be here to meet with anyone who wishes to gather in the rectory along with Mrs. Frances Nugent, director of the Office of Healing and Prevention.  I pray that God’s all powerful grace may bring you comfort and healing in the weeks and months ahead.”
In keeping with the Norms issued by the Holy See following adoption of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a canonical process has begun including a report of the allegation to the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.  The result of that canonical process, if found guilty of the allegation, could include removal from the clerical state or a sanction such as a life of prayer and penance.