LeClair: Father Joe LeClair

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Joseph Le Clair Father Joe LeClair (picture above from youknowwhoiam.com) Priest, Archdiocese of Ottawa.  Ordained 1986.  16 April 2011:  media report Father Joe LeClair gambling at casino in Hull Quebec where he was making massive cash withdrawals on his Visa card.  May 2011 resigned – went to Ireland on pre-planned pilgrimage and then scheduled to go to Southdown for treatment of gambling problem. 17 September 2011: diocese announced that police have been called in to probe financial irregularities at Blessed Sacrament Church. 03 July 2012: charged with fraud, theft, money laundering and breach of trust. 20 January 2014pleaded GUILTY to fraud and theft

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20 January 2014:  Father Joe LeClair guilty pleas: Agreed Statement of Facts

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Latest News & Blogs

(Scroll down page for further media coverage and BLOGS)

19 March 2014:  “Father Joseph LeClair sentenced to a year in jail” & VIDEO

19 March 2014:  Fr. Joe LeClair gets one year behind bars  (with external links to videos)

19 March 2014:  Father Joseph LeClair sentenced to a year in jail

19 March 2014:  Father Joe Leclair jailed 1 year for stealing from his parish

19 March 2014:  P.E.I. priest sentenced to one year in jail

19 March 2014:  “Fr. Joe LeClair gets one year behind bars” & related articles

19 March 2014:  BLOG The emails

19 March 2014:  BLOG One year in jail

18 March 2014:  Father Joe Leclair to be sentenced Wednesday for theft, fraud from Blessed Sacrament

21 January 2014:  Father Joe LeClair should not serve jail time for defrauding church: Lawyer

26 January 2014:  Ottawa Sun letters to the editor: Jan. 26 (re Father Joe LeClair)

25 January 2014:  Letters to the Editor re Father Joe LeClair

24 January 2014:  Former bookkeeper says Father Joe exposed poor church money-handling

24 January 2014: Editorial: Father Joe LeClair and the quality of mercy

23 January 2014:  AUDIO CFRA radio call-ins re Father Joe LeClair 23 Jan. 2014

23 January 2014:  “Will Father Joe LeClair go to jail for fraud?” & related articles

22 January 2014:  Transcript: Father Joe LeClair apologizes to parishioners for fraud

20 January 2014:  Father Joe LeClair guilty pleas: Agreed Statement of Facts

20 January 2014: Archbishop Prendergast statement re Father Joe LeClair pleading guilty to theft and fraud.

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Next court date:  19 March 2014:  10 am, courtroom 10, for sentencing, Ottawa, Ontario courthouse (161 Elgin St.); 24-28 February 2014: Preliminary hearing, Ottawa, Ontario courthouse (161 Elgin St.);  30 August 2013;   Judicial pre-trial continued (NOT open to the public)27 February 2013:  8:30 am, courtroom #5,  Ottawa Ontario courthouse; 13 February 2013:  follow-up on judicial pre-trial, Ottawa courthouse,  NOT open to the public; 09 January 2013:  08:30 am, courtroom #5,  Ottawa Ontario courthouse; 11 December 2012: 2:20 pm, judicial pre-trial, Ottawa courthouse,  NOT open to the public; 21 November 2012: 08:30 am, courtroom #5  Ottawa, Ontario courthouse (161 Elgin St.) ; 17 October 2012: 08:30 am, courtroom #5  Ottawa, Ontario courthouse (161 Elgin St.) ;  05 September 2012: 08:30 am, courtroom #5, “to be spoken to,” Ottawa, Ontario courthouse (161 Elgin St.) , 25 July 2012: 08:30 am, courtroom #5, “first appearance,” Ottawa, Ontario courthouse (161 Elgin St.)

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Archbishops of Ottawa from time of Father Joe LeClair’s ordination:  ; Joseph-Aurèle Plourde (02 January 1967 – September 1989) ; Marcel André J. Gervais (Coadjutor Archbishop: 13 May 1989 – Archbishop: 27 Sep 1989 – 14 May 2007); Terrence Thomas Prendergast, S.J. (14 May 2007 – – )

Auxiliary Bishops:  John Michael Beahen  (11 May 1977 to 14 March 1988); Gilles Bélisle (11 May 1977 – 19 August 1993); Frederick Joseph Colli (19 December 1994 – 02 February 1999); Paul Marchand, S.M.M. (31 May 1993 to 08 March 1999)

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Documents of interest (Scroll down page for media coverage )

04 July 2012: Archbishop Prendergast statement re Father Joe LeClair charges

08 October 2011:  Petition asking the Archdiocese to withdraw its request for the the Ottawa Police Service investigation re Father Joe Leclair and the finances at Blessed Sacrament

19 September 2011:  Monsignor Kevin Beach letter to parishioners at Blessed Sacrament Church

This year is Father Joe LeClair’s 25th Anniversary of ordination (apologies for the picture quality – the conversion to a searchable file had a negative impact on picture quality and reproduction)

2010 Canada Revenue Agency – Registered Charity Information Return for Blessed Sacrament Parish:

Detailed financial information

Non cash gifts

2009:  VIDEO    2009 Inspiration Award Recipient — Father Joe LeClair  (re Father LeClair’s past battle with depression – an award offered by the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group )

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The following information is drawn from Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD) which I have on hand, media (M) and personal information (P)

20-23 January 2014:  Sentencing hearing

20 January 2014:  GUILTY pleas to theft and fraud

03 July 2012: charged with fraud, theft, money laundering and breach of trust.

- staying at St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church rectory in Fitzroy Harbour, Ontario (Pastor Father Michael Ruddick)

February 2012:  Posting on Archdiocese of Ottawa’s website:

“ARCHDIOCESE SEEKING TEAM OF ACCOUNTANTS: The Archdiocese of Ottawa is looking for a team of accountants. These are part-time contract positions. Part of their mandate will be to visit parishes and help facilitate and monitor implementation of the Protocol on Parish Financial Administration. Incumbents should have an accounting designation (CA, CGA, CMA) or equivalent education and experience as well as a good knowledge of Microsoft Office and Simply Accounting. Info: Colette Legault (613-738-5025, ext. 234). Resume to (clegault@archottawa.ca).”

17 September 2011:  Diocesan announcement that the diocesan audit has been completed and police have been called in to investigate (M)

- still at Southdown for treatment of gambling addiction?

May 2011:  resigned as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church (M)

April 2011:  admitted he has a gambling problem (M)

hosting radio show on CFRA on Sunday mornings:  “The Sunday Show With Father Joe”

March 2011: Auditors called in to review the books at Blessed Sacrament after diocesan officials became aware of irregularities.  Leclair’s lawyer, Ian Stauffer, said that “From Father Joe’s perspective, the auditors have exonerated Father Joe.” (M)  After the Ottawa Citizen published a story about LeClair’s gambling and spending the archdiocese ordered a more thorough audit (M)

2011, 2010: Pastor, Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church, Ottawa (CCCD)

2002: Pastor, Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church, Ottawa (CCCD)

one of four Regional Vicars, English Sector (CCCD)

2000, 1999, 1998:  Pastor, Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church, Ottawa (CCCD)

1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991:  pastor, St. Leonard Roman Catholic Church, Manotick, Ontario (CCCD)

1997:  assigned as Pastor, Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church, Ottawa, Ontario (M)

1990: assigned to St. Leonard’s Roman Catholic Church, Manotick, Ontario

1988-1990: assistant, Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, Ottawa, Ontario (Pastor Father Gerry Pocock)

1986:  ORDAINED

Studied at University of PEI and Holy Apostles Seminary College, Connecticut, USA. The word is he was originally to be ordained to serve in Prince Edward Island.  A friend at the the seminary allegedly brought him to Ottawa, he met Archbishop Joseph Aurele Plourde, Plourde asked LeClair to come to Ottawa, and LeClair decided to become ordained for the Archdiocese of Ottawa.  He served his diaconate year at St. Mary’s.  I have been told that both during and after his diaconate year he was providing counselling services for victims of clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Ottawa. (M and P)

worked as an elementary school teacher and as a social services worker (Catholic Family Services, Summerside) in PEI before he pursued the priesthood (M)

08 December 1958:  Born in Alberton, Prince Edward Island

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MEDIA

22 January 2014:  Father Joe offers tearful apology

22 January 2014:  “Father Joseph LeClair to be sentenced in March” & VIDEO

22 January 2014:  Father Joe: Atonement, then forgiveness

22 January 2014: “Teary, ‘deeply remorseful’ Father Joe LeClair pleads to stay out of jail” & related article

22 January 2014:  Transcript: Father Joe LeClair apologizes to parishioners for fraud

21 January 2014:  Popular Ottawa priest pleads guilty to fraud

21 January 2014:  “Father Joseph LeClair shouldn’t get jail, defence argues” & VIDEO

21 January 2014: “Father Joe’s ‘remorse is complete’: Lawyer ” & related article

21 January 2014:  “Father Joe LeClair pleads guilty to fraud and theft” & related articles

21 January 2014:  BLOG Party time

20 January 2014: “Father Joseph LeClair pleads guilty to defrauding church” & VIDEO

20 January 2014:  “Father Joe LeClair pleads guilty to fraud and theft” & related article

22 December 2013: BLOG Plea deal in offing?

29 October 2013:  Archdiocese withheld $379,000 settlement from Blessed Sacrament Church for 10 months

25 July 2012: Court date for Ottawa priest charged with theft and fraud postponed to September

25 July 2012: Father Joe’s next court appearance on fraud charges set for Sept. 5

25 July 2012: Supporters pack court for Father Joe hearing

08 July 2012: Priests are every bit as weak as the rest of us

08 July 2012: Parishioners asked to pray for Father Joe

05 July 2012: CFRA Soundoff poll

05 July 2012: Catholic Archbishop, Parish React to Charges Against Local Priest

05 July 2012:  Charges against LeClair greeted with shock, dismay

04 July 2012: BLOG Fraud, theft, money laundering and …

04 July 2012: Joseph LeClair, 55, alleged to have misappropriated more than $240,000 04 July 2012: Former Ottawa parish priest charged with fraud

04 July 2012: Archbishop Prendergast statement re Father Joe LeClair charges

03 July 2012: Former Ottawa parish priest charged with fraud

03 July 2012:  Former Blessed Sacrament pastor Father Joe faces fraud, theft, money laundering charges

04 March 2012:  Accountants to enforce strict rules at Ottawa Catholic churches

25 January 2012:  “Diocese imposes strict money rules” and other similar articles

30 October 2011: Diocese proposes stringent money rules

28 September 2011: Not just an internal matter

25 September 2011:  Church official faces angry Blessed Sacrament parishioners

25 September 2011: Archdiocese won’t call off cops

25 September 2011: Parishioners want church finance investigation stopped

20 September 2011: Priest’s lawyer frustrated by not being allowed to see church audit

19 September 2011:  Monsignor Kevin Beach letter to parishioners at Blessed Sacrament Church

19 September 2011: LeClair believes police inquiry exonerates him, lawyer says

18 September 2011: Statement from Father Joe Leclair’s lawyer

18 September 2011:  Leclair believes police inquiry exonerates him, lawyer says

17 September 2011: Entry in Blessed Sacrament Parish bulletin 

17 September 2011: Police to probe financial irregularities at Blessed Sacrament

15 September 2011:  Financial report found Blessed Sacrament in the red in 2010

22 June 2011: Archdiocese fires volunteer accountant at Blessed Sacrament church

04 June 2011: Church donors sought police probe

03 June 2011:  Blessed Sacrament finances managed by ‘one-man band’

18 May 2011: Embattled priest says he’ll be back in September

18 May 2011:  Embattled priest says he’ll be back in September (pdf)

02 May 2011:  Gambling priest to get counselling

30 April 2011:  Blessed Sacrament priest to leave church on May 27

27 April 2011: Archdiocese official mum on whether financial audit of Blessed Sacrament Church will be released

25 April 2011: Father Joe steps down from Glebe parish

25 April 2011:  Father LeClair leaving Glebe parish

20 April 2011: Chief queries diocese’s handling of financial woes

19 April 2011: Ottawa Citizen Letters to Editor re Father Joe LeClair

18 April 2011: Allegations prompt audit of Catholic parish in Ottawa

18 April 2011:  Father Joe’s Visa bills were stolen, says lawyer

18 April 2011:  Father Joe needs our love (and comments)

17 April 2011:  Gambling priest depressed

17 April 2011: Father LeClair issues apology to Blessed Sacrament

16 April 2011:  John Counsel Statement regarding Father Joe Leclair

16 April 2011:  LeClair admits gambling, denies taking from church

16 April 2011:  The priest, his gambling and trouble at Blessed Sacrament

16 April 2011:  BLOG Gambling priest?

(Above – from 16 April 2011 Ottawa Citizen:  “Father Joseph LeClair’s personal credit card statement for the period between Dec. 16, 2010 and Jan. 15, 2011 shows a payment onDec. 23 for $39,585.06 and shows he took cash advances at Casino du Lac-Leamy 10 times on Christmas Eve.”)

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Father Joe LeClair’s lawyer is Ian Stauffer.  Those who followed the Cornwall Public Inquiry will recall that Stauffer came to the inquiry in mid-stream as commission counsel.  Some may also recall that Stauffer performs with the Great Canadian Theatre Company, as does Justice Colin McKinnon

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‘Thou shalt take more time for family’

Ottawa Citizen

12 April 2009

Bruce Deachman

Blessed Sacrament’s Father Joe LeClair takes time out from his busy Easter schedule to reveal which Robin Williams character he’d like to be for a day, what he’d like to do now that he’s tried bungee jumping, and the 11th Commandment he’d write

1. What is the first thing you remember wanting to be when you grew up? I likely wanted to be an educator, for sure. A teacher, likely. I enjoyed school. I enjoyed the environment, and was always very involved.

2. What is your favourite sermon to deliver? That’s a hard one.

My favourite sermon to deliver, I think, would be what I would call a sermon that addresses where the people are today, to integrate that particular gospel into today’s situation.

Such as?

Well, today’s situation might be the recession. You know they say that a recession is when everybody else is losing their job, and a depression is when you’re losing yours. And I try to speak a lot to mental health issues.

3. What did you have on your bedroom walls when you were a kid?

Now this may sound strange to you, but John F. Kennedy. I’m 51, and when television came to Prince Edward Island, the first thing I remember — I was a small child in 1963 — was Kennedy. The whole funeral thing; it was just all Kennedy. I became fascinated with Kennedy. I own a huge collection of Kennedy books and memorabilia, and when I was in the States that was one of the first things I wanted to visit; when I went to Texas, it was the first thing I wanted to see.

4. Who was, or is, the best TV or movie priest?

I guess it would have to be Bing Crosby, right? I mean, everybody goes back to Bing.

5. What can you do better than anyone else?

Embellish stories. I learned well from my dad, I think.

6. Which of the apostles do you find most interesting, and why?

St. Peter, because of his humanity. He also had great strength, but he had moments of weakness.

7. What talent do you most envy in others?

The ability to sing or be musical. That should really make people laugh.

You can’t sing?

I think I can, but they say I can’t.

8. What religious artifact or piece of art most fills you with awe?

Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt.

9. If your friends could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I think they’d say create more time for me. Today I have 17 appointments, and most of that is counselling. It makes me feel satisfied, but I also say that at the end of the day, satisfying is boring if you have no time for yourself.

10. If you could add an 11th Commandment, what would it be?

“Thou shalt take more time for family.” With the whole Internet world we’re living in — this technical world — I really find that we almost have a generation that don’t know feelings.

11. Which hymn could you listen to over and over?

The Old Rugged Cross. It’s not even really a Catholic hymn, but I just love it. It’s beautiful.

12. In your experience, what are the things people most commonly give up for Lent? Booze, except on St. Patrick’s Day, and sweets.

13. What have you never done that you’d like to try? Skydiving. I loved the thrill of a bungee jump.

14. What is your favourite story or passage from the Bible, and why?

Corinthians 13. It’s read at most weddings and it basically tells you what love definitely is, and what it isn’t, and I love it. “Love is patient, love is kind, never jealous, never boastful, not conceited … ” Everyone knows it, and it takes people back, usually, to a very warm time in their lives.

15. If you could be one fictional character for a day, who would you choose?

At first I’d say Michael from The Godfather, but he became a not-so-admirable individual. So I thought I would like to be Mrs. Doubtfire. I love Robin Williams and I just love the humour in all of it. I’d love to be able to create that kind of atmosphere, to be carefree and happy all the time.

16. What was the first album/cassette/CD you ever owned, and under what circumstances did you get it?

It has to be Creedence. CCR. Proud Mary. I thought of the Eagles, and Fleetwood Mac is a favourite, but Creedence, oh my God.

17. What comment most often appeared on your report cards?

“Joey needs to spend more time on his homework.”

18. What part of your job do you like the least? Dealing with death. I don’t mind dealing with grief, because I think grief is the process of reclaiming your person, but actually death itself.

19. What three people, living or dead, would you most like to spend an evening with over a pint?

Obviously, John F. And Obama — I’m a big Obama person. And I would have liked to have spent time talking to Pierre Trudeau. I also thought that Sir Wilfrid Laurier would be fascinating. Sure, but you only get three people. OK, we’ll leave Laurier out.

20. What would you like your headstone to read? “Joe was a very compassionate person. He cared.” – – –

NEXT WEEK: Newly signed to a two-year contract, Sens coach Cory Clouston plays 20 Questions. Have a question you want Bruce to ask? Send it to twentyquestions@thecitizen.canwest.com

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Keeping The Faith: Father Joe Leclair

Ottawa at Home (ottawaathome.ca)

06 April 2010

Catherine Clarkson

When Father Joe LeClair delivers his homily at the Glebe’s Blessed Sacrament Church every Sunday, there is rarely an empty seat.

Where many churches suffer from dwindling numbers, Father Joe has overseen a surge in worshippers of all ages who wouldn’t miss a service.

What makes this man Ottawa’s most popular priest?

“Father Joe walks the talk and isn’t afraid to call it like it is,” says parishioner Jean Ledo. Ledo’s wife Mariette adds, “Father Joe transcends and exemplifies Christian values like compassion, selflessness, integrity and generosity.  His sense of community, of reaching out, is what makes people want to participate.”

That’s a glowing reference for a man who wasn’t sure if a religious vocation was for him.  “The priesthood was a calling, but it was a real struggle to answer it,” he admits with a laugh.

While church was a central part of life for Father Joe and his eight siblings growing up on Prince Edward Island, his early path saw him teaching school, working in social services, and even hoping to find true love, before realizing that the priesthood was a calling he couldn’t ignore. So he approached his religious vocation with vigour and pragmatic optimism.

“I want to make the lives of everyone I meet better,” explains Father Joe.  “When I wake up, instead of saying ‘Good God it’s morning,’ I prefer to say ‘Good morning God!”’

“I’ve known Father Joe for many years,” says Ottawa native Erin Phillips.  “He’s been a special part of all the significant events in my life – from my marriage to Chris to the baptism of our three children.  He inspires me in my faith and encourages me to be a better person and to get involved in our community.”

And community is an important word for Father Joe.  “My parishioners and I may be Roman Catholic, however we belong to the greater community of Ottawa, and we must be an active part of that community,” he explains. To that end, he works diligently to raise money and awareness for various charitable initiatives, including mental health.

While there have been bumps in the road – Father Joe openly admits that he suffered a burn-out and had to choose whether or not to recommit himself to his faith and vocation – he says he enjoys his work and is satisfied with who he is. And who he is, according to parishioners, is a compassionate and dedicated man, devoted to those who just need a little faith.— Catherine Clark is the host of Beyond Politics on CPAC.

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Father Joe’s Blessed Sacrament musicians have them swaying in the aisles

The Ottawa Citizen

05 September 2005

Hilary McLaughlin

The weekly Sunday evening ‘Rock the Glebe’ service draws a capacity house for a traditional Catholic mass, Hilary McLaughlin reports.

Country-rockish guitar chords and a group of eight vocalists blasting out in the Glebe on a Sunday evening. The live music venue at the Ex? No. A few blocks from the fair site, in the elegant Blessed Sacrament Church, the weekly Sunday evening “Rock the Glebe” service was off and running.

As Rev. Joe LeClair and his assistants head toward the altar, Dave Brown leads the group through the first of a series of songs and hymns that musically illustrate the liturgy throughout the otherwise traditional Catholic mass. And the congregation sings and taps along to the music.

A day earlier, Martha Kelly, a singer-guitarist of Irish descent, accompanied by pianist Chris McGuire, played a Celtic range of music to accompany the Saturday afternoon service.

The church holds three masses on Sunday mornings. The early one is without accompaniment, the second features Mr. McGuire and a soprano and tenor, performing his arrangements of traditional and contemporary songs and hymns, and the last has a 16-member choir led by Cleary Morris, employing four-part harmonies in traditional and modern arrangements.

Unusual in these secular days, they all play to mostly capacity houses — about 1,000 at Blessed Sacrament.

It wasn’t always that way.

“When Father Joe came to Blessed Sacrament, almost nine years ago, he asked if I would help with the music,” recalls Mr. Brown.

Father Joe had previously served in Manotick and at Holy Cross in Ottawa. He invited Mr. McGuire and Ms. Kelly, who both enjoyed Father Joe’s sense of community in their previous experiences, to Blessed Sacrament.

“For a few months, we were just entertaining each other,” says Father Joe. “Maybe 30 to 45 people would show up,” adds Mr. Brown. “Now, during the regular season it’s standing room only.

Father Joe puts chairs along the sides and there are people in the choir loft sometimes.” Says Mr. Morris, “It’s not just the Rock the Glebe mass, it’s the same at all of them.”

Father Joe started the Sunday evening mass with the more contemporary musical beats hoping to attract younger parishioners. He got them — and their parents — and a lot of others, too.

“It’s convenient for people who are out on Sundays, away for the weekend, out skiing or at the cottage for the day.”

All the musicians attest to Father Joe’s talent for community building. “He creates the right environment to worship,” says Mr. McGuire.

Father Joe readily acknowledges that the music program has been a huge drawing card.

The musicians agree. “People who don’t attend church might come for a wedding or something, and they’re impressed with the energy here, and the invitation to be a part of something,” Mr. McGuire says.

Mr. Brown says Father Joe was prepared to invest in a new piano and an improved sound system that would enhance the range of musical presentations in the church. There is a high standard of musicianship from the various singers, players and arrangers, and they are often supplemented by others who are not part of the regular lineup.

Patrick Maher, Ms. Kelly’s brother, is a well-known performer on the bar circuit. He joined all the Blessed Sacrament soloists on their first CD, issued last Christmas. Most of the carols are familiar, but the arrangements and syncopations are original and interesting without being self-consciously hipped up.

All the musicians are devout Catholics, and most are lifelong participants in Catholic music. Their musical contributions at the church are dedicated to their faith. “Music is praying twice,” Mr. Brown says.

It’s not often that people rise to take communion to a powerful blues band, playing, on this particular Sunday night, Light of the City, with vocalist Cathy Brown sounding like a combination of Janis Joplin and Bette Midler, while guitarist Richard Bethell’s fingering sounded like slide guitar.

And the faithful were played out to rousing reggae with Jimmy Cliff’s I Can See Clearly Now. All the musicians get together occasionally, notably on Holy Thursday, one of the most solemn nights of the Christian calendar. “It’s our ‘big band’ sound for the year,” says Ms. Kelly.

One of the busiest parishes in Ottawa, Blessed Sacrament rocks the year round. “Come at Thanksgiving,” Father Joe encourages. “It’ll be spectacular.”

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Priest brings faithful home: `Father Joe’ rejuvenates Glebe church

The Ottawa Citizen

13 April 1998

Mohammed Adam He is not just the flavour of the moment, but the rave of the town.

From Manotick to the Glebe, believers are flocking to his Roman Catholic church in droves, their faltering faith rekindled.

But Father Joe Leclair, whose infectious good humour and charisma is spreading the gospel like wildfire and packing them in at Glebe’s Blessed Sacrament Church, is too modest to have his picture taken or even talk to a reporter.

He says he is busy doing God’s work as he gently declines a request for an interview, promising to pray for a reporter and a photographer.

Parishioners say that’s very much like Father Leclair — modest, deeply religious but very much in tune with today’s world and the needs of his congregation.

Dr. Sarah Critchley, a physician, says she had drifted away from the church because she wasn’t hearing what she felt was relevant to her life — until the advent of Father Leclair. “I tried a lot of churches, but I didn’t feel moved. There was no connection until he came. He is that good,” she says.

Watching Father Leclair at work on a bright Easter Sunday at the Blessed Sacrament Church, it is easy to see why he is getting such rave reviews. During the service, he leaves the podium and walks down the pews, exhorting the faithful to get involved and sing louder.

“You in the back,” he calls out and as the congregation responds, he says approvingly, “much better. It’s so important folks that you sing and exhaust yourself.”

Towards the end of the service, he engages in a homily with the congregation, and calls up a couple of kids for some good-humoured banter. If they had to describe how they feel in one word, what would they say, he asked. “Happy,” one replied. “Good,” the other said to wide applause.

As the congregation files out, several call him by his first name, leaving no doubt about the wonderful rapport he has built with the congregation.

Father Leclair was transferred to the Glebe from what several people say was a successful parish in Manotick. So popular is he that several of his old parishioners came along with him. And within a year, he has dramatically rejuvenated the Glebe Church.

“You go anywhere in the Glebe and all you hear is Father Joe,” said Glebe resident Louis Sirois, who had shunned the church until Father Leclair showed up.

“He has done an amazing thing for this church. He has at least doubled the congregation.” Scott Warren, also of the Glebe, agrees.

74 Responses to LeClair: Father Joe LeClair

  1. Francis Burns says:

    I went to the 8 pm Mass Sunday night at Blessed sacrament. I wanted to
    hear Fr. Joe Leclaire’s words for myself. Indeed it was a packed
    Church where every pew was full.

    He took the safe way of reading his statement which stayed very close
    to the same apology as was in the paper. His voice was quivering and
    at times came close to crying if not out right crying for a second or
    two.

    His voice quivered all through mass. After his apology or sermon
    definately not a homily which is a reflection on the scriptures by an
    ordained minister I guess (a liberal priest would allow for a sermon
    in this case.) The people gave him a standing ovation, somebody in the
    congregation yelled , Bravo! at least that’s what I think they yelled
    and somebody else yelled, we love you!. I was so tempted to boo, but I
    didn’t have it in me.

    I am truly conflicted on these issues on the one hand people clap,
    talk, and cheer in Church regarless of weather catholics like it or
    not, so on the one hand if you are free to clap for things you like,
    should you not equally be allowed to boo for things you don’t like.
    Nonetheless, I saw a man who was a popular priest much because he was
    bad-ass and enjoyed breaking the Church’s traditions and laws, he was
    indeed a broken man and not himself , truly falling apart. He was not
    the regular strong in your face bad-boy priest he once was.

    At the time to take the gifts up some kids brought up a sign and
    placed it on the altar I think it said, Our light, Our inspiration,
    Our priest.

    He thanked all those for their notes of support in his homily, he said
    the article is not true that he stole money.

    He also said to pray for his parents and that he had a big descision
    to make in the next few months.

    At the end of mass he said he would like to thank the two priests who
    popped in out of no where Fr. Pierre Champoux and Father Anthony
    Hanon.

    He asked that we all leave the Church in silence (he may have said
    because of lent or easter) and the priest left by the sanctuary and
    did not come out to give us a big fuzzy hug or hand shake. You could
    have heard a pen drop. I must admit I did enjoy the silence.

    You could feel it is the congregation it was an emotional issue for
    the priest and parishioners. However, for those of us who have had to
    confront abusive priests in the past, particularly with protective
    bishops and their resources it had a very familiar erie feeling. As I
    stood there I wondered, what were they cheering for? Was the message
    whatever you do, whatever transaction you break, we support you, cause
    you were nice to us? If you are nice to us you can break any law!

    I wondered would they give the members of the parish finance committee
    a standing ovation who through much unpopularity brought this to
    light? Do the parishioners truly love and honor the members of the
    parish finance committee who brought the skills of financing, honesty
    and integrity that brought this abuse to light? Did the faithful thank
    the finance members for putting their popularity on the line to
    protect the parish from financial abuse no matter who is doing it?
    Would they give a standing ovation to the Ottawa Citizen writer for
    his article because without it much of this would never have been
    exposed? I wondered would Fr. Anothony Hanon, and Fr. Pierre Chanpoulx
    unexpectedly pop up and suppport their brother and sister Catholics
    who want the laws of the Church and charitable tax status followed?

    Instead of the parish being non-inclusive closing in on themselves and
    prohibiting journalists who ask fair questions, while Fr. Joe Leclaire
    (of all people) ordered the laity to walk out in silence as he and the
    other priest all headed off in seclusion not talking or shaking hands
    with anybody, I thought wouldn’t it be a wonderful Catholic witness if
    next Sunday the parishioners invited the reporter from the Ottawa
    Citizen, and the parishioners who brought these terrible transactions
    to light and gave them a standing ovation. I wondered, would Fr.
    Anthony Hanon and Pierre Champoux pop out of nowhere to show their
    support for their fellow Catholics?

    • RB says:

      What a great disservice you have done to Blessed Sacrament parishioners with this irresponsible and wildly inaccurate comment.

      There was no homily because it was Passion Sunday – there never is. The liturgy of the word is always given pride of place on Passion Sunday since the events the gospel describes are the central foundation of our faith.

      The man who shouted out shouted out, “We love you Father Joe.” I know this because I know well the man who did it. And given the kind of outward and missionary parish we’ve built, there is nothing surprising about this man being overcome with an affection we’ve always shared so broadly with others.

      As to the departure in silence, again it is Passion Sunday. We don’t – and never have – played any exit antiphon for this most solemn of exits. But then if you actually knew anything about Blessed Sacrament, you’d already know that.

  2. John says:

    I am standing at my computer and applauding you Francis Burns…BRAVO, BRAVO!!!

    John Mac Donald

  3. Sylvia says:

    Thank you Francis Burns for taking us inside Blessed Sacrament on Sunday evening.

    In light of the circumstances I can not for the life of me understand why Father LeClare has been allowed to continue offering Mass and hearing confessions. Why has he not been sent away for some much needed treatment?

    Nor do I understand the standing ovations. Do we go to Mass to give honour and glory to the priest? or, do we go to give glory and honour to God?

    Anyway, it all unfortunately sounds like the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at Blessed Scarment on Sunday evening was quite an ‘event.’

    Perhaps Father Darryly Kennedy was right when he told parishioners at St. Pat’s on Sunday that the release of the gambling story on Saturday was “diabolical” because, according to Father, it would occupy minds on things other than Lent. I was puzzled by the comment, but, when I read what happened at Blessed Sacrament I’m wondering if Father Kennedy was right, at least on the notion of occupying minds with other thoughts? Diaobolical? I don’t know. I think some might consider it diabolical no matter when it was published?

  4. Larry Green says:

    I’m not sure if I am understanding correctly the substance of this thread. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
    It appears that it has recently been revealed that this particular person has a gambling addiction and to feed his addiction he was “stealing”, “ mishandling” ( whatever the correct term of allegation) church funds.
    What I’m not clear about is : is he a previously convicted child molester or a suspected one?
    If he is neither and you are condemning him on the basis that he is an addict while at the same time you speak with reverence about the Blessed Sacrament , Jesus Christ who spent three years on earth teaching us how to forgive and be merciful. Jesus who had a very special love for the “sinners” and reproached those who condemned them. It is for thieves, addicts, the sick, the diseased, the homeless, the adulteresses, the marginal that He came for. He did not come for the saints- they do not need Him.
    The gambling addict like any other addict has a disease and this particular disease is very often much more powerful than the addict. It’s also a disease in which one never has a need to ask for help from God or anyone else until the wall of denial is broken down which is often an event of devastating consequence to ones entire being.
    The very sad thing for any person who judges this man to be not worthy to celebrate or be around Jesus Christ (The Blessed Sacrament) then that person harms only their very own soul by turning their back on Jesus because it precisely Fr. Joe LeClair who Jesus has come for.
    Fr. Joe LeClair may or may not be a victim of a crime much worse.

  5. Sylvia says:

    You’re wrong Larry.

  6. Larry Green says:

    Which part Sylvia?

  7. Sylvia says:

    “I’m not sure if I am understanding correctly the substance of this thread. Please correct me if I’m wrong.”

    You are not correclty understanding the substance of the thread Larry.

  8. Larry Green says:

    Would you correct me?

  9. Sylvia says:

    Larry, you say: “It appears that it has recently been revealed that this particular person has a gambling addiction and to feed his addiction he was ‘stealing,’ mishandling’ ( whatever the correct term of allegation) church funds.”

    I have seen nothing which says he was stealing or that he was mishandling Church funds. There are questions raised as to where he acquired the monies, but I have seen nothing which proves stealing or mishandling of parish funds. The diocese is conducting an internal audit. The police have not been called in. We shall have to wait and see the outcome of the audit.

    You say: “What I’m not clear about is : is he a previously convicted child molester or a suspected one?”

    I have seen nothing to indicate that Father LeClair is either. Have you?

    As for the rest, you accuse me of condemning Father? Where? How?

    I’m sorry Larry, but I do not excuse clerical behaviour which gives scandal.

    You talk about sinners. Need I remind you that child molesters are sinners too? In fact, you may or may not have noticed that it has become commonplace to compare child molesters to alcoholics. Canon lawyer Father Frank Morrissey omi does it, as do countless others.

    How far then do we go in excusing behaviour which is unbecoming to a priest and gives scandal to the faithful? As far as I personally am concerned, Father LeClair should be off right now getting the treatment he needs. As a priest he can offer private Masses daily – he is never denied opportuntiy to be close to the Blessed Sacrament. Nor is he denied the opportunity to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament in the Church.

    The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is intended to give glory and honour to God. From what I have heard, the Masses over the weekend at Blessed Sacrament were turned into a bit of a circus. How much wiser on the part of all concerned it would have been to send in a priest from the diocesan centre to offer all Masses at Blessed Sacrament over the weekend and, before Mass announce that Father LeClair has acknowledged he has a gambing problem and has been sent for treatment, and that the diocese is conducting an internal audit and the results will be made known as soon as the audit is complete, and, of course, a request for prayers for Father LeClair.

    For whatever reason, that was not done. A shame.

  10. John Smith says:

    I attended Blessed Sacrament for several years but moved to another Church.
    Fr. Joe is charismatic but the Church is not about men, it’s about the Lord.

    The financial audit should disclose the trail of money.

    The report says that Fr. Joe racked up ~$500k of Visa charges in ’09-’10. We need to wait for the audit but it seems improbable that he would be able to generate that much after tax revenue.

    I gave money to Blessed Sacrament with an eye to charity and the under privileged.

    It’s not about personalities, charisma or men.

    Let the truth come out.

  11. Larry Green says:

    Sylvia you are misreading my comment which states that there are apparently allegations that Fr. Joe was stealing funds. I have made no mention of “proof.” You have indicated allegations above within your dated list of events – April 18 2011. Also above, Francis Burns in his play by play of the mass he attended , indicated that Fr. Joe explicitly denied any truth to “the article which said he stole money.”
    The only thing that I saw indicative that he may be a convicted or suspected child molester was the fact that his conduct is being scrutinized on your site which I thought was designed to blog the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church.
    I found out as a child how sinful child molesters are , I don’t need to be reminded because I can assure you I have not forgotten. You should be aware through previous dialogue between us my stand on the importance and beauty of forgiveness with regard to that area of transgression as well. I am always mindful and respectful of the fact that there are some who participate on this particular site who are in the very early stages of their grieving process which ordinarily and understandably do not include any notion of forgiveness. But if you think the threshold for one to find in themselves forgiveness for another person who has a gambling addiction is the same to forgive one who has violated my right to be a human and instead chose to use me for an animal , then you are a long way from grasping the difficulty and the value of forgiveness. It is never a question of “excusing” unjust treatment , there is never an excuse for sin or it isn’t a sin at all. There is no substantial correlation between justice and forgiveness.
    With respect to your judgement about the mass being a ‘circus’ , it is so only perceptively through the mist of booing from Francis Burns and the applauding of John .
    It is not in a spirit of accusation that I submit this or the previous response to you Sylvia, we are all human and we should be allowed to remind one another of that from time to time. It is purely a message to urge to evaluate your motives behind the mission , the purpose and the benefit of your site.
    Respectfully, Larry

  12. Francis Xavier says:

    Larry, I agree with you on this issue.

    Unless evidence of mismanagement of parish funds is produced, this is a private matter.

    It is clear that the credit card statements have been stolen or provided to the Citizen by an internal source. There’s no way around the fact that illegal activity took place in the production of this story. Now that is one legal fact about this case.

    I am disappointed that Sylvia has chosen to post this. Sadly, it damages the credibility and intention of this network.

  13. Sylvia says:

    The truth of the matter is that Father LeClair’s gambling habit is no longer a private matter. It is the talk of the town.

    Perhaps the concerns with my inclusion of the LeClair scandal on Sylvia’s Site is that his name is listed on the Accused page? I do not for a moment feel that that inclusion implies in any way shape or form that Father LeClair is a suspect in some form of sexual misconduct. It seems I erred in not realizing it may be erroneoulsy so construed by others. For that I apologize. That was never my intent.

    I do however feel obliged to and will continue to post coverage of this public scandal as it unfolds. I have decided therefore to transfer the Father Joe LeClair page to the “Of Interest” page. I hope this will allay some concerns. I will get to work on that now.

  14. Sylvia says:

    The Father Joe LeClair page can now be accessed via the “Of Interest” button on the horizontal menu at the top of the page. Click on “Of Interest.” See Canada/Father Joe LeClair. Click on Father Joe LeClair.

    I post things on the “Of Interest” page which don`t fit elsewhere but which I believe are just that: Of Interest.

    Does this help Larry? I hope it does. It took me a while to realize how it might be misconstrued.

    Without doubt we will continue to have differences re the gambling matter, but hopefully this change will alleviate concerns for you and others that Father Joe LeClair is being lumped on the site with clerical sexual predators.

  15. prima facie says:

    Hi Sylvia; Relating to this gambling problem story, Francis Xavier and Larry have their opinions as we all do. Sylvia, you and I have different opinions about many things, that’s fine. “Thanks for your input” so-to-speak. However, 1) I believe there was an admission about a gambling problem; 2) I believe there was some concern that bookkeeping at the parish had “redflagged” some discrepancies, 3) I believe the person who admitted having a gambling problem, somehow securred credit cards which enabled them to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt (is there a co-conspirator? This in itself is worthy of investigation)…..and on an income of 24k/annum…..really—-hello. There certainly appears to be at least one “suspect”. “IMHO”, “any reasonable person”, (with exception to many Roman Catholics, and especially the one’s attending this Parish, including their “cronies” like “F. Xavier” and “Larry”) can connect the dots…leading to the conclusion that a formal inquiry should be initiated. And as far as a public matter—get real you knuckleheads!!! You guys are stuck in 1600’s thinking and you think the rest of us should be there too. But again, this is “the Church”. Don’t expect anything to come out of this…”I suspect” “the cleaners” are already “sweeping it up”, down at the Hall.
    This is another one of those, “innocent until proven guilty” assertions you will hear until the end of time……and of course, we know how our wonderful lawyers can “spin” that.
    And finally, don’t forget, your website is on “a hit list”. It wouldn’t be difficult to disclose who really “HATES YOU and why?
    Also, ya right Sylvia….your credibility and the website is ruined forever because of this. Maybe if these “fleabag” surrogates had looked thoroughly through your site, for the past several years, they would see various reports, etc., about various alleged offences, other than only clerical-sexual abuse cases. But to them, nothing matters other than assuring “silence”.
    Oh, and by the way Sylvia—did you dream up these facts with malicious intent to defame someone or ruin their lives? Or Sylvia, did you secure facts and then write them on this website, believing them to be true?

  16. Prima Facie: I do not know who Francis X is, but I do know Larry. He is no crony. He is an honest and sincere man who is as concerned about abuse of children as Sylvia or anyone else. He is not attacking Sylvia. He is not some participant in a ‘hit list’. I is one of the most vocal and effective agents trying to make the Church take responsibilities for predator priests in the Pembroke Diocese.

    You are wrong to judge him so harshly. Aside from that, the very fact that comments are moderated here means that Sylvia could have blocked any post he offered if she thought it was out of line. You need not defend her when she seems not to feel the need to do so herself.

    This is the BEST site in Canada for dealing with the Clergy scandals because of the thoroughness of Sylvia’s research and her dedication to her Church. No need to tarnish the place with ad hominem arguments that attack others.

    Just my thoughts.

    May you and all have a blessed Easter!

    Fr. Tim Moyle
    Diocese of Pembroke

  17. Prima: Sorry… missed a typo. It should read:

    He is one of the most vocal and effective agents trying to make the Church take responsibilities for predator priests in the Pembroke Diocese.

    Fr. Tim

  18. prima facie says:

    Thanks for your input Father Tim, but save your lecture for your flock. Just as you or others may not always like what I write. I don’t always like what you or Larry Green wites. If Sylvia wants to block me; fine. My comment referred to previous post, which I combined with my experiences; so respectfully Father, Ltake a hike”. I don’t gave a rat’s 3ear end” whio is a supposed hero; the facts are the facts-lie after lie, day after day, week after week, year after year and excuse after excue. It is my opinion Father Tim, that the likes of you and Larry aren’t doing nearly as much as you could; re: various allegations-you know more. Are you afraid to genuinely “speak out” or are you “strawmen” intent on amusing us with “little tid bits”? GEt off the pot. Furthermore, as far as Silvia-she’s a big girl. She and I have a differences-it is the subject, the veiled accusations and then, your little attempt to “correct” me, so-to-speak, that is way out of line. As I said, save it for your blind followers”. Get it Father Tim?

  19. Jim Gamache says:

    PrimaFacie wrote “Oh, and by the way Sylvia—did you dream up these facts with malicious intent to defame someone or ruin their lives? Or Sylvia, did you secure facts and then write them on this website, believing them to be true?”
    Good for you ‘Prima Facie” This is what she has been doing with this site always. She needs some help. That is why noone cares about this site. Father Tim is a fake priest. How can he be a good priest when he support persons like Larry who writes all kinds of slandering and abusive words against people on this site? I had some respect for Father Tim in the past. Now I think he is a wolf in sheep’s clothings. He is looking for fame and also fishing in the troubled water. All three need help.Hope his bishop sack him. Qudos to Prima Facie.

  20. Suzanne says:

    This rhetoric dismays me !!!! There are many practicing and devout Catholics whom I know who are unfortunately not that aware of the horrific acts of our clergy eg my 85 year old mother…I have passed this site on to many as a way of “opening their eyes” regarding legal cases in this province….. Sylvia does a superb job….. Fr. Tim puts himself out there;….. please; please; please STOP muddying the waters….. we need to”build” rather than “tear” down……

  21. Prima: I have brought three cases to the Police of predator priests. How many have you exposed? We need not agree on everything. On this we agree. But I take no insult from you or anyone else who impugns my commitment to protecting innocents and getting rid of pedophiles from the ranks of the clergy. I say the same for Larry who I know from time serving in his parish.

    You are the one casting wild accusations… not me… not him… not Sylvia… you.

    Jim: Show me one example where Larry (or I) have either slanders or writes abusively. I know that I have put my money where my mouth is. I know Larry has done the same. Neither one of us are wolves in sheep’s clothing. If expressing a disagreement is your definition of abuse or slander… then perhaps it is you who are wearing a disguise.

    Folks: This is a great site which accomplishes great good for the Church (even if at times the Church might have trouble believing it). Please don’t reduce this site to silly personal attacks and name calling. We all have a great deal of work to do to cleanse the church of priests who cause grave scandal. Maybe Fr. Leclaire fits that category… maybe not. There is nothing wrong with suggesting that he be given the benefit of the doubt until evidence proves otherwise. For example… are you not disturbed that somehow the Citizen got their hands on his personal VISA statements? Clearly someone has broken the law… but it might not be the good Father. Just a thought.

    Happy Easter everyone (especially to Sylvia who operates this site out of her belief that we can be resurrected from the grave of all these scandals!)

    Fr. Tim

    Fr.

  22. Jimmy says:

    Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. Thousands of people (yes thousands) will be attending mass only because Father Joe brought them back to the Church to worship God (or introduced them to it in the first place). God gave him a very special gift and Father Joe has used it… There are no dots to connect, this is truth, thousands of us will blindly follow Father Joe in worshiping God in His (God’s) house tomorrow and Father Joe have brought us there to do it!

  23. Jason says:

    On this, I must response.

    “Neither one of us are wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

    You are kidding, right?

  24. prima facie says:

    Happy Easter-“Praise The Lord”. What a Happy, beautiful day. “The Lord Is Risen”, “Hallelujah”.
    My, my, my, Father Tim; get a hold of yourself; “imagine yourself completely relaxed, breathe in deeply through your nose, exhaling through your mouth….slowly. Repeat this ten times.” Playing music helps. It is very unfortunate for you, that you take my words as “insults”. Lord, help me to be humble.”
    As I have a few moments in a very busy schedule (I wrote the last post while driving-pretty messy. Yes I am guilty and I am prepared to face the consequences) and as I have waited for this “beautiful” day to enter a reply to Father Tim, then “it shall be”. I feel, kinda really alive today and willing to share my thoughts and comments. “Thank-you God, for giving me the strength and courage.”
    My Dearest Father Tim: There is no doubt that some, even many readers are not fond of my comments, just as I am not fond of many of yours, or Larry’s, or John’s or Sylvia’s, etc., but I read them and accept their perspectives. “I thank God for giving me this capacity.” I thank God for giving me the “willpower and courage” to “get involved” and voice my opinions as I interpret them from my perspective. I than God that we “all” do not think the same way.
    I don’t believe I will attempt to use the specifics of my “history”, point by point, to illustrate or rationalize my “current” actions or otherwise. However, Father Tim, thank-you for the very good work you have done and written about.
    Through my experiences I have realized some people wish I wasn’t involved, but then I come across some people who are pleased I am involved.
    Believe me, Sylvia and I have our differences; I am not here to defend or protect her, despite what “your” interpretations are. Sylvia is a big girl and can defend herself.

    When I comment, it is because I am replying to something that someone posted (in this case Larry), or a posted article (in this case, the several news articles posted), the specified topic or a combination of the aforementioned, including my personal experiences and education.

    Again Father Tim: From me to you, a) I have nothing to explain, b) do you not find that you are extremely defensive?, c) do you feel that the “mainstream” should not have printed the story and that “leaks” occur for a reason? d) please save your scolding for your “flock”. e) I really don’t want to start listing my credits and failures.

    HAPPY EASTER TO ALL!!! Hallelujah!! Hallelujah!!!

  25. Jean-Guy Thériault says:

    Wow! I love it. Not in a sarcastic kind of way…It is refreshing to read so many people from all walks of life disagree on so many levels and then have a chance to sit back ,pause and hopefully reflect on how we will handle the next encounter, the next challenge. Sometimes the pride takes over or the arrogance;or just the fear of being challenged in our beliefs and our need to survive. I think however that the sharing of the pain everyone is feeling in these difficult matters of the “invisible” is what counts. Quite fitting I believe on this day of “Renewal”. It is much easier to explain, share, a visible wound such as an amputation of a limb, a cut in the flesh, a senseless Crucifixion…The pains and wounds shared on this site are difficult to address, to accept or even believe for some because the blood is not visible..
    I came here a few months ago by pure coincidence…I keep returning to read a lot and often to gain some understanding of my fellow humans beings and of myself. I have had to apologize on this site not so long ago and I don”t feel any less for it. On the contrary I am thankful for it, for letting my own arrogance be challenged.
    There is much to be achieved in this media, on this site, even through our individual and collective weaknesses. Until very recently “the little people” did not have a voice. Just think back 10 years ago, the exchanges taking place here could never have taken place. So many wounded people suffering alone, in silence, with no hope…
    I look very hard sometimes to find the positive…and it is always there.
    This is always a special time for me: a new beginning, a sign of hope, a new season filled with Life. I try and concentrate on the message which arrived in the mail today, less on the fellow who brought it to my door…I think he would have preferred this to seeing me adhere to a ritualistic, blind adoration of an idol…
    The battle is with the supposed leaders who permitted the abominations to be multiplied for too long, too often for too many. No one contributing here should loose site of this if the battle is to be won…No one should for one minute purposely wish to shed blood…visible or invisible. Accidents will happen only to help everyone become stronger and hopefully wiser in generous confrontation…
    “Lets be patient with one another, as we wish others to be…”
    …………………
    Hum!! …sounds familiar?!!…
    …maybe I had too much chocolate?!!?
    Things are looking up, from my perspective. Every day should be as Easter…
    JG

  26. Cheryl-Helena says:

    Sorry, but there isn’t much humility in these comments is there? Both the laity and the religious seem to be rather patronizing of each other. Thank you, Sylvia, for putting your finger on the problem with the recent Mass. The focus wasn’t on God, it was on a particular man, the star of his particular drama. This main point was misunderstood by those who have been raised in a man-centered Catholic Church, which has promulgated an improper definition of the concept of “forgiveness.” According to the Catholic faith ‘of our Fathers,’ rather than that of the fuzzy-feel-good-semi-pseudo-Lutherans, forgiveness is derived from a decision of the will to love all men, modeled on the forgiveness of Our Saviour Jesus Christ — But this forgiveness does not preclude very meticulous examination of sins committed, repentance, public confession in certain circumstances, restitution, and penance. The Sacrament of Penance (renamed by Modernists as “Reconciliation”) clearly provides for what is necessary in God’s sight. Absolution removes guilt, but not the penalty. Rather than ‘playing to the crowd’, which seems to be Fr. Joe’s ‘modus operandi,’ the homily could have provided solid teaching on the issues at stake, rather than a statement of apology. Unfortunately, as the cases catalogued here at The Inquiry bear witness, many well-loved social workers ingratiate themselves with families undergoing stress in their lives, while living double lives behind the clerical collar. These men are not priests in any sense of the word.

  27. Sylvia says:

    More confusion. Father LeClair is “transitioning.” He apparently told parishioners at Blessed Sacrament “I love being a priest,” but seems to be seriously debating leaving the priesthood.

    That makes little sense to me.

    LeClair also told parishioners at Blessed Sacrament Easter Masses that he didn’t deserve to be splashed on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen and “If you have written a letter to the Citizen or cancelled your newspaper…bless you.”

    Oh my oh my.

    Was all of this this the homily? Or was it an announcement made before or after Father LeClair offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Easter? I do hope it was NOT the Easter homily.

    Anyway, here’s the article in today’s Citizen: 25 April 2011: Father LeClair leaving Glebe parish

  28. rachel says:

    I am part of the youth at Blessed sacrement and i have a close relationship with Father joe and he is the most honourable man ive ever met , i dont see why if you go to blessed sacrement your not putting your full faith in him as we should.Obviously if you think he did it you are not thinking straight, he has helped soo many people , my family my best friends family , and thousands of people . why do you think he would EVER do something to harm his relationship with his friends and parishners? ,and if he is sick (didint steal anything from the church) then you support him through it not put him down even more.

  29. Sylvia says:

    Let’s wait rachel and see what the auditors have to say.

  30. Cheryl-Helene Thomson says:

    Young people are being led astray, in my opinion, at Ottawa’s Church of the Blessed Sacrament — that is, if Rachel’s statements can be construed as expressing accurately the beliefs of her and her peers. Rachel, don’t take this personally please. To be led astray is to be misled. It is to be taught or guided improperly, in this case, as a member of the parish to which you belong. You stated the following:

    “I am part of the youth at Blessed Sacrement and I have a close relationship with Father Joe and he is the most honourable man I’ve ever met , I don’t see why if you go to Blessed Sacrament, you’re not putting your full faith in him as we should.”

    * First, it is a serious mistake to be under the illusion that you have “a close relationship” with a priest. A priest may counsel young people, he may relate well with young people. But if the priest or a young parishioner, either one, thinks they can have “a close relationship” with one another — hear the alarm bells ringing.

    * And if Father Joe, as you say, is “the most honourable man I’ve ever met” — you have been setting yourself up for a huge disappointment. This relates to the first point above. No member of a parish ‘really knows’ a parish priest. To ‘really know’ someone, there must be “a close relationship”. Priests do not have a “close relationship” with a young woman or a young man in the parish — unless that priest has decided to cross an important line. Crossing the line makes that priest unable to function as he should in the Church, and his superiors should be alerted. I am truly sorry if there is no man in your family that you value as being honourable, but I understand the facts of life. I regret this is your situation, and I empathize with you. You know, reading about Jesus in the New Testament would help you, I think, a lot really — because Our Lord Himself told us ‘No one is good but the Father.’ The Bible teaches over and over again that we are not, no, we are never, to put our trust in man. God in Jesus Christ is the Holy One, and the Only Holy One. You cannot be disappointed or disillusioned by following the Lord alone.

    * This brings me to the last point, Rachel. As you “putting full faith” in Father Joe? Are you saying that you think “putting full faith” in Father Joe is what you are supposed to do? Who taught you that? “Putting full faith” in a person holding a position of leadership in a religious group is the teaching of a Cult, not the teaching of a Christian church, or a Catholic parish, of any kind.

    And it is not just young people, but adults of all ages, who can make that mistake.

    Rachel, I hope you will print out or copy my comments, and take them to other people whom you know to discuss these points. As Sylvia advised, the auditors will have their say.

    But in the meantime, I hope you do some soul-searching, and some prayer, and a little study, so that you are ready to move forward as a young Catholic, you and your friends, with solid ground underneath your feet, in a spiritual sense.

    • Bob says:

      How very sad. I truly feel genuine pity for you. Father Joe was one of those rare people talented enough to love thousands, without reserve.

      This is not about “trust in men” or any such nonsense. This is about the imitation of Christ and like the great saints of old, loving unreservedly as many as could be loved.

      Father’s great failing is now known to everyone. Pity so many here have hardened their hearts against his great talent, however. Christ’s love is often met in other people, and there are many people out there who only came to know that love because of the personal example of this man.

      There’s a reason some of us have come here to defend him. Perhaps the young person thought a fool by her heart-hardened elders here is the wise one?

  31. 1yellowknife says:

    Bob: This young lady was not treated like a fool. Her statement were deemed credible and the reply to her statements (by Ms Thomson) was respectful and thought provoking. Try it sometime, Bob.

  32. Former parishoner says:

    Cheryl-Helene: some questions:

    Are/were you a member of Blessed Sacrament?

    Why do there seem to be an undertone in your reply re: Fr. Joe’s gambling problem and other priests who have abused kids? Gambling addictions and abusing kids are hardly the same thing.

    Have you ever met Fr. Joe? Heard him talk? Been to any non-Sunday mass events with him (trips, social events, fundraisers, counselling sessions, etc?)

    Have you ever met anyone for who Father Joe’s charismatic and frank approach to Christianity, faith and counselling has helped dig out of a serious emotional and personal crisis? (Fr Joe is also a qualified Psychologist – this study and work expereince took place before he became a priest)

    Easy to judge him I guess if all you know is a) what you read in the news and b) what you read on this site.

    I am a former member of Blessed Sacrament (2000-2008 – in 2008 we moved to a new parish in our neighbourhood) and back in 2000-2001 and also following the death of my father in 2005, I had the opportunity to not only worship at Blessed Sacrament but also to have some counselling sessions with Fr. Joe which helped develop a reinvigoration of my faith as well as start me on the path to healing from some very serious crises I had experienced.

    My husband and I had our wedding at Blessed Sacrament, my kids were baptized there and I dont regret any of that for a minute.

    In the last few years it had become apparent to me that Fr. Joe was suffering from some kind of mood problems. However, with mood disorders, its important to look at mood disorders for what they are – as an ILLNESS and not as a character flaw.

    Fr. Joe’s talent as a preacher and a spiritual leader also should not be thrown aside or cast into question just because he has been ill. He never preached perfection, in fact he used a lot of the crises and challenges in his own life to illustrate faith which really spoke to me. I do wish that he had been able to listene to his own advice, however, sometimes when suffering from mood disorders it is not possible to do so. The illness prevents healthy thought patterns. Illogical and self-damaging behaviours and attitudes seem logical when in the midst of a mood disorder.

    I will be forever grateful for what I have learned and experienced at Blessed Sacrament and what I learned from Fr. Joe himself. I feel very sad that Fr. Joe was not able to get the support he needed until it was too late.

    As any illness or problem, Jesus taught us to love and forgive the sinner, and pray for those who are suffering. Father Joe is definitely suffering greatly at this time and can use prayers and support.

    Even if it turns out that there was some financial impropriety (and this would involve some of MY money) I can forgive. Does not mean that I didnt have some difficult feelings about it, but I am able to move past them into a spirit of forgiveness.

    Nobody is perfect, and none of us are here to judge. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

    • Bob says:

      Amen!! The hard hearted followers of this story at this blog have no experience it would seem of a Priest at once flawed and yet a throughly kind and warm man absolutely unreserved in his self-giving. He literally would do anything for anybody; and as a pastor, without equal in Ottawa, he was one with us in our trials and challenges. He would be the first person lampooned if anyone was the target of his homilies.

      I have no doubt the police will exonerate him. It really is inconceivable to me, anything otherwise. A man who never held anything back from anyone who ever asked anything of him is no thief.

  33. Jimmy says:

    I kind of agree Bob. To say he is unequaled as a priest in Ottawa is a stretch I think. He is unequaled with respect to converting people, bringing back people who have left the Church, and probably the best at story-telling, but there are a lot of great priests in Ottawa. They just have different gifts that make them less visible to the public… There is no doubt that he is very special however!

    Like the people who have judged him as guilty, we are wrong to judge him as innocent of what he has been accused of. At the end of the day it really should not matter, we have no right to judge. Even if the police do not exonerate him, it is not like any of us are without sin. There are standards that priests are supposed to live up to, like politicians, like police, like teachers… They all fall at some point in time, God made them as humans, so by default, they will fall at one point in time or another. Like all of us he will be held accountable for what he has done, if he is guilty. Many who comment here have apparently never fallen, and seem to live in places where people rarely fall, good for them…

    Because of Father Joe’s great gift, the gift that enabled him to convert and bring back so many, he is famous, he is a lightening rod. Well lightening has struck, but, God will help him up, God will deliver him, with all of his weaknesses and imperfections God loves him, after all God made him. Many people hate him, that’s fine, they are not God! Thank God!

  34. Larry Green says:

    Does a resolution to attend mass on Sunday constitute in the spiritual sense a “conversion?” There are too many who do through practice demonstrate a firm belief in the church while at the same time demonstrate little or no love for God or humanity. The church can be a beautiful place to celebrate God’s love for us and our love for one another. It can also be for some a great source of pain and suffering. For many a new concept/new vision of church needs to be born. God loves everybody, not just those who are “comfortable” in their tradition.
    There is an apparent prevailing assumption that if a person has been persuaded to ’return’ to church then they have been “converted” and the ‘noble’ individual responsible for the so called conversion is the one blessed with “persuasive powers.”
    Is Fr. Joe himself aware of how highly he is esteemed for his power to “convert” people.
    When people who were in the physical presence of Jesus and were converted from non-believers to believers in His divinity, He didn’t say He converted them, He said their own faith was responsible.
    Conversion comes from within and not from Fr. Anybody no matter what Fr. Anybody would have you

  35. Larry Green says:

    believe.

  36. Jimmy says:

    You are right Larry… That said he is responsible for bringing back countless people to the Church – I refuse to back down on that statement because I saw it with my own eyes. It was wrong for me to judge them as “converted”, or credit him with “converting” anybody because I could not see into their hearts and minds. Personally I have never heard Father Joe take credit for “converting” anybody, I was the one who incorrectly said that and do not want people to think that he has been running around saying it! I have however heard the man talk about his own weaknesses…

    What is interesting is the Church’s stance on making a complaint (and refusing to withdraw it) to the police about what they obviously feel to be a crime, and being so resolute about it. Let’s see if they continue this practice in the future when allegations against priests are made for other things that they view as crimes (or perhaps should view as crimes)…

  37. 1 abandoned sheep says:

    A new development which I find interesting.
    The Archdiocese of Ottawa is advertising for a team of accountants (Ca, CGA, or CMA) for part-time positions to visit parishes and helpfacilitate and monitor the implementationof the Protocol on Parish Financial Administration.
    It is good to see there will be change.
    Now, if the Ottawa Police would just wind up their investigation————–

  38. Sylvia says:

    Thanks Tim. I checked the Archdiocese of Ottawa website and there it is:

    “ARCHDIOCESE SEEKING TEAM OF ACCOUNTANTS: The Archdiocese of Ottawa is looking for a team of accountants. These are part-time contract positions. Part of their mandate will be to visit parishes and help facilitate and monitor implementation of the Protocol on Parish Financial Administration. Incumbents should have an accounting designation (CA, CGA, CMA) or equivalent education and experience as well as a good knowledge of Microsoft Office and Simply Accounting. Info: Colette Legault (613-738-5025, ext. 234). Resume to (clegault@archottawa.ca).”

  39. Sylvia says:

    I have removed the posts from Father Steve Ballard as I said I would

  40. Sylvia says:

    A link to CTV coverage from yesterday re the charges against Father Joe LeClair: http://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/father-joe-leclair-charged-with-theft-fraud-1.864976

    And another to CBC TV coverage from yesterday: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Ottawa/ID/2253381074/


  41. Bob says:

    I am heartbroken about this Sylvia. I didn’t think this would happen, as I never thought Fr. Joe could have done it. You’ve provided thorough coverage of this, which has helped, as I’ve been kind of fixated on it. Thank you for that. 

  42. Lise Sévigny says:

    Not sure if you are the person to bring this to.  Father Joe baptized my daughter in 1986 a few weeks before being ordained. That was at St. Maurice Church in Nepean (Ottawa) Ontario. I did not see the mention of this church in the biographical info.

    On another matter, I think the media is loosing its objectivity about Father Joe. I remember another person who brought much to our city, like Father Joe. He was brought up on charges of solicitation. I remember that, after admitting to the crime, and asking forgiveness, the community forgave this man and we heard nothing more about it. Could we not take the same approach to Father Joe? Granted that he may be ill, he may be guilty of the charges laid, but let’s not judge him until he has been found guilty.

    I think The Ottawa Citizen has been coming on too strong, and too frequently, in the case against Father Joe. I remember they backed off very quickly in the case of the other person I mentioned.  I applaud the fact that the newspaper did bring the irregularities to light and continue to update the general population, but they should be reporting objectively. I don’t see that of late. *

  43. Sylvia says:

    Father Joe LeClair’s courtdate for tomorrow, Wednesday, 25 July 2012, is at 08:30 am, courtroom #5, “first appearance.” (Ottawa courthouse – 161 Elgin St. )

  44. MJ says:

    *Lise, I believe you are absolutely right. I find it sad and disgusting that the Archbishop has effectively thrown this priest to the civil authorities. Did he do wrong? Of course! But we are part of the Christian community where forgiveness and compassion mean more than words.

    What do criminal proceedings accomplish? Nothing. The money is gone and this man’s reputation is effectively destroyed. What else does the Archbishop want here? Please the masses and slam him in jail? He did, by all accounts, serve with distinction for over 25 years and this is NOT a case involving the sexual abuse of anyone. If it were, I would feel differently.

    I would have FAR more respect for the archdiocese if they said, “you know, our brother lost his way, but we are to radiate the loving and forgiving heart of Christ”. 

    Real courage and Christian leadership are required, in my opinion, to reach these conclusions………

  45. Sylvia says:

    MJ, aside the fact we do not yet have a trial let alone a verdict, are you saying that we should turn a blind eye to thievery?  that we as a society should look at all those who steal and say: “you know, our brother lost his way, but we are to radiate the loving and forgiving heart of Christ.”

    I personally see nothing Christian or courageous in turning a blind eye to criminal activity.  “Thou shalt not steal.”   That’s rather straight forward.

    Forgive by all means, but if indeed he is guilty, he, like everyone else under similar circumstances, priest or not, clean record or not, must answer for his crimes. 

  46. MJ says:

    *Sylvia, as followers of the Risen Christ, we are not just part of society, we are in many ways apart from it. It is St Paul who speaks about loving fraternal correction is it not? It is the Archbishop , while helping this man to heal and never allowing him to have access to such funds again, who could be a bright Christian light of forgiveness and love for all to see.

    In the realm of the Church he has been investigated, sent for treatment, humiliated and stripped of honor. If in some small way he can pay some of these funds back, good.

    In my opinion, nothing else is needed here.

  47. Bob says:

    We are only apart from society in the sense that we’re called to be the lamp on the lampstand. No teacher of the New Testament – either Jesus or the epistlists – ever calls for disciples to stand apart from the laws of the land. Quite the contrary, we are called to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

    And yet even in that apartness, we are still subject to the church’s teaching. From the Catechism:

    “Contracts are subject to commutative justice which regulates exchanges between persons and between institutions in accordance with a strict respect for their rights. Commutative justice obliges strictly; it requires safeguarding property rights, paying debts, and fulfilling obligations freely contracted. Without commutative justice, no other form of justice is possible.” CCC 2411

    Now it needs saying again: Father Joe has not been convicted of anything. I hope that he is not, as I like to think of the best of the people I’ve known. The trial has not begun, and perhaps there is an explanation for the charges.

    But even if the worst were to come to pass, I can’t imagine any court ignoring the salutary effects of all the good Father Joe has done. Judges are not heartless, and they would take that into account, as well as the effects of addiction. 

    But what criminal proceedings accomplish is levelling the playing field for all – it is a way of saying certain behaviours are not only universally a wrong, but are serious enough that there must be some legal consequence for anyone convicted of them. The outcome of a conviction would be painful to all involved, but the church cannot be faulted that society at large shares its condemnation of any breach of the seventh commandment, and I personally believe the church cannot be faulted in this instance for playing by rules that are consistent with its own teachings.

    I pray hard for Father Joe. I still believe he is a good and kind man; no, I know that he is. Whatever the outcome of this trial is, there is a palpable genuineness to the way he deals with you as a person that you can’t fake. And I do believe he deserves the mercy, charity, and compassion of the community, no matter what happens with the legal system. And I must confess I miss him personally.

    My hope remains that this can all be explained and that he is able to find a way back to his calling.

  48. Sylvia says:

    MJ, would you say the same if it was the former chair of the finance committee facing charges?  Would you say the same if the charges were against a priest you dislike?

    Should we apply your approach to all those who face charges of theft, fraud or money laundering?  If not, why not?

    Why should Father LeClair receive special treatment? If he broke the law of the land, and that law is a just law, he should be held accountable, should he not?   All those who want to forgive him are free to do so, but that does not in any way negate the necessity that justice be done.  We can’t just twiddle our thumbs, look the other and profess our Catholicism when there is reason to believe that a priest has been stealing from his parishioners.  That is not an act of charity in this instance any more than it is when Church officials do likewise with predatory priests.  (Lest I be taken out of context here, I am not for a moment saying that Father LeClair is a sexual predator)

    Anyway, let’s just wait and see what we hear and learn when the facts of the case are revealed.  We will have to wait for a good year or more, but let’s be patient and wait for the truth.  Fair enough? 

  49. MJ says:

    *Yes I would say the same if it was the chairman of a finance committee or a priest I disliked.

    In our desire for ‘justice’, to what extent is it about anger, revenge, bloodletting and superiority? What is gained here by tossing him to a civil court? I have been told that if one examines the writings of St Paul, Paul would have found it abhorrent that such matters would be taken outside the Christian family to deal with ungodly courts. I feel the same way.

    Is the church a community of forgiveness or is it about vengeance, retribution and anger? What of the good thief or the ‘bad thief’?

    Very important questions – “there but by the grace of God go I”.

  50. 1 abandoned sheep says:

    This message is directed to the supporters of Fr. Joe Leclair.
    You
    should try to dig out the facts of how the Archdiocese treated Fr. Giles
    Joly in Richmond last year, and why they treated him differently from
    Fr. Joe.  Also there was the dismissal of Fr. Tuomi from St. Elizabeth.s
    Parish  without the true story ever having been given to the
    Parishioners.
    Ask the question — why was Fr. Joe dealt with by the
    Police, and not the other 2?  This shallow trickery  by the Archdiocese
    has got to end!!

  51. Sylvia says:

    I was sure I had posted the update from Father Joe LeClair’s court date of Wednesday 05 September 2012.  Someone asked and I checked – it’s gone! 

    I did attend.  Once again, it was all over in the twinkle of an eye.  There was apparently “significant” disclosure of documents at the end of the previous week.  The next court date is 17 October 2012:   08:30 am, courtroom #5  Ottawa, Ontario courthouse (161 Elgin St.)

    I don’t believe any of Father LeClair’s supporters were there so am guessing they must have known he wasn’t going to be there.

  52. Joan Latreille says:

    Messages: Fr. Joe is a remarkable man.

    We worked with him for 25
    years.
    We are married for 50 years
    this December.

    Fr. Kennedy is
    not the perfect
    man either. I rest my case.

    God be with you Joe!

  53. John says:

    *Hi Sylvia,

    Any update about future court dates concerning Fr Joe?

     

  54. Sylvia says:

    Father Joe LeClair’s next court date is 21 November 2012:  08:30 am, courtroom #5, Ottawa courthouse.

    Check the Father Joseph LeClair page for upcoming courtdates John.  The page can be accessed manually by going to the “Accused” tab on the black horizontal menu under the picture of the trees and solitary figure.  You can either hover over Accused and scroll down to LeClair, or click on Accused and then scroll down. Once you access the Father Joe LeClair page scroll to “Next court date.”

  55. Conrad J. ROCK says:

    I have lost all faith in the legal system. Another Christmas & New Year is coming and no end in sight for the situation involving Fr. Joe and the courts. The stress on his family and on the parish is unreal.. No matter how the court case turns out, Fr. Joe will need plenty of professional help so he can carry on with his life.

    Conrad

    • Bob says:

      A quick procession to trial is not in Fr. Joe’s interests. The crown has had the accounting forensics for a lot longer than the defence. In order to prepare a proper defence for Fr. Joe, his lawyers need time for discovery, to thoroughly go over and understand all the evidence, in order to decide what kind of expert witnesses they want, parish witnesses, etc. Fr. Joe could not expect a very robust defence if he didn’t get that.

      Fraud trials require a lot of prep, as it takes more than just lawyers to plan the case. This is the justice system working as it should, not the opposite.

  56. Mike Blum says:

    Conrad,
    Expect to go through next years Christmas and New Year as well!! Think about the Del Bianco victims who and all their supporters were hoping for something other than Oct. 2013. I personally will be going through my sixth Christmas and New Year since I went to the police and my final battle is not over, think about the hell my children, wife, family, supporters and parishes have gone through and yet the church says we are moving on. Don’t worry the blind faithfull will keep coming and they and you have NO CLUE what real HURT and REAL STRESS is.

  57. Conrad J. ROCK says:

    Mike:

    You have no idea how other people are suffering and the STRESS & PAIN they are going through for the past 8 years.. As a Cancer patient, you have no idea of the hell I’m going through. Everyone has their own cross to bear in life,and for many that cross is very heavy.

    Conrad

    • PJ says:

      Conrad: I acknowledge that others are suffering various pains and issues however perhaps you have forgotten that this website is primarily for those people who have suffered at the hands of perverted collars. As well, other scandals involving that church are also discussed here. But the 95% of subjects covered on this website are about sexual abuse caused by that church. Mike’s comments are based on this premise. Your comments are deflecting the focus from what this website is designed to cover. Can you please respect this and try not to hijack the subject at hand away? Thanks.

      • Bob says:

        In this section, you’re actually all off topic. Fr. Joe is charged with fraud and money laundering.

        • PJ says:

          Duuhhhh…Bob. Reread my comments and pay attention to this part, “As well, other scandals involving that church are also discussed here. But the 95% of subjects covered on this website are about sexual abuse caused by that church. “. This should clear up your misunderstanding. Have a great day.

          • Bob says:

            The “here” in this case, happens to be about that remaining 5%. This entry and section is about Fr. Joe Leclair.

            Anyway, I’m going off topic now too! :)

    • Bob says:

      Very sorry to hear that Conrad. I did not know – wouldn’t know it to see you, you’re at least holding up well to the eyes! My prayers are with you.

  58. Conrad J. ROCK says:

    This is my last comment for this year. Merry Christmas & hopefully a Happy New Year & a healthy one.

    Conrad

  59. Sam says:

    This is a perfect example of why our whole judicial system is flawed. Imagine the money passing around to retain these lawyers and it drags on and on, and we’re still a year away from even a preliminary hearing. Justice delayed is justice denied. He can just keep living his life and paying these high priced lawyers to keep dragging it on indefinitely.

  60. Sylvia says:

    Media coverage, the Agreed Statement of Facts and the Archbishop’s statement re Father Joe LeClair’s guilty are posted at top of the page.

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