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.
Next court dates: 30 August 2013; Judicial pre-trial continued (NOT open to the public)
20-31 January 2014: Preliminary hearing, Ottawa, Ontario courthouse (161 Elgin St.) AND
24-28 February 2014: Preliminary hearing, Ottawa, Ontario courthouse (161 Elgin St.)
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.)
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)
Latest News (Scroll down page for Media coverage)
Documents of interest (Scroll down page for media coverage )
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:
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 )
The following information is drawn from Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD) which I have on hand, media (M) and personal information (P)
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 (email@example.com).”
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
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
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: Charges against LeClair greeted with shock, dismay
04 July 2012: BLOG Fraud, theft, money laundering and …
04 July 2012: Former Ottawa parish priest charged with fraud
03 July 2012: Former Ottawa parish priest charged with fraud
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
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
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?
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
‘Thou shalt take more time for family’
12 April 2009
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Keeping The Faith: Father Joe Leclair
Ottawa at Home (ottawaathome.ca)
06 April 2010
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.
Father Joe’s Blessed Sacrament musicians have them swaying in the aisles
The Ottawa Citizen
05 September 2005
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.”
Priest brings faithful home: `Father Joe’ rejuvenates Glebe church
The Ottawa Citizen
13 April 1998
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.