It truly hase been a tough few years for some parishioners at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Fallowfield, Ontario.
On Thursday last, Ottawa lawyer and former small claims court judge Ronald Houlahan pleaded guilty to to stealing a quarter of a million dollars from Sr. Patrick’s. According to Andrew Seymour the 76-year-old lawyer had been stealing from the church since 2003 when he assumed duties as chair of the cemetery committee.
Yes, honestly, Houlahan is a lawyer, and, yes, he served as a small claims court judge. You’d think of all people he would be trustworthy. Not! Look at this.
It’s taken a little over two years for Houlahan to finally admit that he stole those monies. The guilty plea I am sure will come as shock to those trusting souls who firmly believed that Houlahan was innocent.
Now, look at this…
The wheels came off the scheme in the summer of 2011, when Benoit Bariteau, the director of cemeteries for the archdiocese, contacted Houlahan about the deficiencies. Houlahan assured Bariteau everything was in order, despite the lack of financial reports. Bariteau persisted however, and asked parish priest Stephen Amesse to track down the records. Houlahan eventually provided the records in August 2011, and was removed from his duties.
Note the reference to Father Stephen Amesse
In December 2014, after a 14 month police investigation, Father Amesse was charged with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual interference. The charges date to 2008, and relate to allegations of sex abuse of a 14-year-old boy.
In February 2015, after a preliminary hearing, a judge determined that there was sufficient evidence to order Father Amesse was ordered to stand trial.
A trial date has yet to be set. Many parishioners and former parishioners are, understandably, anxiously awaiting the trial and its outcome.
[Please note that Father Amesse – a late vocation to the priesthood – arrived at St. Patrick’s in 2009. Ronald Houlahan, it seems, had been helping out at the parish – and stealing – since around 2003, well before Father Amesse’s arrival. I think that the theft started while Father Tom Riopelle was Pastor?]
As I say, it’s been a tough few years for some parishioners at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Fallowfield. Keep them, and the complainant in your prayers.
Enough for now,