Archdiocese fires volunteer accountant at Blessed Sacrament church

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Ottawa Citizen

22 June 2011

By ANDREW DUFFY AND MEGHAN HURLEY

OTTAWA — The longtime accountant at Blessed Sacrament Parish has been fired from his volunteer position by the Archdiocese of Ottawa.

Herve Dejordy, chair of the parish finance committee and the church’s principal bookkeeper, was informed of the move in a letter he received earlier this month.

In an interview Wednesday, Dejordy said he didn’t mind being fired, but was offended by the way it was handled.

“I don’t mind the action,” Dejordy said. “It’s just the fact that they didn’t have the guts to talk to me face to face. I got the information through Canada Post …

“I have been fired a few times, but that was the first time I was fired through Canada Post.”

Dejordy, 79, a retired accountant, has served as church bookkeeper for the past 14 years.

He said he planned to tender his resignation later this year once the diocese completed its audit of Blessed Sacrament’s books.

That audit was launched in March after financial irregularities at Blessed Sacrament came to the attention of diocesan officials.

Auditors have raised questions about some $250,000 of cheques issued from church accounts to Blessed Sacrament’s former pastor, Father Joseph LeClair.

Dejordy would not disclose the precise wording of his firing, which came days after the Citizen published a story in which he characterized LeClair as a “one-man band” whose spending faced little or no oversight at the church.

Dejordy revealed that LeClair could write cheques to himself from church accounts without a counter-signature and did not have to submit receipts in order to have a cheque approved.

 “I wouldn’t approve anything: if he writes a cheque, I just record the cheque,” Dejordy told the Citizen.

LeClair, who has admitted to a gambling problem, left the parish in late May and later entered an addiction treatment program. His replacement at Blessed Sacrament was named earlier this month.

Msgr. Kevin Beach, vicar general of the Ottawa diocese, characterized Dejordy’s dismissal as part of the renewal process at Blessed Sacrament.

“I think it’s a question of having a renewal so that everybody has a sense of confidence in what’s going on there,” Beach said.

Asked if Dejordy was fired for speaking to the Citizen, Beach said: “Obviously, some of the parishioners have been wondering why he was speaking to the Citizen. But that would have been very much a secondary reason.

“The primary reason is that we needed to restore confidence in the financial and accounting administration for the parish.”

Dejordy, who has worked for private sector firms such as Quebecor and Cambior, said that he might have been more “meticulous” in scrutinizing the cheques that LeClair issued himself from church accounts.

“Maybe there are things I should have done that I didn’t do,” he said.

“You know about the cheques that Father Joe wrote, payable to himself. I should have been more aggressive, maybe, and questioned the expenses.”

Asked if he considered himself a scapegoat for the problems at Blessed Sacrament, Dejordy said: “No, I don’t feel that way, no.”

In April, the Citizen revealed that LeClair received more than $137,000 in cash advances on his credit card at the Casino du Lac-Leamy in 2009 and 2010.

In those years, he racked up personal credit card bills of more than $490,000, much of it through cash advances.

LeClair has repeatedly insisted that he did not use church funds to gamble.

Msgr. Beach could not estimate when the audit of Blessed Sacrament’s books will be completed. He said only that the process is “closer to the end.”

6 Responses to Archdiocese fires volunteer accountant at Blessed Sacrament church

  1. Sylvia says:

    Very strange indeed. It looks as though the diocese decided it was essential to ‘clean house’ before the new parish priests takes over 01 July 2011. I wonder why?

    Note that Msgr. Beach says the audit is “closer to the end.” I wonder what that means? How close is closer?

  2. 1yellowknife says:

    You can fire an employee. How can you fire a volunteer…

    • Larry Green says:

      I can imagine helping an elderly lady across the street and half way across she tells me I’m fired.
      Doesn’t it seem like it would be something like that?

  3. 1 abandoned sheep says:

    I guess if you rely on the support of the CCCB, you can do anything. The CCCB has absolutely no authority inside or outside of the Catholic Church except that which is ceded to it by each Bishop. It really is as useless as the Senate, except when it comes to splitting up the blame.

  4. Conrad J. ROCK says:

     There has been very little said about how someone got into Fr. Joe’s office and was able to take his VISA slip and give it to the Citizen. Have the Police checked this situation out. If this was an inside job , someone has alot of hatred for Fr. Joe and the Parish.

    I would like people to know that Fr. Joe was pastor to ALL the parishioners of the parish, not just a few select ones or the so called , FANS.

    During this very troubling time in our parish ,lets TRY to be there to help each other and pray for Fr. Joe  and the parish. God knows we all need  his help and healing.

  5. JG says:

    *”….financial irregularities at Blessed Sacrament Church. 03 July 2012: charged with fraud, theft, money laundering and breach of trust.”

    “.05 september next Court date.
    ..

    Mr.Rock, I and many others have sympathy for you and the parishioners of Blessed Sacrament. There is a lot less sympathy when there is an attempt to divert the attention to some other “evil” person…who would have uncovered Father Joe’s original “inside job” out of “hatred”…your misplaced word!

    Father Joe and all the parishioners should be “thankful” this happened! You should only be upset because no one did it sooner, if you are to have a “healthy” perspective!  You should take part of the blame for being overly “numbed” by his “charisma”…and letting him feel above it all!

    He is a man who was a priest…and the Court will decide if he was a “thief” as well!

    At his age, with all his “insight” and good character he should have known better…regardless of the excuses you can come up to make yourself feel better…

    “Someone” knew about this before he reached the  $200,000.00 figure! Those are the “sheep” you should worry about!

    His credit card problems started at the Casino and with the credit card “provider”… and that is probably where you should “Thank” someone!….for being vigilant! Apparently no one else was in the Blessed parish.

    Blame yourselves…and move on!

    jg

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