Updated: Mon Apr. 25 2011 2:34:26 PM
Father Joe LeClair appears in this file photo. LeClair announced on Easter Sunday that he will be stepping down from his position as priest at Blessed Sacrament Parish.
An embattled Ottawa priest is stepping down from his post at a Catholic Church after admitting he has a gambling problem.
Father Joe LeClair told parishioners on Easter Sunday that he will be leaving his post at Blessed Sacrament Church in Ottawa’s Glebe neighbourhood.
His departure comes after he admitted to having a gambling problem following an investigation by the Ottawa Citizen.
The newspaper revealed LeClair racked up personal credit card bills of nearly half a million dollars in 2009 and 2010.
In those same years, he took cash advances of more than $137,000 on his credit card at Casino du Lac Leamy, according to the newspaper.
The report also raised questions about $250,000 in cheques that were made out to LeClair from Church accounts.
LeClair insists he did not use Church money to fund his gambling problem or to cover his debts. An audit is now underway on the Church’s books.
LeClair is well-loved in Ottawa’s Catholic community, and is credited with building Blessed Sacrament parish into one of the strongest Catholic churches in the city.
It’s unfortunate that he is stepping down. I hope that Ottawa remembers what he has done for the Parish and for the community. Good Luck Father Joe.
Father Joe told his congregation a year ago that he would be leaving Blessed Sacrament. This departure is not a result of his recent admissions (as the media is portraying), but has been in the works for a very long time. We will all miss him as he is an excellent priest and whatever church is lucky enough to get him should feel very blessed.
Fr.Joe is the perfect example of what a priest should be in this day and age.
Fr.Joe bonds with all ages.
Bottom line he’s human just like any other person.
Fr.Joe is truly gifted. I have personally never met a priest such as him .And trust me as a daughter of a Deacon, growing up through my life involved with the the Roman Catholic Church I’ve been fortunate to meet, dine and join in celebration of Ordination’s with many Priest’s ,Bishop’s ,Archbishop’s and Cardinal’s ,Deacon’s.
I’ve also seen Fr.Joe bring a community of people together in his old parish of Manotick Ontario. Where Fr.Joe and my father, Deacon Paul Di Duca baptized all three of my daughter’s.
Fr.Joe was also a major help for my family and I when he performed the funeral celebration for both my parent’s Deacon Paul DiDuca<2006> and Sheila Di Duca<2002>.
I hope in the up and coming day’s Fr.Joe can come to some peace of mind and return to his home at Blessed Sacrament.Where he is most needed and wanted.God Bless You Fr.Joe.
A clergy position is always open at a correctional facility. Perhaps some unpaid service to the church may in the making.
A position of trust in the community cannot be violated. If this was a story of a public servant there would be no tears lost.
Emily is right, last year this time Father Joe was considering changing parishes. This is something vibrant priests usually do.
Wherever Father Joe goes, people will follow as they always have. It is seriously sinful what the Ottawa Citizen and CTV news has done. This can not be considered investigative journalism, because true journalism would not omit information, or imply information. The Ottawa Citizen implies that Father Joe must have acquired the money used to repay Visa illegally. Implying that because he is a priest and he makes a certain salary that he must have stolen the money from the church. Of course there couldn’t be other, just as logical reasonings for his ability to repay his bills. I on the other hand can think of several ways, however, I realize mine are not as scandalous as what you imply and as a result would not sell as many papers.
The Ottawa Citizen used information that was stolen from Father Joe’s office, does that not make you guilty of possessing stolen property? But I guess as long as you are all point the finger in another direction you do not have to answer to your actions. Shame on you, and shame on the person who stole Father Joe’s personal information.
Nevertheless, I just want to again state that the Ottawa Citizen and CTV news should be ashamed of themselves. You have made attempts to embarrass a man who has done a lot of good for Ottawa, and people who have had the blessing of knowing him. I remember my first time hearing Father Joe speak, he in a way changed my life, and I know he has changed many others too. Shame on you,for trying to ruin a man for the sake of ratings.
Wether Fr. Joe was leaving or not, it was shameful that the Ottawa Citizen published such a terrible written article. All I know is we have lost an incredible Priest and wonderful human being. God Bless Fr. Joe. And I hope the person or persons responsible for this article being written are exposed. Remember when you live in a glass house don’t throw stones.
It’s nice to see that honesty and humbleness are still present within the church. All the best to you Father Joe as you deal with this issue.
hurt by media
Bravo to the media who have managed to cause the separation of a fabulous priest from his congregataion. Father Joe is one of the best priests Ottawa has to offer and the pressure the media has applied in this situation is unacceptable.