Father LeClair leaving Glebe parish

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 Priest says he hasn’t decided if he’ll seek different position

 Ottawa Citizen

25 April 2011

By ANDREW DUFFY AND MEGHAN HURLEY

Father Joseph LeClair announced during Easter weekend masses that he will be leaving Blessing Sacrament Parish.

Father Joseph LeClair announced during Easter weekend masses that he will be leaving Blessing Sacrament Parish.  Photograph by: Wayne Cuddington, The Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — Father Joseph LeClair has announced that he will be leaving Blessed Sacrament Parish, ending his 14-year association with the Glebe church.

LeClair told parishioners of his decision during Easter weekend masses at the church, which is now the subject of an internal audit by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa.

LeClair said he made the decision in consultation with his family and with Archbishop Terrence Prendergast.

“I love being a priest,” he said in explaining how difficult that decision had been.

LeClair said he is now “transitioning,” but has not yet decided whether to quit the priesthood and begin a second career, seek another posting within Ottawa, or move back to Prince Edward Island where he was born and raised.

Lisa Hardey, chair of the Blessed Sacrament parish council, said she was very sorry to hear the news Sunday about LeClair’s departure. “He has done untold good,” she said.

LeClair, 53, is widely credited with orchestrating a renaissance at the church, which had seen its attendance and revenues dwindle in the 1990s.

Charismatic and energetic, LeClair rebuilt the parish by reaching out to neighbourhoods beyond the Glebe and recruiting Catholic students from Carleton University. He made music a central part of his services.

In the past week, however, LeClair has been embroiled in controversy.

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

The story also revealed that LeClair racked up personal credit card bills of more than $490,000 and repaid Visa more than $424,000 during those years, according to documents obtained by the newspaper.

How he could afford to repay that much is not known, other than the fact that as a church pastor, LeClair earns a net salary of $24,400. He also receives money for officiating at weddings, funerals, baptisms and marriage preparation courses.

A review by the firm Deloitte and Touche LLP, initiated by the Archdiocese of Ottawa, took place in early March.

Auditors raised questions about $250,000 worth of cheques issued to LeClair from church accounts between 2006 and 2010.

LeClair had the authority during those years to issue a cheque, even to himself, without another signature.

At the time, the parish’s financial controls were poor. The parish finance committee did not meet together as a group at all during 2010.

The Archdiocese of Ottawa has said that its internal audit is continuing.

During his sermon Sunday evening, LeClair admitted to “challenges” during his priesthood.

But he maintained that he had been stalked by people determined to do him damage and that it had been difficult psychologically to withstand that treatment.

He thanked parishioners for the thousands of supportive letters, cards and flowers that he has received in the week since the Citizen published its story.

LeClair said he didn’t deserve to be splashed on the front page.

“If you have written a letter to the Citizen or cancelled your newspaper,” he said, “bless you.”

LeClair has admitted that he had a gambling problem, but has repeatedly denied taking any church money.

He said he used his own money to gamble and won enough to keep himself financially stable.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Ottawa could not be reached Sunday.

 ____________________________

Father Joe LeClair Leaving Glebe Church

CFRA radio (Ottawa)

25  April 2011

Josh Pringle

Father Joe LeClair is leaving Blessed Sacrament Parish.

LeClair told parishioners during Easter weekend masses that he is leaving after consultation with his family and Archbishop Terrence Prendergast.

The Ottawa Citizen reports LeClair has not yet decided whether to quit the priesthood, seek another posting in Ottawa or move back to Prince Edward Island.

LeClair’s decision to leave the parish comes after admitting to having a gambling problem. Father Joe insists he never took any money from the church and covered his debts with his winnings and personal resources.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa has brought in Deloitte and Touche to conduct an audit of Blessed Sacrament Parish’s books.

6 Responses to Father LeClair leaving Glebe parish

  1. Prima: I am pleased you enjoyed your Easter! I assume I should feel honored to have contributed to your good fortune? The bulk of your post reads like an amateur Rick Mercier imitation of a rant . It’s hard to discern if that was the lesson you were intending to express to me. In response I choose to grant to you the benefit of the doubt concerning your good and civil intentions. You might like try it sometime in your discussions with others. If you are searching for a way to learn how to do it, you can read books like ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie. You can no doubt find a copy at your local library. You might like it.

    May the spirit of Easter truly bless your future.

    Fr. Tim

  2. Conrad J. ROCK says:

    I wish Fr. Joe the best of luck on Sept. 5, 2012  I hope your health holds out for you.

    I hope the Police find out who the person or persons were that got into your office and gave your VISA account receipt to the press.  Lots of questions will be asked  when that happens.

    Conrad

    • iabandonded sheep says:

      *Mr. Rock, it is too bad  Fr. Joe’s supporters have not investigated to see if all Priests who stole from the Diocese were treated the same.  It seems some Priests lost their charge last year without any public disclosure, or without the Police being involved.  That would not seem to be fair and equitable treatment to many of us.

      • 1abandonded sheep says:

        *The post above should show 1 abandonedsheep as the author.  I made a mistake

      • Bob says:

        This comment does not have a relationship with Fr. Joe’s court appearance today. Those of us who were parishioners and/or who know Fr. Joe have an interest in the outcome of this specific case, and are not wrong or mistaken to direct their comments specifically to these matters in this and other related topics.

        If there are other priests who lost their pastorships, , their affected parishioners should probably inquire with the Archdiocese as to what happened.

  3. 1abandoned sheep says:

    *Bob, your comments show you are not aware of the effect these things could have on Fr. Joe’s case.
    But go ahead, isolate yourself, and believe you are in the know.

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