Ottawa Citizen Letters to Editor re Father Joe LeClair

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By Deacon Al Ritchie, Ottawa CitizenApril 19, 2011 6:12 AM

Re: The priest, his gambling and trouble at Blessed Sacrament, April 16.

I am perplexed over the length and breadth of your cover story on Father Joe LeClair. What “trouble at Blessed Sacrament”? How can such a claim be made? Haven’t we learned that he paid off his debts; hasn’t he said that he would never take money from the church? When we learn of an alcoholic, do we need to know how many drinks he/she consumed? Your story told all: the detail of his cash advances; his salary; the market price of his car; the size of his TV; what can be said of his living quarters. Could we not allow, at this early discovery, that his casino habit and high spending came from his own funds . perhaps investments, perhaps an inheritance. Both can happen.

The Church will do its due diligence to ensure that church funds have not been abused. We should wait.

Father Joe is a very giving man, a gifted priest and a very caring counsellor. He is cut from the finest of cloth. If we had more of him, Ottawa would be a kinder, gentler community.

Isn’t it our turn to show him a good and generous heart?

Deacon Al Ritchie, Orléans


The Father Joe I know

Ottawa Citizen

19 April 19

By Paul Moylan, I’ve known Father Joe for 17 years. He has been my pastor, priest and friend for all that time. He celebrated my wedding, making it more spiritual and a greater, more joyous celebration than I could have imagined. On another occasion, he rose in the night to answer my call, to help me deal with my own father’s stroke days before he died. He was at my father’s bedside before dawn that same morning, delivering the last rites. He spent the weekend consoling my mother, my siblings and me with spiritual wisdom, making an impossibly hard time manageable. He eventually celebrated my father with an uplifting funeral and a deeply personal and intimate burial.

I’ve known my priest to miss sleep on other occasions, holding vigils with the parents of sick children at CHEO, where he is a regular fixture in the hospital halls. He has risen from his bed to answer frantic calls from the parents of teenage car accident victims. He has been with us to share the lowest lows, and to celebrate the highest highs. I have seen Father Joe time and again offer a piece of himself to everyone he meets, whatever and whenever the need, through everything he does.

I was deeply saddened to read the Citizen article Saturday morning; my friend now has his own struggle. My hand is out to him, as his has always been to me. There is a reason why Father Joe is so valuable as pastor at Blessed Sacrament. He has been there for so many of us in our times of grief; shared with us on our occasions of joy, and now we are here for him in his time of pain.


35 Responses to Ottawa Citizen Letters to Editor re Father Joe LeClair

  1. Conrad J. ROCK says:

    Concerning your Article of Jan. 25, 2012, I find it very hard to believe that it is taking so long for the Police Investigation to be completed,, unless someone is sitting on the report and will not release it , good or bad. The people of Blessed Sacrament Parish deserve to hear this report. Why is it that Andrew Duffy & Meghan Hurley in their report never referred to Joe LeClair as Father Joe or Father Joe LeClair.Please show respect. Many of the people would like to know why a ” certain group ” was sheilding Fr . Joe from many friends he made. Father Joe was Pastor to all the people who came to the parish , not just to a few elite people. Many, many people of the parish wish Fr. Joe all the best and no matter how the Police Investigation comes out, still consider Fr. Joe “a friend”for all the work he did for us. I would like to say ” A BIG THANK YOU TO FR. JOE ” for your friendship, and for being there when I was going through my Cancer operations and the “SPECIAL BLESSING ” you gave me during one of your 4.30 p.m. Masses with the church full of people. That I will never forget. Take care my friend and know you will NEVER be forgotton by your real friends.

  2. Joan Latreille says:

    We have known Fr. Joe LeClair for many,many years. His generosity,kindness,spirituality is desired by many parish members who have become friends. We stand behind you Fr. Joe.

    You are still a very good friend in our minds, and we would love to touch base with you, for some prayer and friendship. Many others would like to do the same.

    The Ottawa Citizen did a terrible job in exposing Fr. Joe, before the police investigation was completed. Fr. Joe is being judged, by many. There is only one Judge, and that is God. Please allow this man his peace.

    Joan and Garfield Latreille

  3. northern fancy says:

    Dear Mrs and Mr Latreille: That is very sweet. If you are such close and personal friends, why are you writing to Father Joe on this site?

    • Joan Latreille says:

      Dear northern fancy,


      We wrote on this site, re Fr. Joe LeClair, because we cannot find out where he is

      living. Is it in Ottawa, or elsewhere.


      You tell me !!!

  4. Gerry Bullock says:

    I was going to enter my thoughts in support of Fr. Joe, however, the fact that no charges have been laid speaks for itself. What really gets my anger going is that so many people want to condemn a man, when none of those who wish him to be condemned have any shred of evidence. It seems that the current generation actually believe that if they condemn a person, that’s enough to convict one of a crime. Sorry, but gambling isn’t a crime, and if it was, about 99% of the general public would be in jail including all the politicians.

    Here’s the thing, the police need hard evidence, not just the tantrums of a few people who are unhappy. If you are unhappy, go do some good for another human being. That will bring you true happiness.

  5. Joan Latreille says:

    Many years ago, this similar type of incident happened at another parish.

    After many,many months of investigation, one employee was charged, lost his job, and had a nervous breakdown over this incident. Then died of a heart attack, he was employed over 20 years.


    Months later, another incident occurred and the police investigated at the same parish, and found out it was not the man mentioned above, it was another employee at the church who took the money….why we know that because they were marked bills the second time around.

    We honour Fr. Joe LeClair, there is not another priest in the diocese that gave his heart, love, time and soul to assist anyone in sickness, crisis, Please do not judge him, he has not been charged yet, but hooligans have already made their decision. The only judge will be our God….why are peoples swarming the newspapers, TV, radio, accusing this man…when no charges have been laid yet. 

    Even if he is charged (Fr. Joe) let him deal with the diocease, and let him pay the debt if he is guilty, and get back to work at any parish. To desicrate a man who is so gifted, is a shame. 

    Thank you


    Joan and Garfield Latreille

  6. PJ says:

    Joan and Garfield: You harp about everyone “swarming” him in the media (like this site), yet you are guilty of keeping this issue alive here. The last post was in May and now here you are in November keeping him in the forefront. Pretty hypocritical if you ask me. You foam at the mouth about people “accusing” him, about people slandering him, yet you once again dredge his name up today. Why don’t you follow your own advice and shut your face? This way we are not reading about him and reminded that he is on this site because of his scandal. I feel bad for him because it sounds like he did a lot of good however, if a politician did this, would we rise to his defense and say “let him deal with the diocease, and let him pay the debt if he is guilty, and get back to work at any parish. To desicrate a  man who is so gifted,is a shame”. So why is a collar better than a politician when it comes to stealing money?

    And once again, there will be dialogue created on your beloved collar, all because YOU brought it up again. Well done!!

    • J. Latreille says:

      Hi PJ

      Thanks for backing me up. If this was a politician, he would be asked to
      resign, or pay the debt, then get on with his duties in the House, all done
      behind closed doors.
      This issue has not been handled professionally, it was exposed to the public
      very quickly.
      Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

      Many issues are kept quiet in the politics of Canada and the world.

      I rest my case, for a job well done.

      • John says:

        Mrs. Latreille……..Let me get this straight; are you saying that you rest your case in that lies, deciet and cover-up are ok as long it is for the greater good of the accused? If so, then the church could use a “damn good lawyer” like you. Please forward your name to the nearest diocese.

        John MacDonald           

  7. PJ says:

    J Latreille: Wow…you are on cheap drugs if you think I’m backing you up…”Thanks for backing me up. If this was a politician, he would be asked to resign, or pay the debt, then get on with his duties in the House, all done behind closed doors”…NO, the politician would be exposed to the public scrutiny (like your beloved collar was), then processed through the court system (like your beloved collar is), and then should be defrocked, pay restitution, and NOT done behind closed doors (like you suggest). Just like many other blind sheep of that church, you are partly to blame for the current situation in that church. By praising the collar and blindly supporting him regardless of what he did, you reinforce that church’s defense plan. This collar may have done a lot of good for some, but he now has to pay for his misdeeds. That includes no longer working as a leader of a parish…he broke their trust by stealing from their pockets. And like a politician who embezzles such a large sum, they should not be placed in a position of trust involving money. Would you be so kind and blind if your neighbour stole all that money from you? What if the person who took all that money from your parish was not your beloved collar…would you want the same process you are suggesting for them? To let them back into the same position is just asinine. Is that what you want? Wow…talk about delusional.

  8. Joan says:

      You have not got much to do, PJ and John,


      We are trying to help Fr. Joe out.  The two of you, take 2 Tylenol,

    and a couple of beers, and keep peace. He has not been charged yet!@#@$$%^&*(

    so why are people so anxious to hang him for things that have not been proven.



    • John says:

      Joan……I think that a few TOO many beers have been consumed on your part, it is quite possible that you may have blacked out during the month of July. Allow me to refresh your foggy memory. This was the headline in the July 3rd, 2012 edition of the Ottawa Citizen;
      “Former Blessed Sacrament pastor Father Joe faces fraud, theft, money laundering charges”.

      Please Mrs. Latreille get your facts straight before you attempt to sling mud.

      John MacDonald 

  9. Sylvia says:

    Joan and Garfield

    On 03 July 2012 Father Joe LeClair was charged with fraud, theft, money laundering and breach of trust. There have been at least three court-dates related to the charges to date. His next court date is 21 November at 08:30 am.

  10. PJ says:

    Joan and Garfield: The song “3 blind mice” plays in my head when I read any comments from you. Why not find a nice hobby (basket-weaving perhaps) to take your mind off things you have no control over. You argue that people are “anxious to hang him” yet you are trying to hang those on this website for posting facts that are public knowledge already. Your beloved collar would have stayed under the radar this month had it not been for your stupidity in bringing it back to the forefront. Let it go, let the courts deal with the issue, and leave us alone. Then go start your own website defending the collar…guaranteed none of us would ever visit your site.

  11. Lina says:

    *PJ says: “Then go start your own website defending the collar…”

    Good advice PJ.   How many times I’ve seen people come to this website and tell Sylvia a certain priest’s name doesn’t belong on the list. Some even have the nerve to demand Sylvia to remove the priest’s name immediately.

    These visitors, their mind will not register the reasons why a clergy’s name is on the list. No matter what Sylvia tells them or even shows them.

    Other posters here try their best to explain the obvious to these visitors but for unknown reasons these visitors (now becoming more hostile) are determine to stay in that rut of denial that their beloved priest or another priest has deep problems and the law is involved.

    Many of these folks are becoming more vocal and come to this site because their needs and concerns are not being met adequately at their parish level.
    The parishes are leaving these people with no healthy outlet to vent their frustrations about the Catholic Church’s overwhelming scandals. These people are getting large doses of silence. If there is some talk they are given excuses that just don’t hold up or just plain don’t make sense.

    Many parishes and some clergy even have their own websites but it’s obvious it’s not addressing the real need and concerns of these folks about the Church’s crimes. These guys and gals come to this site and somewhat feel the need to want to educate Sylvia, the clergy abuse victims and their supporters
    how this website should be conducted.  

    It makes me wonder if some of these willing guests are just planted moles by a certain clergy or priests to cause trouble for the victims or
    even Sylvia’s site. People will justify anything if they believe it’s for the good of the Catholic Church.

    Clergy abuse victims and other victims are not their priority, it’s their priest(s)
    and the Church.


    • Bob says:

      * If you mean to suggest that Fr. Joe has people visiting this site to represent his views, I can assure you, there is little likelihood of that. I don’t think many of us have heard from Fr. Joe, given the situation. He told the parish in a letter that the current situation does not allow for much contact, and true to his word, that contact has not happened. And Fr. Joe never had much time for the internet. It is highly unlikely he is even aware this site exists.

      Understand that this has been a very painful situation for us. Many of us still can’t believe it or bring ourselves to consider what the charges suggest, so I ask you for a little Christian charity and patience with us. Fr. Joe, whatever flaws he may or may not turn out to have, was very good with us one on one – in our lives, and some people are still struggling to accept that this is even happening. Like I said, it is painful.

      • Bob says:

        * One other comment: as this incident was financial, the situation is a little different than Sylvia’s other entries. This case is about fraud and money laundering – so if there was a crime, the people commenting here are the victims.

        • Lisa says:

          *Thank you Bob for your sincere post.  I think you articulated very well the pain that you are all feeling and your obvious love and gratitude for Fr. Joe.  I certainly will not ever attempt to speak for all victims of abuse at the hands of a Catholic Priest but I will say that the hurt and pain caused when this abuse comes to light in any parish weighs very heavy on many of our minds.   For me, this was a very strong consideration for ever bringing my story into the light of day.  Our pain happens immediately and is long lasting and life altering (this I can assure you) .The thought of anyone else suffering or losing their faith or belief in the goodness of people was something I never wanted to happen.    I am sorry that this particular situation happened to your parish and has caused so many people pain.   Your post did not attack the people on this site or cause harm to the victims (myself included) that come here to find and give understanding, support and empathy. 

  12. jj says:

    I’m relatively new to both this site AND dealing with my past abuse issues.

    I feel comments such as those made by Joan Latreille are counterproductive, obtrusive, and just downright nasty. 

    I understand that people wish to defend the “good people” who are accused of doing “bad things”, but reducing communication here to schoolyard pettiness and implied swearing makes me wonder if Joan would speak like this in church, or to someone at the grocery store, regardless of disagreeing with their point of view:

    (The two of you, take 2 Tylenol,and a couple of beers, and keep peace. He has not been charged yet!@#@$$%^&*() 

    I’m not asking for censorship – I’m just requesting that people like Joan be civil, and not so rude!  Many people who come here have lived in a post-traumatic world for most of their lives – they don’t need to be insulted and personally attacked here.

    Play nice!

  13. Mike Fitzgerald says:

         Apart from the obvious fact that Joan doesn’t seem to know what she is talking about, I appreciate your comments about being civil. That retarded sentence about Tylenol and beer is not necessary, nor wanted.   Mike.

  14. RDS says:

    Father Joe is and was an amazing paster. He inspired many people from different walks of life and varying in years from teenagers to senior citizens.

    Having an addiction only shows that he is human like the rest of us and I dare say may enrich his ministry.

    Many people miss and need Father Joe in their life. He has much work to do and needs to be given the opportunity to do so.

    The Courts should release him on the condition that he continues gambling addiction counselling. I also think the Catholic Church should reinstate his Ministry if that is what he wants.

  15. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Joe LeClair may very well have done great deeds in his past, and for that he should be commended.
    Unfortunately, fraud and money-laundering are serious criminal charges here in Canada and must be dealt with as such.
    I don’t see any “mitigating” circumstances that forced Joe to take his parish’s money across the river to be squandered at the casino.
    Further to that, I am deeply distressed that victims of clergy sexual abuse have to wait years to recoup financial damages caused by the church’s wayward priests (if ever) yet the parish in Ottawa was EXTREMELY quick to get back their $379,00.00 from their insurance company to assist them in their financial “woes”.
    Disgusting and hypocritical!!! Mike,

  16. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Bob, there’s a lot of fault to be found here, and not just with the insurance company. The parish and archdiocese have to be in full support of a claim before the insurance company will fork over.
    My wish would be that the individual parishes and archdiocese(s) would be just as quick to tell their insurance companies to fork over settlement funds to victims of clergy sexual abuse who desperately need it to cover, in some cases, a lifetime of torment, anguish, and debt, instead of hiring a platoon of high priced lawyers to fight it.
    I completely understand that the church will want to follow “due process” to ensure that a claim is legitimate and sincere. That having been said however, the church continues to drag victims through lengthy court proceedings, and to re-victimize abuse survivors. The church continues to deny, minimize, and assign blame instead.
    There is a lot of fault here, least of which is the insurance company. They’re just doing what they’re told. Mike.

  17. Leona says:

    Recently I heard someone say that they understood the church’s reluctance to settle with victims because they’d been “burned so many times”. I have to admit the statement took me aback. It was said with such confidence that had I not known as much as I do about the issue now, I would have almost “bought it”. I had the sense that it was a line that priests counselling victims actually use to keep them quiet. I wonder what the stats are of times the church has been “burned” vs victims being burned?

  18. Larry Green says:

    If the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t get burned a thousand times for every one real victim they don’t get burned nearly as much as they could or should. That’s merely a minor consequence of abiding with the devil. We should be pleased to know that they are providing for the world proof that those who go to hell really do get burned… over and over.

  19. Diana Cleland says:

    Do you have Father Joe’s present address where I could send a note to him? Sincere thanks Diana Cleland

  20. 1yellowknife says:

    Ms Cleland:

    You could send a note via correctional services to which he is still accountable. Look at posted documents for details.

    I doubt if this is a sincere request. It is too silly for words.

  21. Bob says:

    Hi Diana,

    You probably won’t be able to send him a note directly. He’s kept a super-low profile.

    There are a couple of people in the parish who know how you can get a note to friends of his, who might eventually be able to pass it along. However my suggestion is that you wait for him to get a diocesan assignment. For now, I expect he’d like to concentrate fully on his recovery.

  22. Mathew Glover says:

    I miss you Father Joe. You were a close family friend at my youngest years and I am proud to have been raised by you. You are the reason that I have faith in Jesus and it almost makes it all worthwhile just to share mutual respect for one another. Respect is something you have always contributed to anyone without discrimination and I believe that you understand the Lord because you brought me closer to God. I don’t even know what this webpage is, I was just looking for any way to tell you that I love you and I miss you.

  23. BC says:

    I do get that many people such as yourself can’t be bothered to actually be curious about who it is that they are talking to then proceed to lecture them about respect. I get that. And so your friend Father Joe Leclair who also didn’t care who he was preaching to didn’t teach you respect.

    So go ahead and try to revision your history if you have to. But Father Joe Leclair didn’t teach you respect. Father Joe Leclair taught you to not even care about who you are talking to. That’s what you learned from Father Joe Leclair.

    And reasonable people actually call that contempt.

  24. BC says:

    Father Leclair’s criminal convictions for fraud and then DUI weren’t exactly tokens of his respect for his fellow human beings. Instead of being used for his own personal pleasure at the casino and at the LCBO the money he stole could have been used to help a whole lot of people; homeless, seniors, single moms etc. There’s no substantive difference between DUI and parading around with a loaded gun in public. Father Leclair is a selfish and immature little man who absolutely cannot be trusted and is in fact a menace to society itself. The survey predicts that when he will (soon) be allowed to drive, he will DUI again. And when your friend, Father Joe Leclair, finally kills someone, I bet that you’ll be back here again to write about how you miss him and admire him.

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