Supporters pack court for Father Joe hearing

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The Ottawa Sun

First posted: | Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 09:53 AM EDT

By , Ottawa Sun
Father Joseph Leclair
[Father Joseph Leclair of Blessed Sacrament Church in the Glebe. Ottawa Sun file photo]


Father Joe LeClair had his first court appearance on Wednesday after allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Ottawa’s Blessed Sacrament Parish.

LeClair didn’t appear in court, but he had a small throng of supporters in the courtroom Tuesday. When asked why they came out, they were short with journalists.

“Why do you care? You don’t have anything good to say,” one woman said.

LeClair is facing one count each of fraud over $5,000, theft over $5,000, criminal breach of trust and laundering the proceeds of crime.

A police investigation alleges that between January 2006 and May 2011 Leclair cashed more than $240,000 in misappropriated cheques and that an additional $160,000 of funds is missing from the church’s coffers.

Police also uncovered $20,000 in furniture and household goods belonging to the church that went missing when LeClair left.

His next court appearance is September 5.

30 Responses to Supporters pack court for Father Joe hearing

  1. Sylvia says:

    I had hoped to attend this morning but circumstances dictated otherwise.  It sounds as though, as is often the case for about the first year after charges are laid,  it was over in the twinkle of an eye.  Father Joe LeClair was not there – his supporters were –  a new court-date (05 Sept.) has been set. 

  2. Conrad J. ROCK says:

    Are the Police  still investigating  who broke into Fr. Joe;s office  and stole his VISA statement  and gave it to the press. Nothing has been said about that. Have the Police  investigated the people who removed furniture from the Rectory. Some was brought back . Fr. Joe received many gifts  as a ” THANK YOU ”  for all the things he did to help people. For all the people who are hanging  Fr. Joe out to dry, Please wait until the final verdict has been given by the judge People are so quick to judge Fr. Joe before ALL THE FACTS  are available.
    Good luck Fr. Joe.

  3. Conrad J. ROCK says:


  4. Sylvia says:

    His next court date is 21 November 2012: 8:30 am, courtroom #5, Ottawa courthouse.  I will check this week Conrad to ensure it hasn’t been changed.

  5. Conrad J. ROCK says:


  6. Conrad J. ROCK says:

    Concerning comments by BOB,  I wonder if he goes to Blessed Sacrament Parish on a regular basis.  YES, the parish was SHOCKED  to put it mildly when the Police charged Fr. Joe. Some of the Masses at 4.30 p.m  have had 75 or 80 people and that is shocking when you think of what the 4.30  Mass  was in the past.
    Yes, BOB, Fr. Joe did mention in the past that he was very pleased to have over 700 Volunteers sign up to help out in the parish. I have been in the parish over 20 years and  know my facts.
    When Fr. Joe was appointed Pastor, there was very serious talk of selling the church building , but his first Sunday as Pastor , he had the people standing  with joy and there was no more talk of selling the church building.
    Now that we have Fr. Galen Bank & Fr. Francis  Donnelly  in our parish, everyone is looking forward to a brighter future and if everyone will work to-gether we will overcome. I feel very sorry for the people who have left the parish and are NOT going to church at all. I did not paint a picture of gloom in my past comments, but I have to look at reality and many people of the parish are very uneasy as to what will happen to Blessed Sacrament  Parish.
    Only God knows and I wish he would tell us.

    • Bob says:

      Conrad, yes I do go to Blessed Sacrament regularly, I volunteer as actively as you do, and you and I know each other in real life. Not that anyone cares anyway. We’re just discussing the topic, in a hopefully civilized fashion. πŸ™‚

      Fr. Joe, as you surely know by now, was often a little prone to exaggeration. When did you ever see 700 people, or even close to 700 people at the volunteer appreciation events? We didn’t get that many people at the parish picnics, which you should know, as you organized them.

      As to the uneasiness you refer to: you may feel that way, but I know that not everyone does. You’ve been around 20 years, so you’ll likely know that even with Fr. Joe, things ebbed and flowed – he didn’t always pack the place, nor has it necessarily been terrible at every occasional since he left. Easter was still spectacular! We’re all wishing there were more people in the pews, but if you’ve watched the bulletins, you’ll know that collections are keeping up with costs, and as I noted earlier, we do have our 100th coming up.

      Have cheer. Have faith. Fr. Francis and Fr. Galen are wonderful Priests. The Lord will provide – He always does!

  7. northern fancy says:

    Dear Mr. ROCK

    I am baffled by your use of lower case and upper case.
    I hope it does not reflect order of significance.

    1. Your name = ROCK (all upper case) – very unusual to see this repeatedly;

    2. Priest’s name = Father Joe = is referred to as “Pastor” not “he” or “the priest” which appears to be a sign of respect;

    3. God = “he” (all lower case) See your statement: “Only God knows and I wish he would tell us.”.

  8. Conrad J. ROCK says:

    Use of upper & lower case is a mistake. There is no order of significance. At least I put my name to what I say. Have a nice day.

  9. Lina says:

    I’m sure many who read this blog site may even agree with me, that I (we) get the message Mr. ROCK that you are a strong supporter of this priest, Father Joe Leclair.

    I’m trying to say this in a very tactful and nice way.
    This is not a blog site for Father Joe Leclair’s supporters. The site is about, “Blogging the sex abuse scandal and the betrayals of trust in the Roman Catholic Church in Canada”.

    Fr. Joe Leclair falls in the category of ‘ betrayals of trust’.

    It is very inappropriate and a crime in this case for a priest to take so much stuff that didn’t belong to him.

    I am sorry this priest has disappointed you as well as so many others.


    • Bob says:


      You may be right about the subject of Sylvia’s blog, but as Fr. Joe – at this time – remains unconvicted of any criminal offence, the presence of supports in this comment thread is as appropriate as the presence of any of his detractors.

      At the moment, it is an open question how much (if any) stuff Fr. Joe took that wasn’t his to take. Certainly the findings of the audit with respect to the whereabouts of Parish funds would seem to be quite damning, but they have not been tested in court, and that distinction is a real and not trivial one.

      As Conrad has alluded to, some of the charges (the idea that he took parish belongings to a house in PEI) appear to be a lot weaker. A lot of the things in that rectory were things given to Fr. Joe – not the parish. We were all witness to that – I myself gave him Christmas gifts in the form of housewares with the expectation they were meant for him. Knowing that a lot of other people did this, I think the Crown is going to have a very hard time making that one stick.

      So let me just say, in my own tactful way, that if Sylvia felt it was appropriate to interview Conrad at one of Fr. Joe’s court appearances (see “Catch up”), that it is entirely appropriate for Conrad to comment here as well. And that it is perhaps not ideal to drop hints that Conrad’s views are not welcome. Respectfully, that’s Sylvia’s call, and not for any of the rest of us to say.

  10. jj says:

    Mr. ROCK,

    You said: “At least I put my name to what I say.” I detect a condescending tone that is unwelcomed and inappropriate to those of us who seek support and understanding after suffering from “sex abuse scandal and the betrayals of trust in the Roman Catholic Church in Canada” (as Lina pointed out above).

    Using capital letters when blogging or typing translates into “shouting” – this is for your information.

    Just like you are asking people not to judge Father Joe before all the facts are in, perhaps you could stop supporting and singing his praises for the same reasons – because not all the facts are in. If you were to sing the praises of the man who molested me, because you thought he was a “really nice guy”, I would find that quite insulting, regardless of the fact that he has yet to be exposed.

    Could you think about that before your next message here? We are not all here just to slam someone YOU care about. And, for the record, I choose to keep my name confidential for more reasons than you can capitalize words.


  11. Conrad J. ROCK says:

    For all the people who have been molested by the clergy or lay people, I hope some day you can feel some kind of peace within you and I know that only God can really forgive and give all of you the peace you really desire.

    • jj says:

      Hello Conrad,

      Thank you for this comment. I sincerely hope that we can all find some peace too.

      I also wish to apologize for mixing two different issues together – your support of a “yet to be proven guilty” man, and my issue of a “yet to be disclosed sexual aggressor” – both elicit very different emotional responses, yet I incorrectly lumped them into one, and took it out on you. For that, I’m sorry.

      What I want most of all is peace…


  12. Conrad J. ROCK says:

    Thanks jj for your comments. With everything going on , many people are more than upset with some of our priests and what they have done. I could express myself more, but I will not. To-morrow Nov. 21, 2012 should be a very interesting time for Fr. Joe.

    Take care,and I truly hope all of you find true peace.


  13. 1yellowknife says:

    Mr ROCK: Please be careful about “overposting”. You are singing the same tune over and over. This can be counterproductive. When you do so, it is no longer (new) information provision or a dialogue, its an angry shouting match. It has been suggested you start your own blog where you can SHOUT all day LONG. I support that suggestion. Many of us check this site for updates on pending and current trials.
    That is the spirit and intent — and it is incredibly valuable to many of us. Other posters rarely get on my nerves but you have managed to do so — REPEATEDLY.

  14. JG says:

    Frankly I don’t understand the purpose of your last post!… I read it several times and I don’t see the relation to the last few posts which in my humble opinion were quite civilized and appropriate…a good exchange between” jj” and “Conrad”. A good intervention by Bob also.
    It is obvious that “Conrad” is coming to the defense of “Joe” but he is also showing some support for the victims and some understanding! I believe children need to have more support from as many people as possible! I don’t think we should chase away anyone because they don’t agree with everything we believe.
    I am not totally comfortable with the support “Joe” is getting because of “my” understanding of the use of money made by abusive priests(gifts, trips,etc. to seduce and “buy”silence…) but I am willing to let “Conrad” and others vents their “pain” as it relates to the pain felt by their “treason”. We should take comfort that some who visit this site may not agree with everyone but they at least are trying to understand and support the victims!
    Some time ago, under another post long forgotten, I seem to remember I urged patience by the victims with those of us who were not hurt in the flesh…There are other wounds you may never hear about if you only feel your own pain.
    There is already enough pain to go around several times. Children need all the help they can get! No one who knocks and is genuinely hungry for the truth should be turned away.

  15. john says:

    Some very fair and balanced comments here. Thank you.
    My loss of faith contains an anger with the Catholic God. How could He (God) allow the behavioural blasphemy condoned by the RC hierarchy. A church, which is a true reflection of Jesus the Christ, simply could not allow this horrendous abuse and dysfunction to occur to the most vulnerable of the flock – the lambs, the children.
    One of very few warnings by Jesus was towards those who would harm the faith and innocence of children. Scott Peck would refer these clergy as evil. read People of the Lie (demonstrative evil).
    Sylvia herself, as an older convert?, I presume was not in the vulnerable position of absolute trust and faith that some of us lived as elementary age children. We, as children, truly believed that to doubt our faith was a damnation to hell.
    Sylvia’s site acts as a touchstone for some of us to experience in real time, the NON TOLERANCE for corruption and deceit that surrounded our life of faith stories.
    She and others respond the way we expected the CHURCH AUTHORITY to have responded. They DID NOT. For the love of Christ, the ontological nature of priesthood has its limits. These men had to be removed. Note: I did not demand their condemnation. But THEIR REMOVAL.
    Revisit again, in its entirety, what a comprehensive response towards Penn State shown by the NCAA. A SECULAR ORGANIZATION. Unconditional sanctions with further follow-up to ensure no repeating of the circumstance. What a statement to all Dioceses, Orders, and Laity a similar response would have made. This sexual abomination would have been removed at the root. Sylvia’s site allows me the opportunity to witness the supervision of follow-up of the church. The very church that had me damned to hell for a litany of human weaknesses.
    I only wonder today, if I had been raised in a sane Christian community, I would still be able to belong to the communion of saints. (read Reimagining Christianity by Alan Jones).
    Thank you Sylvia for the opportunity to know I am not alone.
    I also see that others now find the behaviours inflicted upon so many of us not acceptable and contemptable. It certainly would have helped back then 1960s.
    The Bishop, when I turned one rascal over to him, simply said, “We don’t go around talking about this”. My silent reply was, who would believe me anyway. Today, some catholics finally get it. Because of the rest, we stay away and seek God in the Mystery of consciousness.

    • M says:

      Don’t forget that God gave us all free will. He does not “allow” what’s going on in the Church. God is crying louder than any of us, yet loves the perpretators too. Love that big has to allow free will. Forced love is no love at all.

  16. JG says:

    John….MacDonald ??…or another John?…

    In case you don’t remember, I have been coming to this site for almost three years now, in support and defense of the victims. I don’t know what you read in my previous post but yours makes me feel like Bill Murphy in “Groundhog Day”…
    Were you trying to educate me as a “newcomer” or were you distracted by the pleasures of the keypad ? Scott Peck…Penn State…Alan Jones…!!! Don’t put too much oil in the engine…especially when it is already at the “full” mark!

    “There are other wounds you will never hear about if you only feel your own pain.”
    I believe this is my last entry.

  17. John says:

    JG…..This john would be another John not I John MacDonald. It usually takes a lot more than the last few posts to get me riled. I myself read nothing into the discussions between Conrad and yourself except that Conrad is angry, bitter and confused over the position that he now finds himself in thanks to Joe LeClair.

    I am still looking forward to possibly meeting you someday, if you are ever down this way. I am sure that Sylvia would throw a BBQ for all of us LOL.

    Take care,
    John MacDonald

  18. JG says:

    Thanks for the reply, John….MacDonald!
    I owed you the courtesy of a reply and I too hope some day we can look back from outside the “ambiguity” of the net…Over a rack of ribs, maybe, if we can look past the “ruffled feathers”…Nothing has enough value that “one child” should feel abandoned and /or sacrificed. Nothing!
    Take care John.
    Thank You Sylvia for your dedication and your patience.

  19. Donna says:

    When I read the above comments it just made me sad. The members of Blessed Sacrament loved Fr. Joe but he is no longer the parish priest and it is time for us to move on. Let the courts decide Fr. Joe’s fate and let us pray the right decision will be rendered. Regardless of the outcome we know for sure Fr. Joe had many problems, gambling being just one of them. We need to pray for him but we must move forward and embrace the new priests at the parish. In addition, there are much more important discussions to be had in relation to the Catholic Church. So let’s just move on!!!!!

  20. Joan Latray says:

    Hi to Donna,

    In your above statement you say:Let the courts decide, Fr. Joe had many problems
    in your statement….Then why did you bring up the subject again.
    Please back up your :had many problems”……then drop the subject.
    forever hold your peace, and pray for him.

    Joan L

    • PJ says:

      Joan Latreille: Still a defender of him eh??

    • Bob says:

      With all due respect, I don’t think Donna intended, nor would Fr. Joe want, a public laundry list of any of his difficulties in life. There are charges before the court, and at some point there will be a trial. The legal system will figure all of this out, and when it does, we’ll all have a better idea of what to make of it.

      Right now, Blessed Sacrament is in the hands of the Companions of the Cross. Parishioners’ efforts and energies are best directed at supporting their vocation, and in walking our own vocations. If we want Blessed Sacrament to mean more to people who hear about us than “that church with the gambling scandal”, then the work to change the message begins with us!

  21. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    I don’t understand completely what you mean, Bob. Do you mean for all to turn a blind eye and ear to all the information, and leave it in the hands of a judge? Or leave it all in the hands of the church? Mike.

    • Bob says:

      Nope, I am saying there’s no real news, and won’t be until the trial comes. So parishioners should get on with their faith lives and keep their heads in the parish they have and the faith of our fathers, rather than fixate on something we’re not going to hear anything about for a while anyways.

      There will be a trial. We’ll learn what the evidence is, whether there’s a reasonable defence against the accusations or not. Until that time comes, I don’t think there is much sense in doing anything other than what Donna recommends – pray the right decision will be rendered, and embrace our new priests.

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