Ottawa Community News
11 December 2014
A priest who guided the growth of Holy Spirit Catholic Parish in Stittsville for nine years has been charged with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual interference with a person under 16 years of age.
Father Stephen Amesse, 56, who has been pastor at St. Patrick’s Catholic Parish in Fallowfield since leaving Holy Spirit Parish in 2009, appeared in court on Thursday, Dec. 4. The charges were laid following an investigation by the Ottawa Police Service Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Section into allegations of a sexual assault that occurred in 2008 at a Catholic church simply identified as being located in the west end of Ottawa.
It was in late Feb. 2014 that police investigators received a complaint and began this investigation into allegations of sexual assault involving a priest and a boy who was 14 years old at the time. In 2008, Father Amesse was pastor of Holy Spirit Catholic Parish in Stittsville.
Police investigators indicate that they are concerned that there could be other victims. Anyone with information should contact the Ottawa Police Service Sexual Assault/Child Abuse Unit at 613-236-1222, ext. 5944. Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477 (TIPS), toll free at 1-800-222-8477 or by downloading the Ottawa Police iOS app.
Father Amesse made a court appearance on Thursday, Dec. 4 where he was granted bail on a $5,000 bond but must not be in contact with any youth under 16 years of age.
The Archdiocese of Ottawa, as per Diocesan protocols, has suspended Father Amesse from all ministry duties.
“These are painful moments in the life of a faith community,” Archbishop Terrence Prendergast was quoted in a press release from the Archdiocese of Ottawa.
Father Amesse was appointed pastor of Holy Spirit Catholic Parish in Stittsville on July 1, 2000 when the Parish was holding Sunday masses in the gym at Holy Spirit Catholic School. The site of the masses was shifted to the larger gym at Sacred Heart Catholic High School in 2001.
He remained pastor until the end of July 2009 at which time he became pastor at St. Patrick’s Catholic Parish in Fallowfield.
At a farewell event for Father Amesse at Holy Spirit Catholic Church on Shea Road in June 2009, attended by 600 people, Father Amesse was praised for his work in developing the parish and for his hand in the construction of the new $5.4 million Holy Spirit Catholic Church which was formally consecrated on March 31, 2008.
The farewell event was punctuated by a prolonged standing ovation as well as the presentation of a trio of gifts and pledges of everlasting remembrance. There were overwhelming expressions of praise for the work, dedication and effort that Father Amesse had put into his work as pastor of Holy Spirit Parish.
He was particularly praised for his involvement and work with Stittsville’s Catholic schools, ministering to both students and staff. St. Stephen Catholic School annually presents a Father Steve Amesse Christian Excellence Award at its grade six leaving ceremony.
Father Amesse, upon his appointment at pastor at Holy Spirit, concentrated on building a strong parish community while also working hard to make the new church building a reality. He was not only a familiar sight at local Catholic schools but also attended community events, visited senior residences and visited parishioners’ homes.