MacDonald: Father Stuart MacDonald

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Stuart A. MacDonald

Priest Diocese of St. Catharine’s, Ontario.  Ordained 17 May 1997. Canon lawyer.  November 2012 was discharged from his duties as chaplain at Wyoming Catholic College after complaints of, amongst others things,  sexual misconduct, alcohol, “very bad language” and “telling bad jokes.”  Father MacDonald started to serve as chaplain at the college just months before, in August 2012.

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Bishops of St. Catharine`s Diocese from time of Father Stuart MacDonald`s ordination:  John Aloysius O’Mara (02 February 1994 – 09 November 2001); James Matthew Wingle (09 November 2001 – 07 April 2010); Gerard Paul Bergie (14 September 2010 – )

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The following information is drawn from copies of the annual Canadian Catholic Church Directory (CCCD) which I happen to have on hand, media (M)

2016:  Address and phone number that of the St. Catharine`s Diocese. (CCCD)

10 December 2012:  address on the diocesan website is c/o the St. Catharine`s Diocese. Phone number that of diocesan centre.

19 November 2012:  discharged from his duties as chaplain at Wyoming Catholic College after complaints of, amongst others things,  “very bad language” and ‘telling bad jokes.” One student at the college was advised by the college president to go to police immediately after a complaint involving possible criminal activity.

10 November 2012: internal  investigation commenced after compliant by former student –  the complainant was advised at the time to go to police immediately  (M) No charges were laid (M)

16 October 2012:  blog from Father Stuart MacDonald’s blogsite “Musings of a Canonist”

The Long Silence

It has been a busy few months for me moving to Wyoming where I am now the chaplain at Wyoming Catholic College.  That’s the reason for my lack of posts, as well as the fact that I haven’t been keeping up with the news very much.  In any event, I can’t help but make an unabashed plug for the endeavour taking place in the middle of Wyoming.  This new little college (there are only 128 students working on a temporary campus) is a great blessing.  Besides being run ragged, I have been overwhelmed by the faith, virtue, perseverance and stamina of this group of people.  The faculty forego more prestigious positions in order to be able to work closely with their students in this Liberal Arts program. The students take the risk of coming to a college that is not yet fully accredited because their faith is important to them.  These are not naively idealistic and pious sorts who are trying to create some anachronistic relic of the past.  These are energetic, spiritually mature,  faithful people attempting to live their Catholic faith in all its fullness.  To be a part of it is my privilege.  Please pray that God will continue to bless this college, certainly with benefactors, but also with His grace.  Something wonderful for God and the Church is happening here.  It needs to flourish.

22 March 2012:  blog “Musings of a Canonist launched

My new blog

Well, this is my first post on my new blog.  Given my parish responsibilities, I am not sure how often I will be able to post; however, I figured the time had come for me to stop lurking on other blogs and say something myself, even if I might be incorrect.  Others will correct me, I’m sure.  What really had me going is the controversy that is the subject of my next post.  As a canonist, I am often frustrated that people are unwilling to discuss certain issues publicly.  Sometimes public discussion clarifies issues, when it is not just a mass of ranting because many people can be involved and someone might bring up a point of which two people merely having a conversation might not have thought.  One of those issues in the controversy is ‘removing a priest from ministry,’ or placing him on ‘administrative leave,’ as it is sometimes called.  Canonists use this term quite a bit.  Few give reasoned explanations of canonical doctrine that would justify it.  It’s a conversation that needs to be had.  It’s my reason for entering the world of blogs.

Because I am new to this, I still have to figure out hyperlinks and all the other formatting headaches.  Let’s hope it won’t be a steep learming curve.

August 2012:  began to serve as chaplain at Wyoming Catholic College (M)

2012:  Pastor, St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church, Niagara Falls, Ontario (CCCD)

2011, 2010:  address for Saint Ann’s Roman Catholic Church,  Fenwick, Ontario (Pastor Father Paul MacNeil) (CCCD)

2002: St. Alfred Roman Catholic Church,  St. Catharine’s, Ontario (Pastor Father Raymond Fenech Gonzi) (CCCD)

1998:  Address for Our Lady of the Scapular Roman Catholic Church, Niagara Falls, Ontario (Pastor Father Peter Rowe) (CCCD)

1997:  ORDAINED

 

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No charges against MacDonald, police say

The St. Catharine’s Standard

Friday, December 7, 2012 5:35:44 EST PM

By Tony Ricciuto, Niagara Falls Review

Rev. Stuart MacDonald

Police in Wyoming have concluded their investigation and no criminal charges are being filed against a former Niagara Falls Roman Catholic priest who was dismissed last month from his chaplain’s post at Wyoming Catholic College.

Lander, Wyo., police Chief Jim Carey told The Review Friday they have closed their investigation involving Rev. Stuart MacDonald.

“From the evidence and statements that we have received, we are not filing any criminal charges due to the fact we do not believe a criminal act was committed, however inappropriate, not criminal,” said Carey.

MacDonald, who was the pastor at St. Thomas More Roman Catholic church on Dorchester Rd., had been given permission in September by Bishop Gerard Bergie to leave the Diocese of St. Catharines to take up the position of chaplain at Wyoming Catholic College.

Carey said his police force had one complainant, a former male student from the college, and their investigation looked at “allegations of sexual misconduct and alcohol use.”

Carey said the college conducted its own investigation, while the police investigated the case from a criminal standpoint, and “the school obviously took their own action.”

An earlier statement released by Wyoming Catholic College said that effective Nov. 19, MacDonald was dismissed from service as their chaplain.

The dismissal was subsequent “to an internal investigation by the college which revealed Reverend MacDonald’s improper conduct and language with the college’s students and a pattern of behaviour unacceptable as a Catholic college chaplain.”

The statement said the college was also taking steps to notify government officials that MacDonald’s employment visa should be terminated.

Attempts to reach the college Friday afternoon were not successful. Neither were attempts to contact MacDonald through the diocese.

tony.ricciuto@sunmedia.ca

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Wyoming Catholic College dismisses chaplain for misbehavior

Catholic News Agency

06 December 2012

By Kevin J. Jones

A picture of Father Stuart MacDonald from 2007.

Lander, Wyo., Dec 6, 2012 / 04:03 am (CNA).- Wyoming Catholic College has discharged its new chaplain Father Stuart MacDonald following the discovery of a “pattern of misbehavior” around students such as excess drinking and bad language.

“I think it’s very sad that this happened. I think it’s particularly sad that it involved a priest of the Catholic Church,” college president Father Robert Cook told CNA Dec. 5.

“I really am very happy that we so quickly and so definitively dealt with this in what I believe was a totally proper and appropriate manner.”

The college discharged the chaplain on Nov. 19 after an investigation found he engaged in “very bad language” and “telling bad jokes” with students.

“He drank excessively with a few of our students who were over the age of 21. He also had conversations with students about very personal matters in front of other students,” Fr. Cook said. “All of this fell well beneath the standard that I require of anyone who works here, faculty, staff, administrators, and certainly the chaplain.”

Fr. MacDonald became the college’s chaplain in mid-August. He is a canon lawyer and a priest of the Diocese of St. Catharines in Ontario, Canada. He was ordained in 1997.

The diocese’s chancery told CNA that the diocese takes “very seriously” all allegations of inappropriate behavior on the party of clergy, staff or volunteers. It has not determined whether the priest will return to any position in the diocese.

Wyoming Catholic College has notified the Department of Homeland Security to terminate Fr. MacDonald’s employment visa.

Fr. Cook said the college began its internal investigation after a former student made a Nov. 10 phone call with allegations about the chaplain. The former student’s complaint involved possible criminal conduct committed by the priest. Fr. Cook told the former student to go to the police “immediately.”

Detective Randy Lutterman of the Lander Police Department confirmed that there was an investigation into Fr. MacDonald.

Lander Police Chief Jim Carey told CNA Dec. 7 that no charges will be filed against the chaplain.

“We are confident, through the evidence that we have received, that no criminal act was committed, however inappropriate,” he said.

The Wyoming newspaper The Daily Ranger reported that Carey said an anonymous letter was sent to individuals and to the Lander Journal claiming that Fr. MacDonald sexually abused students.

But Fr. Cook said the college’s “very thorough” investigation has not found any incidents or accusations of sexual conduct toward any student at Wyoming Catholic College.

The college has informed students and their parents about the improper conduct behind the chaplain’s dismissal. They were “profoundly shocked” and “greatly saddened” by the incident.

Chaplains “have to meet the highest standards, or they have to leave,” Fr. Cook stated. “This college is all about being very Catholic: teaching the students to know and love their Catholic faith, to live morally good lives.

“It is simply unacceptable to have anyone, let alone the chaplain, give a poor or even bad example to them.”

The chaplain had undergone a “very thorough vetting program” and a background check that found no criminal record, while Fr. MacDonald’s bishop had sent a letter stating he knew no reasons that would disqualify him from being a chaplain.

The college president said prospective Wyoming Catholic College students and their parents should feel that the college is “a safe place to go.”

“You cannot escape sin in this world. But when it shows up, if it’s dealt with in a very definitive and clear manner, then that’s a good place to be,” Fr. Cook said.

He said prospective students should be “proud” to go to a college that acted quickly to “protect the educational mission in which we are engaged.”

Updated  Dec. 7, 2012 at 3:05 p.m. MST. Adds commennts to CNA in paragraph 11 from Police Chief JIm Carey about no crime beingg committed.

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LPD concludes investigation into Fr. MacDonald; no criminal charges to be filed

County 10

06 December 2012

By Joshua Scheer, reporter, county10.com

Photo from http://www.stcatharinesdiocese.com.

(Lander, Wyo.) – Lander Police Chief Jim Carey said the investigation into former Wyoming Catholic College Chaplain Father Stuart MacDonald has concluded and no criminal acts were found.

“No criminal charges will be filed,” Carey said Thursday morning, later adding, “Our case is now closed.”

After conducting interviews and gathering information, he said LPD found no crimes.

“We’re confident no criminal acts were committed,” Carey said.

Carey said the “allegations of sexual misconduct, alcohol use, things of that nature” were reported by a male former WCC student. “The alleged victim was not a student at the time the alleged acts were committed,” he said.

Allegations only involved a single possible victim, he added.

“We would like to thank the catholic college and Father (Robert) Cook for help in resolving the issue,” Carey said.

WCC fired MacDonald on Nov. 19 for “improper conduct and language with the College’s students and a pattern of behavior unacceptable as a Catholic college chaplain,” states a news release issued on Nov. 27. He was hired in mid-August as Chaplain.

MacDonald is a Priest of the Diocese of St. Catharines in Ontario, Canada. Last month’s news release from the college states, “The United States Department of Homeland Security has been notified that Reverend MacDonald’s employment Visa should be terminated.”

WCC Vice President for Advancement Matthew Brasmer in an interview Thursday declined to comment on LPD’s investigation. He said the college had been focused on its own internal investigation into MacDonald’s “inappropriate” behavior. He said the college had “no evidence of sexual misconduct with our students.” LPD’s investigation, Brasmer said, did not play a role in WCC decision to terminate MacDonald’s employment.

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Stuart MacDonald fired from college, faces police probe

 

By Ray Spiteri, Tony Ricciuto, Niagara Falls Review

Rev. Stuart MacDonald

Rev. Stuart MacDonald

NIAGARA FALLS – A Roman Catholic priest who recently worked in Niagara Falls is being investigated by police in a Wyoming city following allegations of misconduct levelled against him by the college where he worked.

Lander Police Chief Jim Carey confirmed to The Review his department is investigating Rev. Stuart MacDonald, a former priest at St. Thomas More Roman Catholic church on Dorchester Rd. and most recently the chaplain at Wyoming Catholic College.

A statement released by Wyoming Catholic College said that effective Nov. 19, “Reverend Stuart MacDonald is dismissed from service to the college as chaplain.”

It adds his dismissal was subsequent “to an internal investigation by the college which revealed Reverend MacDonald’s improper conduct and language with the college’s students and a pattern of behaviour unacceptable as a Catholic college chaplain.”

The college was also taking steps to communicate this information within the college community, while reaching out to their students to affirm their needs at this time.

The statement noted government officials had been notified that MacDonald’s employment visa should be terminated.

Neither the college nor the police would elaborate on the “improper conduct” allegations against MacDonald, other than to say they’re related to misconduct.

Carey said the police were dealing with them in an “open investigation.”

He would not say when the police investigation began, but said it was prior to an anonymous letter containing allegations against MacDonald that was sent to several news outlets in the Wyoming area last week.

“We are allowing the investigation to continue. We are hoping for some form of closure in the very near future — I would hope before the end of the year,” said Carey. “We plan to release more information pertaining to this investigation in the near future.”

A statement issued by the Chancery Office of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Catharines said MacDonald was given permission by Bishop Gerard Bergie to leave the diocese, which serves the Niagara region, in September 2012 to take up the position of chaplain at Wyoming Catholic.

“The Diocese understands that he has now left that position at the college,” that statement says.

The diocese takes “all allegations of inappropriate behaviour on the part of any clergy, staff or volunteers very seriously,” it adds.

“No determination has been made as to whether Rev. MacDonald will be returning to any position in the diocese, or assuming any responsibilities within the diocese.”

According to a blog written by MacDonald, called Musings of a Canonist, he holds a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he is also registered as a doctoral student. Ordained in 1997, he has worked in parish ministry for many years. That section of his blog appeared to have been removed Friday afternoon.

In a post dated July 17, 2012, MacDonald wrote he was “busy packing my belongings preparing to move to a new assignment.

“Next month, I will be moving to Wyoming to become the chaplain at Wyoming Catholic College, a wonderful, new-ish endeavour in Catholic education. I’m very excited about my new home and new work.”

Attempts to contact MacDonald through Wyoming Catholic College, the Diocese of St. Catharines, St. Thomas More Church in Niagara Falls and by email have not been successful.

nfr.citydesk@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @niafallsreview

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News from Wyoming Catholic College

Dismissal of Chaplain at Wyoming Catholic College

Posted: November 19, 2012

Wyoming Catholic College announces that Reverend Stuart MacDonald is dismissed from service to the College as Chaplain effective today, November 19, 2012.

His dismissal is subsequent to an internal investigation by the College which revealed Reverend MacDonald’s improper conduct and language with the College’s students and a pattern of behavior unacceptable as a Catholic college chaplain.

Wyoming Catholic College is taking steps to communicate this information within the College community, while reaching out to our students to affirm their needs at this time.

The United States Department of Homeland Security has been notified that Reverend MacDonald’s employment Visa should be terminated.

10 Responses to MacDonald: Father Stuart MacDonald

  1. m haitz says:

    In your initial paragraph, you state that Father MacDonald “was discharged from his duties …after complaints of… sexual misconduct”. This is absolutely false. There was never – at any point – any allegation of sexual misconduct.

    The police investigation was concluded with no charges whatsoever being laid. Subsequent to this, the head of the college belatedly gave an interview to the local news-station where he explicitly states that there was never any allegation of sexual misconduct (see here: http://www.k2tv.com/news.php?id=2392).

    So what was Father MacDonald ‘guilty’ of? – drinking excessively (whatever that means), telling a dirty joke, and using bad language (all of this done off-campus in his free-time) – that’s it! At most, he can be accused of imprudence (although now his reputation has been destroyed, essentially over nothing).

    To even include him on your site is misleading and uncharitable.

  2. Sylvia says:

    From the Saint Catharine’s Standard, o7 December 2012:

    [Lander police Chief Jim] Carey said his police force had one complainant, a former male student from the college, and their investigation looked at “allegations of sexual misconduct and alcohol use.”

    • anonymous says:

      Dear M Haitz,
      You are certainly wrong in your statement above. He is a priest . So people expect a certain kind of behaviour from a priest in the campus or off campus. Above all he is a chaplain and from a chaplain more is expected, if he seriously honour his vocation to priesthood. He is supposed to show good examples to young people by his very life inside and outside of his work time, instead he was a bad example for the young generation. Ofcourse there is no criminal offence committed here like child abuse etc. Behause of his behaviour , perhaps he shatted the faith of good young people who had trust in the priests and the church.
      As far as I know the University in which he was chaplain is a special university for promoting vocation to priesthood. Do you think this priest showed good examples or led an exemplerary life for those young ones. Young kids are like little children . They too are innocent to a certain extend . So Silvia is right in putting this information on her website.
      Fr.Stuart had problems in St.Thomas More Parish . Many people had left the parish becuase of his behaviour. Everybody in that parish knows it. There may be a couple of followers like you, but most are not. If it was OK why hten bishop did not appoint him? or reassign him to any parish?

    • AquaintanceoftheAccused says:

      There is more this story than is on your site, and the missing pieces paint Fr. MacDonald in a much better light than what you have here.

  3. anonymous says:

    Dear Mr. M. Haitz,
    If you are certain that he is Ok to work in a parish, why don’t you and followers of Rev. Stuart approach Bishop Bergie to reassign him to a parish .Then let us know the outcome. If he is reassigned, we will believe your statement above is right. By posting the information here, Sylvia has not done anything bad to his name.
    If Bishop Bergie does not give him an assignment, then his name stands as it is : good or bad.

  4. anonymous says:

    Reverend Stuart getting drunk with young people as young as eighteen or twenty ?? !!!!!. He is a middle aged man! ! He is a priest ??.I have not seen any normal guys getting drunk with kids who are 25 years or younger ? Even parents do not do that with their adult children . They may have a drink or two with them but never get drunk or say inappropritate words or jokes in front of them . ! This is the guy you are defending , Haitz ??? !.

  5. Scott Simpson says:

    I think this guy lives in Papanui lk at his dad’s cottage is that possible has anyone herd from him

  6. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Thanks Scott. As you know, that’s my “neck of the woods”. I will check and let you know. Mike.

  7. William Wallace says:

    What you people have done to this priest is unconscionable. He was cleared by the Vatican years ago and in fact has been assigned to a parish, even as pastor, for some time. You may not have thrown the first stone in this story, but you are the pharisees who have continued to throw the stones.

  8. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Nobody here has “painted” this priest. All that I see is what appeared in the news media.
    Who’s really “throwing the stones”? Mike.

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