Clerical Inconsistencies

Closeup of the neck of a priest wearing a black shirt with cassock and white clerical collar

The list of clergy assignments in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is posted in May of each year and the priests settle into their new assignments a few weeks later in June. A few times throughout the year there are additional changes to the clergy assignments due to retirements, deaths, health leave, personal leave, or sabbaticals.

Just last week the Archdiocese released a mid year list of clerical assignments . The parishes of St Philip Neri, Pennsburg and St Thomas More, Pottstown were both assigned new parochial administrators. That is nothing out of the ordinary except for the fact that the departures of the pastors from the two parishes is not reflected anywhere on the clergy assignment announcement.

Fr. Robert Roncase who was the pastor at St Philip Neri, Pennsburg is now listed on the Archdiocese clergy list as residing at St Malachy rectory. Fr. Edward Brady who had been the pastor at St Thomas More, Pottstown has been listed as c/o the clergy office for the past few months during his absence from the parish He wrote a short message to the parish in December that he would not be returning and would be given a new assignment by Archbishop Chaput.

When other pastors have left parishes, their names have been included on the official clergy assignments announcements whether they have retired, been reassigned to other parishes, went to live in residence at another parish, or have taken a health or personal leave. Roncase and Brady were missing on the official clergy assignment announcements.

Fr. David Waters was assigned as Parochial Vicar to St Agnes Parish, West Chester in June 2018. It seems that Fr. Waters left the parish in November 2019. His name no longer appears on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia clergy list which would signal that he no longer has faculties as a priest in this diocese. However when I phoned St Agnes Parish, a staff member told me an announcement was made at the parish that Fr. Waters is taking some time with family and will be moving on to a new assignment at some point. That information would mean that Fr. Waters personal leave should have been reflected in the latest clergy announcements and his name would remain on the clergy list, but he exists nowhere on the Archdiocese site at this time.

I contacted Ken Gavin a few months ago inquiring about the status of Fr Waters and the little information he provided did not match the conversation with the parish employee.

We often hear from laity asking us to help them get answers from the Archdiocese. This is not a climate to have continued confusion for the people in the pews and this past year has seen an increase in laity asking for our assistance. We are not making any insinuations concerning these priests, we are simply asking why there is the inconsistency of them not being included in the official clergy assignments announcements,while their fellow clergy in similar situations of retirement, reassignment, personal or medical leave, have been listed on the clergy assignment announcements

We are going to give the Archdiocese a chance to respond to the inconsistencies on the latest clergy announcements. We will reach out to Ken Gavin of the Office of Communications and also to Msgr Daniel Sullivan of the Office of Clergy

Msgr Sullivan has never responded to any of our emails or phone calls. Maybe we will be lucky and he has made a New Year’s resolution of transparency. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 1/15/2020: There has been no response from Ken Gavin of the Office of Communications and no response from Msgr Daniel Sullivan of the Office for Clergy. Over the past week emails were sent to Ken Gavin and Msgr. Sullivan, as well as phone calls directly to the Communications Office asking for a response. The Archdiocese was given a chance to communicate directly to laity, we promised to print their response in its entirety. They seem to have chosen not to take this opportunity.

Update 2/14/20: Fr Robert Roncase is now listed as c/o the clergy office on the Archdiocese clergy list however no mention of him on the changes in clerical assignments released today

Fr Edward Brady has now been moved from c/o the clergy office to a new assignment Information released on the clerical assignments today: Rev. Edward E. Brady, to Chaplain, pro tem, Holy Redeemer Health System, Huntingdon Valley, with residence at Saint Cecilia Parish, Philadelphia, effective February 17, 2020

We are posting these developments simply as an example of how there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why some priests’ personal or medical leaves are acknowledged on the clerical assignments lists, while others are not. It makes absolutely no sense and only adds to confusion.

7 thoughts on “Clerical Inconsistencies

  1. Thank you for continuing to ask questions. We know there is much more to the story than what the parishioners are told. We are offered excuses, but never the truth. There is no transparency. Wake up, folks! Stop putting money in those collection baskets. Your hard-earned donations should be helping the needy, not paying the bills for the priest’s vacation home in Stone Harbor.

  2. Msgr. Sullivan never answers emails, never really does anything. We have a priest (pastor) that pushes, intimidates and lies to parishioners. He’s consistently late for Mass, neglects maintenance and he fell off the Alter last weekend (drunk or sick?) He also has a shady past. We were promised he’d be replaced last year, he wasn’t. Lies, coverup, inaction.

  3. Barring a criminal charge of a serious matter, I don’t think that anyone has a right to know about the personal lives of priests and the reason(s) why they have left a particular assignment. If a crime has not been committed it is no one’s business why a priest has moved. As far as I am concerned the diocese owes no one an explanation as to how or why they transfer priests as long as there is not a crime. .

    1. Frank – the former Rev. John Paul – search the stories. Allowed to stay at a parish during an abuse investigation. Then “retires” via a bizarre press release. Only after that did the AOP make an announcement. Those parishioners would have never known. Then he self-laicizes and “disappears” into the community – as was detailed in the previous C4C post. For some odd reason, he then reappears years later on the credibly accused list. But for that interim – he was in “limbo” – as my 3rd grade teacher would say.

      The AOP has created this problem with their inconsistencies. When there is one policy but “exceptions” – people are going to wonder why. Fr. Joe suddenly disappears from my parish – is he being investigated – is he ill – is he taking a sabbatical? The people in the pews will wonder and speculate.

  4. Frank,That is not the point. The clergy assignment announcements do not include reasons, nor is it any type of an invasion of privacy. The question is why are some priests listed while others are not? You can simply google the past announcements and it is all there, retirements, sabbatical, health leave. It would be the same as if you retired from a company and it was listed in the company newsletter. So when some priests are missing from such general, non invasive announcements, of course people have questions.
    Also interesting is the recent case of Msgr Joseph McLoone in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, if parishioners had not asked questions when he was pulled from the parish it is unlikely that he would be facing charges at present because the Archdiocese did not alert the police to the financial impropriety that was found. So the credit goes to the parishioners for continuing to ask questions. and demanding to know why he left. That in turn played a part in the newspaper article that ended up tipping off law enforcement to the possible financial crimes. So always best to ask questions in life when things are not clear. Questions aren’t always a bad thing Frank. Some questions have very simple answers, some do not.

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