Carver priest found not fit to return to ministry by archdiocese’s review board

| March 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

A board advising leaders of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis determined that Father Thomas Joseph should not return to ministry following an internal investigation into allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct with an adult.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Tim O’Malley, the archdiocese’s director of ministerial standards and safe environment, accepted the recommendation of the Ministerial Review Board, which oversees the archdiocese’s handling of clergy misconduct.

The former parochial administrator of St. Nicholas in Carver, Father Joseph, 46, has denied wrongdoing, according to a March 9 statement from Archbishop Hebda announcing his decision.

The archdiocese was notified of the allegations in January 2018 and immediately alerted the Carver County Sheriff’s Office, which initiated a criminal investigation, the statement said. Father Joseph was removed from active ministry at that time. In May 2018, the Carver County Attorney’s Office notified the archdiocese that it would not criminally charge Father Joseph.

At that time, the archdiocese launched an internal investigation and review process, a standard procedure for clergy misconduct allegations. According to the statement, Father Joseph “appeared before the MRB and was afforded the opportunity to provide testimony and information.” 

The 12-member board considered the results of the criminal investigation and internal process before making its recommendation, the statement said.

Father Joseph remains out of ministry, and his case will “proceed through a canonical penal process for a final determination as required by Church law,” according to the statement. “For the duration of the penal process, he is prohibited from celebrating Mass in the presence of laity, hearing confessions, preaching, assisting at weddings or funerals or otherwise engaging in any priestly ministry.”

He is also ”not permitted to wear a collar or present himself as a priest publicly.”

Ordained for the archdiocese in 2005, Father Joseph began serving as parochial administrator at St. Nicholas in 2008. He also served in Hispanic ministry at Guardian Angels in Chaska from 2008 to 2014. Prior to that assignment, he was an assistant priest at Divine Mercy in Faribault from 2005 to 2008, and he served in Hispanic ministry at St. Michael in Kenyon from 2006 to 2008.

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