Bishop Meets with Members of Reeling Church

Providence Journal [Woods Hole MA]
Downloaded October 10, 2003

WOODS HOLE, Mass. (AP) - Bishop George W. Coleman of the Fall River Diocese met with parishioners St. Joseph's Church, a congregation reeling from allegations their pastor befriended and hired as a church handyman a convicted rapist who now faces murder charges.

Some parishioners who attended the meeting said they were disappointed they didn't get more answers from Coleman about the connection of the priest, the Rev. Bernard R. Kelly, to Paul R. Nolin Jr., who is charged with killing Jonathan Wessner.

"Nothing happened there. Nothing was explained. No truth was shared," said Karen Perry after leaving the closed, 90-minute meeting. "Why bring us all out here?"

Coleman placed Kelly on indefinite administrative leave this week after police notified the diocese they had questioned Kelly in the case. Coleman said Kelly was suspended due to "the seriousness of the inquiry."

"St. Joseph's parish is a family," Coleman said. "It's good to come together to put themselves in the presence of God."

Nolin served 18 years in prison for child rape and has pleaded innocent to kidnapping and murder charges in the death of Wessner, 20, of Falmouth.

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