Missing Funds Led to Firing of Pastor
Diocese: Parish Will Get Money

By Tom Breen
Florida Today [Melbourne FL]
Downloaded March 9, 2004

PORT ST. JOHN -- A former pastor of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church was relieved of his duties in 2001 after an audit revealed a "misappropriation" of parishioner-donated funds, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Orlando said Monday.

The news came after the current pastor told parishioners during weekend services that $89,000 had disappeared from a church building-expansion fund.

The former pastor, the Rev. Edward Czarnecki, was removed in May 2001 after completion of the audit, Carol Brinati, a spokeswoman for the diocese, said in a written statement provided to FLORIDA TODAY.

The Orlando diocese oversees church operations throughout Central Florida, including Brevard County.

Brinati did not mention why the diocese is addressing the issue nearly three years after Czarnecki's removal.

The current pastor, the Rev. Anthony Quinlivan, also did not shed light on why the issue suddenly has surfaced.

Brinati said no criminal charges were brought against Czarnecki, adding the diocese "filed a claim with the bonding company and made arrangements for restitution."

Quinlivan told parishioners the money would be returned to the parish.

Czarnecki, the former pastor, could not be reached for comment Monday. He moved away from Brevard County after his dismissal in 2001 and no longer serves as a priest. He served as Blessed Sacrament pastor from the mid-1990s until his removal.

The missing $89,000 was part of a Blessed Sacrament fund intended to expand church facilities, Quinlivan told parishioners. One plan was to build a new church at the current site.

Neither the diocese nor Quinlivan disclosed how much had been in the total fund.

Brinati, the diocesan spokeswoman, said the building campaign was suspended "until the financial issues were resolved" and will be resumed under Quinlivan's direction.

In impassioned remarks during the weekend services, Quinlivan said many parishioners had been "hurt" by the scandal, saying a "tremendous" breakdown in trust had occurred.

"I ask you to forgive the betrayal that was done to you," he said.

Quinlivan declined to comment beyond his public remarks.

The priest came to Blessed Sacrament last September after serving as an associate pastor at Ascension Catholic Church in Melbourne.

Blessed Sacrament, with about 700 families, is one of the smallest of Brevard's 15 Catholic churches. The financial problems at the church come at a time when Catholics, in Brevard and around the country, have been jarred by various scandals.

Still, several Blessed Sacrament churchgoers interviewed Sunday said their faith remains strong, and they will continue to be supportive of the parish.

"When you give, God is only worried about what's in your heart, not what happens to the money," David Bolotte of Port St. John said.


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