Parishoners Want to Know, "Where's the Money?"

By Patrice Walsh
The Dallas Morning News [Tulsa OK]
October 18, 2004

A few years ago, parishioners of St. Christopher's Catholic Church in North Chili collected donation to buy a new jeep for a priest who was going to Kenya to continue his ministry.

But the priest left the priesthood, went to live in England, and the money never made it to Kenya.

Like most parishioners at St. Christopher's, Stacey Hermanson thought The Rev. Norbert Kyumu was the answer to their prayers. He came to the church after former pastor Rev. Robert O'Neill had been removed for sexual misconduct.

Parishioner Stacey Hermanson said, "He did wonderful things, he was really great with kids and was a wonderful priest. We miss him."Hermanson, her children, and many others in the parish helped raised the money to buy Father Norbert a jeep so he could return to his ministry in Africa two years ago.

Parishioners collected between $30,000 and $35,000. Hermanson said their hearts sank when they learned their priest had left the priesthood and was living in England with a woman.

"I think the money was given to him in good faith and he would remain a priest and continue his work in Kenya," she said.

Norbert baptized Susan Walker's youngest daughter, and though Walker still thinks highly of him, she says he should give the money back to his diocese in Kenya.

The Rochester Roman Catholic Diocese is working to get the money redirected to Kenya.

In a statement, Diocesan spokesman Michael Tedesco said, "It is disheartening that donations made in good faith have not been forwarded to their intended use. The parishioners of St. Christophers don't want their money back, but ask only that it be forwarded to the diocese in Kenya."

Present pastor of St. Christopher's, the Rev. Bob Gaudio, is also working with the Rochester Diocese to make sure the Kenyan Diocese receives the money.

Not all parishioners agree however. Many say the money was a gift for the priestís four years of service to the parish.

Older parishioners said Norbert didn't come with his hand out. They said he did good things for this church and they believe the money was his reward for four years of service.Others said they wish him well but want their donations sent to Kenya for the ministry there.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.