Priest Abruptly Leaves Parishes

By Susan Orr
Courier & Press [Evansville IN]
November 2, 2006

The priest who served St. Theresa and St. Joseph parishes resigned abruptly last week, and representatives from the Diocese of Evansville say he offered no explanation for his leaving.

The Rev. William Traylor, 56, had served both parishes since 2001.

In 2004, Catholic Church officials forced Traylor to take a four-month leave of absence to seek counseling in St. Louis. Traylor had been caught looking at pornographic material on a parish computer during a summer social at St. Joseph. A child was in the same room at the time, on the other side of a 6-foot-high partition.

The local diocese, Child Protective Services and Vanderburgh County Prosecutor

Stan Levco all reviewed the case at that time and determined Traylor had broken no laws.

Sister Traci Stutz, pastoral associate and director of religion education at St. Joseph, said Traylor resigned as of last Friday, and that his letter of resignation was read to parishioners during last weekend's Masses.

Stutz said she had not anticipated Traylor's resignation and didn't know why he left.

"It was a surprise to me," she said.

Traylor could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Stutz said Traylor moved out of his home, the rectory at St. Joseph, on Friday and she did not know where he had gone.

Diocese spokesman Paul Leingang said Traylor was not facing any disciplinary action at the time of his resignation.

The Rev. Stephen Lintzenich, the diocese's clergy personnel director, said Traylor's letter of resignation contained no details about his reason for leaving.

"He just simply said he was resigning the pastorate," Lintzenich said.

The diocese plans to reassign Traylor elsewhere in the diocese, Lintzenich said.

"Father Traylor is one of our best priests, and whatever decision he made was probably for his good and for the good of the parish, and he'll be back. Not in those parishes (St. Joseph and St. Theresa), but in the diocese," Lintzenich said.

The diocese's personnel board will attempt to fill the vacancy with another priest from within the diocese, Lintzenich said, although the final personnel decision will be handled by Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger.

St. Joseph and St. Theresa also are served by an associate pastor, the Rev. Alex Zenthoefer.

Lintzenich said Zenthoefer is likely to continue at the parishes as an associate.

"He's helping out until another pastor is appointed there or until the bishop makes some other decisions," Lintzenich said.

The diocese's personnel board will discuss the matter at its meeting Nov. 15.


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