Disgraced Ex-Pastor's Photo Keeps Being Stolen

By George Jaksa
Flint Journall
February 25, 2007

Burton — One of the Ten Commandments states "Thou shalt not steal," yet someone keeps removing a picture of a dishonored former pastor of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church from the wall outside the church office.

And every time the picture of the former Rev. Vincent DeLorenzo goes missing, the current parish administrator has another copy put in its place.

"I haven't a clue who is doing it," said the Rev. Paul Cummings. "Maybe they figure they are doing their thing for God."

DeLorenzo's photo is part of a gallery of former pastors going back to the church's founding in 1940. He served the 1,100-family parish from 1988 to January 2002, when he resigned abruptly, revealing three months later in a letter to the parish that he had had "inappropriate sexual conduct with a minor."

It was one of a number of priest pedophile cases that rocked the Catholic Church.

The Diocese of Lansing, which has jurisdiction over area Catholic churches, permanently removed DeLorenzo from active ministry. His photo was removed from the Holy Redeemer gallery.

But about six months ago, Cummings had DeLorenzo's photo returned to the wall of former pastors. Cummings said the photo has been removed "three or four times" since then.

"He was sorry for what he did, he asked to be pardoned, and we ought to forgive him," said Cummings of DeLorenzo.

Cummings has preached for months that Holy Redeemer parishioners should be practicing the biblical admonition of forgiveness.

Some aren't getting the message, though. The Flint Journal's "Talk Back" feature has received several anonymous comments both for and against display of the photo.

For example:

From Grand Blanc Township: "To the thief at Holy Redeemer in Burton, get yourself a Bible. It says 'thou shalt not steal.' The picture of Father DeLorenzo should go up. God bless."

From Flint Township: "Holy Redeemer has a picture of a pedophile in their church? Just another example of the Catholic Church (that) just doesn't get it."

Joseph Wargo, a longtime Holy Redeemer parishioner, said there are more important concerns.

"A lot of that is a historical thing," said Wargo of Grand Blanc. "All the pictures of the pastors are there, and there isn't any question that Father D was there as a pastor.

"It's almost like hanging all the pictures of the presidents, but then if you didn't like, say, Nixon or Lincoln, you would have them thrown out."

Frances Dorat of Mundy Township differs.

"The people don't want it (DeLorenzo's picture) because he is a pedophile," said Dorat, who left Holy Redeemer for another Catholic parish. "People don't want him in a place of honor."

Michael Diebold, Diocese of Lansing spokesman, wouldn't join the fray.

"We simply can't act on anonymous allegations, depending on the nature of the allegations," he said.

Cummings, a retired priest, took over Holy Redeemer as an interim pastor last April after the Rev. William Wegher, the pastor, was given a stress-related administrative leave. Now 80, Cummings said he envisioned himself as a short-time caretaker, but has taken stronger control as the months wore on.

He called the Talk Back callers "busybodies."

"If people have something to say, at least they should have enough courage to put their name on it," he said.

On the photo controversy, he said: "It makes them talk. I figure if you don't get upset, you won't talk."

George Jaksa: or 810 766 6332


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