|Catholic Priest in Loose Creek Removed Pending Investigation
By Gerry Tritz
January 8, 2010
The pastor of the Catholic churches in Loose Creek and Bonnots Mill has been accused of "inappropriate electronic communication" with a minor and removed from his duties while an investigation takes place.
Bishop John Gaydos placed Father Thomas Seifner on temporary administrative leave Dec. 18.
Gaydos, along with Monsignor Gregory Higley, the diocesan vicar general, personally informed both congregations during Masses on Dec. 19 and 20.
The reported incident took place five years ago, and the minor is now an adult, according to a statement from Mark Saucier, a spokesman for the Jefferson City Diocese.
He would not elaborate on the statement, except to say he's not aware of any other accusations against Seifner.
Several parishioners described Seifner as an affable man who fit in perfectly in the tight-knit town of Loose Creek, population 554. A deer hunter and devout follower of the Kansas City Chiefs, he was well-liked by adults as well as students in the church school.
"I haven't heard anybody here with a negative comment" about Seifner, said Dan Thoenen, a lifelong resident of Loose Creek and member of Immaculate Conception Church.
When Seifner was assigned to Immaculate Conception in July 2009, "we thought we landed a jim-dandy," Thoenen said. "He was one of the first priests that we noticed who was teaching religion in the school like when we were children."
Parish members said they haven't heard from Seifner since the bishop's announcement. They said he's left the rectory, and they don't know where he's living.
"Our experience has been if they remove a priest, there's a lot of evidence. Rarely if ever do they remove somebody and put them back and say, 'Oops, we goofed,'" said Barbara Dorris of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
"I hope everything turns out for him, because you always hope and wish for the best of your community and everyone around you," Thoenen said. "We want everything to go back to the way it was. But if there is something (to the accusation), the bishop has to do what he has to do."
Read expanded coverage in our newspaper or e-Edition for Friday, Jan. 8, 2010.
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