Area Priest Placed on Leave
By Randy Dockendorf
Press and Dakotan
September 29, 2016
A priest serving two Bon Homme County parishes has been placed on administrative leave.
Bishop Paul Swain of the Diocese of Sioux Falls has taken the action following a sex-abuse allegation against the Rev. Joe Forcelle, who serves St. Leo Parish in Tyndall and St. Vincent Parish in Springfield.
Swain addressed the allegation, which Forcelle denies, in a written statement.
“The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis has informed me of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by Reverend Joseph T. Forcelle when he served in the Archdiocese,” Swain wrote.
“The child sexual abuse allegedly took place in the late-1970s and early-1980s when Father Forcelle was serving as a priest at Saint Mark Parish in Saint Paul, MN. The archdiocese reported this allegation to civil authorities.”
The allegation came forward through current legal proceedings involving the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese, Swain said.
“The allegation has not been made directly to the Diocese of Sioux Falls and, since his arrival to the (Sioux Falls) Diocese in 1984, no allegations have been made toward Father Forcelle,” the bishop said.
The Sioux Falls Diocese is following a standard practice in its action regarding Forcelle, Swain said.
“As a result of diocesan policies and the guidelines of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Persons that apply in all similar circumstances, Father Forcelle — who denies the allegation — has been placed on administrative leave pending the completion of an independent investigation,” the bishop said.
In the interim period, a replacement priest has been named for the Tyndall and Springfield parishes, according to the churches’ bulletin posted online.
The Rev. Robert Vinslauski is filling in during Forcelle’s absence this weekend for all Masses. The bulletin noted it was uncertain if daily Masses will be celebrated.
Vinslauski is listed as holding a Ramona address, according to the diocesan priest directory.
Forcelle provided the following message in the online parish bulletin:
“Thank you to all who have sent prayers and words of support for me. Please continue to pray for my accuser, too,” he said.
“I will not be returning messages or emails, but I can accept written notes. Please send them to me via the bishop's office.
“Your support is very much appreciated.”
Address letters to: Fr. Joe Forcelle, c/o Sioux Falls Catholic Diocese, 523 N. Duluth Avenue, Sioux Falls, SD 57104.