Missing W. Side Priest Calls from Guadalajara

By Suzanne Hoholik
San Antonio Express-News
July 15, 1998

After abandoning his church more than a month ago, Father Jose Luis Sandoval has notified Archbishop Patrick Flores of his whereabouts.

The priest is the former pastor of St. Alphonsus Catholic Church and was accused last month of sexually assaulting a former altar boy.

A 33-year-old man came forward with allegations that Sandoval molested him 22 years ago when he was an altar boy at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church.

Since learning of the allegation, Sandoval, 58, abandoned his parish and left all his personal belongings behind.

Flores told a group of about 175 parishioners during a meeting Sunday evening that Sandoval called him and said he was in Mexico. The archbishop was out of town Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

Sister Adele Massaro, pastoral assistant at St. Alphonsus, said the conversation between Flores and Sandoval took place July 8.

"(Flores) had a couple in the room where the phone was, so he told him (Sandoval) to write him a letter," she said. "The archbishop didn't say too much about that call."

Lifelong parishioner Lupe Davila attended the hourlong meeting, where signs were posted stating no media allowed.

"The archbishop said Sandoval called him from Guadalajara and he was not ready to come back, and that he made some mistakes," she said. "Flores said, 'I have visitors, so if you have a chance, write me a letter.'"

The 600-family parish continues operation without a pastor. A different priest travels to the West Side church each weekend to say Mass.

Flores didn't offer a specific name or date when a new pastor will arrive, but said the archdiocese is working on it, Massaro said. The nun is handling the day- to-day operations of the parish.

"He said that sooner or later we would get one, as soon as they find one. There's no definite date or anything," said Ramon Herrera, former deacon at St. Alphonsus and a parishioner.


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