Confession May Clear Accused Arnaudville Priest

By Stephanie Kirk
The Opelousas Daily World
July 22, 2004

ARNAUDVILLE - The attorney for the Rev. Jules Arceneaux made a statement on KLFY TV 10 that may clear the priest's name.

Attorney William Goode of Lafayette said Wednesday someone else confessed to downloading images on the church's computer.

Arceneaux, pastor of St. Francis Regis Catholic Church in Arnaudville, was placed on administrative leave pending a federal investigation into pornography discovered on a church computer just days ago.

Kenneth Wyatt, a longtime member of St. Francis Regis Catholic Church of Arnaudville, said he knew that was not in the character of the priest at his church.

The priest's administrative leave was announced to church members at a Saturday Mass. According to a July 18 Daily World article, officials with the Diocese of Lafayette said a computer was seized July 13 from the church rectory on Pine Street by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Diocese officials said the move was made to protect the flock from the possibility of any inappropriate behavior, in keeping in line with the diocese's policy established by Bishop Michael Jarrell.

After parishioners received the news about their pastor, they organized and started a petition asking the diocese to reinstate Arceneaux on Tuesday. By Wednesday, more than a 100 signatures had been placed on the petition.

"All parishioners knew it was not him. Our concern is the church as a whole needs to come together now," said Kenneth Wyatt, a longtime church member.

There are also plans to raise funds to place banners around town asking for the pastor to come back.

"He has touched so many hearts here. We know he is a spiritual man," said Freda Patterson, a member who just moved back to Arnaudville.

Patterson helped to organize teenagers who belong to the church. At least three of them spent Wednesday evening circulating the petition, passing out flyers and inviting people to a prayer service tonight at 7 p.m. at the church. There were also flyers inviting people to a rally at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Near Little Flower Auditorium located next to the church.

The teens said their goal was to encourage the Diocese of Lafayette to reinstate their pastor.

"We are also writing letters to the diocese and doing everything we can because we want our priest back," said Amelia Stelly, one of the teens organizing events to get Arceneaux back at St. Francis Regis Church.


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