11 Priests Have Quit, Been Removed since '04 [Phoenix AZ]
July 10, 2005

Since Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted took over the Phoenix Diocese in December 2003, at least 11 priests have been removed from their posts or resigned. Besides the five who signed the Phoenix Declaration, the priests include:

The Rev. Michael Minogue, who resigned in June. The diocese said health reasons were behind his departure from the Sun City West parish, Our Lady of Lourdes/Prince of Peace.

A subsequent letter from Olmsted to parishioners said that when Minogue returned from sick leave, "he needs to resolve another serious matter . . . an allegation of sexual harassment." The accuser is the same individual who accused the Rev. Ken Van de Ven, a declaration signer, of sexual harassment. Minogue, who is close friends with Van de Ven, denied the allegations.

"This is kind of a serious misunderstanding by the diocese, and I hope when their investigation is complete, I will be exonerated," Minogue said.

The Rev. Robert Voss, who was placed on administrative leave in April. Parishioners at St. Bernard of Clairvaux, where Voss had been pastor, originally were told the leave was due to personal issues. A June letter said Voss has undergone a "thorough evaluation of his physical, mental and spiritual health" and that he resigned as pastor rather than addressing the recommendations made as a result. No specifics were provided. Voss' phone has been disconnected, and neither the diocese nor the parish could provide contact information for him.

The Revs. Dennis Riccitelli and Blas? Meyer are both suspended and scheduled to stand trial in February. They were indicted in December on charges of theft and fraud at Holy Cross Parish in Mesa, where Riccitelli was pastor. Meyer was working at St. Clement of Rome in Sun City.

The Rev. Tomasz Wesolowski, an associate pastor at St. Mary's in Chandler, was suspended pending investigation of sexual misconduct in February 2004. No criminal or civil charges have been filed. Church officials say an internal investigation is continuing.

Monsignor Dale Fushek was suspended in late December after he was accused in a civil lawsuit of watching another priest abuse a child in 1985. He subsequently resigned as pastor of St. Timothy in Mesa. He previously had settled a claim of sexual misconduct. His case remains under investigation by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.