Former Area Priest Steps down

By Sheila Shelton
Pontiac Daily Leader [Illinois]
February 27, 2006

A priest that served two separate Livingston County Catholic parishes for several years has been asked to step down from public ministry.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria has asked the Rev. William Virtue to step down because of recent allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor.

Virtue was currently serving as administrator at St. Theresa in Earlville and the allegations date back nearly 25 years ago, according to a Diocese press release.

The 55-year-old Virtue served at Sacred Heart Church in Campus and St. Mary's Church, Loretto, from 1986-88. He left these churches on a sabbatical for studies later in 1988.

Virtue then returned and served at St. Paul in Odell and Sacred Heart again in 1989, according to the diocese.

He then went on to serve at Creve Coeur, Lacon and Cedar Point. From 1993-96 he again served at Campus and Loretto.

During the time of the of the abuse mentioned in the allegation, Virtue was a priest in Diocese of Joliet.

The Diocese of Peoria was not aware of any allegations at the time of his incardination into the Diocese of Peoria, on April 18, 1988, according to Jenky's statement. An incardination is a ceremony which takes place when a priest moves from one Diocese to another as Virtue did from Joliet to Peoria.

Jenky has been asked not to function as a Catholic priest in any public capacity, to no longer wear clerical garb or the Roman collar, and to refrain from using the Reverend or Father.

The Diocese of Peoria stated that Virtue has denied the allegations and has claimed that he is innocent, but has agreed to cooperate with Bishop Jenky.

"I continue to pray daily for all victims of sexual abuse. I send my heartfelt apologies to all those affected and pray that our Lord will heal the wounds resulting from this abuse. I also ask for the prayers of the faithful for all the individuals involved in this case and especially for the overwhelming majority of our priests and lay ministers whose zeal and holiness do so much to build up the body of Christ in Central Illinois," said Jenky in the statement released about Virtue.

Jenky said out of respect for the privacy of the individuals involved in the cases, the Peoria Diocese would not be providing any further information.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.