Ex-Bishop: 'No Red Flags' on Priest
Sullivan Says Rodis Was Well Liked; Diocese Needed Priests Then

By Alberta Lindsey
Richmond Times-Dispatch [Virginia]
January 23, 2007

The Rev. Rodney L. Rodis just showed up at the doorstep of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, says the bishop who hired the priest.

"He came in through Tidewater and had friends there," said the Most Rev. Walter F. Sullivan, who was bishop of the Richmond diocese in 1991 when Rodis was officially accepted as a priest in the diocese.

Sullivan, who retired in 2003, is now bishop emeritus of the diocese. "We were in need of priests at the time. He was well liked," he said.

Rodis, 50, a native of the Philippines, is charged with embezzling from Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Bumpass and St. Jude Catholic Church in Mineral, both in Louisa County. The diocese and state police estimates of the total range from $600,000 to more than $1 million. Rodis headed the two churches from 1993 until his retirement last year.

"This is a shock to everybody, including me. I am upset for the people of the churches," Sullivan said yesterday.

"We never would have accepted him without clearance from his superior. There were no red flags," he said. Sullivan added he doesn't remember if he personally checked with Rodis' religious order. The priest was ordained in the Order of St. Camillus in 1986 in the Philippines.

Louisa court records say that at the time of his arrest, Rodis had a green card, which means he is a legal permanent resident of the U.S.

A green card allows immigrants to live and work anywhere they want, according to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman. That office cannot discuss particular cases, he said.

Ernestine Fobbs, public-affairs officer for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington, said she does not know Rodis' current status.

If the priest were to be convicted of a felony, he could be subject to removal from the United States, Fobbs said. "If found guilty and has to do time, a retainer would be placed on him. Then he would come into ICE custody for review. An immigration judge would decide if he is to be removed."

Rodis is free on $10,000 bond. He also surrendered his passport. He appeared in Louisa Circuit Court last week and was ordered to return Feb. 26 to say who his lawyer will be.

Court records say he lives with a wife and three children in Spotsylvania County. Catholic priests are supposed to be unmarried and celibate.

Authorities say Rodis set up a secret account in a church name at Virginia Heartland Bank in Fredericksburg, deposited some donations there and used the money for other things.

Contact staff writer Alberta Lindsey at or (804) 649-6754.

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