Allegations against Priest Surface

By Gema Maria Duarte
Bucks County Courier Times
September 16, 2008

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced allegations that a priest recently living in Bristol committed sexual abuse about 20 years ago while serving in Victoria, Texas.

The Rev. David L. Colella, has been removed from public ministry at St. Ann Catholic Church and placed in a Maryland monastery, since the Order of the Most Holy Trinity or the Trinitarians was notified of the allegation Sept. 9, the Rev. Tom Burke of Maryland said Monday. Burke is the vice president of legal affairs for the U.S. Province of Trinitarians.

"The order is conducting an investigation in accord with its code of conduct and the church law," Burke said.

"The Trinitarians have informed the archdiocese that this is the first allegation against Father Colella and that he has denied it," according to a written statement by the archdiocese. "He has left the archdiocese and returned to the Trinitarians' Provincialate in Baltimore pending a canonical investigation by the Trinitarians."

Colella, 80, is retired but helped with Mass and confession, Burke said. He also helped surrounding parishes, including St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Tullytown celebrate Mass on a regular basis.

Parishioners at St. Ann and St. Michael were notified of the allegations during Sunday Masses, said the Rev. James Day, pastor at St. Ann's.

In April, Colella also served one day a week as an adjunct judge in the Metropolitan Tribunal, the office of the archdiocese responsible for the processing of petitions for annulments and other matters related to marriage. He was removed from that position, too.

"The Archdiocese of Philadelphia recognizes that this public notice may be painful to those who have been abused," the statement said, referring those who need assistance in dealing with the issue to the Victim Assistance Office for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at 1-888-800-8780.

Gema Maria Duarte can be reached at 215-949-4195 or


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