Bishop Permanently Removes Area Priest As Pastor

By Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News
May 3, 2015

A former trustee at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Sigel said Saturday's permanent removal of the Rev. Robert "Bud" DeGrand from his pastoral duties was "wrong."

In fact, George Nuxoll said, some of DeGrand's Sigel parishioners thought so much of their longtime priest that they bought him a home, even furnishing it for him, despite an order from Bishop Thomas John Paprocki that he leave the parish and move to a home in Springfield.

"We respect him (DeGrand)," Nuxoll said. "We want him here."

The Springfield Diocese said in a news release Saturday that Paprocki "concluded that he has no choice" but to permanently remove DeGrand from his pastoral duties. DeGrand had been on leave as the pastor, not only in Sigel, but of parishes in Neoga, Green Creek and Lillyville after a diocesan review board found that allegations of sexual misconduct against DeGrand were "credible." Those allegations stemmed from an alleged incident in 1980 while DeGrand was serving a parish in Jacksonville.

Diocesan spokeswoman Marlene Mulford said in the news release that Paprocki based his decision "on the unanimous recommendation of the Diocesan Review Board and Bishop Paprocki's own assessment of the information available indicating conclusively that it would not be responsible to allow Father DeGrand to return to public ministry."

Nuxoll, who said he resigned as a church trustee under pressure from the bishop, said it was unfair to remove the popular priest from his work at the "Four Parishes" based on what he considers unsubstantiated allegations from more than three decades ago.

"If we are talking about something from 30-some years ago in Jacksonville, than why are they running him out of Sigel?" Nuxoll said.

The review board ruled against DeGrand in January 2014, finding that allegations of clerical sexual misconduct were credible. DeGrand then "withdrew" from his public ministry while the case was sent to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That September, the Vatican group referred the case back to Paprocki because so much time had passed since the alleged misconduct. According to the diocesan news release, the Vatican "entrusted the matter to Bishop Paprocki's 'prudence and good judgment' whether it was suitable to return Father DeGrand to public ministry as pastor or remove him from public ministry for the protection of minors.

Paprocki then, according to the news release, told DeGrand he could meet with the review board and present information on his own behalf in an effort to have the previous findings reversed. But DeGrand, according to the diocese, refused to do so. The diocese said he also refused to undergo a re-evaluation at an alcohol treatment facility where he was treated for alcohol abuse in 1996, as well as submit results of a psychiatric evaluation.

Nor would DeGrand, again according to the diocese, submit to a polygraph test as requested by the review board.

But the final straw appeared to be DeGrand's refusal to leave Sigel in defiance of a direct order from the bishop, according to the diocese. DeGrand was then suspended without pay, save a stipend for room and board, a stipend the diocese says it is still paying.

"Father DeGrand continues to refuse to move and as a result will remain suspended from all ministries," according to the diocese.

While the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was “unable to document credible evidence of child abuse and/or neglect in the investigation,” the agency only addressed present risk to children and did not investigate the allegations from the 1980s, according to the diocese.

Nuxoll said DeGrand enjoys nearly universal support in all four parishes and is being persecuted by an overly authoritarian bishop based on decades-old allegations that were not reported until 2013.

"He spent 15 years with us," Nuxoll said. "Everybody supports him and loves him, but the bishop set up all these rules and regulations because of something that allegedly happened more than 30 years ago.

"I think it's wrong."

Nuxoll said there has been no indication of any misconduct on DeGrand's part since coming to the area. In fact, he said, the priest has developed a strong bond with the young men in his parishes.

"These guys all hung around his house," he said. "His desire was to recruit as many of them as possible to become priests."

Fellow St. Michael parishioner Bobbi Probst said DeGrand's removal was "very upsetting."

"We believe in Father Bud," Probst said. "We want him back, of course."

Probst said DeGrand is popular with his flock for a number of reasons.

"He tries very hard to treat people fairly, and to listen to them," she said.

Probst added that DeGrand is also beloved for his humility.

"It's about his parishioners, not about himself," she said, adding that DeGrand has also shown a strong measure of financial responsibility in all four parishes.

Probst added that DeGrand is an asset to the communities that he has served.

"We are proud to have him as a member of our community," she said.

Nuxoll said the parish has not been going in the right direction since DeGrand's initial withdrawal, adding that Paprocki's leadership style has caused problems in other parishes within the diocese.

"I'm dissatisfied with the way the parish is going," he said. Nuxoll said Paprocki treated he and wife Colleen like they were harboring a fugitive when they allowed DeGrand to stay in their home after his initial withdrawal.

"The bishop got the idea we were running a government-in-exile," Nuxoll said.

But diocesan spokeswoman Mulford said in a Sunday afternoon telephone interview that Paprocki agonized over the DeGrand issue before making his decision.

"I believe for Bishop Paprocki it was a very difficult decision to remove one of his priests," she said, stressing that DeGrand was removed because of his non-compliance with Paprocki's directives, not because of the allegations from 35 years ago.

DeGrand was unavailable for comment Sunday afternoon. Mulford said the ball is in the suspended priest's court regarding the next move in the case.

"It's really up to Father DeGrand as to what he will do now," she said.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, at, or on Twitter @EDNBGrimes.

A full text of the diocesan press release is available at








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