Mocanaqua Priest Taken off Job after Complaint
Clergyman Admitted Misconduct from Decades Ago, Diocese Says

By Mark Guydish
Wilkes Barre Times Leader
April 18, 2002

CONYNGHAM TWP. - The pastor of two parishes in the small community of Mocanaqua was relieved of duty after a recent complaint of sexual misconduct that allegedly occurred about three decades ago. The priest had also served at St. Aloysius in Wilkes-Barre for about 16 years.

In a written statement Wednesday, the Diocese of Scranton announced the Rev. Thomas Skotek was removed as pastor of St. Mary's and Ascension parishes on April 8.

The misconduct "took place some 30 years ago," and Skotek admitted "some improper conduct," the statement said. The diocese refused to go into detail. Diocese policy requires a priest be relieved of duties if he admits to misconduct.

Diocese spokeswoman Maria Orzel said Skotek is still officially a priest but has no assignment and is living on his own in a private residence. She said she does not know where he is.

Orzel said Skotek moved from St. Aloysius to Mocanaqua in July 1999 - a traditional time each year for priest transfers, as new priests are ordained and given community assignments. Diocese priests' duties are determined by the bishop.

Orzel said she has no information about where the misconduct occurred, but it predates Skotek's assignment to St. Aloysius. She also said that, to her knowledge, the case has not been forwarded to law enforcement authorities.

John Matusek, a long-time parishioner active at Ascension Church, had nothing but praise for Skotek, and was surprised by the news.

"He was the most marvelous man to work with," Matusek said. "I never saw him do anything out of the ordinary. I have the deepest respect for the man."

Matusek said he was chairman of the church renovation committee and worked frequently with Skotek. He praised Skotek for increasing church attendance and allowing girls to fill the traditionally male role of altar servers. "My granddaughter was the first one."

Matusek runs a food market and said Skotek would sometimes give him money to pay for food for the homeless or less-fortunate.

"He did more in those two years than all the priests before him put together," Matusek said.

Orzel said another priest has been appointed "administrator for the two churches until a pastor is named."


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