3 Amarillo Diocese Priests Resign

By Don Munsch
Amarillo Globe
August 6, 2002

Three more priests in the Diocese of Amarillo have resigned.

The Rev. Ed Graff, 73, who served in churches in Silverton, Turkey and Quitaque; the Rev. James Hutzler, 58, affiliated with churches in Panhandle and White Deer, resigned July 19. The Rev. Darryl Birkenfeld, 41, formerly with churches in Stratford and Cactus, resigned June 30 and has requested to leave the ministry completely.

Cathy Lexa, director of communications for the diocese, said Graff worked for the diocese since 1992. Hutzler had worked for the diocese since 1980. Birkenfeld had worked for the diocese since 1988.

Deacon Floyd Ashley of the Diocese of Amarillo said Graff said in his resignation that he was resigning because of his age. The Globe-News was unable to reach Graff, and Ashley said he's not sure where Graff is living.

Ashley said he is not sure why Hutzler resigned.

According to reports in today's Dallas Morning News, Hutzler told his parishioners he was resigning because of the new policy of American bishops to remove priests for sexual misconduct and a wrestling incident with a young man 18 years ago.

"The young man denied anything wrong happened to this day," said the president of the parish council at Hutzler's church, Dick Conrad, in the Morning News.

Hutzler lives in Panhandle but was out of town and unavailable for comment.

The Globe-News could also not contact Birkenfeld for comment.

"(Birkenfeld's) resignation had absolutely nothing to do with the charter," Ashley said, referring to the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved at its meeting in June in Dallas. The charter calls for removal of priests who have an act of sexual misconduct in their past.

Birkenfeld resigned for personal reasons, Ashley said, and said he was not sure what kind of vocation Birkenfeld will pursue.

Ashley said Bishop John W. Yanta of the Diocese of Amarillo would have no comment.

Six other priests in the Amarillo diocese have resigned this year. They are the Rev. Dennis Boylan, a pastor in Nazareth and Happy; the Rev. Neal Dee, pastor of churches in Groom and Clarendon; Monsignor Orville Blum, a Hereford pastor; the Rev. Ted Podson, pastor of St. Francis Church; the Rev. John Anthony Salazar-Jimenez, a pastor in Tulia; and the Rev. Richard Scully whose church was in Dumas.

Dee and Boylan resigned because of the new sexual abuse policy, Monsignor Harold Waldow, vicar for clergy for the diocese said previously.


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