Archdiocese Places Former County Priest on Leave

Columbian [Vancouver Washington]
April 26, 2004

A priest who left St. John's Catholic Church in 1999 after 20 years in Clark County has been put on administrative leave from his current post in Monroe.

The Rev. Michael OBrien has served as priest at St. Mary of the Valley Catholic Church in Monroe after leaving St. John's, in the Glenwood area.

Members of the St. John's congregation said the church's current priest, Father Armando Perez, read a letter announcing the suspension during services on Sunday. A church investigation is focused on an alleged incident involving OBrien that occurred in the early 1990s while he served at St. John's.

Perez and parishioners, after meeting at the church Sunday night, declined to comment and referred questions to the Archdiocese of Seattle .

Representatives of the Archdiocese of Seattle, which oversees both churches, could not be reached Sunday evening.

OBrien, who headed the second-largest Catholic church in Clark County, maintained an active community-service role while he served here.

He was active in a prison-ministry program, served the state School for the Deaf, expanded Spanish-language church services for the county's growing Hispanic population, worked on behalf of pro-life causes, was active in the interfaith community and worked with programs aimed at helping the homeless and hungry, according to a 1999 Columbian story published when OBrien left the county.

A member of the St. Mary congregation in Monroe, Eddie Trujillo of Snohomish, said OBrien was placed on administrative leave from that church about two weeks ago. He said a letter was read to the Monroe congregation, although it offered no specifics about the church's investigation.

"There was some issues of misconduct that needed to be looked into, and until then he would be placed on administrative leave," Trujillo said.


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