Archive for Thursday, July 17, 2003

Church post a second chance for priest

July 17, 2003

A priest convicted of stealing funds from his previous church and who now serves at the Holy Angels Catholic Church in Basehor has the full support of Archbishop James Keleher, church officials said this week.

In May, the Rev. Anthony Williams, since appointed as the new administrator at Holy Angels, pleaded guilty in Johnson County District Court to felony theft. The charge stemmed from the theft of approximately $44,000 in church funds from St. Paul's Catholic Church in Olathe.

When contacted, Williams referred questions to the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, which defended his appointment to Holy Angels. Williams' appointment becomes effective this weekend, church officials said.

"He is an able priest," said the Rev. Charles McGlinn, vicar general for the archdiocese, responsible for priest personnel. "He is in a responsible program and he has the confidence of the archbishop."

The program McGlinn refers to is treating Williams' addiction to gambling, which at Williams' sentencing hearing, the priest cited as his reason for stealing the funds.

The archdiocese paid back the stolen money to St. Paul's. Williams is paying back the Archdiocese, McGlinn said.

McGlinn said Williams' appointment to the church is temporary, but could become a permanent position. As administrator, Williams serves the day-to-day operations of the church and also conducts mass services, McGlinn said.

"We expect him to be there and to serve the parish as long as we need him there," McGlinn said.

Joe Brandenburg, parish council president, also spoke favorably of Williams' appointment to the church.

"We have no concerns at all," Brandenburg said.

"He's a very spiritual man and he will do a fine job here," he added. "There is no apprehension about the future."

Williams resigned from St. Paul's in October 2002. In a Sunday homily, Williams apologized to parishioners for stealing the funds, which he said were used to feed his gambling addiction.

Williams was sentenced to serve 48 hours in jail and placed on 12 months probation and ordered to receive counseling during his probation.

Also a stipulation in his probation is that Williams not be allowed to work in a position that deals with finances. McGlinn said Williams is not handling funds at Holy Angels.

"He is not directly involved with any parish funds at all," McGlinn said.

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