St. Theresa Parish loses associate pastor over ethics violations

06 February 2019

Appears in: Archdiocesan News

An associate pastor at St. Theresa Parish has been removed from ministry in the Archdiocese of Edmonton due to ethics violations.

Members of the south Edmonton parish were informed of the news about Father Aloysius Fernandez after masses on the Feb. 2-3 weekend. The announcements were delivered by Father Patrick Baska, pastor, and Father Jim Corrigan, vicar general of the archdiocese, on behalf of Archbishop Richard Smith.

The message read:

“Late in January, the Archdiocese received a complaint alleging inappropriate conduct by the associate pastor at St. Theresa Parish, Father Aloysius Fernandez.  In such situations, our policy is to withdraw a priest from ministry while an investigation is done by the Archbishop’s Delegate for Safe Environments. This policy was applied to Father Aloysius.

“I want to assure you that this complaint did not involve sexual abuse or children.

“The investigation determined that there was a breach of the Code of Ethics and Accountability, which all ministers of the Gospel are called to follow.  For this reason, the Archbishop has decided to remove Father Aloysius from priestly ministry in the Archdiocese of Edmonton. He has left the parish and is returning to his native India, where he will be under the care of the bishop in his own diocese.

“This news is distressing news to all of us. It is important to remember that the Archdiocese is committed to safe environments in all our parishes, and that all who serve in ministry are held to the highest ethical standards.”

Parishioners were also invited to speak with the priest after Mass if they had any questions.

Father Fernandez came to the archdiocese from the Diocese of Punalur, located in the Indian state of Kerala, in 2018. He was appointed Associate Pastor at St. Teresa and was also assigned to serve the Malayalam-speaking community. At Sunday’s Malayalam Mass, the announcement was made by Father Joby Augustin.

Asked why there was so little detail in the announcement, Lorraine Turchansky, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Edmonton, explained that several factors had to be balanced.

“In the current environment, where trust in Church leadership has been damaged, it’s important to demonstrate that we do have a process for addressing complaints, investigating them, and acting on them as necessary,” she said.

“But we also have a responsibility to the person who complains – to listen carefully, to take their complaint seriously, and to respect their request for privacy. In this case, there was a risk that releasing more detail about the complaint could compromise that privacy.”