Thursday, August 12, 1999

Priest on leave, admits paternity


Mother is married parishioner

BY JANE PRENDERGAST
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FLORENCE — A local priest is taking a minimum three-month leave after admitting he fathered a child with a married parishioner.

        Officials of the Diocese of Covington knew about the Rev. Joseph Gallenstein's child for at least three months when they appointed him pastor of St. Paul Church in July.

        They declined to give any more information, saying they wanted to protect the privacy of the woman, the child and her husband.

        “Obviously, great pain has been caused,” a diocesan statement said.

        Church officials learned about the child in late March or early April, and the priest acknowledged that he is the father, the statement said. He wants to remain in the priesthood.

        His leave of absence started July 29. He will spend at least three months concentrating “time and energy on the priority of his spiritual life,” the statement said.

        Parishioners got letters from both the priest and the

        bishop about the situation, longtime St. Paul parishioner Wally Whalen said Wednesday.

        “The man is human,” he said. “As long as God forgives him, I can't feel any other way. I can be disappointed, but not as disappointed as I'm sure he is with himself.”

        One of the church's former pastors, the Rev. Jim Quill, has been named parish administrator. Monsignor Roger Cooney becomes an additional parochial vicar effective Sept. 1.

        Father Gallenstein had been the parish's associate pastor before last month. He is willing to take steps to address both the personal and spiritual issues involved, the statement said.

        Officials had his willingness to deal with those things in mind when he was given the parish's top job last month, it said.

        Bishop Robert Muench of the Covington diocese asked everyone to pray for the “aggrieved” family, the priest and his family, the parishioners and for the entire diocese of Covington.

       



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