Parish Loses $500,000 in Unauthorized Account, Pastor Says

Associated Press, carried in Hartford Courant [Bridgeport CT]
March 18, 2003

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport is investigating the loss of $500,000 from an unauthorized brokerage account at St. Mary's church in Ridgefield.

Until recently the parish was run by the Rev. Robert Morrissey, one of three priests who resigned in December amid allegations of sexually abusing a teenager in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The financial loss is unrelated to the abuse allegations, church officials said.

Spokesman Joseph McAleer said Tuesday the loss was discovered during a routine audit conducted whenever there is a change of leadership in a parish.

Monsignor Laurence Bronklewicz, now pastor at St. Mary's, told parishioners this month that a new investment account had been created in July 2001 by transferring stock from an existing account. The new account lost $500,000 over the ensuing 18 months as the stock market declined, he said.

Bronklewicz said the creation and management of the account violated diocesan policy. An outside auditor has been hired to do a complete review of the parish books.

Morrissey, 57, a native of Whitestone, N.Y., was ordained in 1976 and had been pastor of St. Mary's since 1992. McAleer told the Connecticut Post that Morrissey has not been reassigned to another parish.

Morrissey, the Rev. Albert McGoldrick and the Rev. Sherman Gray resigned late last year after they were accused of abuse. The allegations have been brought before the diocese's sexual misconduct review board.

The Ridgefield parish, one of the wealthiest in the diocese, is currently raising funds to build a new church.

McAleer told the newspaper he didn't know whether the loss would affect that effort.

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