Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Keleher Delivers Farewell `It's Kind of Sad to Be Leaving' Belleville Diocese

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Keleher Delivers Farewell `It's Kind of Sad to Be Leaving' Belleville Diocese

Article excerpt

Asking forgiveness from God for any failures during his nearly nine years as bishop of the Belleville Catholic Diocese, James P. Keleher said an official goodbye Sunday.

Keleher, 62, will be installed Sept. 8 as the archbishop of Kansas City, Kan.

Although he will serve as bishop in Belleville until then, Keleher noted at a special farewell prayer service that he might not have the chance again to tell everyone who has worked and worshiped with him in Southern Illinois how much he loved and appreciated them.

"My feelings are mixed," Keleher said as he quickly brushed past reporters on his way to a reception after the service at St. Peter's Cathedral in Belleville.

"It's kind of sad to be leaving, but I appreciate everything that's been done for me," he said.

"I saw even the press got kind of tears in their eyes, and I was deeply moved by that," he added with a smile.

Keleher and the diocese - which covers 28 counties in Southern Illinois - have been in the news frequently this year as the bishop removed six priests and a deacon from official duties amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Keleher announced last month that four of the priests would not be returned to active ministries on the recommendations of a diocesan Review Board. The board said it had found some substance to the allegations against the four, but its findings have not been made public.

The four priests are the Revs. Jerome Ratermann of Belleville, James Calhoun of Germantown, Robert Vonnahmen of Elizabethtown and Robert Chlopecki of Nashville.

Keleher announced that the two other priests being investigated by the Review Board - the Revs. David Crook of New Baden and Eugene Linnemann of Ruma - will stay on leave from their parishes until the investigation is completed.

The board also is studying sexual misconduct allegations against Deacon Francis Theis, who is on leave from the gift shop he helped run at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows at Belleville, Keleher said. …

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