Thursday, March 24, 2011

Priest suspended

http://www.ohio.com/news/break_news/118538929.html
Catholic diocese suspends 'Father Sam'
By Colette M. Jenkins
Beacon Journal religion writer

POSTED: 06:22 p.m. EDT, Mar 23, 2011

The Rev. Samuel R. Ciccolini has been suspended by the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. The suspension, effective last Friday, means the well-known priest, better known as ''Father Sam,'' cannot publicly say Mass or hear confessions.
Ciccolini, 68, has assisted at Immaculate Conception of Mary parish in Akron's Kenmore neighborhood since 1980. Over the years, he has celebrated weekday Mass on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and one on weekends at the church.
Parishioners at Immaculate Conception were read a letter from Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Bishop Richard G. Lennon during weekend Masses informing them of Ciccolini's suspension and that his salary, paid by the diocese, would be discontinued effective March 31. The Rev. Michael B. Smith, pastor at Immaculate Conception, confirmed that the letter was read but would not comment further.
In October, Ciccolini, 68, was convicted of federal banking and income tax fraud. The felony conviction, which prohibits him from employment at facilities that receive public money, thwarted the diocese's plans to reassign him in January as chaplain at a Cleveland hospital and in February as chaplain at two Catholic Charity institutions.
Diocesan officials allowed Ciccolini to remain in residence at Immaculate Conception until they could determine an assignment.
Ciccolini's official status is now ''priest awaiting assignment,'' according to Robert Tayek, diocesan spokesman. Although Ciccolini maintains his standing as a priest, his ability to participate in public ministry has been revoked. He is allowed to say Mass ''privately,'' where only he is present; can continue to reside at Immaculate Conception and will continue to receive his benefits, which include health care and pension.
Since his ordination as a priest in 1969, Ciccolini's primary assignment was as executive director of the Interval Brotherhood Home, a residential treatment facility for addicts that he founded in 1970. He retired from that position on Dec. 31 and the diocese began paying his salary in January.
Ciccolini had stepped away from his post at Interval Brotherhood Home in July, amid his legal woes, but continued to serve as a counselor until his retirement. The Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, Marriage and Family Therapist Board suspended his professional clinical counselor license for six months because of his conviction. It is scheduled to be reinstated on July 20.
Ciccolini's decision to retire from IBH came after he was sentenced in October to one day in jail, fined $350,000 and ordered to pay $3.5 million in restitution to the Interval Brotherhood Foundation — the nonprofit's fundraising arm that he admitted taking money from by falsifying invoices and financial records. He voluntarily paid back $1.28 million to the foundation and was never charged with stealing the money. He also repaid more than $292,000 in back taxes and was found to have an account with $5.59 million in cash, stocks and bonds.
Both Ciccolini and federal prosecutors have appealed his sentence. His suspension in the diocese is pending the resolution of the court case.
Some parishioners, including Mike Donahue, believe the bishop should have waited to change Ciccolini's status until after a court decision on the appeal.
''I am dumbfounded that after all the good this man has done, now the priesthood is being taken from him. If you can't say Mass as a priest and you can't hear confessions or deal with the public, what good does it do to be a priest?'' Donahue said. ''I think Father Sam made some bad decisions, but I do respect the man a great deal because he's helped so many people.''

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Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or cjenkins@thebeaconjournal.com.


Father Sam Ciccolini will remain in residence at Immaculate Conception of Mary's rectory in Akron's Kenmore neighborhood, until diocesan officials can determine an assignment. (Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal)
View larger version>> The Rev. Samuel R. Ciccolini has been suspended by the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. The suspension, effective last Friday, means the well-known priest, better known as ''Father Sam,'' cannot publicly say Mass or hear confessions.

Ciccolini, 68, has assisted at Immaculate Conception of Mary parish in Akron's Kenmore neighborhood since 1980. Over the years, he has celebrated weekday Mass on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and one on weekends at the church.

Parishioners at Immaculate Conception were read a letter from Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Bishop Richard G. Lennon during weekend Masses informing them of Ciccolini's suspension and that his salary, paid by the diocese, would be discontinued effective March 31. The Rev. Michael B. Smith, pastor at Immaculate Conception, confirmed that the letter was read but would not comment further.

In October, Ciccolini, 68, was convicted of federal banking and income tax fraud. The felony conviction, which prohibits him from employment at facilities that receive public money, thwarted the diocese's plans to reassign him in January as chaplain at a Cleveland hospital and in February as chaplain at two Catholic Charity institutions.

Diocesan officials allowed Ciccolini to remain in residence at Immaculate Conception until they could determine an assignment.

Ciccolini's official status is now ''priest awaiting assignment,'' according to Robert Tayek, diocesan spokesman. Although Ciccolini maintains his standing as a priest, his ability to participate in public ministry has been revoked. He is allowed to say Mass ''privately,'' where only he is present; can continue to reside at Immaculate Conception and will continue to receive his benefits, which include health care and pension.

Since his ordination as a priest in 1969, Ciccolini's primary assignment was as executive director of the Interval Brotherhood Home, a residential treatment facility for addicts that he founded in 1970. He retired from that position on Dec. 31 and the diocese began paying his salary in January.

Ciccolini had stepped away from his post at Interval Brotherhood Home in July, amid his legal woes, but continued to serve as a counselor until his retirement. The Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, Marriage and Family Therapist Board suspended his professional clinical counselor license for six months because of his conviction. It is scheduled to be reinstated on July 20.

Ciccolini's decision to retire from IBH came after he was sentenced in October to one day in jail, fined $350,000 and ordered to pay $3.5 million in restitution to the Interval Brotherhood Foundation — the nonprofit's fundraising arm that he admitted taking money from by falsifying invoices and financial records. He voluntarily paid back $1.28 million to the foundation and was never charged with stealing the money. He also repaid more than $292,000 in back taxes and was found to have an account with $5.59 million in cash, stocks and bonds.

Both Ciccolini and federal prosecutors have appealed his sentence. His suspension in the diocese is pending the resolution of the court case.

Some parishioners, including Mike Donahue, believe the bishop should have waited to change Ciccolini's status until after a court decision on the appeal.

''I am dumbfounded that after all the good this man has done, now the priesthood is being taken from him. If you can't say Mass as a priest and you can't hear confessions or deal with the public, what good does it do to be a priest?'' Donahue said. ''I think Father Sam made some bad decisions, but I do respect the man a great deal because he's helped so many people.''

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