Gambling priest announces resignation
A Catholic parish priest originally from P.E.I., who has been embroiled in controversy over gambling and credit card loans, announced during Easter weekend masses that he is leaving the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Ottawa.
Rev. Joseph LeClair is facing allegations of late-night gambling trips and hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card loans.
A report in the Ottawa Citizen last week alleged LeClair had racked up credit card bills exceeding $490,000 in 2009 and 2010, including cash advances of about $389,000.
LeClair makes $24,000 a year plus additional revenue from officiating weddings, baptisms, funerals and other ceremonies.
National accounting firm Deloitte & Touche is probing his church's finances.
"The audit is ongoing," Archbishop of Ottawa Terrence Prendergast said a week ago. "Once the audit is completed, diocesan administration will act promptly and prudently to take whatever further steps are deemed necessary."
LeClair has already apologized to his congregation for his compulsive gambling and told them he did not misappropriate church funds. Many of LeClair's parishioners have said they support him.
LeClair said he made the decision to end his 14-year service at the church after consulting with his family and church officials.
The 53-year-old priest has been credited with tremendous growth at the parish and has a reputation as a charismatic speaker and community leader. He has also been forthright in detailing his battles with depression.
LeClair said he hasn't decided whether to quit the priesthood altogether and begin a new career, try to get another posting in Ottawa or move back to P.E.I.