Bishop releases statement following priest’s sentencing

Father Anthony Oelrich, a priest of the diocese who pleaded guilty last November to one felony count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, was sentenced July 8 to 41 months in prison.

Bishop Donald Kettler released a statement following the sentence:

“To the victim/survivor, I am so sorry for the harm, abuse and violation of trust that you suffered because of these reprehensible acts, and I apologize on behalf of the church. I apologize, too, to everyone in the community and the diocese who has been hurt in any way by Father Oelrich. I hope that today’s sentencing and the justice it brings is a step toward healing. I am committed to assisting in this healing process.

“Father Oelrich’s priestly faculties remain suspended, meaning he cannot function or present himself as a priest. A final decision about his status in the diocese and in the church will be made in the future.

“I am grateful for the work of our civil authorities to ensure fairness and justice. The diocese cooperated throughout this process. I waited until today to make a statement about the case, not out of a lack of concern, but because I didn’t want to interfere in any way, or create any appearance of interfering, with the legal proceedings, including today’s sentencing.

“I again encourage anyone who has suffered abuse to report it to local law enforcement. Survivors of clergy sexual abuse may also contact the diocese’s victim assistance coordinator or victim advocates for support and access to resources for healing. Information is available on the diocese’s website at”

Bishop Kettler suspended Father Oelrich’s priestly faculties after his arrest in February 2018 following an investigation of alleged sexual misconduct involving an adult woman.

Father Oelrich was ordained to the priesthood June 6, 1992 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud. He has served the following assignments: associate pastor, Sacred Heart in Sauk Rapids (1992-1995); co-administrator, St. Mary in Holdingford, St. Hedwig in Holdingford, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Opole, Immaculate Conception in St. Anna, and St. Columbkille in St. Wendel (1995); co-pastor of these same five parishes (1995-2001); graduate studies (2001-2005); director of continuing education for clergy; pastor, Holy Cross in Pearl Lake (2005-2007); pastor, Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Rockville (2006-2007); pastor, St. Augustine in St. Cloud (2007-2015); rector, St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud (2007-2015); pastor, Christ Church Newman Center in St. Cloud (2007-2018).

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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