Former priest convicted of sexual abuse dispensed from clerical state

Father Anthony Oelrich, a former priest of the Diocese of St. Cloud, has been laicized — dispensed from the clerical state — the diocese announced Nov. 22.

“In regard to the status of Father Anthony Oelrich, I previously indicated that I would conduct a formal review of his status after civil and criminal proceedings against him had concluded,” Bishop Donald Kettler said in a news release.

“This review was initiated and included interviews with a variety of people, including those impacted by his actions,” he said. “After reviewing all of the information, I recommended to Father Oelrich, and he agreed, that he should seek laicization — being dispensed from the clerical state — from the Holy Father. This process has been completed and Father Oelrich has been laicized. As a result, he no longer can exercise sacred ministry in the Church or engage in any leadership roles in the Church. He does not receive any salary, housing or medical benefits from the diocese.”

Bishop Kettler requested prayers “for healing for all victims-survivors of sexual abuse and for those wounded by the Church in any way. As we approach the season of Advent, may we find renewed hope in the promise of Christ as we prepare to welcome him into our lives and into our hearts.”

In addition to the other prohibitions, Oelrich also is no longer permitted to use the title “Father.”

Oelrich pleaded guilty in November 2019 to criminal sexual conduct with an adult woman and was sentenced in July 2020 to 41 months in prison. His sentence ended in October after serving two years and three months.

Bishop Kettler encourages 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

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

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

Leave a Reply