Longtime Parish Priest In Hartford Removed From Post
December 09, 2008
Without explanation, the Hartford archdiocese this weekend removed the Rev. Michael Galasso from his post as parish priest of St. Peter Church on Main Street in Hartford, a position he held for 29 years.
The removal of Galasso, who also has served as the chaplain for the state House of Representatives since 1975, quickly caught the attention of many in the community who know him.
A spokesman for the archdiocese refused Monday to discuss the reasons for placing Galasso on a sabbatical leave, except to say that it wasn't because of any accusations of sexual misconduct.
"Privacy rights need to be protected. We can't discuss this publicly," said the Rev. John Gatzak, a spokesman for the archdiocese. "However, I certainly can assure you that the archbishop [Henry J. Mansell] is motivated by the highest concern for Father Galasso and for the parishioners of St. Peter's.
"He's on sabbatical leave and will be given a new assignment upon his return," Gatzak said. "I don't think he will be returning to St. Peter's."
John Ryan, who has attended St. Peter's since 1984, said he and other parishioners believe their priest was removed because of a dispute with the archdiocese involving roof repairs at the church.
"We're all shocked," Ryan said. "To tear this man away from all these families. There's something desperately wrong here."
St. Peter Church is the poorest parish in the archdiocese, which includes New Haven.
Gatzak would not say where Galasso is now, but Ryan and others said the priest was sent to St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore after Mass on Sunday.
Democratic House Speaker James Amann, who has worked alongside Galasso for 18 years, said Monday he was shocked by the news of Galasso's removal.
"I am certainly in no position to second guess the politics of the church, since they try not to interfere with my job, [but] FatherGalasso is very cherished and loved by the legislature," Amann said. "He's a great friend and he'll be missed."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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