After over two hours of dialogue and negotiation between Bishop Gabriel Malzaire and church leaders at the Grand Bay Presbytery, a brief resolution has been reached in a matter involving accused priest, Fr. Reginald Lafleur.
“It was long and they have come with no evidence but the Bishop has agreed that the investigations needed another month,” Edward Registe and Amour Thomas, two of the persons who met with the bishop, explained.
They said a board appointed appointed by Bishop Malzaire has been investigating the matter since January this year but he has refused to reveal he names of the members of that board.
The church leaders were also concerned that while Fr. Lafleur was officially asked to go on administrative leave from June 8, the letter did not indicate for how long.
They said it was agreed that Fr. Lafleur would return to the St. Patrick’s parish in Grand Bay either “before month end or thereafter” but he won’t be removed from the parish.
But that did not go down well with the crowd of protesters who shouted “we want Fr Reggie back now.”
Others vowed to “keep the church doors closed” until Fr. Lafleur returns.
Both Thomas and Registe begged the crowd for tolerance in the matter but claimed Fr. Lafleur is innocent.
“Fr. Reggie is innocent and his name will be cleared and he will be back with us…let us continue to offer up our prayers for him,” Registe said
It was also agreed that the business of the parish will be run by the parish church committee while Fr. Lafleur is out of the parish.
On Sunday morning, Catholics in Grand Bay gathered outside the parish church in solidarity with Fr. Lafleur. They did not participate in the 7:00 a.m. mass which was celebrated by Bishop Malzaire.
The Grand Bay residents at a meeting on Friday evening, had threatened to take action to protest a decision by the bishop to send Fr. Lafleur, on administrative leave.
Bishop Malzaire took the action after a woman, who is referred to as ‘Jane Doe’ in correspondence obtained by DNO, wrote to him alleging that she was the victim of abuse by the priest 19 years ago while he served in Portsmouth.
As a result, Bishop Malzaire sent the woman to Trinidad & Tobago for therapy.
Several members of the Catholic church in Grand Bay on Friday vowed to stand in solidarity with their parish priest.
The Bishop showed up to celebrate the 7:00 a.m. mass telling the handful of people who were inside the church building, ”People I am ready to celebrate mass after which I shall issue a statement.”
It is reported that the bishop had to be escorted to the presbytery for the meeting with the local church leaders.