Newly ordained priest removed after fathering a child while in seminary

It happened in the Archdiocese of New York.  Details:

The priest, the Rev. Casmir Manyonyi Mung’aho, 34, was ordained in May after graduating from St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. He had not told his superiors that he had fathered a child in a consensual relationship with an adult woman, “which he certainly should have done,” Bishop Dominick J. Lagonegro, the regional bishop, told parishioners in a statement read at Mass on Jan. 7 and 8.

Roman Catholic priests make promises to be celibate, and the church also expects its seminarians and pending applicants to be celibate.

“The fact that he is the father of a child was not known to us at the time of his ordination nine months ago,” the bishop said, adding that Father Mung’aho was being removed to “address this matter and reflect upon his responsibilities in a very serious way.”

Bishop Lagonegro initially told the parish that church officials believed that the child was born before Father Mung’aho entered St. Joseph’s, but then informed the parish a few days later that officials had just learned that the child was born during his first year of seminary.

“We are letting you know this so that you know that we are being honest and straightforward with you,” the bishop’s second statement said.

Father Mung’aho, a native of Tanzania, moved to the United States about six years ago. He had been serving as the parochial vicar, or assistant priest, in the parish of St. Stephen in Warwick, about 55 miles northwest of New York City. The parish is part of the Archdiocese of New York.

Father Mung’aho could not be reached for comment, but in an interview with the official newspaper of the archdiocese to mark his ordination, he explained that he had wanted to be a priest since his early childhood. “I see myself here being a model,” he said. “It’s being an example every day.”

Several parishioners at St. Stephen’s described Father Mung’aho as a kind and likable presence in the pulpit and at the parish school, where he provided religious instruction.

“The kids did seem to enjoy his company,” said Karen Pinkham, a parent at the school. “There was nothing out of the ordinary.”

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday that no final decisions had been made about Father Mung’aho’s status, but that for the time being the priest was living independently and was expected to reflect on his actions.

There’s more about his life and background in Catholic New York. There is also more on the matter at the parish blog of St. Stephen’s.

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